The St. Louis Circuit Court is sitting on $7.6 million to which it has no rightful claim, says the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Clerk Jane Schweitzer is negotiating with a contractor that would sort through the office’s holdings, determine what should go to government agencies, and arrange to transfer responsibility for the rest to the state treasurer to handle as unclaimed property.
The money is a mix of bail posted by defendants, fees paid for lawsuits, and other court costs that were supposed to be returned but for various reasons never were. Most of it is owed to individuals. “We’ve got an awful lot of money here, and it’s got to be distributed,” Schweitzer said. The process of tracking owners, and portioning off what belongs to the government, promises to be messy. Much of it can only be traced through hand-scribed records and dusty court files long since relegated to storage. Addresses of defendants have changed, and in some cases, only a lawyer’s name or address is known. What is owed to the city and state is based on laws and fee scales that shifted over time.