law

We Live Here: Untangling the public defender system

Apr 27, 2015
The Missouri Supreme Court is soliciting comments and suggestions from residents on how to improve municipal courts statewide.
Steakpinball | Flickr

When we started We Live Here we promised to take you along on the reporting process with us. Recently, I’ve been looking into the public defender system in Missouri for one of our upcoming We Live Here podcasts.

Though I still have a lot more to learn, I've already noticed it's a system with a lot of nuance. I thought I’d share some of what I’ve learned so far about who does and doesn't qualify for a public defender and other details of how the system works:

Maryland Heights resident Dan Hyatt speaks before the Ferguson Commission about his experience dealing with the municipal court system in Breckenridge Hills.
Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

Seventy-nine municipal courts give the small towns and cities of St. Louis County significant autonomy in judging minor infractions as such speeding tickets, tall weeds or zoning violations. The judges and prosecutors work part time — in smaller jurisdictions, just two or three times a month for a few hundred dollars per each municipal court session.

(via Flickr/robertnelson)

Updated at 4:55 with reaction from chief Sam Dotson.

A proposal that would have had two judges handling most crimes involving firearms in the city of St. Louis has been rejected by the judges themselves.

A little legal kerfuffle is brewing in the Land of Lincoln with mobile payment company Square. If you didn't know, Square has St. Louis ties - it was created by area natives Jack Dorsey and Jim McKelvey. Learn more from our friends at TechCrunch via the link.

(via Flickr/Joe Gratz)

In the upcoming election, Missouri voters will decide whether to change how judges are chosen in the Show Me State.

More than 70 years ago Missourians voted for a nominating system that strove to take political influence out of the judiciary.

But as St. Louis Public Radio's Maria Altman reports, Constitutional Amendment 3 made it to November's ballot after increased criticism of that plan in recent years.

How it all works - now

James Cridland via Flickr

Missouri’s public defenders won a big case before the state supreme court this summer.

(via Flickr/außerirdische sind gesund)

Both were subjects of new laws signed by Ill. Gov. Pat Quinn today.

(via Flickr/david_shane)

The Missouri Supreme Court has struck down part of a state harassment law enacted after the suicide of a St. Charles County teenager who was teased over the Internet.

The high court on Tuesday invalidated a 2008 state law defining harassment to cover anyone who "knowingly makes repeated unwanted communication to another person."

(via Flickr/Beverly & Pack)

A federal judge has ruled that Missouri's flag desecration law is unconstitutional and cannot be enforced.

U.S. District Judge Carol E. Jackson issued a permanent injunction Tuesday in the case of Frank Snider, a Cape Girardeau man arrested in 2009 for using a knife to cut up an American flag and then throwing it into the street.

Jackson's ruling prohibits the state, its political subdivisions and its officials from "enforcing or threatening to enforce" the law.

photo by Esparta Palma, courtesy Flickr Creative Commons.

If today's episode of St. Louis on the Air was your idea of a legal-palooza AND you have an affinity for comic books, then you'll really love this neat site.

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