Circuit Judge Christopher McGraugh Visits with Lafayette Square Neighbors

With the continued and sustained decline of the level of COVID-19 viral activity in the St. Louis community, the 22nd Judicial Circuit Court is again accepting invitations to appear and speak at various public meetings and events.

Community engagement is extremely important to the Court, which is eager to re-engage with residents about a variety of relevant issues in a meaningful, informative, and constructive dialogue.

On Wednesday, May 11, Circuit Judge Christopher McGraugh was on hand at SqWires Annex for a regular meeting of the Lafayette Square Restoration Committee (LSRC).

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The Hon. Christopher McGraugh speaking with members of the Lafayette Square Restoration Committee on Wednesday, May 11 at SqWires Annex.

Judge McGraugh, who’s assigned to division 19 of the circuit court, spoke about the latest impacts of COVID-19 on general court operations and the process in which judges are selected and retained in the City of St. Louis under the Missouri Plan.

He also gave those in attendance an update on some changes to jury service and helped provide insight into some of the determinations judges are required by law to make regarding criminal defendants pretrial.

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The Hon. Christopher McGraugh speaking with members of the Lafayette Square Restoration Committee on Wednesday, May 11 at SqWires Annex.

The Court wishes to thank the members and leadership of LSRC for inviting Judge McGraugh to come speak. If you or your organization are interested in having a judge or representative of the Court attend one of your events, please reach out to Chief Communications Officer Jacob Long at Jacob.Long@courts.mo.gov or (314) 622-5685.

Governor Parson Appoints the Hon. Thomas A. McCarthy as Circuit Judge for 22nd Judicial Circuit Court

The 22nd Judicial Circuit of the State of Missouri, which proudly serves the City of St. Louis, is pleased to share that today, Governor Mike Parson appointed the Hon. Thomas A. McCarthy as its newest Circuit Judge.

The Hon. Thomas A. McCarthy

The appointment fills the vacancy created by the retirement earlier this year by the Hon. David L. Dowd.

Judge McCarthy, of St. Louis, currently serves as one of the Court’s Associate Circuit Judges, having been appointed to that position in 2018. He earned his B.S. in Business Administration from Truman State University and his J.D. from St. Louis University School of Law.

Judge McCarthy also previously worked in private practice and served as both an Assistant Prosecuting Attorney in St. Louis County and an Assistant City Counselor for the City of St. Louis.

Missouri Families 4 Families Honors 22nd Judicial Circuit’s Juvenile Division with Shining Light Award

The 22nd Judicial Circuit Court’s Juvenile Division was honored on Saturday, April 16 with the Shining Light Award from Missouri Families 4 Families for its Team Support Approach (TSA) and the positive impact it is having in improving the outcomes of justice involved youth in the City of St. Louis.

“The kids we serve work extremely hard and sometimes don’t receive the recognition they deserve,” said Amanda Sodomka, Chief Juvenile Officer for the 22nd Judicial Circuit Court. “That’s what makes this recognition so affirming. Thank you to Missouri Families 4 Families for shining a light on the many success stories of our youth, their families, their support networks, and communities.”

Under the TSA, key people are brought together to discuss youths’ strengths and needs, identify and provide resources, and make strength-based plans that will provide for the youth’s safety, repair harm to the victim(s) or community, and accountability through strengthening competency skills while ensuring community safety.

The goal of the TSA is to involve families and their support systems, community members, along with caregivers, service providers and agency staff in all decisions regarding planning options and to ensure a timely network of support for youth and the adults who care for them.

When possible, the family and community’s strengths are used to form a treatment plan that enable youth to safely remain home with appropriate services. When this is not possible, plans are made that reflect the least restrictive placement possible for each youth that will keep the child and community safe as well as preserve and nurture the child’s familial and community connections.

“It’s really all about teamwork. With the TSA, our Juvenile Division strives to achieve the principles that youth and families need strong, consistent, and nurturing communities in order to provide opportunities for them to do better, feel included in the decision-making process, and be set up for success in the future,” Sodomka added.

