Disunity among sheriffs, probation and parole leaders

​A man who was serving a life sentence in a 1994 murder-for-hire plot in Tennessee is out of prison. 

There’s more frustration among Missouri sheriffs about a new system for people on Probation or Parole.

A meeting with those sheriffs and state officials got heated and ended when at least one sheriff walked out, and our cameras came in.

Many lawmen across the state say the system is broken. Multiple local sheriffs say it’s dangerous and threatens the public’s safety.

Probation and parole disagrees, and says the system is aimed at rehabilitation.

“People who are on probation and parole, leaving a probation and parole office high on methamphetamine– tested positive for it and was allowed to leave!” exclaimed Greene County Sheriff Jim Arnott.

Local sheriffs are fired up about the issue again, seven months after it was adopted.

“If you have someone testing positive for meth or any kind of drug and they walk back out onto the street immediately after they test positive and get in a car and drive away– that is a pu​​blic safety issue. And that is just one of a few of the examples that I can give you,” said Sheriff Brad Cole of Christian County.

The Missouri Division of Probation and Parole says the new system is better tailored for rehabbing criminals.

“We can’t say a blanket statement that everybody on probation or parole that gets two dirty urine tests is going to prison. I can’t give a blanket analysis of what we would do in those circumstances. But what we’re trying to do is look at these cases individually, and depending on what the risk factors are, depending on what the circumstances are of this case, I can’t say there is a blanket decision to return people to prison based on a number of anything,” said Julie Kempker, the director of probation and parole. She has been on a statewide tour to try to get many upset sheriffs on the same page as her division.

“The blame is being placed on the wrong people,” said Kempker. We asked who should the blame be placed on.

“It’s not for me to determine, not for me to decide. As the director of probation and parole, my job is to make sure P&P staff are supervising their clients to the best of their ability with the resources that we have,” Kempker said.

“You can ask the other sheriffs who were in attendance, they feel the same way, it’s ridiculous that we are letting people go and knowingly doing it,” Arnott said.

“You have to have consequences. You can’t come to your P&P meeting and test positive for meth two times in a row and nothing be done!” said Sheriff Cole.

Another thing the sheriffs are upset about is that our KY3 cameras aren’t being allowed inside these meetings, as we are trying to be the eyes and ears of the tax-paying public.

“Often times when the media is here, I think there is a lot of grandstanding and that’s not what I wanted,” said Kempker.

When we tried to come in, the meeting was ended immediately. The sheriffs are urging transparency.

KY3 has asked the governor to weigh in, since he is from this area, and a former sheriff. He has agreed to an interview on Saturday. We will have his take on the situation next week.

 
​By ​Sara Forhetz | KY3 News

State Budget to Include $22 Million Owed to County Jails

An effort is underway by the Parson administration to pay down the $33,429,739 tab owed to county jails across the state.

The state has been accruing the debt across 114 counties which transport, house, process, extrad​​ite, feed and provide health care to offenders in the pre-trial or appeal phases.

Gov. Parson said Friday in an address to the County Commissioners Association of Missouri that his budget proposal will include a $22 million sum to pay down a large portion of the backlog.

The state has three methods for county reimbursement, according to its website:

Bill of Costs – These are expenses that accrue as a result of various costs and fees arising out of the prosecution of certain crimes.
Extradition – These are expenses that accrue as a result of a fugitive being returned to Missouri to face the disposition of criminal charges.
Transportation – These are delivery expenses that accrue as a result of convicted offenders being delivered to the department’s Reception and Diagnostic Centers.

The board reimbursement rate has not significantly changed since at least 1998, according to the Missouri Department of Corrections.

Below is a summary of the backlogged debt owed to some of the counties in mid-Missouri as of Dec. 31, 2019:

COUNTY​ ​AMOUNT DUE:

  • Boone​ ​$1,006,358
  • Cole​ ​$137,792
  • Callaway​ ​$254,681
  • Audrain​ ​$201,472
  • Howard​ ​$32,927
  • Cooper​ ​$77,024
  • Moniteau​ ​$135,842
  • Miller​ ​$208,000
 
​By Joe McLean | ABC 17 News KMIZ​

Sheriff Lends Support to Increased Police Chase Penalties

Missouri state lawmakers heard testimony Monday on a bill that would make all police chases felonies.

