Jury duty pay now paperless at the St. Louis Circuit Court

ST. LOUIS – City jurors no longer have to wait weeks to get paid for fulfilling their civic duty.

This month, the St. Louis Circuit Court adopted a new practice of paying jurors with debit cards within days of service – eliminating the wait for checks to arrive by mail.

Upon completing jury service, jurors receive debit cards that will have money automatically transferred to them within days instead of waiting for paper checks in the mail.

The program began Sept. 5. In the first week, the court distributed more than 200 debit cards at the conclusion of jury service. The “Court Funds” cards can be used where MasterCard is accepted.

“The court is always trying to improve the jury service experience,” said St. Louis Circuit Court Jury Supervisor Joanne Martin. “We are happy to now provide our citizens with quicker access to their jury service pay.”

Switching to debit cards instead of bank checks gives citizens quicker access to their money and provides broader spending power. The cards also enable those without bank accounts to get paid without having to cash a paper check.

The St. Louis Circuit Court is now among more than 20 circuits in Missouri paying jurors via debit card. Courts in other states including Illinois, Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina and Washington also have implemented payment-by-debit card programs.

The debit cards have zero balance at the moment jurors receive them. However, the money – $12 per day for citizens not chosen or $18 per day for those who serve on a trial – is automatically transferred to the cards within days of completing jury service. Once the money is transferred, jurors receive a text message notification that their cards have been activated.

The new debit card service is saving court and city staff resources devoted to processing and distributing paper checks.

Citizens completing jury service receive a brochure with their cards with detailed instructions on how to use them, check a card’s balance and contact customer service with questions.

People who prefer paper checks may still request one in lieu of debit cards. The debit card service is being provided via an agreement with Rapid Financial Solutions based in Logan, Utah.

Presiding Judge Elizabeth Byrne Hogan wins judicial excellence award

Presiding Judge Elizabeth Byrne Hogan

ST. LOUIS – Presiding Circuit Judge Elizabeth Byrne Hogan is one of the Missouri Bar’s two winners of the 2023 Hon. Theodore McMillian Judicial Excellence Award.

The annual award recognizes Missouri judges who have advanced the administration of justice, provided outstanding community service and leadership and have inspired other members of the judiciary to noble purpose.

Judge Hogan’s leadership brought stability to the 22nd Judicial Circuit in the first half of the year at a time when the Circuit Attorney’s Office faced heavy staff turnover and a shortage of courtroom experience.

The award will be presented to Judge Hogan this week at the Missouri Bar’s annual meeting in Kansas City, Mo.

“As Presiding Judge, you guided the 22nd Judicial Circuit in finding a way to protect the rights of victims and defendants as much as possible during a tumultuous time when numerous cases were unable to be prosecuted,” Missouri Bar President Lauren Tucker McCubbin told Hogan in a recent letter announcing the award. “In addition, your dedication to civic education and delivery of numerous speeches about the judiciary have exposed countless Missouri citizens to the judicial branch of our government.”

Judge Hogan has served the St. Louis Circuit Court since her appointment to the associate bench in 2005. She has been a circuit judge since 2012 and is serving a two-year term as the 22nd Judicial Circuit’s presiding judge. Before becoming a judge, she was an assistant prosecutor in Jefferson County, an assistant circuit attorney in St. Louis and supervising attorney at CASA (formerly known as Voices for Children).

“The award is one of the greatest honors of my career,” Hogan said. “In addition to serving as an assistant circuit attorney in the City of St. Louis and working with juveniles in the City of St. Louis prior to being appointed to the bench, I have worked for over 18 years as a public servant as a judge and raised my family in this city that I love. I remain committed to doing anything I can to ensure every individual that comes before me and my colleagues, whether defendant or victim, is treated with courtesy, respect, and recognition of the rights of all.”

Judge McMillian was a legal giant in Missouri. He was the state’s first Black state prosecutor and became Missouri’s first Black circuit judge in 1956. In 1978, President Jimmy Carter appointed McMillian to the Eighth Circuit bench of the U.S. Appellate Court – the first Black person to hold that position.

This year’s other McMillian Award winner is Judge Anthony Rex Gabbert, who has served on the Missouri Court of Appeals, Western District, since 2013. For more information, go to the Missouri Bar’s announcement here.

Remote access to public court records coming soon to St. Louis Circuit Court

ST. LOUIS – In July, circuit courts across Missouri began rolling out remote access to court records in an effort to enhance public access and provide greater convenience.

On Sept. 17, remote access begins for the St. Louis Circuit Court along with several other circuits across the state.

