Missouri’s top judge says the court system is becoming more tailored to the needs of the people using the system. But she worries that many people don’t know how the system works and how it benefits or protects them.

The Chief Justice of the state Supreme Court has been borrowing from the “Undercover Boss” reality TV show to be an “undercover judge,” talking to people in courthouses about how courts can provide better services.  Judge Mary Rhodes Russell tells a Missouri lawyers convention many people don’t know what the courts do or how they serve the public.  That’s why, she says, the courts are moving away from the traditional “one size fits all” system by developing specialty courts to deal with such issues as mental health, drunk driving, truancy, nonsupport, and veterans issues.  She says the specialty courts work to bring “permanent positive change to individual lives.”

She says more than 13-hundred-50 people have graduated from the treatment court programs,which have moved people away from “a lifetime of crime and incarceration.”

Russell says the legal profession must “rise to the challenge to find better ways to heolp people understand that their judicial system exists to protect their rights and give them a safe, civil environment in which to resolve their most pressing disputes.”

AUDIO: Russell speech 15:15

(Note: A few preliminary remarks are not heard because of a brief technical problem early in the speech)