Right now a majority end up being classified as misdemeanors and usually don’t lead to additional penalties on top of the charges the suspect is running from.

Quasheena Cadenhead was charged Monday in Cass County for leading deputies on a chase at speeds that topped 100 mph while going the wrong way down Interstate 49. A deputy who brought the chase to an end as she exited on an entrance ramp was injured.

Sheriff Jeff Weber said if it weren’t for the deputy’s injuries, ​​Cadenhead may have only faced a misdemeanor in the wild chase.

In 1995, Cass County Dep. Jeff Mayse was chasing a suspect on a rural Cass County road when he slammed into a tree.

“I just remember the next days just feeling numb, knowing my life was never going to be the same,” his daughter Brandy Whitten said.

Whitten was 12 when Mayse was killed, her little sister was born 4 weeks later, but never got to meet the man who wore badge 619.

A Missouri legislator introduced House Bill 619 last year to strengthen penalties for running from the law, but it never picked up traction.

On Monday, one day after one of his deputies was injured in a high-speed pursuit, Weber testified in favor of this year’s version, House Bill 1620.

“It’s been our experience that individuals who run once, run twice, three, four times. They do it all the time, and we’ve trained them to do that,” he said.

Weber wants the line in Missouri statue that says it’s a misdemeanor “unless the person fleeing creates a substantial risk of serious injury or death” eliminated and replaced with a Class E felony.

“We are just gambling. We are letting them out on a signature bond to continue to do these things until someone finally gets hurt,” Weber said.

Or in the case of Jeff Mayse, killed in the line of duty. His daughter said it should be simple.

“There’s no reason to injure anyone else or yourselves, injure someone else that’s in the path or put the deputies’ lives on the line. They are doing their job, just pull over,” Whitten said.

​​But according to Weber, suspects aren’t the getting the message. He said chases in the county have become almost a daily occurrence.

A deputy injured in a chase in September only returned to duty Friday. There’s no telling when the deputy who stopped Sunday’s wrong-way, speeding suspect will be back to work.

Kansas law is similar to Missouri’s right now, though it makes a third arrest for fleeing and eluding an automatic felony.

By Dave D’Marko | Fox 4 KC

Sheriffs Ask State to Stop Shorting Them on Jail Costs

Sheriffs from counties across Missouri called on state lawmakers Monday to find a way to pay back nearly $35 million in debt connected to their county jail operations.

The state owes the money to counties, as well as the city of St. Louis, whose jails have held state prisoners while they await trial. The backlog also includes money owed to counties for transporting prisoners from local jails to state prison facilities, as well as money spent collecting suspects who are arrested in other states.

“This has been a long-term problem,” Lewis County Sheriff David Parrish told members of the House Subcommittee on County Prison Per Diem Reimbursement.

The panel is working to develop a recommendation for repayment that will be considered by the House Budget Committee as it crafts the state’s $30.9 billion spending plan.

The decision is one more pressure point facing Gov. Mike Parson and the GOP-controlled Legislature as they work to put together a spending plan for the fiscal year beginning July 1. The state’s public defender system says it needs an estimated 300 more attorneys to effectively represent poor people in court. Correctional officers are owed more than $114 million in back pay stemming from a lawsuit guards brought against the Department of Corrections.

And, Parson did not call for an estimated $3 million to give raises to low-paid workers at the state’s nursing homes for military veterans in order to stop a turnover rate of about 80%.

At the same time, Republican lawmakers continue to debate various attempts to reduce the state’s tax rates on individuals and corporations, resulting in a potential decrease in revenues.

In January, Parson, a former sheriff, recommended funneling an extra $22 million to the fund to pay down the debt.

In St. Louis, the city is owed $2.4 million, according to figures provided by the Missouri Department of Corrections. St. Louis County is owed $3.3 million. St. Charles has been shortchanged $1.1 million, while Jefferson County is out $455,000.

While Parson’s budget proposal is a start toward closing the gap, Parrish and other county officials say the state’s failure to pay the full amount has led to financial hardships and overcrowding in county lock-ups.

The daily reimbursement rate hasn’t risen above $22 for the past two decades. The actual cost is closer to at least $60 per day.

