St. Louis judges voted 16-11 yesterday to expedite the handling of gun cases but rejected a proposal for deeper changes endorsed by the mayor, circuit attorney and police chief. One judge scolded them for political meddling in the judicial process, reports the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Mayor Francis Slay said he was not giving up his call for a special gun court that would give special handling to cases involving firearms or first-degree robberies. He will ask the state legislature to require it.
One judge’s proposal would have established a special separate division called the Armed Offender Docket, overseen by two judges. Slay, Circuit Attorney Jennifer Joyce and Police Chief Sam Dotson pushed hard for this version, saying it would make the judges more accountable, provide swifter justice in the 600 to 700 yearly gun cases and provide opportunities for academics to study the outcomes. An alternate plan, which the judges adopted, leaves the targeted crimes spread among judges assigned to felonies but puts the cases at the top of each judge's docket and sets immediate trial dates instead of automatic continuances given now.