Court run by clerks while judge vacations in China
Update: On August 31, 2012 Judge Barbara T. Peebles was suspended with pay from the 22nd Circuit after The Missouri Commission on Retirement, Removal and Discipline recommended her removal from the bench. Out of the six commission members, five recommended removal and one a a six-month suspension.
Her attorney said that they will appeal to the Missouri Supreme Court.
|“||While we respect the commission’s findings, we don’t agree. We do not nor have we ever believed that any of the conduct warrants removal. And we still don’t believe there was misconduct other than that she’s already admitted to... - Paul D’Agrosa, Judge Peebles' lawyer||”|
ST. LOUIS, Missouri: In October of 2011, 22nd Circuit Court judge Barbara T. Peebles took a ten day vacation to visit China, leaving clerks to handle her cases. In taking over the judge's normal duties the clerks issued five case dismissals, refused a case dismissal, and continued over 300 cases, in some cases refusing bail. 
Under the Sixth Amendment the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial. The clerks were reportedly ordered to continue cases until the judge's return and lawyers were told there would also be no bail reductions while Judge Peebles was gone. In some cases this resulted in an extended jail stay for defendants possibly violating their six amendment right. 
Judges, clerks and lawyers comment:
Steven R. Ohmer, presiding judge of the 22nd Circuit Court, said that Judge Peebles' and her clerks' conduct was "wrong." While St. Louis defense lawyer David Stokely said, "I think it's as illegal as hell." 
Circuit Clerk Jane Schweitzer said that there was "no miscarriage of justice", but also that Peebles had given too much authority to the clerks. Judge Peebles has not yet commented on the situation.
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 St. Louis Post Dispatch, "St. Louis judge suspended after she turns cases over to her clerk," September 01, 2012
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 St. Louis Offender Awareness Examiner, "St. Louis County, Court Clerks acted in Judge's Absence, rasies Morale Questions," December 21, 2011
- ↑ 3.0 3.1 3.2 STLtoday.com, "Clerks ran court while a St. Louis judge was on vacation overseas," December 18, 2011
- ↑ Courthouse News Service, "Strange Doings in City Court," December 20, 2011
|This article was written by Kevin Kelly, an Assistant Staff Writer for the State Courts Project on Judgepedia. He can be reached at email@example.com.|