“I think we’re open to looking at changing the process,” said Trent Watson of the Missouri Association of Counties. “We need a little more help from the state.”

Counties also have to pay for the cost of health care for indigent prisoners. In some cases, counties are holding suspects who are, for example, pregnant or are undergoing kidney dialysis.

“That is a huge cost,” Watson said.

Callaway County Commissioner Gary Jungermann said some counties are hiring fewer deputies because of the financial pinch. At the same time, many counties are considering expanding their jails to deal with overcrowding.

Jungermann said the state could consider state-operated regional jails to house offenders who are picked up by the Missouri State Highway Patrol, rather than leaving that cost to the counties.

“County taxpayers are required to do the heavy lifting,” said Parrish, who is president of the Missouri Sheriff’s Association. “We feel like it has to be a partnership between us.”

By Kurt Erickson | stltoday.com

FBI Releases 2019 Internet Crime Report

Internet-enabled crimes and scams show no signs of letting up, according to data released by the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) in its 2019 Internet Crime Report. The last calendar year saw both the highest number of complaints and the highest dollar losses reported since the center was established in May 2000.

IC3 received 467,361 complaints in 2019—an average of nearly 1,300 every day—and recorded more than $3.5 billion in losses to individual and business victims. The most frequently reported complaints were phishing and similar ploys, non-payment/non-delivery scams, and extortion. The most financially costly complaints involved business email compromise, romance or confidence fraud, and spoofing, or mimicking the account of a person or vendor known to the victim to gather personal or financial information.

Donna Gregory, the chief of IC3, said that in 2019 the center didn’t see an uptick in new types of fraud but rather saw criminals deploying new tactics and techniques to carry out existing scams.

“Criminals are getting so sophisticated,” Gregory said. “It is getting harder and harder for victims to spot the red flags and tell real from fake.”

While email is still a common entry point, frauds are also beginning on text messages—a crime called smishing—or even fake websites—a tactic called pharming.

“You may get a text message that appears to be your bank asking you to verify information on your account,” said Gregory. “Or you may even search a service online and inadvertently end up on a fraudulent site that gathers your bank or credit card information.”

Individuals need to be extremely skeptical and double check everything, Gregory emphasized. “In the same way your bank and online accounts have started to require two-factor authentication—apply that to your life,” she said. “Verify requests in person or by phone, double check web and email addresses, and don’t follow the links provided in any messages.”

“Criminals are getting so sophisticated. It is getting harder and harder for victims to spot the red flags and tell real from fake.”

Shifts in Business Email Compromise

Business email compromise (BEC), or email account compromise, has been a major concern for years. In 2019, IC3 recorded 23,775 complaints about BEC, which resulted in more than $1.7 billion in losses.

These scams typically involve a criminal spoofing or mimicking a legitimate email address. For example, an individual will receive a message that appears to be from an executive within their company or a business with which an individual has a relationship. The email will request a payment, wire transfer, or gift card purchase that seems legitimate but actually funnels money directly to a criminal.

In the last year, IC3 reported seeing an increase in the number of BEC complaints related to the diversion of payroll funds. “In this type of scheme, a company’s human resources or payroll department receives an email appearing to be from an employee requesting to update their direct deposit information for the current pay period,” the report said. The change instead routes an employee’s paycheck to a criminal.

The Importance of Reporting

“Information reported to the IC3 plays a vital role in the FBI’s ability to understand our cyber adversaries and their motives, which, in turn, helps us to impose risks and consequences on those who break our laws and threaten our national security,” said Matt Gorham, assistant director of the FBI’s Cyber Division. “It is through these efforts we hope to build a safer and more secure cyber landscape.” Gorham encourages everyone to use IC3 and reach out to their local field office to report malicious activity.

Rapid reporting can help law enforcement stop fraudulent transactions before a victim loses the money for good. The FBI’s Recovery Asset Team was created to streamline communication with financial institutions and FBI field offices and is continuing to build on its success. The team successfully recovered more than $300 million for victims in 2019.

Besides stressing vigilance on the part of every connected citizen, the IC3’s Donna Gregory also stressed the importance of victims providing as much information as possible when they come to IC3. Victims should include every piece of information they have—any email addresses, account information they were given, phone numbers scammers called from, and other details. The more information IC3 can gather, the more it helps combat the criminals.

