PARK HILLS MUNICIPAL COURT
24TH JUDICIAL COURT
St. Francois County, Missouri
Park Hills Municipal Division
10 Municipal Drive
Phone: (573) 431-3142 Fax: (573) 431-2441
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Municipal Judge: James Joyce
Court Clerk: Tracy Fisher
Prosecutor: Julie McCarver - (573) 756-0990
ABOUT THE COURT
The State court system consists of one Supreme Court located in Jefferson City, Missouri. Underneath the Supreme Court are three Courts of Appeal. The Eastern District of the Court of Appeals is located in St. Louis, Missouri. The trial courts are known as circuit courts. Circuit courts have various divisions including associate circuit divisions, small claims divisions, probate divisions, and municipal divisions. Municipal courts are established by Chapter 479 of the Revised Statutes of Missouri and although personnel is paid out of the budget of the municipalities, the presiding circuit judge (a state official), has superintending authority and control over municipal courts.
Municipal divisions of the circuit court hear violations of city or municipal ordinances. The Park Hills municipal judge is appointed by the Mayor, with the consent of the city council, for a two-year term. In addition to the municipal judge, the municipality may employ court clerks and other personnel to staff the court.
The Park Hills municipal courtroom is on the ground floor of City Hall adjacent to the offices of the Clerk of the Municipal Court. The municipal judge conducts court and the clerks maintain dockets and records concerning the business of the court. The judge has the power to administer oaths, enforce obedience to all of his orders, rules, and judgments, and may fine or imprison for violation of city ordinance pursuant to municipal ordinance which, in the City of Park Hills generally provides a maximum fine of $500.00 and a maximum jail term of 90 days. Municipal judges have the same power as circuit judges with respect to fines or imprisonment for contempt of court.
A municipal court proceeding generally begins with a complaint which may be filed by a private citizen or police officer. The city prosecuting attorney reviews the complaint to determine if there is adequate evidence to initiate a prosecution. If not, no prosecution is initiated. If so, the city prosecuting attorney prepares a charging document which is called an "information". The information is then filed with the office of the Municipal Court Clerk and the act of filing the information constitutes the commencement of a case. The defendant must be served (either a copy of the summons is handed to the defendant - as in a traffic ticket - or the documents may be delivered by a police officer or process server).
When the defendant appears on the first court date, the defendant is expected to enter a plea. Municipal court rules require that a plea be either "guilty" or "not guilty". Municipal courts are not authorized to accept pleas of "no contest", or "nolo contendere".
At the conclusion of the trial, the judge may either find the defendant "not guilty" or "guilty". If the defendant is found not guilty, he is discharged without further obligation. If the defendant is found guilty, the court may then consider additional relevant evidence to pronounce any authorized sentence allowed by municipal ordinance. An appeal from a municipal court is called a "trial de novo". The appeal is generally heard by another division of the circuit court.