January 8, 2009

First Judicial Circuit Honored by Missouri Supreme Court

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. - Supreme Court of Missouri Chief Justice Laura Denvir Stith has recognized the 1st Judicial Circuit for holding timely hearings in child abuse and neglect cases in which children are removed from their homes are to be reunited with their families or are to be placed in another permanent home as soon as possible. The 1st circuit includes Clark, Schuyler and Scotland counties.

Stith recognized Presiding Judge Gary Dial and Chief Juvenile Officer Eric DeRosear, as well as the juvenile officers, support staff, Children's Division and other welfare stakeholders in the 1st circuit for their achievement.

"Timely hearings are critical if children who have been removed from their homes are to be reunited with their families or are to be placed in other permanent homes as soon as possible," Stith said. "The success these circuits achieved is a testament to the leadership and hard work of judges, commissioners, juvenile officers, clerks and other support staff."

Stith noted this is the third time the awards have been given.

In evaluating what circuits qualify for the permanency awards, the circuits first were placed in size classes based on the total number of hearings that were due during a particular time period. They then had to rank among the top two in their size class to qualify. This year, due to ties in two of the size classes, 13 circuits instead of eight are recipients of the award. The hearing time frames apply for six types of hearings and vary depending on the type of hearing.

For example, courts should hold a hearing to determine whether a child safely can return home within three business days from the date the child is taken into protective custody. Another time frame provides that courts should hold a permanency hearing to decide a child's permanent placement within 12 months from the date the child is taken into protective custody. These time frames were developed based on recommendations from the Commission on Children's Justice.

The 1st circuit held 100 percent of its child abuse and neglect cases within the required time constraints.

In addition to the 1st circuit, 12 other circuits received awards:

Chief Juvenile Officer Janet Warner, Chief Deputy Juvenile Officer Mark Lindsay and Deputy Juvenile Officer Rhonda Haight of the 6th Judicial Circuit (Platte County), which held all of the hearings in child abuse and neglect cases timely;

Presiding Judge Werner Moentmann, Chief Juvenile Officer Mike McClure, and Chief Deputy Juvenile Officer Melissa Phillips of the 8th Judicial Circuit (Carroll and Ray counties), which held all of the hearings in child abuse and neglect cases timely;

Family Court Administrative Judge Cary Augustine and Chief Juvenile Officer Rick Gaines of the 13th Judicial Circuit (Boone and Callaway counties), which held all of the hearings in child abuse and neglect cases timely;

Chief Juvenile Officer Mary Marquez of the 16th Judicial Circuit (Jackson County), which held 99 percent of the hearings in child abuse and neglect cases timely

Associate Circuit Judges Keith Bail and Robert Liston, Chief Juvenile Officer Maria Mittelhauser, Chief Deputy Juvenile Officer Linda Lacy and Secretary Mary Eberting of the 18th Judicial Circuit (Cooper and Pettis counties), which held all of the hearings in child abuse and neglect cases timely;

Family Court Judge Jimmie Edwards, Assistant Court Administrator Kathryn Herman, Children's Division Regional Director Tena Thompson, Attorney for the Juvenile Officer Laura Harrold, and Deputy Juvenile Officer Kathy Tharp of the 22nd Judicial Circuit (City of St. Louis), which held all of the hearings in child abuse and neglect cases timely;

Presiding Judge Stanley Moore and Chief Juvenile Officer Tammy Walden of the 26th Judicial Circuit (Camden, Laclede, Miller, Moniteau and Morgan counties), which held all of the hearings in child abuse and neglect cases timely;

Chief Juvenile Officer Deborah Butts and Chief Deputy Juvenile Officer Brad Turner of the 30th Judicial Circuit (Benton, Dallas, Hickory, Polk and Webster counties), which held all of the hearings in child abuse and neglect cases timely;

Juvenile Court Administrator Barb Smith of the 33rd Judicial Circuit (Mississippi and Scott counties), which held all of the hearings in child abuse and neglect cases timely;

Court Appointed Special Advocate volunteer Angela Morris and Children's Division worker Tammy McCall of the 36th Judicial Circuit (Butler and Ripley counties), which held all of the hearings in child abuse and neglect cases timely; and

Chief Juvenile Officer Jerry Conner of the 44th Judicial Circuit (Douglas, Ozark and Wright counties), which held all of the hearings in child abuse and neglect cases timely.

Representatives of the 4th Judicial Circuit (Atchison, Gentry, Holt, Nodaway and Worth counties) were unable to attend to accept on behalf of the circuit, which held all of the hearings in child abuse and neglect cases timely.

Stith also recognized 24 additional circuits that conducted at least 95 percent of their hearings within required time frames: 2nd Judicial Circuit (Adair, Knox and Lewis counties); 3rd Judicial Circuit (Grundy, Harrison, Mercer and Putnam counties); 5th Judicial Circuit (Andrew and Buchanan counties); 9th Judicial Circuit (Sullivan, Linn and Chariton counties); 10th Judicial Circuit (Marion, Monroe and Ralls counties); 11th Judicial Circuit (St. Charles County); 15th Judicial Circuit (Lafayette and Saline counties); 17th Judicial Circuit (Cass and Johnson counties); 19th Judicial Circuit (Cole County); 21st Judicial Circuit (St. Louis County); 23rd Judicial Circuit (Jefferson County); 24th Judicial Circuit (Madison, Ste. Genevieve, St. Francois and Washington counties); 25th Judicial Circuit (Maries, Pulaski, Phelps and Texas counties); 28th Judicial Circuit (Vernon, Barton, Cedar and Dade counties); 29th Judicial Circuit (Jasper County); 32nd Judicial Circuit (Perry, Cape Girardeau and Bollinger counties); 35th Judicial Circuit (Stoddard and Dunklin counties); 37th Judicial Circuit (Carter, Howell, Oregon and Shannon counties); 38th Judicial Circuit (Christian and Taney counties); 39th Judicial Circuit (Barry, Lawrence and Stone counties); 41st Judicial Circuit (Macon and Shelby counties); 42nd Judicial Circuit (Crawford, Dent, Iron, Reynolds and Wayne counties); 43rd Judicial Circuit (Caldwell, Clinton, Daviess, DeKalb and Livingston counties); and 45th Judicial Circuit (Lincoln and Pike counties).

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