Established by parents from St. Louis, Springfield, and Jefferson City in 2006, Missouri Families 4 Families is a statewide nonprofit run by families. At least half of the parents/caregivers involved have children/youth with social, emotional, and/or behavioral needs. The staff are also parents/caregivers/grandparents with similar experiences.

According to the group, the 22nd Judicial Circuit Court’s Juvenile Division was selected for this year’s Shining Light Award because of its dedication to bridging the gap between families and the Court and providing positive support and services to those it serves.

You can watch the awards ceremony on the Missouri Families 4 Families Facebook page here.

Associate Circuit Judges Peebles, Roither Visit with Gravois Park Neighbors

With the continued and sustained decline of the level of COVID-19 viral activity in the St. Louis community, the 22nd Judicial Circuit Court is again accepting invitations to appear and speak at various public meetings and events.

Community engagement is extremely important to the Court, which is eager to re-engage with residents about a variety of relevant issues in a meaningful, informative, and constructive dialogue.

On Wednesday evening, Associate Circuit Judges Barbara K. Peebles and David A. Roither were on hand at the Rita Ford Community Center for a regular meeting of the Gravois Park Neighborhood Association.

Associate Circuit Judge Barbara K. Peebles speaking to engaged residents at the Rita Ford Community Center in Gravois Park on Wednesday, April 12.

The judges spoke about their individual judicial experiences, provided updates regarding Court operations and procedures and juvenile law in Missouri, and answered questions about public safety from those in attendance.

Associate Circuit Judge David A. Roither speaking to engaged residents at the Rita Ford Community Center in Gravois Park on Wednesday, April 12.

The Court would like to thank the neighbors of Gravois Park for having us!

If you and your organization are interested in having a judge come speak, please reach out to Chief Communications Officer Jacob Long at Jacob.Long@courts.mo.gov.

22nd Circuit Commission Seeks Applicants for Impending Circuit, Associate Circuit Judicial Vacancies

The 22nd Circuit Judicial Commission (City of St. Louis) is accepting applications for the circuit judge vacancy created by the impending retirement of the Hon. James Sullivan and for the associate circuit judge vacancy that is expected to be created by Governor Michael L. Parson’s appointment of one of three associate circuit judges nominated to fill the circuit judge vacancy created by the retirement of the Hon. David Dowd earlier this year.

The commission encourages qualified individuals to apply for judicial office. Qualifications for circuit judges and associate circuit judges may be found in article V, section 21 of the Missouri Constitution.

Application forms are linked below.

Application: Word | PDF

Instructions: Word | PDF

Applicants who previously applied for the vacancy created by the retirement of Judge David Dowd may send a letter to the chairperson of the commission requesting that their previous application be transferred to the current opening. Applicants who wish to be considered for both openings shall send two letters, one for each opening.  Please also send copies of such letters to each commissioner. 

Applications, including Page 1 Confidential Information, or any letters requesting the previous application be transferredmust be received by the chairperson no later than 5 p.m. May 6, 2022, although earlier submission is encouraged.  

The commission expects to conduct interviews June 6 and 7, 2022 in the Division Courtroom of the Missouri Court of Appeals, Eastern District, at 815 Olive Street, St. Louis, Missouri. In accordance with Rule 10.28, the interviews will be open to the public. Immediately upon the conclusion of the public interviews, the commission expects to meet and select the nominees for both vacancies to be submitted to the governor.

The members of the 22nd Circuit Judicial Commission are: Sherri Sullivan, chief judge of the Missouri Court of Appeals, Eastern District, and chairperson of the commission; Matt Devoti; J. Brent Dulle, secretary of the commission; Chris Goodson; and André Harris.

22nd Judicial Circuit Court’s Treatment Court Program Honored for 25 Years of Distinguished Service, Excellence

The 22nd Judicial Circuit Court of the State of Missouri, which proudly serves the City of St. Louis, is pleased to share that its award-winning treatment court program will be honored today, Thursday, March 31, by the Missouri Association of Treatment Court Professionals for 25 years of distinguished service and excellence during the organization’s annual conference in Branson, Mo.

