Plaintiffs Amend County Court Suit - The Missourian: County

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Plaintiffs Amend County Court Suit

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Posted: Thursday, March 7, 2013 3:00 am | Updated: 12:45 pm, Fri Mar 8, 2013.

A group of Franklin County residents has amended their lawsuit that they filed against the establishment of the county’s new municipal court.

The plaintiffs had until last Friday to amend their suit after Associate Circuit Court Judge Robert D. Schollmeyer dismissed the case in January for lack of standing.

The county argued that the plaintiffs had no grounds to sue since they were not directly impacted by the court, such as being defendants in the court.

But the plaintiffs in their amended lawsuit argue that they do in fact have standing in the case.

“Each plaintiff is a resident, citizen and taxpayer in the county of Franklin and the state of Missouri,” the amended suit states.

Presiding County Commissioner John Griesheimer blasted plaintiff Art LeBeau and the other plaintiffs, saying they do not know what they are doing.

The plaintiffs are representing themselves in the case without an attorney.

Griesheimer said it is clear that the plaintiffs don’t understand the law since they are not attorneys.

The plaintiffs argue that the county’s new municipal court was illegally created.

They say that the court was created by the state Legislature adding language to a bill that originally dealt with a different subject. The original bill dealt with juvenile court, which the plaintiffs say is a different subject than a county municipal court.

But Griesheimer said the subjects were related because they both dealt with courts.

The head of Senate research said the bill was legal, Griesheimer said, adding that he is very confident that the county will continue to prevail in the case.

LeBeau does not understand the legislative process, said Griesheimer, who served in the state Legislature for 18 years.

The lawsuit states that the state Constitution prohibits a bill from being amended in a fashion that changes its original purpose.

Moreover, the lawsuit charges that the state Constitution forbids a bill from containing more than one subject.

No other hearings have been scheduled on the case at this time, according to the circuit clerk’s office.

If the plaintiffs lose again in Franklin County Circuit Court, LeBeau said the lawsuit will be taken to the Missouri Court of Appeals in St. Louis.

LeBeau said he is almost certain that he and the other plaintiffs will ultimately prevail in the lawsuit.

The county’s cost to defend itself in the lawsuit is covered by the $5,500 a month that it is already paying the Union law firm of Purschke, White, Robinson and Becker for its services as prosecutor in the county municipal court, according to County Auditor Tammy Vemmer.

Griesheimer said once the case gets beyond the circuit court, that the larger courts are not going to continue to tolerate plaintiffs who have no professional legal representation.

The case is just an example of how the plaintiffs find fault in all of the county commission’s actions, Griesheimer said.

“Everything we do they don’t agree with,” Griesheimer said.

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