Mary Rhodes Russell’s two-year term as chief justice of the Missouri Supreme Court ends June 30.
Russell says she hopes the state’s court system will continue to move toward greater transparency and more efficiency. She says she was reminded of those needs when she would visit local courts, where she was not likely to be recognized, to talk to the people using them.
The effort earned the nickname, “undercover judge,” and Russell says it was about listening to people.
“For many of them it’s their first time experience in a courtroom. It’s a foreign area. Many people didn’t have attorneys. It just reminded me that they were worried. They were apprehensive. They didn’t know what to expect,” said Russell. “We need to be doing more things to take the mystery out of our courts.”
Russell says that includes continuing expansion to all courts of an electronic filing system, which she predicts will be complete by June, 2016, and continued expansion of the case.net system.
“Exciting news with case.net is that we are exploring ways to expand case.net so that the public can access public cases remotely,” said Russell, adding that care would have to be taken to protect private information as that expansion proceeds.
Russell will be succeed by Judge Patricia Breckenridge, who Russell says plans to continue going undercover.
“She wants to do it. She thinks its a great idea and its important, and I’m thrilled that she’s going to continue it,” said Russell.
Russell will remain on the court as one of its seven judges.