1 October 2006
Supreme Court recognizes five judicial circuits for processing cases expeditiously; two circuits achieve perfect records for first time
ST. LOUIS – Supreme Court of Missouri Chief Justice Michael A. Wolff recognized five judicial circuits for efficiently managing and processing cases during fiscal 2005. He also noted this marks the first time any circuit met all 10 case processing time standards – two circuits achieved this distinction. The Daniel J. O'Toole awards, based on time processing standards during fiscal 2005, were presented during the general business meeting of the Judicial Conference of Missouri, the organization of all state judges, Thursday morning, Sept. 28, at the Renaissance Grand Hotel in downtown St. Louis.
"My good friend Daniel O'Toole left as his legacy his commitment to an efficient judiciary," Wolff said. "This commitment is crucial – the public expects and deserves justice that is delivered in a prompt and effective manner. We cannot promptly resolve cases without a team approach to managing judicial caseloads effectively. 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.
Receiving awards on behalf of their circuits, which also were recognized for achieving perfect records for the first time, were Presiding Judge Ralph Jaynes of the 14th Judicial Circuit (Howard and Randolph counties) and Presiding Judge Thomas Brown III of the 19th Judicial Circuit (Cole County). The 14th circuit has won the O'Toole Award every year since the award's 1998 inception; this is the fourth time the 19th circuit has won the award.
Also receiving O'Toole awards on behalf of their circuits were Presiding Judge Andrew Kohn of the 3rd Judicial Circuit (Grundy, Harrison, Mercer and Putnam counties), Presiding Patrick Robb of the 5th Judicial Circuit (Andrew and Buchanan counties) and Presiding Judge Robert Clayton of the 10th Judicial Circuit (Marion, Monroe, and Ralls counties). This is the second time the 3rd circuit has won the award; it met five of the standards and was within 3 percent of meeting two other standards and within 1 percent of meeting the remaining three standards. This is the third time the 5th Circuit has won the award; it met seven of the standards and was within 2 percent of meeting one other standard and within 1 percent of meeting the remaining two standards. This is the fifth year the 10th Circuit has won the award; it met seven of the standards and was within 2 percent of meeting one other standard and within 1 percent of meeting the remaining two standards.
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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