29 September 2005
Missouri Judiciary, employees assist in hurricane relief effort
Contact: Beth Riggert, Communications Counsel
Supreme Court of Missouri
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – In the wake of devastating hurricane damage on the Gulf Coast, employees of the Supreme Court of Missouri and its administrative arm, the Office of State Courts Administrator, raised $3,300 for the American Red Cross disaster fund through an internal fundraiser. In addition, the Missouri Judiciary is sending 240 surplus computers to Baton Rouge, La., to help the Louisiana judiciary start rebuilding the infrastructure of its trial courts that were destroyed by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.
"Sometimes it is easy to get caught in your own back yard thinking about tight budgets, a lack of salary increases, increasing gas and heating costs, and other routine issues," Supreme Court of Missouri Chief Justice Michael Wolff said. "Then, through the power of the media, you witness the devastation of a hurricane, and you realize that you are glad to have a car to drive, gas to put into it, a road to drive on, a job to go to, a house to go home to and a family waiting for you when you arrive. It was in this spirit that our employees reached into their own personal resources and raised this $3,300."
It also was in this spirit that Missouri's Judiciary has been working to assess Louisiana's business needs and to offer assistance wherever possible. One of the first requests was for technology resources.
"We have been able to work with Mike Keathley, commissioner of the Office of Administration, to speed up the process of sending some 240 surplus computers to the Louisiana Judiciary," State Courts Administrator Michael Buenger said. "The hardware is on its way to Baton Rouge, where it will be used to help Louisiana courthouses get back to business.
"No judicial system has faced the scale of problems currently facing the Louisiana courts," Buenger said, explaining that his counterpart in Louisiana told him that entire courthouses there have been wiped out. "We should do anything we can to help Louisiana get its justice system back up and running."
Wolff said, "Having a functioning justice system is critical to maintaining civil order and resolving our differences peaceably."
As Gulf Coast courts get back to business, Missouri also is working with displaced attorneys by allowing them to apply for an expedited waiver to practice law here while these attorneys work with residents in their region to rebuild.
"We know that, as the Gulf Coast states begin to rebuild, the law will be integral to establishing property lines, drawing up contracts, and re-establishing local businesses and governments," Wolff said. "It is our hope that by extending this offer, we will aid attorneys in those crucial efforts."
Displaced attorneys seeking this waiver can reach the Missouri Board of Law Examiners by telephone at 573-751-9814, by mail at 407 Jefferson Street, Jefferson City, MO 65101, or via the board's website at www.mble.org.
Employees of the Supreme Court of Missouri and Office of State Courts Administrator raised $3,300 for the American Red Cross hurricane relief efforts and presented the check to the local chapter of the American Red Cross Tuesday, September 27, 2005, at the Supreme Court Building. Participating in the check presentation are (from left) Kathy Montgomery, OSCA employee committee chair; Michael Buenger, state courts administrator; Melissa Friel, executive director of the Capital Area Chapter of the Amerian Red Cross; Chief Justice Michael Wolff; Judge Mary Rhodes Russell; Judge William Ray Price, Jr.; and Tara Smith, OSCA employee committee vice chair.
Missouri's Judiciary sent 240 surplus computers to Louisiana. (From left) Office of State Courts Administrator employees Bryan Braunschweig and Aaron Ray load computer monitors onto the truck Wednesday, September 28, 2005.
Truck driver Steve Kempf, left, helps OSCA employees Bryan Braunschweig, center, and Information Technology Director Jim Roggero, right, load hard drives into the truck Wednesday, September 28, 2005.