ST. LOUIS (AP) — The Missouri Supreme Court has issued minimum standards for municipal courts in response to accusations that courts in the St. Louis area routinely violate the rights of the poor.
Some have decried the practice of holding defendants in jail who aren’t able to pay fines or bail and sometimes have to wait days or weeks to see a judge.
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports the state Supreme Court established a requirement for municipal courts to have a judge on duty at all times to rule on warrants and bail, and to offer alternative sentences for people who can’t afford to pay fines. Municipal courts must also have a clerk on duty for at least 30 hours a week, and must at least be pursuing court automation to allow online payments.
The standards go into effect July 1.