The St. Clair Board of Aldermen approved an ordinance to repeal and replace Chapter 15 of the Code of Ordinances regarding municipal court earlier this month.
The repeal and replace is necessary for the city to meet new requirements and guidelines.
By approving Ordinance 1918, the city is in compliance with new regulations set by 2016 Senate Bill 5 and 2016 Senate Bill 572, according to City Administrator Travis Dierker.
City Attorney Kurt Voss and Court Clerk Dana Collins-Messex helped make changes to Chapter 15.
The board voted 4-0 in favor of Ordinance 1918.
Chapter 15 includes 31 sections regarding municipal judge qualifications, terms and compensation, parole and probation, docket and court records, arrests without a warrant, failure to appear in court, jury trials, summoning a witness, jailing of defendants, right of appeal and more.
SB 5 went into effect in 2015 and it was created to remove any biases within the court system toward individuals by setting new regulations on municipal courts, according to Dierker said.
The new regulations are based on research found from the 2014 Michael Brown case. Dierker said the research showed there were biases toward individuals by Ferguson police and its municipal court.
In addition, the bill also restricts the amount of revenue a municipal court generates, according to Dierker.
“You can’t have your court providing a ton of revenue – that’s not the idea behind the court,” he said.
The bill states that municipal courts can make up 15 to 20 percent of the city’s general revenue. St. Clair’s municipal court makes up 3 to 4 percent.
“Literally, our court system just pays (for) what it costs to run to court in a sense,” Dierker said.
“We’re nowhere near what even the restrictions are.”
Besides updating policies and procedures within Chapter 15, the city also made a few modifications including adding a municipal court sign outside city hall, designating an employee as a prosecuting clerk with a separate phone line and email than the court’s clerk, along with added paperwork.
According to legiscan.com, SB 572 “Modifies various provisions regarding municipalities located in St. Louis County, nuisance abatement ordinances, disincorporation procedures for various cities, and municipal courts.”
It was passed in June 2016. Dierker said this bill provides guidelines on giving nuisance fines and other provisions.