10:10 AM

Supreme Court of Missouri launches new website celebrating bicentennial of Missouri's courts


JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – The Supreme Court of Missouri has launched an interactive new website, months in development, celebrating the 200th anniversary of The Missouri Judiciary. The website chronicles events across five stages in the growth of the state’s court system, from pre-statehood territorial courts to the courts’ shift to remote proceedings during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Missouri’s constitution – and the state court system it creates – both predate statehood by more than a year. Both were created in July 1820, but as a result of the Missouri Compromise, Missouri did not gain official statehood until August 1821 – 200 years ago this summer. The judiciary’s new website joins other Missouri 2021 efforts statewide to celebrate the state’s bicentennial.

“In this, our state’s bicentennial year, we stand at a crossroads of history,” Missouri Chief Justice George W. Draper III said. “The bicentennial marks a time to look back at the accomplishments of prior Missourians, learn from the struggles of the past and consider the future we want to build for our great state. We hope this new website, celebrating the past 200 years of Missouri’s judiciary, will serve as a way for Missourians to learn about the rich history of their courts and to consider how our judicial system might continue to evolve to meet the needs of Missourians for centuries yet to come.”

The new website, which features interactive timelines, offers users a chance to explore the early days of Missouri’s courts, discover how the courts expanded to address the state’s increased case volume, learn how additional changes in the 20th century continued to strengthen Missouri’s judicial and legal systems, and explore how Missouri’s courts reorganized and diversified to better serve the state’s citizens. Its final timeline, from the judiciary’s much more recent history, examines how embracing new approaches and technologies are helping the courts improve their service to the people of Missouri.

“The delivery of justice through our courts has evolved monumentally during the last 200 years,” Supreme Court of Missouri Judge Mary R. Russell, and a member of the Court’s bicentennial committee and state’s bicentennial commission, said. “Though the mechanisms for improvement continue to develop, the courts’ changes over time have been driven by public expectations for innovation in service, increased access, and greater efficiency and effectiveness along with a desire to make our courts better for everyone. Although our early territorial judges would probably not recognize our courts today, the principles underlying our judicial system remain steadfast – the rule of law, the guarantee of due process and the opportunity to be heard.”

The website is designed to be fluid, so content can continue to be added to the timeline. It will be featured prominently on the Missouri Courts website through the state’s bicentennial and then will be archived online so it can continue serving as a resource about the history of Missouri’s courts.