In 2019, the Recovery Asset Team was paired with the Money Mule Team under the IC3’s Recovery and Investigative Development Team. This effort brings together law enforcement and financial institutions to use the data provided in IC3 complaints to gain a better view of the networks and methods of cyber fraudsters and identify the perpetrators.

The new effort allowed IC3 to aggregate more than three years of reports to help build a case against an active group of criminals who were responsible for damaging crimes that ranged from cryptocurrency theft to online extortion. The ensuing investigation by the FBI’s San Francisco Field Office resulted in the arrest of three people.

Read the full 2019 Internet Crime Report. To stay up to date on common online scams and frauds or report a crime, visit ic3.gov.

The safest place to be in a vehicle ambush attack

​Many people fail to recognize that angled, windshield glass is a formidable obstacle. (Photo/Houston Police)​Have a plan, should you come under attack when in a vehicle. 

In any given year, roughly half of all police-involved shootings take place from or around vehicles. More recently, we have seen a dramatic spike in incidents where law enforcement officers ​​have been the victims of unprovoked attacks while sitting in their marked vehicles.

This disturbing trend has caused those of us involved in training to take a hard look at how we are preparing our officers for the possibility of an ambush attack. A logical first step is revisiting the topic of mindset and mental conditioning. The harsh reality is bad things often happen to good people and law enforcement officers need to come to terms with the fact that they could be targeted for attack.

STAYING SWITCHED ON

Awareness is the first cornerstone of a positive mindset and many such ambush incidents can be averted if we stay switched on. I recognize, of course, it is especially difficult to maintain a constant state of Condition Yellow over the course of a long day and we simply can’t view every citizen we come in contact with as a deadly threat. Although a great many citizen interactions might be best categorized as service calls, keep that radar up. Recognize that situations can flip in the blink of an eye and trust your sixth sense. If things don’t seem right, they probably aren’t.

Sound tactics, while in the vehicle, are yet another component of the safety net. If an attack is imminent or ongoing, drive away. But what if an obstacle or traffic makes this impossible? What if the threat is just a few feet away and is bringing his or her weapon to bear?

TESTING DEFENSE TACTICS

Recently, I had the opportunity to attend an eight-hour program on vehicle defense tactics which was sponsored by the International Association of Law Enforcement Firearms Instructors. This block of instruction focused on how to effectively fire from a vehicle, exit the kill zone and exactly what parts of contemporary vehicles represent true cover. We were also afforded the opportunity to fire a few different rounds utilized for law enforcement applications at vehicles and to assess the results.

Many diverse materials make up modern vehicles, including various types of metal, plastic, rubber and glass. It’s probably a safe bet that today’s cars are smaller and lighter than the heavy metal American-made cars of the ‘60s and ‘70s. We were all curious to see exactly what, if any, protection a vehicle could provide against incoming fire.

First, let’s consider glass. Many people fail to recognize that angled, windshield glass is a formidable obstacle. Windshields are made of laminated glass and a bullet impact will cause it to crack and spider web, but not shatter. Windshields often play havoc with bullet performance and results could include jacket/core separation, deflection from the point of aim and inconsistent expansion qualities. Side windows are made of tempered glass and a single bullet impact will typically cause them to shatter.

During the seminar, a few different handgun, rifle and shotgun rounds were fired at vehicle windshields and doors. A target was placed on the passenger seat to determine if the rounds fired deviated from the point of aim. It should hardly be a surprise that all the rounds fired penetrated and struck the target. Both a non-bonded 9mm jacketed hollowpoint and a .223 Remington soft point exhibited signs of jacket failure, but still struck the targets. Handgun rounds featuring a bonded bullet, rifled slugs and a .223 Remington round traveled true to the target without any issues.

Firing at an open door did produce some surprising results. A casual observer might consider that the sheet metal of a car door wouldn’t be much of a barrier, but there is a lot more to the door than meets the eye. Car doors contain windows, electric motors, locks, brake stays, lift mechanisms, as well as inner panels and arm rests.

