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Supreme Court of Missouri holds public forums on racial and ethnic fairness

Thursday marked the first in a series of four public hearing sessions sponsored by The Supreme Court of Missouri Commission on Racial and Ethnic Fairness. The event was open to the public to collect feedback on the commission’s suggestions for improving equality within the judicial system. The commission was created by order of the Supreme Court of Missouri in 2015 to help ensure all Missourians are treated fairly and with respect in all Missouri courts.

During the forum, held at The University of Missouri School of Law, Julie Lawson, executive director of the commission, explained the group’s initial recommendations, as well as its drafted suggestions that are currently under review. These drafts include updates to civil, criminal and juvenile justice systems—such as introducing implicit bias information in jury instruction, implementing a program to authorize the collection of ethnic and racial data on traffic stops and incorporating proposed Miranda Warnings that can be easily understood by juveniles. The commission has also drafted judicial recommendations and suggestions for the practice of law and municipal courts.

Community members are encouraged to attend future sessions in St. Louis, Kansas City and Springfield scheduled for February and March:

Feb. 28, 2017 — 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m.
University of Missouri-Kansas City Law School, Thompson Courtroom
500 East 52nd Street, Kansas City, MO 64110

March 7, 2017 — 5:30 – 7 p.m.
Saint Louis University School of Law
100 North Tucker Street, St. Louis, MO 63101

March 14, 2017 — 5:30-7 p.m.
Missouri State University, Plaster Student Union, Traywick Parliamentary Room
1110 East Madison Street, Springfield, MO 65897

The initial report and recommendations and additional items under consideration are also available for review online, and the public can submit questions and get more information about upcoming meetings by contacting Lawson directly at juliel@focus-stl.org or (314) 657-4033.

“We want to make sure that every recommendation we put forward is in the best interest of every Missourian,” Lawson said. “For us to do that, we need the voices of the community members who experience things in the judicial system.”

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