A rendering of Preston Jackson's winning design for the Freedom Suits Memorial
Preston Jackson | Provided

Updated to reflect the project's funding  plan - The Civil Courts building downtown is getting a new sculpture to honor more than 300 slaves and lawyers who sued for freedom in the early 1800s.

A steering committee of lawyers, artists, court officials, professors and city officials on Monday announced they had chosen sculptor Preston Jackson to create the Freedom Suits Memorial, which will be installed in the east plaza of the Civil Courts building.

Jeff Roberson | Associated Press

The Justice Department has neither the authority nor the staffing to expand its investigation of unconstitutional police and court practices from Ferguson to surrounding municipalities, legal experts say.

gavel court justice

A group of Missouri law enforcement officials have officially endorsed a proposed constitutional amendment designed to make it easier to prosecute sex crimes against children.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon. - Activists on both sides of the ongoing battle over how Missouri judges are chosen are paying close attention to a new wave of initiative-petition proposals that would transform the state’s highest judges from gubernatorial appointees into elected officials.

In effect, the proposals would do away with Missouri’s 70-year-old nonpartisan court plan for filling judgeships.

Tim Bommel, Mo. House Communications

Missouri Supreme Court Chief Justice Richard Teitelman sang the praises of the state's drug court system during his annual State of the Judiciary Address Wednesday.

He told lawmakers that 2013 marks the 20th anniversary of the state’s drug courts, which provide treatment options for non-violent drug offenders.

(Nixon: via Missouri Governor’s website, Spence: courtesy Alpha Packaging)

Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon and Republican challenger Dave Spence both oppose a ballot measure that would give the governor greater power in picking Missouri's top judges.

A November ballot measure would change the seven-person panel that nominates judicial candidates to the governor. It would increase the number of citizens named to the panel by the governor to four instead of three, with the rest selected by an attorneys' association. It also would increase the number of judicial nominees the panel submits to the governor to four instead of three.

(via Flickr/steakpinball)

Tomorrow morning the Illinois Supreme Court will enter orders to allow cameras in both the first judicial circuit in the southern part of the state and the 18th circuit, which is outside of Chicago.   

The announcement was made this afternoon by Illinois Supreme Court Chief Justice Thomas Kilbride, who was in St. Louis to accept the “Illinoisan of the Year” award from the Illinois News Broadcasters Association.

Kilbride is the driving force behind a pilot program aimed at increasing accessibility to the legal system and expects more courts to allow cameras in the future.

(via Flickr/Vox Efx)

Voters in St. Louis County approved the extension of a property tax levy to fund $100 million in construction and repairs at its court complex in downtown Clayton.

That was just one of the measures up for consideration in countywide and municipal elections in the St. Louis Public Radio listening area.

(via Flickr/kev_hickey_uk)

Updated at 1:55 to correct spelling of judge's name.

A second judge in Illinois has struck down a state law that requires all parties to consent before a conversation can be recorded.

The law in question makes it a felony to record without everyone's permission. Even recording public officials in public places can be illegal.

Cook County Judge Stanley Sacks ruled today that the law was unconstitutional because it could criminalize "wholly innocent conduct."

Flickr/Todd Ryburn

Illinois is a "plaintiff's paradise"

The American Tort Association ranks Madison, St. Clair and McClean Counties in Ill. among the most unfair court jurisdictions in the nation. Cook County is on the watch list.

The Association is made up of businesses concerned that judges and juries in those counties are more likely to side with plaintiffs. Class action lawsuits often result in huge payouts.

Travis Akin is with the Illinois Lawsuit Abuse Watch and says being on the list is a harmful distinction.

(via Flickr/neil conway)

Here's an update to a story we shared with you this morning:

Top officials from Missouri's legislative, executive and judicial branches are joining forces in an effort to revamp Missouri's criminal sentencing practices.

Missouri officials are working with the Pew Center on the States to analyze current sentencing laws, prison and probation programs and recidivism rates. Other states that have done similar studies have enacted laws directing more nonviolent offenders to enhanced probation and drug treatment programs. That generally saves prison beds for the most serious and violent offenses.