A final vote won't happen for two weeks, but it was apparent from more than 30 minutes of discussion by Carthage City Council members that the proposal to transfer the duties of the municipal court to the county circuit court system will likely be defeated.

A final vote won't happen for two weeks, but it was apparent from more than 30 minutes of discussion by Carthage City Council members that the proposal to transfer the duties of the municipal court to the county circuit court system will likely be defeated.
The proposal, listed as Council Bill 18-16, was heard for the first time on Tuesday and faces a final vote at the May 8 Council meeting.
After hearing from current Municipal Court Judge Brad Cameron and local attorney Pete Lasley, who both spoke during the public comment period of the meeting against the idea, most of the nine council members present on Tuesday took at least one turn talking about it, and not one spoke in favor.
The idea was floated to council members by city staff because the city faces having to hire a new Municipal Judge for the first time in 37 years when Cameron bumps into the state's mandatory retirement age of 75 in October.
The city also faces having to hire a court clerk for the city prosecutor's office and possibly hiring bailiffs for the Municipal Court to comply with new and existing rules being enforced by the Missouri State Courts Administrators Office in response to the riots in Ferguson and problems found in St. Louis area municipal courts.
Even James Harrison and Darren Collier, the two members of Council's Public Safety Committee who voted to bring the proposal to the full Council at the committee's meeting on April 16, said they weren't in favor of making the change.
Collier said the city will have to hire, at the very least, a clerk for the city prosecutor, and maybe some bailiffs, to meet state requirements being considered or enforced now.
Collier said he was concerned about hiring people now, then in a year or two, people in Jefferson City changing the rules for Municipal Court to the point where the city has to reconsider its decision not to turn to the circuit court.
“We're going to have to hire a clerk, we'll have to hire bailiffs, we're going to have to bring people on board and I'm comfortable doing that, we'll figure out a way to do that,” Collier said. “But we also have to be comfortable in letting these candidates for city jobs know that the jobs may not be there a year from now.”
Kirby Newport, the member of the Public Safety Committee who voted no on the motion to send the bill to the full council, said he believed the committee had a responsibility to make the decision at that level, if citizens were not in favor of moving the court.
Newport said he will be voting no on the bill “unless I am convinced otherwise before the next meeting.”
“As Mr. Cameron clearly stated, the citizens do expect us to serve them in the form of a court,” Newport said. “One of the things he didn't mention in his discussion, but I'm very concerned about, is that I believe citizens move to Carthage in order to receive services and to govern themselves, and this is one of the many ways we actually govern ourselves, by resolving our disputes here, in our court, resolving them through people who work for the city with appropriate separation of powers.”
Cameron, in his remarks at the start of the meeting, told the council he was concerned that, if the city gives up it's municipal court to the Circuit Court, people charged with violations of Carthage municipal code will have to go to Joplin to take care of their cases.
Cameron said Judge John Nicholas, the Associate Circuit Judge who will likely hear Carthage's municipal cases if court were transferred, has said he could only hear Carthage cases one day a month, versus the current Municipal Court schedule of court almost every Thursday.
Attorney Pete Lasley said Nicholas' schedule could result in dockets of upwards of 400 cases each time cases are heard, and people having to come to the courthouse at 9 a.m., but being stuck at the courthouse all day before having their cases heard.