In the test, four different handgun rounds were fired from a distance of 10 yards at a door open approximately 45 degrees. Rounds included two examples each of 9mm and .45 ACP, with both bonded and non-bonded bullets. A single example of each round was fired at the open door.

The most surprising result was that none of the handgun rounds penetrated the door. This was by no means an exhaustive test nor am I suggesting that car doors are bulletproof. But based on this informal test, and what we’ve witnessed in actual police action shootings, even the best handgun rounds are “iffy” penetrators on car doors. On the other hand, both the .223 Remington rounds and 12-gauge rifled slugs  easily penetrated the door.

TAKEAWAYS FROM TESTING TACTICS

So what can we learn here? While not true cover, a door might provide some limited ballistic protection in a frontal attack. Exit the kill zone, stay low and move to better cover at the rear of the car and beyond. Doors provide absolutely no protection from centerfire rifle rounds and shotgun slugs. But this cuts both ways. If you absolutely need to get inside a motor vehicle by punching through a door or windshield, rifled slugs have no peer. For rifles, consider one of the popular barrier breaching rounds from the major manufacturers.

If you have to shoot through the windshield while sealed behind the wheel, a well-designed bullet will punch through the glass, track true and expand when it strikes the threat. Again, premium quality rounds specifically designed for law enforcement applications are readily available and performance is light years beyond what it was a generation ago.

True cover in a vehicle remains the engine block and brake drums. But taking a good defendable position behind them can be difficult. If and when possible, move to better cover away from your vehicle. At the very least, your vehicle could provide you with a measure of concealment.

Have a plan, should you come under attack when in a vehicle. Get yourself in a defendable position as soon as possible and take the fight to the assailant. That might include firing through the side windows or windshield. When working with a partner or backup, those timeless concepts of cover and contact still ring true. Define those roles and make sure somebody is watching the immediate area, as well as what is beyond. Stay switched on to stay safe.

About the author

Captain Mike Boyle served 27 years with the New Jersey Division of Fish & Wildlife, Bureau of Law Enforcement. Mike was responsible for all aspects of pre-service and in-service training and also supervised the internal affairs section of his agency. Mike has also been an assistant police academy director and continues to participate in both recruit and instructor level training. He is a certified instructor in multiple uses of force disciplines including handgun, shotgun, rifle, SMG, impact weapons and unarmed self-defense.

This story, from Policeone.com, was originally posted in 2017 but with the recent attacks on law enforcement, many times while they’re sitting in vehicles, we thought it was good to share it again.

The Stories of 14 Officers Lost in January

The last few weeks have been difficult all of us in the law enforcement community, as friends, families and co-workers mourn the loss of multiple public servants. 

Within the first month of 2020, we’ve lost a total of fourteen police officers who have passed away.   And not surprisingly, the media hasn’t had much to say about it.

Today, we take the time to honor these heroes for giving their lives for something greater.



Deputy Sheriff Sheldon Gordon Whiteman

Deputy Gordan from the Long County Sheriff’s Office in Georgia was killed while engaged in a high-speed pursuit on Thursday, January 23rd.

While only having been with the department for four months, he had previously served with the Chatham County Sheriff’s Office for four years.

Sadly, he leaves behind his wife, three children, and his father.


Police Officer Katherine Mary Thyne

Officer Thyne from the Newport News Police Department in Virginia tragically died on Thursday, January 23rd after being dragged by a vehicle for over a block.

She and her partner were investigating reports of drug activity, when they approached a vehicle on 1400 block of 16th Street.

The driver sped off, causing the officer to be dragged, and the driver crashed into a tree which pinned the officer between the vehicle and tree.

The young officer had only been on the force for a year and leaves behind her 2-year-old daughter, fiancée, mother, three brothers, and grandparents.

 

Major Angelanette Moore

Major Moore of the Virginia Peninsula Regional Jail in Virginia passed away on Thursday, January 23rd.

After serving in the jail for 20 years, she collapsed while on duty from a heart attack. Despite officers and medical staff immediately administering CPR, she could not be resuscitated.

She is survived by her husband and son.


Officer Tiffany-Victoria Bilon Enriquez & Officer Kaulike Kalama

Officer Enriquez and Officer Kalama of the Honolulu Police Department in Hawaii died on Sunday, January 19th after responding to a stabbing call at a home.

