We commend the Missouri Legislature for their recent action on Municipal Court reform and urge the Governor to swiftly sign Senate Bill 5 into law.
As Co-Chairs, we were pleased to work closely with the sponsors of this bill as they crafted this truly significant reform for our municipal courts. This bill responds to the outcry we have heard in our community that clearly showed the systemic injustices in the practices of our municipal courts. The action happening around municipal courts is a shining example of the opportunity the St. Louis region has if it works together at all levels – a cornerstone of the work we support as a Commission.
Reforms in this bill are directly in line with our public feedback and municipal court working group calls to action. While this swift passage is a clear and important step, we call on the Missouri Supreme Court and for self initiated review and accountability to address issues such as outstanding warrants and prohibiting excessive fines and confinement as a result of minor non-traffic related municipal ordinance violations. A summary of the bill can be found here.
We commend House Speaker John Diehl, Senator Eric Schmitt and Senate president pro tem Tom Dempsey for their legislative leadership. We commend Attorney General Chris Koster for acting with lawsuits in December and the Missouri Supreme Court and the St. Louis County Circuit Court for taking action on judicial staffing in March. We commend the passion of individual voices; the scholarship and action of scores of local attorneys and professors; county, state and federal government; and the state judicial branch for their role in holding the municipal court system accountable in ways that will change the system – for the betterment of our region.
The Commission working group on municipal courts and governance, co-chaired by Commissioner Traci deVon Blackmon and Commissioner T.R. Carr, Jr., will continue its work aligning community concerns with policy and organizational recommendations. The Commission will continue to actively support and shine a light on the individuals, organizations and institutions taking direct action toward positive change for our region.