Even though St. Louis city leaders had expressed interest in creating a specific court for weapons crimes related to assault, robbery and a variety of other charges, Missouri judges have rejected the legislators' proposals. The judges agree that expedited handling of these cases is in everyone's best interest. As a result, they pledge to speed the proceedings for those accused of weapons crimes and first-degree robbery charges. Still, the more comprehensive reforms proposed by city leaders conflict with the proper handling of the cases, according to the judiciary, who chided the politicians for getting too involved in judicial affairs.
The changes would have created a special court specifically for weapons crimes. Known as the "Armed Offender Docket," the division would have been overseen by two designated judges. Politicians in the area said the changes would have provided for swifter processing of the 600 to 700 weapons-related cases that come through the St. Louis courts each year. In addition, the opportunity would have encouraged judges to be more accountable, and it would have given a more accurate research base for academic professionals who want to study the crimes.
Official reports show that the judges instead decided to adopt a modified version of the plan, which instead expedites certain types of cases by moving them to the top of the docket. Automatic continuances are unlikely to be granted to those facing weapons crimes in the future, and the cases will be handled with more speed and accuracy. This is a less-invasive option that will still allow the court to maintain their traditional work process while simply improving some aspects of the system.
So, what does this mean for defendants facing weapons charges? Those cases will be treated with far more urgency and speed than in the past, largely with the goal of removing dangerous gun users from the St. Louis population. These changes could have a significant impact on criminal defense cases, which is why all defendants should consult their qualified attorneys about the implications of the new system.
Source: m.stltoday.com, "St. Louis judges won't set up dedicated gun court, rejecting city leaders' wishes" Christine Byers, Sep. 17, 2013