Officer Enriquez was one of the first officers who arrived at the scene to help the stabbing victim. When she approached the house where the suspect was located, she was gunned down.

She was an Air Force Reserves Veteran and served the department for seven years.

Officer Kalama later responded to the residence after Officer Enriquez was shot, and he was also shot by the suspect inside the home.

Officer Kalama had served the department for nine years and leaves behind his wife and son. Officer Enriquez is survived by three daughters and one grandson.

 
Deputy Sheriff Jarid Taylor

Deputy Taylor of the Bryan County Sheriff’s Office in Oklahoma died in a vehicular crash on Tuesday, January 14th while responding to an emergency call.

He had been with the Sheriff’s office for just under two years and is survived by his two children and fiancée.


Detective Amber Joy Leist

Detective Leist of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department in California passed away on Sunday, January 12th after she was struck by an oncoming vehicle after helping an elderly woman who fell in the roadway.

While off-duty, she managed to help the woman safely across the intersection, but was struck while returning to her car.

She served with the department for twelve years and is survived by her two sons.


Police Officer Nicholas Reyna

Officer Reyna of the Lubbock Police Department in Texas was killed by another vehicle while tending to a single-car rollover on Saturday, January 11th.

Lieutenant Eric Hill of the Lubbock Fire Department was killed as a result as well. Officer Reyna had only been on the force for a year before he passed.


Police Officer Paul Dunn

Officer Dunn of the Lakeland Police Department in Florida had died as a result of crashing his motorcycle on Thursday, January 9th.

He was heading back to the police station on his department motorcycle when he struck a raised median of the roadway, causing him to be thrown from the bike.

The Marine Corps veteran had served with Lakeland Police Department for six years and had previously served with the Polk County Sheriff’s Office for 12 years. He leaves behind his wife, three children, and two stepdaughters.


Public Safety Officer Jackson Ryan Winkeler

Officer Winkeler of the Florence Regional Airport Department of Public Safety in South Carolina was shot and killed while conducting a traffic stop Sunday, January 5th.

Officer Winkeler also served as a volunteer firefighter with the Latta Fire Department prior to his passing.

He is survived by both his parents and his sisters.


Investigator Ryan D. Fortini

Officer Fortini of the New York State Police passed away from cancer on Wednesday, January 1st.

He had served the department for 16 years before retiring in 2015, and his cancer had stemmed from his assignment to the search and recovery efforts at the World Trade Center site following the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

Officer Fortini is survived by his fiancee, parents, brother, and sister.


Officer Munir “Mo” Edais

Officer Munir “Mo” Edais of the Los Gatos-Monte Sereno Police Department died unexpectedly on January 21st.

The circumstances of the officer’s death were never revealed, but he’d served with the department for 10 years and leaves behind his 2 children and one child on the way.


Investigator John Cole Haynie

Investigator John Cole Haynie of the Rockdale County Sheriff’s Office in Georgia died on Saturday, January 25th after a month-long battle with the flu.

He had served the sheriff’s office for 8 years prior to his passing. He is survived by his wife.

​​
Officer Cesar Ramirez

Officer Ramirez of the Norwalk Police Department in Connecticut passed away on January 28th after battling brain cancer.

He had served the department for 32 years prior to passing and was celebrated by his community and Norwalk Mayor Harry Rilling named December 13th as “Cesar Ramirez Day” in his honor.
 
​By Gregory Hoyt | Law Enforcement Today  lawenforcementtoday.com​​

Missouri Grants Licenses for Medical Marijuana Dispensaries

​Missouri health officials last week posted the list of recipients of the first 192 licenses to operate medical marijuana dispensaries, bringing the state closer to joining the many others that allow at least some form of marijuana use.

The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services awarded 24 licenses in each of Missouri’s eight congressional districts, saying recipients were the top-scoring applicants that met the program’s eligibility requirements. The state received nearly 1,200 applications for dispensary licenses.

Voters made medical marijuana legal in November 2018, but because the drug must first be grown at approved sites and tested, sales aren’t expected to begin until this summer.

As of last week, the health department had issued medical marijuana identification cards to 29,457 state residents and 820 to caregivers, the Kansas City Star reported.

