Circuit courts honored for effeciently managing cases

1 October 2007

Circuit courts honored for effeciently managing cases

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – Supreme Court of Missouri Chief Justice Laura Denvir Stith helped honor four judicial circuits for efficiently managing and processing cases during fiscal 2006. Stith asked Jackson County Circuit Court Judge John O'Malley, who serves as chairman of the Circuit Courts Budget Committee, to present the Daniel J. O'Toole awards for case processing time standards during the general business meeting of the Judicial Conference of Missouri, the organization of all state judges, Thursday morning, Sept. 27, at the University Plaza Hotel and Convention Center in Springfield.

"Daniel O'Toole left as his legacy his commitment to an efficient judiciary," Stith said. "This commitment is crucial – timely case processing is fundamental to an effective judicial system – and to justice itself. The staff and judges in these circuits should be commended for their commitment to providing timely justice to the public."

The O'Toole Award, named for the late judge's service as the first chair of the time standards monitoring committee, recognizes the success of the circuits in handling cases in a timely manner. To qualify, a circuit must achieve at least five of the 10 case processing time standards and must not be more than 5 percent from achieving the remaining standards.

For the first time since its inception in 1998, two circuits have achieved all 10 time standards for two consecutive years, the 14th and 19th Circuits. Presiding judges Scott Hayes of the 14th Judicial Circuit (Howard and Randolph counties) and Patricia Joyce of the 19th Judicial Circuit (Cole County) received the awards on behalf of their circuits. The 19th Circuit has won the award the previous three years, and the 14th Circuit has been the recipient of this award every year since 1998.

Also receiving O'Toole awards on behalf of their circuits were Presiding Judge Jack Peace of the 3rd Judicial Circuit (Grundy, Harrison, Mercer and Putnam counties) and Judge Keith Marquart of the 5th Judicial Circuit (Andrew and Buchanan counties). This is the third time the 3rd circuit has won the award and the fourth time the 5th Circuit has won the award.

The case processing time standards, which became effective in 1997, serve as guidelines for the time various kinds of cases should take to handle. For example, half of civil cases should be disposed within 12 months, and 90 percent of civil cases should be disposed within 18 months. The guidelines recognize that some cases are more complex and require more time. They are designed as tools, therefore, to achieve the overall goals of efficiency, productivity and quality of justice rather than as absolute requirements.

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