Supreme Court recognizes 22nd Judicial Circuit for successfully holding timely hearings for children

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – On behalf of the 22nd Judicial Circuit, Presiding Judge Bryan Hettenbach accepted the Permanency Award during a special ceremony at the presiding judges’ meeting in Lake Ozark. This is the eighth time the 22nd Circuit, which includes St. Louis city, has received the Permanency Award.

The Permanency Award is given to circuits for successfully holding timely hearings during fiscal 2015 in child abuse and neglect cases in which children removed from their homes are to be reunited with their families or are to be placed in another permanent home as soon as possible.

The hearing time frames apply to six types of hearings and vary depending on the type of hearing. For example, when a child is taken into protective custody, an initial hearing must be held within three business days, the allegations must be proven within 60 days, and a disposition entered within 90 days. If the child remains in protective custody, the court must hold periodic reviews until the child is reunited with its natural parents, is adopted or another permanent placement is made. These time frames were developed based on recommendations from the Commission on Children’s Justice.

In evaluating which circuits qualify for the permanency awards, the circuits first were placed in size classes based on the total number of hearings that were due to be held during a particular time period. A circuit then had to achieve either 100 percent timeliness each quarter or an average of 100 percent annually to qualify.

Committee Selects Design Proposal by Sculptor Preston Jackson For Memorial to Slaves’ Lawsuits for Freedom Tried in St. Louis

ST. LOUIS (March 28, 2016) — A steering committee has selected sculptor Preston Jackson’s design for a dynamic visual narrative to memorialize more than 300 courageous slaves and lawyers who went to court in St. Louis to sue for their freedom from 1806 through Emancipation in 1863.

The memorial is planned for the east plaza of the Civil Courts Building downtown. Fundraising from private sources will begin immediately.

Jackson is a professor emeritus at the School of the Art Institute in Chicago, where he continues to teach foundry techniques. He is owner of a gallery in Peoria, Ill. A specialist in cast bronze, his works include dozens of public sculptures, including a statue of Miles Davis in Alton; “Acts of Intolerance” in Springfield, Ill., celebrating the 100th anniversary of the NAACP; and “From Cottonfield to Battlefield” in Decatur, Ill., memorializing Abraham Lincoln’s decision to permit African American soldiers to fight in the Civil War.

His design for the Freedom Suits Memorial calls for a cast bronze work approximately 5 feet by 3 feet wide and 10 feet tall. Each angle of the sculpture will be a pictorial lesson on the lawsuits and the times. It will incorporate both free-standing and relief sculptures in a construction recalling the dome and cupola of the Old Courthouse.

“This is a very important project, which fits my life’s work, telling the visual history of our country in a compelling and effective manner that is appropriate for all,” Jackson said. “I feel it is imperative that the descendants of slaves see themselves as strong people, as survivors, and this sculpture will certainly send that important message.”

St. Louis Circuit Judge David C. Mason, who first conceived the memorial, said, “The design vividly shows how two centuries ago, St. Louis provided proof for the American ideal that even those with least means can achieve justice through the courts. It is likely this work will become another sculptural icon for St. Louis.”

Paul N. Venker, chairman of the steering committee, said, “This moving memorial compels us to reflect upon how the least powerful among us, exercising what imperfect legal rights they had, initiated what can only be described as nation-altering change.  We honor these African Americans who chose the Rule of Law, and the lawyers who embraced the Spirit of Justice to help them.”

The sculpture will be aligned with the Gateway Mall and the Old Courthouse, where most of these suits were tried — including that of Dred Scott and his wife Harriet. The Scotts initially won their freedom in the St. Louis court but lost it on appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court in 1857, a decision that helped propel the nation into the Civil War.

The steering committee for the memorial advertised for proposals beginning in August. It received several responses and chose three finalists. Jackson’s proposal was the clear consensus of the committee.

The steering committee comprises 12 members representing the court, local lawyers, academicians, arts leaders and city officials. Fundraising will be conducted through the St. Louis Bar Foundation.