Licenses for testing, transporting and growing facilities were issued in December. The winning applicant for seed-to-sale facility certifications will be announced Jan. 31.​​

Bianca Sullivan told the Star that her company, Fresh Green, won licenses for two dispensaries — one in Kansas City and another in Lee’s Summit.

“I was jumping up and down,” Sullivan said. “I jumped into my husband’s arms.”

Janette Hamilton, of St. Louis, got the bad news that regulators had denied the application from her company, TriCept Wellness. She told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that the rejection was “very frustrating” because TriCept Wellness earned the 16th highest score in the 1st Congressional District, but lower-scoring applicants were licensed.

Hamilton said the state did not explain why her application was rejected.​
 
By Associated Press | Missouri Lawyers Weekly molawyersmedia.com

Lawmakers Slam Missouri Supreme Court Over Bail Rules

​​Dozens of Missouri lawmakers have asked the state Supreme Court to undo new rules limiting when judges can impose bail, a move that was aimed at reducing court costs that can derail the lives of low-income defendants.

More than 80 legislators signed on to a letter sent by Rep. Justin Hill to Supreme Court judges this week. In it, the Republican complained that a new rule requiring judges to first consider non-monetary conditions for pretrial release went too far.

“Now, individuals who are potentially dangerous or have a history of failing to appear for court are being released on recognizance — with no conditions at all — because the rules that went into effect in July make it too difficult for judges to impose bail,” Hill wrote.

He cited one of the two convicted felons facing criminal charges over a Kansas bar shooting that killed four people. Both men allegedly involved had previous brushes with the law that could have kept them behind bars had judges and other officials made different decisions, although only 23-year-old Javier Alatorre’s case dealt with Missouri judges.

Alatorre was released from jail in September in Jackson County, Missouri, where he still faces charges of fleeing from police in a stolen vehicle. A judge released him on his own recognizance after his attorney sought to have his bail lowered.

Missouri judges are still able to set bail under the new rules if needed, but only at an amount necessary to ensure either public safety or that the defendant will appear in court. Courts may not order a defendant to pay costs associated with conditions of their release, such as the costs of an ankle monitoring bracelet, without first considering reducing or waiving those costs.

Prior court rules directed judges to impose bail only to ensure that defendants returned to court, although the Missouri Constitution gave judges leeway to deny bail or set limits on release as a way to protect victims or public safety.

During a speech before the Legislature last year, Missouri Supreme Court Judge Zel Fischer praised the changes as a way to ensure defendants are treated fairly in the justice system.

“Too many who are arrested cannot afford bail even for low-level sentences and remain in jail awaiting a hearing,” Fischer said. “Though presumed innocent, they lose their jobs, cannot support their families and are more likely to reoffend.”

Hill and other lawmakers want the new rules tossed. Hill instead proposed limiting bail for minor offenses, requiring judges to hear bail appeals quickly, and ensuring that defendants don’t stay in jail before trial for a longer period of time then the possible sentence for their alleged crime.

A spokeswoman for the Supreme Court didn’t immediately comment Friday.

By Associated Press | Missouri Lawyers Weekly molawyersmedia.com

Two Counties to Move Circuits Under Court-Backed Plan

Supreme Court Chief Justice George W. Draper III on Jan. 22 formally unveiled the judiciary’s plans to move two rural counties into new judicial circuits.

In his State of the Judiciary speech before a joint session of the Missouri House and Senate, Draper said the court system recommends moving Benton County, now part of the 30th Circuit in west-central Missouri, to the adjacent 27th Circuit. The plan also calls for Carter County, now part of the 37th Circuit in southeastern Missouri, to move next door to the 36th Circuit.

Supreme Court Chief Justice George W. Draper III discusses the plan to revise judicial circuits during his State of the Judiciary address. Photo by Tim Bommel/Missouri House

Draper said the move would reduce driving time between courthouses within the multi-county circuits, among other benefits.

“Less time behind the wheel means more time on the bench to serve our citizens,” Draper said in his speech, his first to the General Assembly since he became chief justice in July.

The proposed shifts are the result of a bill passed in 2013 that called for the Judicial Conference of Missouri to redraw circuit boundaries every 20 years, starting in 2020. Many of the current circuits have gone unchanged since 1959. The law requires the boundaries to be based on such factors as judges’ workloads and the geography and population of the circuits.

