When the Missouri Supreme Court issued an order amending Rule 37 in 2017, the absorption of many municipal courts into circuit court systems throughout Missouri began.
This spring, the Ste. Genevieve and St. Mary municipal courts began the process to follow that trend, as both cities’ aldermen have acted to turn their cases over to the 24th Circuit Court.
The amendment to Rule 37, in many people’s minds, essentially forced cities out of the court business. It stressed that municipal court personnel must have separation from police department functions. It also stressed that municipal court clerks must be available to the public at least 30 hours a week and that defendants must be able to pay fines online. Additionally, municipal judges must be available all hours to issue warrants and bail.
This has led many communities across the state to begin turning municipal casework over to circuit courts.
In Ste. Genevieve County, the move has been anticipated for some time. The city of Ste. Genevieve Board of Aldermen passed an ordinance on March 28 to turn its municipal casework over to the 24th Circuit Court later this year.
The city of St. Mary had already done so, effective on October 1.
“I think that was the right thing that we needed to do,” Ste. Genevieve Mayor Paul Hassler said. “I think this day and age with the municipal courts, it’s getting harder and harder to do business.
“I think it’s going to be a savings for the city,” he added.
The move eliminates the position of municipal court clerk Lisa Kemper, who will be assigned other duties at the city hall, and throws additional work onto newly-elected Ste. Genevieve County Circuit Court Clerk Julie Bova and her staff as well as 24th Circuit Associate Judge Timothy Inman.
Bova and her staff are gearing up for the challenge.
“I have already been on the phone with OSCA [the Office of State Courts Administrator],” Bova said. “They’ve done this numerous times. They’re going to help me and the cities step through this process and get it handled like it needs to be.
See complete story in the April 10 edition of the Herald.