Supreme Court recognizes 10 judicial circuits for holding timely child abuse, neglect hearings

1 October 2007


Supreme Court recognizes 10 judicial circuits for holding timely child abuse, neglect hearings


SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – Supreme Court of Missouri Chief Justice Laura Denvir Stith helped honor 10 judicial circuits for holding timely hearings during fiscal 2007 in child abuse and neglect cases in which children removed from their homes are to be reunited with their families or are to be placed in another permanent home as soon as possible. Stith asked Jackson County Circuit Court Judge John O'Malley, who serves as chairman of the Circuit Courts Budget Committee, to present the Supreme Court permanency awards 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.

"Timely hearings are critical if children who have been removed from their homes are to be reunited with their families or are to be placed in other permanent homes as soon as possible," Stith said. "The success these circuits achieved is a testament to the leadership and hard work of judges, commissioners, juvenile officers, clerks and other support staff." Stith noted this is only the second year the awards have been given.

In evaluating what circuits qualify for the permanency awards, the circuits first were placed in size classes based on the total number of hearings that were due during a particular time period. They then had to rank among the top two in their size class to qualify. The hearing time frames apply for six types of hearings and vary depending on the type of hearing. For example, courts should hold a hearing to determine whether a child safely can return home within three business days from the date the child is taken into protective custody. Another time frame provides that courts should hold a permanency hearing to decide a child's permanent placement within 12 months from the date the child is taken into protective custody. These time frames were developed based on recommendations from the Commission on Children's Justice.

Receiving permanency awards on behalf of their circuits were:

  • Presiding Judge Russell Steele, Juvenile Services Administrator Matt Holt and Chief Juvenile Officer Jeff Hall of the 2nd Judicial Circuit (Adair, Knox and Lewis counties), which held all of the hearings in child abuse and neglect cases timely;
  • Presiding Judge Roger Prokes and Chief Juvenile Officer Rick Bradley of the 4th Judicial Circuit (Atchinson, Gentry, Holt, Nodaway and Worth counties), which held all of the hearings in child abuse and neglect cases timely;
  • Juvenile Attorney Linda Meyer of the 5th Judicial Circuit (Andrew and Buchanan counties), which held all of the hearings in child abuse and neglect cases timely;
  • Presiding Judge Werner A. Moentmann and Chief Juvenile Officer Melissa Phillips of the 8th Judicial Circuit (Carroll and Ray counties), which held all of the hearings in child abuse and neglect cases timely;
  • Presiding Judge Peggy S. McGraw and Circuit Judge Ann Mesle of the 16th Judicial Circuit (Jackson County), which held 99 percent of the hearings in child abuse and neglect cases timely;
  • Commissioner Terry Wiese of the 21st Judicial Circuit (St. Louis County), which held 96 percent of the hearings in child abuse and neglect cases timely;
  • Presiding Judge Mary Sheffield, Circuit Judge Tracy L. Storie and Chief Juvenile Officer Russell Sheldon of the 25th Judicial Circuit (Maries, Phelps, Pulaski and Texas counties), which held all of the hearings in child abuse and neglect cases timely;
  • Presiding Judge Greg Kays and Chief Juvenile Officer Tammy Walden of the 26th Judicial Circuit (Camden, Laclede, Miller, Moniteau and Morgan counties), which held all of the hearings in child abuse and neglect cases timely;
  • Presiding Judge John Sims and Chief Juvenile Officer Deborah Butts of the 30th Judicial Circuit (Benton, Dallas, Hickory, Polk and Webster counties), which held all of the hearings in child abuse and neglect cases timely; and
  • Representatives of the 36th Judicial Circuit (Butler and Ripley counties) were unable to attend to accept on behalf of the circuit, which held all of the hearings in child abuse and neglect cases timely.

O'Malley also recognized 20 additional circuits that conducted at least 95 percent of their hearings within required time frames: 1st Judicial Circuit (Clark, Schuyler and Scotland counties); 3rd Judicial Circuit (Grundy, Harrison, Mercer and Putnam counties); 7th Judicial Circuit (Clay County); 10th Judicial Circuit (Marion, Monroe and Ralls counties); 11th Judicial Circuit St. Charles County); 13th Judicial Circuit (Boone and Callaway counties); 15th Judicial Circuit (Lafayette and Saline counties); 17th Judicial Circuit (Cass and Johnson counties); 18th Judicial Circuit (Cooper and Pettis counties); 19th Judicial Circuit (Cole County); 24th Judicial Circuit (Madison, Ste. Genevieve, St. Francois and Washington counties); 29th Judicial Circuit (Jasper County); 33rd Judicial Circuit (Mississippi and Scott counties); 37th Judicial Circuit (Carter, Howell, Oregon and Shannon counties); 38th Judicial Circuit (Christian and Taney counties); 39th Judicial Circuit (Barry, Lawrence and Stone counties); 42nd Judicial Circuit (Crawford, Dent, Iron, Reynolds and Wayne counties); 43rd Judicial Circuit (Caldwell, Clinton, Daviess, DeKalb and Livingston counties); 44th Judicial Circuit (Douglas, Ozark and Wright counties); and 45th Judicial Circuit (Lincoln and Pike counties).

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