Above is the implementation schedule for Missouri circuit courts rolling out remote access to public court records. Source: Missouri Courts

That means that starting next week, the public will be able to use personal computers, smartphones and tablets to access and download from Missouri Case.net public court records filed in the 22nd Judicial Circuit Court.

Shifting to remote access has been years in the making as technology has enabled courts to move away from paper filings to an electronic system. No longer will citizens have to visit local courthouses to access new court filings from public computer terminals. Missouri Courts data show that overall web traffic to Missouri Case.net has risen by more than 15% in July and August.

Enabling remote access also means some court records must be redacted to protect private information including Social Security numbers, financial and employment data. Other examples of records requiring redaction includes those listing identities, addresses and contact information of informants, victims and witnesses involved in criminal cases.

Importantly, the duty of redacting confidential information from court filings falls on anyone filing any document in any Missouri court case.

It’s not just attorneys who must make necessary redactions but also individuals representing themselves in court, state agencies, law enforcement officers and sometimes judges and court staff.

Court clerks cannot redact documents for those filing records containing sensitive information. Clerks are not required to know what information those filings contain and cannot provide legal advice, which is why it is the filing party’s responsibility to make sure confidential information is redacted before submitting documents to the court.

Expanded access to public documents applies only to documents filed since July 1, 2023. Documents filed before that date will continue to be accessible at public computers at state courthouses.

For more details about remote access, visit the Missouri Courts’ Remote Public Access website at https://www.courts.mo.gov/page.jsp?id=195713.

The Missouri Bar also created a website dedicated to remote access and redaction: https://rb.gy/0fe02

Additional questions about remote access should be directed to the Missouri Office of State Courts Administrator at 573-751-4377.

Federal prosecutors sworn-in to help Circuit Attorney’s Office

ST. LOUIS – Circuit Judge Elizabeth Hogan on Tuesday swore-in six assistant U.S. attorneys as special prosecutors to ease the build-up of serious pending felony cases in St. Louis Circuit Court.

St. Louis Presiding Circuit Judge Elizabeth Hogan, center, swears in several assistant U.S. attorneys as special prosecutors in the St. Louis Circuit Attorney’s Office on Tuesday, June 27, 2023.

The prosecutors who took the oath of office Tuesday are Jerry McDonald, Christine Krug, Matthew Martin, Paul D’Agrosa, Ashley Walker and Nicholas Lake.

Two others, Hal Goldsmith and Jennifer Szczucinski, are expected to be sworn-in soon.

McDonald, Krug, Walker, Martin, Lake and Szczucinski are former assistant circuit attorneys in St. Louis.

They are expected to begin working on homicides and other serious cases while continuing their regular caseload in U.S. District Court.

They joined a wave of prosecutors hired by or returning to the Circuit Attorney’s Office since Gabe Gore stepped in to replace Kimberly M. Gardner. Gore was appointed by Missouri Gov. Mike Parson following Gardner’s abrupt resignation.

Gore has hired at least a dozen assistant circuit attorneys to join his ranks in the last few weeks to rebuild an understaffed office under his predecessor.

Lynne R. Perkins appointed St. Louis circuit judge

ST. LOUIS – Missouri Gov. Mike Parson announced Friday his appointment of Lynne R. Perkins as St. Louis’ newest circuit judge. He will fill the vacancy created by the March retirement of Circuit Judge Michael Mullen. Perkins, 62, has served the associate circuit bench since October 2017. Since the start of 2023, he has been one of two associate judges assigned to the St. Louis Circuit Court’s bond review divisions.

Judge Lynne R. Perkins

“While interacting with the citizens of St. Louis City, I am reminded daily of the awesome responsibility that being a Judge brings,” Perkins wrote in his application for the appointment. “As such, I am mindful of the symbolism that my appointment carries and welcome the opportunity to serve. Thus, each day I have the privilege of taking the bench, I endeavor to work hard to earn the respect of the public and my peers, and to administer justice competently, fairly, and with patience and respect.”

Perkins grew up in St. Louis and went on to serve 20 years in the Air Force where he earned numerous medals. After his honorable discharge in 2000, he earned a law degree at Washington University in 2003 and worked for five years as a public defender in St. Louis. He then practiced as a private defense attorney for nearly a decade until his appointment to the bench.

During his time as a trial attorney, he said he came “to understand the often-complex nature of our judicial processes and the impact that courts and judicial decisions have not only on the lives of those involved but other members of our city, state, and nation.”

Perkins was among 11 applicants for the appointment. The 22nd Circuit Judicial Commission interviewed them May 3 and selected three nominees. The other two were Associate Circuit Judge David Roither and Family Court Commissioner Michael Walton.

