Supreme Court of Missouri announces grant funding to support municipal court efforts
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Missouri has received grant funding to support the development of case management software to help improve the operations of municipal divisions, Missouri Chief Justice Patricia Breckenridge announced last week to hundreds of lawyers and judges gathered at the Lake of the Ozarks for the annual joint conference of The Missouri Bar and the Judicial Conference of Missouri.
“We know a major obstacle to improving municipal operations is the lack of case management software,” Breckenridge said in her address. “So the development of new software is the highest priority of the Missouri Court Automation Committee. … I am excited to announce that we were awarded a $500,000 grant from the Department of Justice to aid this project.”
The grant Breckenridge referenced is a three-year “Price of Justice Grant,” awarded to the state courts administrator’s office by the Bureau of Justice Assistance through the United States Department of Justice. The grant, scheduled to run from October 1, 2016, through September 30, 2019, will enable the judiciary to pilot a program to provide opportunities for out-of-court resolution of minor traffic and ordinance violations.
The project will be overseen by a broad-based work group of representatives from the Supreme Court of Missouri, Missouri Association of Probate and Associate Circuit Judges, Legal Aid of Western Missouri, Missouri Office of Prosecution Services, Missouri Sheriff’s Association, Missouri Municipal and Associate Circuit Judges Association and municipal divisions throughout the state. The work group will begin by standardizing case types that can be disposed without a mandatory court appearance, allowing these violations to be managed electronically.
As Breckenridge noted, “The new software will give the public access to cases from their mobile devices and allow municipal divisions to text notices of hearing and payment dates; automate the determination of indigency; and refer defendants to payment or community service plans without their appearance in court. We thank the Missouri Court Automation Committee for taking ownership of the challenge and turning it into an opportunity for the future.”
In addition, the state courts administrator’s office also has been awarded a $50,000 grant from the State Judicial Institute. This 12-month grant, which began September 12, will enable the judiciary to hire contract staff to enter pending case data into the judiciary’s statewide case management system for the north St. Louis County municipalities currently consolidating their municipal court operations into the Normandy municipal division with help from the Missouri Court Automation Committee and state courts administrator’s office. Those municipalities currently are Bellerive Acres, Cool Valley, Glen Echo Park, Greendale, Pasadena Park and Uplands Park.