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Missouri Bar President Commends Governor’s Signing of Municipal Court Reform Legislation

Bar President Reuben Shelton Comments on Senate Bill 5

Missouri Bar President Reuben Shelton of St. Louis commended Gov. Jay Nixon’s signing today of legislation aimed at improving citizens’ experiences within Missouri’s municipal courts. Senate Bill 5, sponsored by Sen. Eric Schmitt, R-Glendale, caps the total amount of fines that can be imposed including court costs to $300, prevents confinement for a person’s inability to pay their fines and requires municipalities to notify the Supreme Court of the creation, location and closure of municipal divisions among other things. The measure also reduces the threshold for the general operating revenue coming from traffic fines from 30 percent to 20 percent for cities, towns, villages or counties. St. Louis County and municipalities in that county will be restricted to no more than 12.5 percent of annual general operating revenue from traffic fines. The new limits take effect January 1, 2016.

“The primary role of municipal courts should be advancing justice and public safety,” Shelton said. “The Missouri Bar supports the concepts of a reasonable limit on revenue municipalities may derive from traffic revenue and preventing unreasonable detention for first-time offenses. Senate Bill 5 sets new limits when it comes to both and we believe this is an important step to making sure that every Missourian has faith that they will be treated equally and fairly in any court in our state.”

Shelton was appointed in May as one of two Missouri Bar representatives to serve on the Supreme Court of Missouri’s new Municipal Division Work Group charged with reviewing all matters pertaining to the state’s municipal court divisions, with ensuring public input and with making recommendations to improve the municipal court divisions statewide.

“The working group allows us to continue to be engaged on behalf of the members of The Missouri Bar and the citizens we serve to effect needed systemic changes in the municipal court system,” Shelton said. “Part of the Bar’s mission is to educate and protect the public, and this collaborative effort will build on the work of lawmakers, the Supreme Court and the governor to help make sure our municipal courts are a forum of justice for all.”

The working group is expected to file its final report no later than December 1.

The Missouri Bar is a statewide organization that is dedicated to improving the legal profession, the law and the administration of justice for all Missourians. Created in 1944 by order of the Supreme Court of Missouri, it serves all 30,000 of Missouri’s practicing attorneys. To achieve its mission, The Missouri Bar provides a wide range of services and resources to its members, as well as the media, educators and the citizens of Missouri. To learn more about The Missouri Bar, visit www.MoBar.org and www.MissouriLawyersHelp.org.

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