Some MO Courts Consolidating After Criticism

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Municipal court operations in some of the smallest communities in St. Louis County are being folded into larger ones, in a program announced yesterday by the Missouri Supreme Court. “By reducing costs, sharing operations, as well as clerical and judicial personnel, we hope to reduce the incentive to use municipal divisions as revenue generators rather than to ensure public safety,” said Missouri Chief Justice Patricia Breckenridge, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports. The population of nine cities joining larger courts is about 10,500, about 1 percent of the county’s total population.

Normandy, Mo., Mayor Patrick Green said the city was looking for a new building to handle courts for as many as 10 municipalities. “What we’d like to see is condensing down the judges and prosecutors,” Green said. “That makes us more effective.” Brendan Roediger, an associate law professor at St. Louis University who has sued several courts in St. Louis County on behalf of poor clients, said the consolidation was a “small move in the right direction.” A Post-Dispatch investigation last year found unequal treatment, conflicts of interest, and secrecy in St. Louis County municipal courts. It showed how tiny cities were using courts to generate revenue to pay for city services.

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