The Missouri Constitution says that courts must be open to the public. But in several St. Louis County municipal courthouses, that's not always the case. Now, after attorneys who work in the county expressed their concerns, a top county judge has ordered the courts to open up.
"There are still a substantial number of municipal courts that limit seating only to defendants and defendants' attorneys, without any justification," Presiding Judge Maura McShane -- who has administrative authority over municipal courts -- writes in a June 24 letter. "The practice is not only a clear violation of the Missouri Constitution, but it also subjects those to potential claims for violations of Constitutional rights."
The order comes after lawyers from ArchCity Defenders, a nonprofit law firm focused on indigent clients, as well as professors from the Clinical Law Offices of the Saint Louis University School of Law, brought the matter to the attention of McShane and other County judges beginning back in March. More »