Tight budget times have prevented Missouri from addressing the need for more judges, according to two lawyers in the Missouri House.
The discussion occurred during House floor debate n a court procedure bill, HCS HB 187 and 235 .
Rep. Terry Witte (D-Vandalia) wasn’t pleased with an amendment by Rep. Bryan Stevenson (R-Joplin) that would move the drug court commissioner in the 12 th Judicial Circuit to another circuit with a heavier caseload. Witte told Stevenson he wishes there were more resources allocated to prevent such moves. Stevenson told Witte he agrees and that his amendment is "a very small band-aid on a gaping wound."
Stevenson estimated it would take between 30 and 50 new associate circuit judges to meet the current demand. Stevenson said he feared the state is approaching a constitutional crisis.
The amendment transfers five drug court commissioners in rural Missouri to the 16 th , 20 th , 31 st , 38 th and 40 th Judicial Circuits, which have a backlog of cases. The overall bill, with Stevenson’s amendment among others, has been given preliminary approval in the House.
Stevenson says that debate on the proper number of judges in Missouri must wait until the state has a brighter budget outlook.