Leadership and team members from the 22nd Judicial Circuit Court’s Treatment Court program

“Of course, we do not do what we do for the awards or accolades. We are here to help some of the most vulnerable among us caught in the merciless grasp of addiction or a mental health crisis,” said the Hon. Matt Melton. “However, our team is deeply appreciative and honored to be recognized by other treatment court professionals from across Missouri for a quarter century of working to make a difference.”

Founded on April 7, 1997, the 22nd Judicial Circuit Court’s treatment court program is the second longest running treatment court in the state. It is a specialized evidence-based, diversionary court docket designed for nonviolent adult criminal offenders, juvenile offenders, and parents with pending child welfare cases with demonstrated histories of mental health problems and/or drug and alcohol dependency and related crime.

Led by two commissioners, the Hon. Matt Melton and the Hon. Rochelle Woodiest, the program involves a multidisciplinary team of court professionals working collaboratively through a holistic approach to divert these individuals from the traditional and costly incarceration model of the criminal justice system by connecting them to tools and resources to rebuild their lives with intense supervision, judicial oversight, and personal accountability. The work also involves participation from judges, prosecutors, defense attorneys, social workers, case managers, probation officers, service providers, and other subject matter experts.

“What treatment court does is offer these individuals a chance to be a more productive member of society while putting them on a path toward a successful recovery,” added Commissioner Woodiest. “Through available services and resources, they are able to earn a living, find stable housing, stay with their families, pay taxes, and/or finish their education. That benefits absolutely everyone and makes us a safer, stronger community.”

To date, it’s estimated that the 22nd Judicial Circuit’s treatment court program has successfully graduated approximately 2,200 individuals.

While participant eligibility, program duration, and requirements differ person to person, each must demonstrate abstinence from drugs and alcohol, satisfy rigorous treatment and supervision conditions, complete program requirements, and pay applicable fees and restitution in order to graduate.

To learn more about the 22nd Judicial Circuit Court’s treatment court program, please visit the Court’s website here.

To learn more about the Missouri Association of Treatment Court Professionals, please visit their website here.

22nd Judicial Circuit Court Further Updates COVID-19 Operations & Procedures

Presiding Judge Michael F. Stelzer last week signed COVID-19 Administrative Order #55, which effective today, Monday, March 21, further rescinds the Court’s existing pandemic-related mandates with some limited exceptions.

For instance, Court employees who remain unvaccinated against COVID-19 are no longer required to submit weekly proof of a negative test result.

On the other hand, all Court employees must continue to follow the latest guidance from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) related to quarantining and isolation if they believe they were exposed to COVID-19 and/or are sick and have tested positive for the virus.

The Court will also continue to follow all current CDC recommendations for its juvenile detention facility and adult detainees when they’re in its custody.

Individual judges may exercise their own discretion regarding what pandemic-related restrictions or procedures they might want to continue to institute so long as that decision does not conflict with the intent of Presiding Judge Stelzer’s latest order. You can read and/or download COVID-19 Administrative Order #55 in full on the Court’s website here.

“I realize that these are a lot of changes to digest all at once and that many of you have differing opinions about where we are with COVID-19 right now. But please know the health and safety of our staff and anyone with business before the Court remains the number one priority and that we will continue to closely monitor the recommendations of our local public health experts,” said Judge Stelzer. “I am hopeful that we can continue to move in a positive direction and am grateful for all you’ve done and sacrificed over the past two years.”

According to the St. Louis Metropolitan Pandemic Task Force and the City of St. Louis Department of Health, the region continues to see sustained decreases in multiple key metrics that measure the level of COVID-19 activity in the community, such as new hospital admissions, new confirmed positive cases, and average positivity rate.

Circuit Judge Katherine Fowler Helps Local Students Navigate Complex Legal Issues

St. Louis Circuit Judge Katherine Fowler speaks with eighth grade students at Compton-Drew ILC Middle School on Friday, March 11.

A group of St. Louis middle school students got an inside look Friday, March 11 at the decisions and complexities behind a landmark United States Supreme Court case that started just a few miles away.

