Legislation that would shift Callaway County to another judicial circuit with three new counties has been dropped. The new proposal also would add one more judge to the 19th Judicial Circuit in Cole County.
Rep. Stanley Cox, R-Sedalia, chairman of the Missouri House Judiciary Committee, had introduced House Bill 1754 that would have moved Callaway County from the 13th Judicial Circuit to the 12th Judicial Circuit, which now includes the counties of Audrain, Montgomery and Warren.
Cox said he will offer a substitute bill that drops the proposed move of Callaway County to another judicial circuit.
"We have talked with judges, legislators and others and we are now convinced that no change is needed nor desired at this point for the existing 13th Judicial Circuit that includes Callaway and Boone counties," Cox said.
Callaway County has two associate circuit judges but no regular circuit judge based in Fulton. When Judge Gene Hamilton of Fulton retired, he was replaced by a new judge working from Columbia. On a rotating basis, the four circuit judges based in Columbia now travel from Columbia to Fulton to handle Callaway County Circuit Court cases.
Cox said his revised proposal still includes a provision for one additional judge for the 19th Judicial Circuit in Cole County that includes Jefferson City. The new Cole County judge would be elected in 2014.
He said a statewide study was conducted by the Office of State Courts Administrator on the workload of Missouri judicial circuits, which have not been reorganized in about half a century.
"When we prepared this legislation, we looked at three concepts. We wanted to even out the workload of judges, reduce the travel time required between districts, and establish a policy of no net increase in the number of judges because of state budget constraints," Cox said.