Municipal Courts and the need for an attorney

The news media has shed light on a number of issues recently with municipal courts in the St. Louis region.   As an attorney who has practiced in states other than Missouri, the municipal court system here is unique. The St. Louis metropolitan area has dozens of municipal courts, and navigating them can be difficult for clients and even attorneys.

As a Judge who sits in a couple of area courts, I see the issues that appear because of the vast number of courts. As an attorney, I see those same issues. Clients come into our office all of the time with issues such as multiple municipal courts issuing failure to appear warrants for them, the client owing money to multiple courts, or the client having multiple charges in different courts. Having so many courts in the area means that often court dates overlap with one another, which causes people representing themselves to choose where they should appear, and in constant fear that a warrant will be issued for them. Clients often come into our office stating that they have already pleaded guilty to a charge in court without requesting an attorney. They then find out from us that had they requested time to speak with an attorney, that we could have saved points from being assessed on their license, or even had a charge reduced or dismissed.

The lesson for those with new cases is that requesting time to consult with an attorney is always the correct move. People should not try to navigate the legal system alone. A good attorney can be the difference between looking over your shoulder, and peace of m