Missouri Supreme Court chief justice Patricia Breckenridge is defending the state’s legal system amid Governor Greitens saying it’s broken and changes must be made to laws involving liability cases. One of the priorities this legislative session for Greitens and other state GOP leaders, is going after trial lawyers by altering Missouri’s tort laws for things like wrongful death and personal injury lawsuits.

Missouri Supreme Court chief justice Patricia Breckenridge (Photo courtesy of Tim Bommel, House Communications)

Breckenridge made the issue a priority in her final State of the Judiciary address on Tuesday to the General Assembly. She said the Governor’s call for action should not be viewed as condemning the judicial system.

“In the last fiscal year, more than 1.8 million cases were filed in Missouri courts, of these, 60% involved municipal ordinance violations. In our circuit courts, the largest number of cases involve the prosecution of state crimes,” said Breckenridge. “About 17% of our cases are civil – primarily small claims, domestic relations, landlord tenant matters and disputes of less than $25,000. About 5% of civil cases – and less than 1% of all cases – involve tort claims.”

Breckenridge said citizens should be proud of the state’s courts as a place to resolve their disputes peaceably and where their rights are protected.

“Day in and day out, in the courtrooms in your communities, hundreds of thousands of cases are adjudicated without fanfare. We, more than anyone, want our courts to live up to their responsibilities to properly administer justice,” said Breckenridge.

Greitens and Lt. Governor Parson were among the statewide office holders attending the address.