Citizen Sues County

A citizen who is suing Franklin County over the establishment of the county’s municipal court argued his case before the Missouri Supreme Court Wednesday.

Villa Ridge resident Art LeBeau alleges that a Missouri House bill that authorized the creation of the court was unconstitutional.

The Supreme Court took the case under advisement.

Matthew Becker, the lawyer representing the county, said LeBeau has no legal standing because he has not been adversely affected by the court.

The Supreme Court questioned the county’s argument as to whether the plaintiffs have standing to sue. One justice asked why a citizen would not have legal standing when public funds are expended.

As a citizen and taxpayer, LeBeau said he has a right and duty to question and challenge government when he believes it has gone awry.

Therefore, he says he has standing to sue in this matter even though the Franklin County Circuit Court ruled that he did not.

Instead of ruling on the merits of the case, the circuit court simply said the plaintiffs did not have a right to sue and dismissed the case, LeBeau asserted.

The basis of LeBeau’s case is the constitutionality of Missouri House Bill 1171. He argues that the bill was unconstitutional because it contained two subject matters and was amended to change the subject matter of the original bill.

The original bill dealt with juvenile courts but was then amended to include language about the county municipal court. The amendment dealt with the population a county must have in order to establish a municipal court, LeBeau said.

This caused the bill to have two subjects: juvenile courts and county government, LeBeau says.

Becker argued that juvenile courts and county courts are related.

The county also argued that the plaintiff’s legal briefs were defective. But one of the justices said the court rules on the merits of the case not on technicalities of plaintiff’s written briefs.

The plaintiffs are representing themselves in the case. Villa Ridge resident Eric Reichert is also listed as a plaintiff in the case, but he did not speak at the hearing.