When it comes to county ordinances, what happens if a person breaks one? At the moment, not much. Due to the volume and intensity of the family and criminal cases seen in the county prosecutor's office and in circuit court, county cases rarely see the courtroom.
When one Camden County commissioner noticed this issue, she began working toward finding a way to resolve it.
"My problem is that we do not have anyone that handles county ordinances," District One Commissioner Beverly Thomas said.
Thomas first realized that legislation currently does not support first class counties — a category under which Camden County falls — creating a county court. For the past three years, Thomas has been working toward getting legislation passed so that first class counties would have the ability to create a county court if they choose to do so. After getting shut down twice, Thomas is tweaking her proposal.
In 2014, along with the help of the lake area state representatives, Thomas hopes to propose a bill that would be specific to Camden County.
Recently, another county in Missouri created a county court which gives Thomas the precedent she hopes will help get Camden County's county court approved.
The Franklin County Municipal Court — a county adjacent to St. Louis County — is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. and handles traffic citations, planning and zoning code violations and health and building code violations.
"That at least gives us precedent," Thomas said of the Franklin County Municipal Court.
State Representative Diane Franklin has attempted to push through Thomas' bill two previous times and according to her, Representative Rocky Miller seems to be on board as well. Thomas plans to meet with Miller soon to explain her proposal further to him.
Thomas went on to explain that her goal to create a county court is not to circumvent the circuit court already in place. She realizes that circuit court is already extremely busy and simply does not have the time or resources to spend on particular cases.
Both of Thomas' fellow commissioners, Kris Franken and Cliff Luber support of her endeavor.