Report identifies areas of study and cities where public hearings will be held
The Supreme Court of Missouri received an interim report from the court’s Municipal Division Work Group on Tuesday, September 1, 2015. The report is part of an ongoing effort to improve the municipal court division, to make sure every defendant in every municipal division is treated fairly ensuring the public’s trust and confidence.
The working group is examining current practices and procedures in Missouri’s municipal court divisions, and identified issues for study that are important to the administration of justice.
In the report, the group outlined an extensive listing of information and resources it has accumulated to date as well as announced its intent to hold three public hearings – one each in Kansas City, Springfield and St. Louis. In addition, the group identified the following “issues that may be appropriate for study” for possible inclusion in its final report:
- Conflicts of interest by judges and staff serving multiple municipal division roles;
- Establishing rules for defining “indigency;”
- Consolidation of municipal divisions;
- Financial incentives when municipalities derive revenue from law enforcement and court activity;
- Selection and supervision of municipal judges and staff;
- Proper access to court proceedings and access to and maintenance of court records;
- Use of warrants;
- Remedies for nonpayment and enforceability of judgments;
- Alternatives to monetary sanctions and use of diversion;
- Increasing public understanding of court processes;
- The effects of Senate Bill No. 5 on municipal budgets and recent rule changes;
- Ensuring adequate time and space for court proceedings.
The full interim report is available on the Court’s website here.
The working group, comprised of nine members, is 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 in response to recent events that have raised concerns about practices in some municipal courts.
Reuben Shelton, 2014-15 president of The Missouri Bar and senior litigation counsel for Monsanto Corporation, and Karl A.W. DeMarce, associate circuit judge in Scotland County and municipal judge for Memphis, Mo., serve on the working group as representatives of The Missouri Bar.
The working group is expected to file its final report with the Supreme Court of Missouri by December 1, 2015.
Learn more about the working group here.