22nd Judicial Circuit Court Judge Katherine Fowler visited with eighth graders in Ms. Hernandez’s social studies class at Compton-Drew ILC Middle School and gave a presentation about the challenge of deciding tough cases.

Prepared by the Supreme Court of Missouri’s civic education committee, Judge Fowler focused on the Hazelwood v. Kuhlmeier presentation, which examines complex First Amendment, freedom of speech, and censorship issues that arose after a dispute involving a different school.

When a principal concluded that stories about teen pregnancy and divorce should be removed from the school newspaper, student journalists filed suit and set the state for litigation that shaped the constitutional rights of students seeking to invoke the freedom of the press.

“This particular topic is especially relevant today so I really wanted to help these kids understand the varying legal issues that can come up about what you might say, write, or wear when you are or aren’t at school,” said Judge Fowler. “Ms. Hernandez’s students asked really great questions and were fully engaged in the conversation the entire time. I’m grateful for the chance to meet with them and hopeful that we were able to inspire a new generation of lawyers and judges!”

St. Louis Circuit Judge Katherine Fowler dives into the complexities of First Amendment and freedom of speech cases with eighth grade students at Compton-Drew ILC Middle School on Friday, March 11.

Judge Fowler also took time to answer questions about her career path from law school to attorney to the bench, how you become a judge in the City of St. Louis, and other varying legal topics.

If you are interested in having a judge make a presentation at your school, please contact the civic education committee at Civic.Education@courts.mo.gov. Presentations are available for both in-person and virtual learning environments.

22nd Judicial Circuit Court Updates COVID-19 Order for Masks/Face Coverings

On Thursday, March 3, the City of St. Louis Department of Health announced that it would not seek to extend the City’s existing indoor mask mandate due to continuing downward trends of COVID-19 activity in the community. That means it will expire at 11:59 p.m. on Saturday, March 5.

In light of this news and in accordance with updated mask guidance from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), Presiding Judge Michael Stelzer has issued a new COVID-19 Administrative Order rescinding the 22nd Judicial Circuit Court’s indoor mask mandate effective Monday, March 7.

The only exceptions to this move are for confined detainees upon the Court receiving custody of the individual, detained juveniles, and all those entering the Court’s juvenile detention center in a public area. The new order also provides individual judges the ability to make further determinations about the necessity of masks for their own courtrooms and proceedings.

This is the only COVID-19 order for the Court that is changing at this time. However, leadership is continuing to review all existing orders, mandates, procedures, and mitigation strategies based on positive case counts, new admissions, local hospitalizations, and other key metrics and anticipates providing another update soon.

The Court fully recognizes that lifting the mask mandate will be welcome news for some people while causing others a great deal of hesitation and uncertainty. Please know the Court supports and affirms the choice of any employee or member of the public who wishes to continue wearing a mask in its facilities and strongly encourages mask wearing among vulnerable populations, especially those in high-risk groups, the immunocompromised, and/or who have underlying health conditions.

The Court also strongly recommends that absolutely everyone with business before it continue to follow the simple measures that we all know by now can help reduce transmission: routine hand washing, social distancing, vaccination, regular testing, quarantining and isolating if positive, staying home when sick, etc.

It’s been a challenging two years for all of us, but the Court wishes to thank its staff and the community for everything they’ve done together to help keep it open and operational under extraordinarily difficult circumstances.

22nd Judicial Circuit to Dismiss Early on Thursday, February 17, 2022 Due to Weather

Please be advised that the 22nd Judicial Circuit Court will dismiss early on Thursday, February 17, 2022 due to inclement weather that’s projected to negatively impact the St. Louis region beginning in the afternoon.

Court staff are authorized to leave at 1:30 p.m. Judges who have trials or hearings scheduled can decide whether to allow for early dismissal. The Grand Jury will be dismissed at 1:30 p.m. today after indictments are handed down.

The Court will continue to operate with a skeleton crew of staff who must provide coverage in their departments or divisions until close of regular business. The Court en Banc meeting scheduled virtually for Thursday, February 17 at 3 p.m. will proceed.