Letter to the Editor

Judges support courthouse plan

Saturday, February 2, 2019

To the Editor:

We both serve the entire Second Judicial District, which consists of six counties and nine courthouses. But we both have a vested personal and professional interest in Mississippi County because this is our home.

Improvement of the two courthouses in Mississippi County is not for the benefit of the judges or the lawyers. Our courthouses belong to you, the citizens. This is where citizens come to settle and legally resolve their differences. Our courthouses are a symbol of our respect for the rule of law.

Our Mississippi County courthouse facilities are in poor condition. If you have served on jury duty within the past few years, you know first-hand about their condition. Your jury services is critical to our judicial process. Jury duty itself is a significant inconvenience for citizens.

But the deteriorating conditions of our buildings has caused some jurors to question the importance of their service. If you have not been inside the courthouses recently, or if you question the critical need for improvements, please go take a tour.

The condition of our courthouses present serious public safety issues. In addition to the risk of physical injury to our citizens, our courthouse situation also seriously impairs the ability of our sheriff to provide appropriate and necessary security measures to protect the people who attend court proceedings or who happen to be in the courthouses for other business.

Second Judicial District caseloads for each of our judges are among the top six in the state. Mississippi County represents a significant part of these case number totals. The trend reflects that our caseload numbers are growing.

Our court facilities are used for many types of legal issues, but criminal court proceedings account for the largest number. Inadequate court facilities affect the number of cases that we are able to move through the system. If we do not have adquate facilities, we cannot appropriately process the number of cases we have.

Deteriorating courthouse structures imply a disregard for the law, and we know our fellow citizens want our judicial buildings to reflect our respect for the law. We urge all citizens of Mississippi County to give this issue careful thought and consideration.

We respectfully ask you to vote to approve both ballot issues so our courthouses can be restored to a safe and honorable condition. Both ballot issues must pass for the effort to be successful.

Thank you for the privilege to serve you.

Ralph Wilson, Jr., Circuit Judge

Dan Ritchey, Circuit Judge