Cass County Clerk Janet Burlingame can keep her job as long as the voters keep electing her.
A judge denied a petition by the state to remove Burlingame from office for alleged violation of state nepotism rules.
The case stemmed from a July report by the Cass County auditor that Burlingame's husband was paid $5,577 and her son $1,670 to transport voting equipment for elections going back to 2003.
The Missouri attorney general's office declined to take action on the auditor's report, saying the law does not provide for the removal of an officeholder for conduct during a previous term. Burlingame has been clerk, an elected position, for 10 years. Her current term began in 2011.
Cass County Prosecutor Teresa Hensley, however, filed a legal action seeking Burlingame's removal.
Cass County Circuit Judge Jacqueline Cook signed an order earlier this month denying that claim, noting there has been no case in Missouri history in which an officeholder was ousted for conduct in a prior term.
Cook said Burlingame in effect had forfeited her position during previous terms through acts of nepotism and became "a mere interloper in office," but said she cannot be removed for acts she did not commit during her current term.
"However it will be for the electorate to decide, should (Burlingame) seek to stand for re-election for this office, or for any other future office, whether she is worthy of continuing to hold office," Cook wrote.
Burlingame did not return a call for comment.
Hensley's office said it would not appeal Cook's ruling.