Eager for change in how the St. Louis Circuit Court handles gun crimes and impatient with the pace of the judges considering it, Mayor Francis Slay was prepared to force the issue by taking its plan to the Legislature and Missouri Supreme Court, says the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. After a meeting with judges who were caught by surprise, a top Slay aide agreed to scale back the approach until there is consensus. One concern voiced at the meeting was that Slay's team was trying to sidestep the judges.
The plan is to restructure the way gun cases pass through the courts, putting all weapons charges before just two judges assigned to an “Armed Offender Docket.” Currently, such crimes are mixed with other felonies and could be assigned to a variety of judges. The City Hall proposal would build a database of gun cases to be studied by University of Missouri-St. Louis researchers, who already have a partnership with the police department. The initiative would give Slay a chance to show that he is taking steps to tackle the city's gun violence, at a time when crime is becoming a key re-election issue. A draft of the proposal said the outcome of gun cases under the current system “may depend less on deliberation and more on random factors, such as relative work loads and productivity, as well as the differing judicial philosophies, of judges to whom a case is assigned.”