Judge Grantham will sit in for Judge Scott on July 25, and the 15 cases in which he was the Prosecuting Attorney of record will be granted continuances until such time as another judge can be found to preside.

The city of Laurie has moved to dissolve its municipal court following a trend of Missouri towns moving municipal matters toward county courts.

Judge Pat Scott, who had announced her November retirement earlier in the year, had to retire earlier than planned for personal reasons.

The Laurie Board of Aldermen had been making plans for her retirement, and called a special meeting on Thursday, July 6. At the meeting, the board discussed three options.

• Dissolve the court and move everything to the county

• Have newly appointed Associate Circuit Judge Steve Grantham fill in Judge Scott’s role and maintain everything else

• Hire a judge to replace Scott

Discussions at the special meeting focused on the dissolution of the court, which was the direction the board had been leaning. It had instructed City Clerk Ron Clarke to inquire about the process of dissolving the court with the county and other Missouri cities that had taken that path.

Clarke provided the board with a series of emails between Laurie and a number of other cities that asked these questions:

Do you send everything to county?

Do you process tickets in-house and then send to county?

Does the county court charge similar fines as you did prior?

What is the cost to your city to send cases to the county?

What was the cost to your city to operate court prior to sending to county?

Clarke received responses from Drexel, Platte City, Hallsville, Salis and Rich Hill. These cities have either a similar or larger population than Laurie. The results of the emails brought about two options: Either have the county take care of everything and receive no revenue from tickets, or have the city retain a prosecuting attorney who manages tickets and works with the county, which allows the county to keep court costs but allows the city to collect on fines.

The emails also pointed to a significant savings for court costs since the limits on municipal fines went through the state legislature. The board had Laurie court clerk Barb Cameron on hand for the discussions, and she assisted in finding pros and cons to dissolving the court.

In addition to the discussion on dissolution, the board considered hiring a new judge. Clarke stated that new restrictions on municipal courts came into effect on July 1, which made finding a replacement much more difficult. Judge Scott had provided two potential replacements, and Mayor Allen Kimberling mentioned one candidate.

With this limited pool, the board also considered having Judge Grantham come in to cover indefinitely. That was determined to be too much of a strain on everyone involved.

After hearing the arguments, the board decided its best option was full dissolution. Board members voted unanimously to draft an ordinance to dissolve the Laurie municipal court.

Judge Grantham will sit in for Judge Scott on July 25, and the 15 cases in which he was the Prosecuting Attorney of record will be granted continuances until such time as another judge can be found to preside.

“The limits on municipal court fines has made keeping a municipal court much less financially viable,” said Clerk Clarke.

The matter was brought up at the normal board meeting on Tuesday, July 11. At that time, City Attorney Andrew Renken told the board that the court was not yet considered dissolved, and any issuances would still be handled by Laurie.

The board voted to formally ask Judge Grantham to act as an interim judge until it could complete the process, and will be working on that in the coming months.