UPDATE: Judges Vote Against Armed Offender Docket Plan
Update, 12:00: The proposal for a separate gun docket failed but a separate proposal to give cases involving firearms more attention passed. The proposal was put forth by Judge Robert Dierker.
ST. LOUIS (KMOX) – The creation of an armed offender docket is up for consideration by St. Louis Circuit Court judges Monday.
It’s a plan local leaders have touted for awhile as a way to more efficiently prosecute and punish criminals who use guns.
Mayor Francis Slay, Police Chief Sam Dotson, and Circuit Attorney Jennifer Joyce say that suspects using guns wait too long to see a judge and then receive sentences which are often times too light.
Judge Thomas Grady this month told KMOX News that the idea has some merit but can’t solve all problems.
“We are not a re-parenting organization. If children are left in great numbers without father figures and are left out on the streets and end up in the wrong company, they create a kind of terror,” he said.
Some of the judges don’t think there are enough resources to set some aside specifically for firearms crimes. Mayor Slay addressed that concern in a blog post Saturday:
A gun docket wouldn’t add cases to the general docket. Every case moved to the gun docket means one fewer case on the general docket, with the two judges assigned to the docket ultimately handling as many as 15 percent of the entire docket’s pending cases. The gun docket would not divert resources of any kind from the general docket. To the contrary, it will attract new resources for dedicated prosecutor staffing, extra parole and probation resources and private philanthropy.
Circuit Court Judge Jack Garvey will present the proposal before the other judges around 10 a.m. Monday morning.
In his appeal to Judge Grady and others, Mayor Slay wrote, “We are pursuing this with such vigor because we believe it will prevent violence and save lives. We believe it will make neighborhoods safer, improve the delivery and quality of justice, and strengthen independence of our judiciary.”