We commend House Speaker John Diehl for his leadership today regarding the House’s swift engagement with Senate Bill 5 on municipal court reform. We are appreciative of Senator Eric Schmitt and the Senate for sending the bill to the House for consideration. We commend Speaker Diehl for being an advocate for strong municipal court reform as well as reform on municipal revenue structure. The House proposal is a solid step in the right direction.
It is clear from our months of engagement with the St. Louis community and leadership that reform is necessary to restore basic principles of consistency, fairness and equity to our municipal courts as well as to restore public confidence in our region. Reforms directly in line with our public feedback and municipal court working group priorities are:
- Strengthening standards for governance of municipal court judges under the Missouri Supreme Court
- Removal of failure-to-appear charges
- Affirmation of a ticket and fine revenue cap and the creation of more stringent reporting requirements and consequences
- Consideration of defendant’s ability to pay
- Alternatives to monetary fines such as community service and alternative sentences
The Commission working group on municipal courts, 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.