The commission’s members are Michael E. Gardner, chief judge of the Missouri Court of Appeals, Eastern District, and commission chair; Matthew J. Devoti; J. Brent Dulle, secretary of the commission; Eva Frazer, M.D.; and Chris Goodson.

Perkins’ web bio is here: http://www.stlcitycircuitcourt.com/index2.html?XMLFile=xml/judges/Perkins.xml

Gabriel Gore sworn-in as new St. Louis circuit attorney

ST. LOUIS – Gabriel E. Gore, sworn-in Tuesday as the city’s top prosecutor, said his goal on his first day will be to stabilize the Circuit Attorney’s Office and fulfill its “critical role in the criminal justice process.”

“I will do that by instilling a culture in the office in which we strive for excellence in everything we do,” Gore said after taking the oath in a packed courtroom in the Carnahan Courthouse. “We will also get to work on the backlog of cases. It’s a tremendous backlog and it’s going to be hard work.”

Gabriel E. Gore, center, is sworn-in as St. Louis’ new circuit attorney on May 30, 2023. Administering the oath is Missouri Supreme Court Justice Robin Ransom, right.

Missouri Supreme Court Judge Robin Ransom administered the oath Tuesday, with several public officials watching. Those included St. Louis Mayor Tishaura Jones, St. Louis Police Chief Robert Tracy, St. Louis County Executive Sam Page and St. Louis County Prosecutor Wesley Bell.

“We understand full well that we’re going to do all of these things at once,” Gore said. “We have no illusions. This will not be easy, but starting today, working together, we can restore the public’s confidence and trust in the Circuit Attorney’s Office. Because public service is a public trust. We’re ready to get to work.”

Gore was appointed by Gov. Mike Parson earlier this month, a few days after Kimberly M. Gardner stepped down amid intensifying scrutiny of her management of the Circuit Attorney’s Office, the continued loss of prosecutors and a “quo warranto” lawsuit by the Missouri attorney general aimed at removing Gardner from her second term.

Gardner was first elected in 2016 and reelected in 2020. During both terms, Gardner positioned herself as a criminal justice reformer. She struggled to fulfill her objectives in part stemming from problems managing the office, an exodus of experienced prosecutors and missteps in serious criminal cases.

Gore was among 18 applicants for the appointment. He was a partner at the Clayton law firm Dowd Bennett and has more than two decades of experience in private practice. He previously worked as an assistant U.S. attorney in St. Louis.

After Tuesday’s ceremony, Gore took questions from St. Louis reporters about his priorities and approach to the job. He said he has already begun talking to people interested in working for him including former assistant circuit attorneys he described as “extremely devoted.”

His philosophy for the job, he said, will be “to look at the facts, enforce the laws as they’re written.”

Gore said he hopes to work with other prosecutors’ offices including Bell’s office in St. Louis County and the U.S. Attorney’s Office in order to address a deep backlog of cases on the docket, stabilize his office, seek justice for victims and fulfill obligations to the court — meaning showing up for court and coming prepared.

“I define public safety as what any of us want for our families,” he said. “We want to be able to go out and go through your daily activities without being concerned about any harm coming to you. Just very basic public safety. I’ve been fortunate in my life that I’ve been able to grow up in those kinds of environments and that’s what I want for everyone.”

Before Gore’s swearing-in Tuesday morning, Presiding Judge Elizabeth Hogan was interviewed on KMOX-AM about the challenges Gore faces in his new job.

Circuit Judge Elizabeth Hogan

Hogan told KMOX’s Megan Lynch that the St. Louis Circuit Court judges have and will continue to do what they can to work with the Circuit Attorney’s Office during the office’s transition to new leadership. She said the St. Louis Circuit Court’s concerns about public safety in St. Louis mirror that of the citizens.

“I think, like the community, all of the judges obviously live in the city and are raising their families here,” Hogan said. “We’ve all seen very concerning criminal activity, particularly lately, and I believe the court takes very seriously the rights of victims, their opportunity to be heard in cases. At the same time, we have to balance the rights of defendants, many of whom are confined and waiting trial.”

St. Louis Family Court releases 2022 ‘Report to the Community’

The St. Louis Family Court’s 2022 Report the Community.

ST. LOUIS — The St. Louis Family Court’s Report to the Community for 2022 is now available.

The report provides a detailed summary of the Court’s various juvenile programs aimed at enhancing public safety, services for youths and their families as well as comprehensive data on referrals and the juvenile population.

“I am thrilled to be part of the Court and look forward to continuing to strengthen community collaborations that will benefit our juveniles and the citizens of St. Louis in the best interest of our children,” St. Louis Family Court Administrative Judge Steven Ohmer wrote.

