HB 0175 Relating to Certain Circuit Courts
Sponsor:BARNES Handling House Bill:
Committee:JUDC LR Number:L0559.01I
Last Action:05/15/95 - H Inf Calendar H Bills for Perfection (w/HCS)
Title:HCS/HB 175 & 265
Effective Date:
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Current Bill Summary

HCS HB 175 & 265 Barnes, James Morgan, Annette N. et al




COMMITTEE ACTION: Voted "do pass" by the Committee on Judiciary and Ethics by a vote of 12 to 0.

This substitute creates the position of drug court commissioner in Jackson County. The commissioner may be appointed by a majority vote of the county's circuit court judges. The commissioner will serve a term of 4 years, be paid the same as an associate circuit court judge, and have the powers and duties of a circuit court judge. All orders, judgments, and decrees of the commissioner must be confirmed or rejected by a circuit court judge before having the effect of law. Also, the substitute adds two associate circuit court judges to the Jackson County circuit, with one sitting in Kansas City and the other in Independence. The substitute also makes all juvenile court referees who were serving on August 28, 1993, into family court commissioners as of August 28, 1995.

FISCAL NOTE: Not available at time of this printing.

PROPONENTS: Supporters say that the 16th Circuit has not added any personnel at the jury trial level in 18 years. With the new crime sentencing guidelines, criminal trials have increased dramatically, especially drug cases. A drug court is needed to funnel the non-violent offenders into treatment and avoid the overwhelmed criminal justice system. In addition, the eastern half of Jackson County has grown from 27% to 48% of the county's population since 1970, yet no judges have been added to the Independence court. In the city of St. Louis, referees in the juvenile court should assume the title of family court commissioner for reasons of fairness and equity. St. Louis County and Jackson County have had the state pay the salary of a family court commissioner for several years. The city of St. Louis has a larger caseload than St. Louis County, but has had to finance the same position (labeled a "referee") spending more than $1,000,000 since 1969.

Testifying for the bill were Representatives Shelton and Barnes; Presiding Judge John O'Malley, 16th Circuit; Judge Jack Gant, 16th Circuit; Eastern Jackson County Bar Association; Office of the Mayor, City of St. Louis; and Judge James Gallagher, 22nd Circuit, Family Court Division.

OPPONENTS: There was no opposition voiced to the committee.

Richard Smreker, Research Analyst