Morning round-up
9:33 am
Wed December 14, 2011

Morning headlines: Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Mo. schools and residents to prepare for next big earthquake

It was nearly 200 years ago that the first in a series of massive earthquakes shook Missouri and much of the nation. Now, several Missouri school districts will take part in a drill to prepare for the next big one.

State officials say that nearly 100 districts and individual schools have registered for Missouri's second statewide earthquake drill at 10:15 a.m. on Feb. 7. Meanwhile, more than 146,000 residents are also registered for the drill, called the "Great Central U.S. ShakeOut."

State Emergency Management Agency director Paul Parmenter says the goal is to educate people and students about what to do if a major earthquake strikes. Three of the largest quakes in U.S. history were centered at New Madrid, Mo., in 1811 and 1812. The first was on Dec. 16, 1811.

Mo. Supreme Court decision on public defenders could have big impact on state's courts

The Missouri Supreme Court heard arguments Tuesday for and against allowing public defenders to turn away cases.

The case stems from July 2010 when the public defender office in Christian County announced it would no longer take new cases because it had reached its maximum.

On Tuesday, Christian County assistant prosecuting attorney Donovan Dobbs argued that trial judges have a Constitutional duty to appoint public defenders. And he questioned whether the protocol used to determine how many cases public defenders should take is accurate.

"I don't think there's been enough evidence," said Dobbs.  "I don't think at the trial court level or even before the special master that the protocol that's promulgated by the public defender have been properly tested."

Stephen Hanlon, representing Missouri's public defenders, said protocol has been vetted and should be applied statewide.

The high court will rule at a later date. 

Timothy Wolfe named University of Missouri System's new president

Wolfe is a Columbia, Mo., native and Mizzou alumnus. He spent 20 years working at IBM and recently worked as president of the software company Novell Americas.

Despite his lack of experience in academia, Wolfe says he has a passion for higher education, which he credits in part to both his parents being college professors.

Wolfe is schedule to take over as UM-System president on Feb. 15. Until then, Steve Owens will remain Interim President, and afterwards return to his post as General Counsel.