The report shows increases last year in felony, misdemeanor and status offenses as well as certifications to adult court over recent years. This is because of Missouri’s Raise the Age law made 18 the age of prosecution in state courts. The change, which took effect in July 2021, means 17-year-olds accused of crimes are initially referred to family courts instead of prosecuted as adults.

“We continue to carry out the principles of the Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative along with our deep-end reform efforts which include preventative services and informal interventions,” Ohmer said.

In 2022, the St. Louis Family Court received the Shining Light Award from Missouri Families 4 Families for its “Team Support Approach” and the positive impact it has had on improving outcomes of justice-involved youth in St. Louis. The approach seeks to connect families with caregivers and service providers to enhance support networks to develop individualized treatment plans success.

The Court has continued to improve services for youths and families and provides programming aimed at enhancing safety in the community. Those programs include evening reporting center, home detention, GPS monitoring and “Alternatives to Violence,” which focuses on the development of youths and parent support while encouraging juveniles to take responsibility for their actions, recognize potential consequences and work to resolve conflicts peacefully.

Click here to access a PDF version of the report: https://tinyurl.com/3mn5y3cn

St. Louis Circuit Court appoints Kelly Moyich as Treatment Court Commissioner

ST. LOUIS — The 22nd Judicial Circuit Court this week appointed Kelly Moyich as its new Treatment Court Commissioner. Moyich will start her new position in June and join Commissioner Matthew Melton to lead the circuit’s treatment court.

Kelly Moyich (Photo courtesy of Lindenwood University)

“I am honored to have the opportunity to serve the citizens of the City of St. Louis in such an impactful way,” Moyich said. “Treatment courts a true example of rehabilitation in our justice system. I am thrilled to be a part of this effort.”

Moyich brings a wide range of legal and administrative experience to the position. For the past 2+ years, she served Lindenwood University’s Associate Vice President of Student Affairs, Community Equity and Inclusion. In that role, she led nine departments relating to student co-curricular experiences and served as the highest-ranking student affairs professional on the St. Charles campus.

From 2017-21, Moyich served as Lindenwood’s Title IX coordinator, overseeing all university compliance efforts, directing the complaint processes for sexual misconduct policies as well as administering student, staff and faculty training.

Before Lindenwood, she worked as an assistant circuit attorney prosecuting violent crimes in St. Louis from 2015-17, provided legal counsel for the St. Louis County Circuit Clerk from 2012-15 and was an assistant public defender in St. Louis and St. Louis County from 2003-12.

Moyich and her spouse Nikola have two children and are proud residents of the city’s St. Louis Hills neighborhood. Moyich earned her law degree from the University of Missouri School of Law in 2003 and a bachelor’s degree in criminology from the University of Missouri-St. Louis in 2000.

She fills a vacancy created last summer when the Hon. Rochelle Woodiest was appointed associate circuit judge in St. Louis.

Founded in 1997, the 22nd Judicial Circuit Court’s treatment court is one of Missouri’s longest running programs. It is a specialized, evidence-based, diversionary court docket designed for nonviolent adult and juvenile offenders and parents with pending child welfare cases and histories of mental health problems and/or drug and alcohol dependency. The program diverts people from incarceration, connects them with community resources while providing judicial supervision and requiring personal accountability to help people rebuild their lives and overcome addictions.

Statement on appointment of new St. Louis Circuit Attorney

The 22nd Judicial Circuit Court in St. Louis congratulates Gabriel E. Gore on being appointed the city’s new circuit attorney.

The judges of this circuit remain committed to the citizens of the St. Louis region and pledge to work with Gore as he rebuilds experience and stability within the Circuit Attorney’s Office.

During this time of transition, the Court hopes the region comes together to offer support and assistance to the CAO’s new leader with a renewed focus on public safety and the fair administration of justice in the City of St. Louis.

Missouri Gov. Michael Parson holds a press conference May 19, 2023, to announce his appointment of Gabriel E. Gore (standing to Parson’s right) as the new St. Louis circuit attorney. Gore replaces Kimberly M. Gardner who abruptly resigned Tuesday.

Missouri governor appoints new associate circuit judge

Gov. Mike Parson today announced the appointment of Heather J. Hays as the 22nd Judicial Circuit’s newest associate circuit judge. She fills a vacancy left by the recent appointment of Circuit Judge Craig Higgins. Higgins was sworn in last month.

Hays has been a partner in the litigation section of the Rynearson, Suess, Schnurbusch & Champion law firm in St. Louis. She previously served as an appellate judge’s clerk in the Missouri Eastern District Court of Appeals. She is a past president of the Bar Association of Metropolitan St. Louis and the Women’s Lawyers’ Association of Greater St. Louis.

The 22nd Judicial Circuit is proud to welcome Judge Hays to the bench.