07:15 AM

Missouri lawmakers recognized for legislation supporting court automation, public defenders

The Missouri Bar annually recognizes lawmakers making significant contributions to legislation that affects the administration of justice and the integrity of the judiciary. This year, five legislators are being recognized for key roles in securing funding for the statewide court automation system and additional lawyers for the Office of Missouri State Public Defender.  

Missouri State Public Defender System 

The state of Missouri has a constitutional obligation to supply legal counsel to indigent defendants. Since 1982, assistance has been provided through the Office of State Public Defender, which is an independent department of the judicial branch. In 2021, to address rising caseloads and expanding waitlists, the General Assembly approved $3.6 million in additional funds for the system and authorized 53 new public defenders for the Missouri State Public Defender trial offices. To accomplish its work, the MSPD system employs 615 employees, including 389 attorneys, and maintains 33 trial offices in 115 jurisdictions.  

Missouri Court Automation 

In recognition of the important role that technology plays in the efficient and effective administration of justice, the Missouri General Assembly approved $2 million (in 2020) and an additional $2.8 million (in 2021) for the Missouri judiciary for the development and completion of Show-Me Courts (SMC), enhance system security, and update and sustain additional case management systems. Show-Me Courts is the new record and case management system developed to support the evolving business needs of Missouri courts and replace aging technology. Missouri’s court automation programs have been recognized nationally and internationally, with the continuous improvement and development of functions that directly benefit Missourians, such as: 

  • Missouri Case.net, which provides web-based public access to more than 24.3 million open court case records and averages more than 803 million visits annually 

  • Track This Case, which allows individuals to sign up for e-mail and text notifications about docket entries on selected cases, notices of hearings, and upcoming payments due, and has more than 245,400 registered users and more than 3,900 new users signing up monthly 

  • Pay By Web, which permits defendants to pay online balances owed or according to a payment plan on disposed criminal, civil, or traffic cases 

  • Access My Ticket (AMT) (soon to be renamed Manage My Case), which now permits defendants to resolve eligible traffic and ordinance violations out of court and online through payment of the fine, performing community service, or setting up a payment plan (if approved by the prosecuting attorney and judge) and will be expanded to permit self-represented litigants to file on new and existing civil, probate, domestic relations, and criminal cases 

  • Show-Me Jury, which allows potential jurors to manage their service online and select their preferred method of communication with the court and has already sent more than 308,500 e-mails and 278,100 texts since launching statewide 


Recognized legislators 

Cody Smith, State Representative, District 163  

Chair, House Budget Committee  

“With an eye on a balanced budget and responsible stewardship of public dollars, Representative Smith’s work as chair of the Budget Committee to include increased funding in the state budget for court automation and the public defenders is greatly appreciated.

                                                                                                                       - John Grimm, Missouri Bar President 2021-22

 Peter Merideth, State Representative, District 80 

Ranking Minority Member, House Budget Committee  

"Representative Merideth’s regular participation in committee discussion and floor debate ensures that necessary questions are asked about each bill and appropriation. His consistent advocacy in support of adequate funding to fulfill the constitutional right to counsel has been integral to this year’s success.”  

                                                                                                                       - John Gunn, Missouri Bar President 2020-21

Lauren Arthur, State Senator, District 17  

Member, Senate Appropriations Committee  

“In the Appropriations Committee and on the floor of the Senate, Senator Arthur was a clear, consistent voice in favor of more funding for the public defender system and played a critical role in ensuring that this year’s budget included a substantial increase.  

                                                                                                                       - John Grimm, Missouri Bar President 2021-22

Barbara Anne Washington, State Senator, District 9  

Member, Senate Appropriations Committee  

“As a practicing attorney and a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Senator Washington worked tirelessly to make certain that the justice system was properly funded and resources went to where they can make the greatest difference in the lives of Missourians.

                                                                                                                       - John Gunn, Missouri Bar President 2020-21

Dan Hegeman, State Senator, District 12 

Chair, Senate Appropriations Committee 

“As Appropriations Chair, on and off the floor of the Senate, Senator Hegeman played a key role in securing increased funding this year for court automation and the public defenders, keeping our courts operating effectively and fulfilling our state’s constitutional obligations.”  

                                                                                                                       - John Grimm, Missouri Bar President 2021-22


These legislators have each contributed their time and effort to ensure that Missouri’s justice system is properly funded and that resources are being provided to the systems that will make a direct impact on the lives of our citizens. Learn more about legislative actions affecting the administration of justice through the state bar’s Legislative Engagement Center. For more information on The Missouri Bar’s awards, click here.