The presiding judge of the St. Louis County Circuit Court sent a strongly worded letter chiding judges and city attorneys in the county's 81 municipal courts for limiting access to their courtrooms, reports the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Judge Maura McShane said some courts are limiting seating to defendants and their attorneys exclusively, “without any justification.” Some courts tell defendants who show up with their children that the children can't come in, leaving defendants with no choice but to be saddled with additional charges for missing their court dates or leaving children unattended.
McShane urged municipal judges to sign a voluntary operating order for their courts. It would allow any person entry unless he or she is in violation of the dress code, is intoxicated or acting in an inappropriate manner, or if his or her entrance would violate the building's fire code. A committee found that about 37 percent of the courts responding to a survey do not allow children in the courtroom, and 10 percent allow only the person listed on the docket.