Under the plan, the court-drafted circuit map would go into effect automatically on Jan. 1, unless lawmakers vote to reject the changes. Increasing or reducing the number of judges or circuits remains the legislature’s task — as happened in 2016, when a bill passed to split Taney County from the 38th Circuit, creating the new 46th Circuit.

Draper said a 16-member task force studied the circuit realignment for two years. The resulting report was approved last year by the Judicial Conference and presented to the legislature earlier this month.

Carter County shares the 37th Circuit with Shannon, Oregon and Howell counties — one of five circuits in the state that comprise four counties. Under the plan, it would join Ripley and Butler counties, leaving the 36th and 37th circuits each with three counties. Draper said it also would allow Carter County to share a circuit with the city of Poplar Bluff, where most area residents already conduct business.

In an interview, Judge Michael Pritchett, the presiding judge of the 36th Circuit, said most of his trials occur in more populous Butler County, where Poplar Bluff is located. He believes he would have to travel to Carter County only a few times a month. However, he said there initially was talk of moving a fourth county under his jurisdiction, which he resisted.

The report rejected a proposal to move Wayne County, which is one of five counties in the neighboring 42nd Circuit. Pritchett said a four-county area would have made his circuit too hard to cover.

“It’s just a matter of time, is what it comes down to,” he said. “We can make it work. It’s just the time to be able to do it, and do it the way that I want to.”

Click here to view a full-size image of the map.

Pritchett said he still had questions about when the change would take effect. He is up for election in November, and he said it wasn’t clear if Carter County residents would be able to vote for the 36th Circuit’s presiding judge — or if candidates from that county could run for the office.

The Judicial Conference’s plan calls for the realignment of Benton County to occur on Jan. 1, 2022, and the realignment of Carter County one year after that. The 2013 bill pre-emptively repealed all of the current statutory definitions for the circuits, effective Dec. 31 of this year, however, and it states that the judiciary’s plan would take effect on Jan. 1, 2021 unless the legislature intervenes.

Benton County is in one of the state’s five-county circuits. The plan would have Benton share the 27th Circuit with Bates, Henry and St. Clair counties. That would leave Hickory, Polk, Dallas and Webster counties in the 30th Circuit. Draper said the move would cut down on driving distances within the circuit, which stretches from the Truman Lake area to east of Springfield.

The 27th Circuit’s M. Brandon Baker, whom the governor appointed to the bench last year to fill a vacancy, didn’t return a call seeking comment.

Rep. Warren Love, R-Osceola, who represents the district that includes the southern half of Benton County, said the move seemed to be a good fit. He said he doubted there would be any opposition in the legislature.

“There sure hasn’t been any that I’ve heard about, and I know there won’t be any from me,” he said.

Rep. Jeff Shawan, R-Poplar Bluff, whose district includes Carter County, said he wanted to investigate some of the effects of the move, but he also said he believed opposition was unlikely.

Other than the 42nd Circuit, the only other change the task force said it considered was consolidating the St. Louis County and City circuit courts.

“This motion did not garner much support among the Task Force members, but whether such consolidation would increase judicial efficiencies in those circuits justifies further consideration,” the report notes.

Call for funding

Draper also used the speech to call for additional funding for the court system. He asked lawmakers to approve an additional $2.8 million in funding for court technology and urged pay raises for court employees, saying it was not fair for them “to live below the value of their service.”

He also urged lawmakers to better fund the public defender system, which has complained for years of a lack of funding.

“Speaking from the perspective of both a former prosecutor and a former trial judge, I can tell you the system simply does not work without a sufficiently funded and staffed public defender system,” he said. Draper was an assistant circuit attorney in St. Louis before becoming one of the rare judges to serve at every level of Missouri’s judiciary. He was appointed to the Supreme Court in 2011.

Draper also is only the second African-American judge to sit on the Supreme Court. He gave a shout-out to the first, now-U.S. District Judge Ronnie White, who attended the speech. Draper also used the occasion to remind lawmakers of how much Missouri has changed since its admittance to the Union as a slave state.

“History is the tie that binds,” he said.

By Scott Lauck | Missouri Lawyers Weekly molawyersmedia.com