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Missouri Supreme Court order regarding municipal courts and minimal operating standards

On September 20, 2016, the Missouri Supreme Court issued an order regarding municipal courts, which will take effect on July 1, 2017. Rule 37.04 sets out several minimum operating standards for municipal courts. The standards include, but are not limited to, the following: defendants must be allowed to present financial information when the court assesses their ability to pay a fine; municipal courts shall not assess or collect unauthorized fines, costs, or surcharges (for example, fines for “minor traffic violations” must not exceed $225.00); municipal judges shall complete certain training requirements; municipal courts must operate in facilities reasonably convenient to the public (courtrooms must be open to persons of all ages and be reasonably large enough to accommodate the public, parties, and attorneys); municipal courts must maintain a clerk’s office that is open to the public at least 30 hours per week during regular business hours for the purpose of paying fines; municipal courts must allow online payment of fines or be “actively pursuing” online access to payment of fines and information regarding pending cases; and clerks of court and other non-judicial personnel shall not perform any functions that constitute an apparent or actual conflict of interest. For a full description of the standards and rule, see here.

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