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Content date: 05/14/2015

Supreme Court of Missouri forms working group to study, make recommendations for improving state's municipal court divisions

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – The Supreme Court of Missouri today announced the formation of the Supreme Court Municipal Division Work Group, which it has charged with reviewing all matters relevant to practice in the municipal divisions throughout the state, with ensuring public input, and with recommending appropriate improvements to the system.

The Municipal Division Work Group will be co-chaired by two former chief justices of the Supreme Court of Missouri – Ann K. Covington of Columbia and Edward D. “Chip” Robertson Jr. of Jefferson City – and a former chief judge of the Missouri Court of Appeals, Eastern District – Booker T. Shaw of St. Louis. The group’s remaining members are:
“The Court chose these individuals for their demonstrated leadership in a variety of settings statewide,” Chief Justice Mary R. Russell said. “They bring to the table a wealth of experience, and we trust this ‘blue ribbon’ group to be both thoughtful and outspoken as they tackle the incredibly important work of formulating practical solutions to ensure our state’s municipal court divisions are places where defendants can trust they will be treated fairly and with respect, where their rights will be protected, and where the focus will be on due process of law.”

In addition, the Court invited The Missouri Bar to appoint two members to the working group. Those members are:
“We appreciate this opportunity provided by the Supreme Court of Missouri to continue to be engaged on behalf of the members of The Missouri Bar to effect needed systemic changes in the municipal court system,” said Missouri Bar President Reuben Shelton of St. Louis. “Part of the Bar’s mission is to educate and protect the public, and this collaborative effort will help make sure the primary role of municipal courts is advancing justice and public safety.”

Specifically, the Court has directed the working group to:
The Court has directed the working group then to take what it learns through its process and outline specific suggestions for improving municipal court divisions statewide. These recommendations should include measures the Court can implement through its rulemaking authority as well as recommendations for further action by the legislature or other entities.

“We are giving our working group members full-rein to study our state’s municipal court divisions from all angles,” Russell said. “We expect them to respond with specific solutions for improving our municipal court divisions, not only in St. Louis County but throughout the state. Our hope is that, in time, our municipal court divisions might become a model for the nation.”

The Court expects the group to file its interim report with the Court no later than September 1 and its final report no later than December 1.
The Court's order creating this working group is attached: Supreme Court Municipal Division Work Group order 05-14-15.pdfSupreme Court Municipal Division Work Group order 05-14-15.pdf

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