Ensure Language Access
Ensure language access for non-English speakers through enforcement and expansion of Missouri Revised Statute 476.803.1 for courts-related services and addition of statute to include all emergency services, including law-enforcement departments and ambulance services. Consider revision of statute to disallow parents to serve as first-option translators for children in court.
Collect Municipal Court Debts Like Civil Debts
Municipal courts shall collect debts in a manner consistent with other civil debts.
Treat Nonviolent Offenses as Civil Violations
Municipalities shall treat minor nonviolent offenses as civil violations rather than criminal cases.
Schedule Regular Warrant Reviews
Municipalities should schedule regular reviews of outstanding arrest warrants, to effectively address cases where such warrants have become especially numerous.
Cancel “Failure to Appear” Warrants
All “failure to appear” warrants shall be withdrawn and cancelled.
Expunge Old Convictions of Non-Repeat Offenders
All municipal convictions of non-repeat offenders shall be expunged after a defined period of time, predetermined by the Missouri Supreme Court.
Eliminate Incarceration for Minor Offenses
Municipal courts shall not incarcerate individuals for minor, nonviolent offenses. They should also not issue “failure to appear” warrants on such charges, as these often lead to incarceration.
Apply Conflict-of-Interest Rules Universally
The Missouri Supreme Court shall not exempt municipal court personnel from its conflict-of-interest rules.
Prevent Conflicts of Interest Among Prosecutors
Municipal prosecutors shall be prohibited from representing criminal defendants in municipal courts within the county in which they serve as a prosecutor.
Prevent Conflicts of Interest Among Judges
Municipal judges shall be prohibited from engaging in municipal court practice in the county in which they serve as a municipal judge.
Assign Public Defenders for Criminally-Charged Minors
Minors charged with a criminal offense with jail as a potential sentence shall be assigned a public defender
Inform Defendants of Right to Counsel
Municipal courts shall inform all defendants of their right to counsel and must obtain an informed waiver if defendants choose to proceed pro se. If a defendant requests counsel but cannot afford representation, the court shall appoint an attorney when constitutionally or statutorily required. Municipal courts shall provide attorneys for all minors and in additional…
Open Municipal Court Sessions
Municipal court sessions shall be open and accessible to the public, including children.
Provide Defendants with Clear Written Notice of Court Hearing Details
Municipal courts shall provide all defendants with written notice of the time, date, and location of any court hearing they must attend. If a municipal court must change the time, date, or location of any court session, notice must be provided in writing at least 14 days prior to the original court date.
Communicate Rights to Defendants in Person
Municipal judges, clerks, and attorneys shall inform residents of municipal court procedures and their constitutional or other procedural rights as defendants at all court appearances and prior to adjudication of their cases.
Create a Municipal Courts “Bill of Rights”
Residents shall be informed of their rights and of municipal court procedures via a written “bill of rights” that is drafted, established, and approved by the applicable Missouri circuit court and delivered with every ticket and via signage posted at each location where municipal court meetings are held.
Assess Ability to Pay at Nonpayment Hearings
Municipal courts shall inquire about defendants’ ability to pay in any subsequent hearing regarding nonpayment.
Conduct Annual Municipal Court Audits
Annual audits of municipal courts shall be implemented, and municipal courts shall be required to deliver copies of case records and documents to the Office of State Courts Administrator in compliance with audit requests.
Eliminate Sharing of Municipal Files
To limit inappropriate sharing of information, all municipal courts and municipal prosecutors shall maintain separate files.
Clearly Define Municipal Court Procedures
All operating procedures of municipal courts shall be clearly defined and followed, and all staff shall be trained in those procedures.
Formalize and Standardize Court Documenting Procedures
All municipal courts shall explicitly establish formal and uniform systems of documentation and record keeping at every stage of defendants’ court involvement. Whenever possible and appropriate, such documents and records shall be available to defendants.
Train Municipal Court, Jail, and City Government Employees in Constitutional Rights
All municipal court, jail, and city government employees shall receive annual cultural bias training and training on how to protect the constitutional rights of residents and defendants, and how to effectively administer courts. Each employee must sign a written acknowledgement upon completion of training. This training shall ensure that personnel adequately understand that the following…
Provide Medical Services for People in Custody
All municipalities shall develop and implement an operating plan to provide necessary medical services, including mental health services, for all persons in custody.
Change Rules for Municipalities Holding Defendants for Other Municipalities
A municipality shall not hold a defendant for another municipality for longer than 4 hours for a non-violent offense.
Notify Parents of Detained Minors
A parent, guardian, or caretaker of a minor placed in detention must be notified within 4 hours of their child being placed in detention.