St. Louis County is opening a satellite court location in North County, after delays in opening due to the rise in COVID-19 cases over the winter.
St. Louis County Circuit Court Presiding Judge Michael D. Burton and County Executive Sam Page will hold a joint press conference at 8:30 a.m. Wednesday, March 17, at the newly opened St. Louis County Circuit Court satellite court at The Crossings at Northwest in St. Ann.
The joint press conference will be livestreamed on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/watch/CountyExecutiveSamPage.
The county courts have been conducting much of its business by videoconferencing during the pandemic, although court buildings have reopened on a limited basis. In order to provide access to justice for residents of North County impacted by the pandemic who didn’t have access to attend videoconferenced court hearings, St. Louis County approved the use of $130,000 in federal coronavirus relief funding from the CARES Act to remodel underutilized office space at The Crossings, where the county already operates the North County Government Center with a series of other county offices.
“For more than a year, the coronavirus pandemic has presented significant challenges to the Court’s ability to fulfill its mission of providing access to justice for all residents of St. Louis County,” said Presiding Judge Michael D. Burton in a news release. “Because a large number of court users reside in North County, and transportation is challenging in these difficult times, establishing a satellite operation in the area was a logical and crucial step for us. We are very grateful to the County Executive’s Office for its partnership in creating this opportunity to better serve all our citizens, and make coming to court more convenient.”
“Covid-19 has had a devastating impact on the health and economic well-being of residents of North County,” Page said in the release. “We are excited for this unique opportunity to support the Court in its effort to improve access to justice for North County residents, and strengthen our community at minimal cost to taxpayers.”
Public computer kiosks at the satellite court facility in St. Ann are linked to the main courthouse in Clayton to allow litigants to participate remotely in courtroom proceedings including landlord-tenant and small claims dockets, associate criminal matters, name changes, preliminary family court proceedings, weddings and order of protection hearings. Bailiffs are available to assist members of the public in using the computers. With public access to courtrooms restricted during the pandemic pursuant to health department guidelines and Missouri Supreme Court orders, the 21st Circuit opened its first public computer kiosks and remote information center on the first floor of the Clayton courthouse in August 2020.
Victims of domestic violence may file for orders of protection in person at the St. Ann office of Adult Abuse. Domestic violence has increased sharply during the pandemic, which prompted the court to create a process for victims to file for orders of protection entirely online using the court’s website, https://wp.stlcountycourts.com/order-of-protection/.
Individuals who do not have lawyers and wish to represent themselves in St. Louis County Circuit Court can now file their court documents at the St. Ann location, using a secure, timestamped drop box. A similar drop box will be available at the Clayton courthouse.
Landlord/tenant mediation services will be available to litigants at the St. Ann satellite court through the St. Louis Mediation Project, coordinated by Washington University School of Law’s Negotiation and Dispute Resolution Program. The project also provides free, pre-eviction mediation services in the North County community. In the future, the court hopes to have a range of community partners on-site to provide housing, rental and utility assistance for tenants, and safety planning and counseling for victims of domestic violence.
To view a video about the St. Ann Satellite Court, go to Instagram at https://www.bit.ly/3t3NAJt or on YouTube at https://www.bit.ly/3epPTT5