The Buzz

TheChat: Missouri’s top judge wants to de-mystify the courts


Good morning.

▪ “We need to be doing more things to take the mystery out of our courts.” — Mary Rhodes Russell, whose two-year term as Missouri’s chief judge on the state Supreme Court ends next week.

Russell is known as the “undercover judge” for her habit of showing up in courts around the state to ask citizens about their experiences. Too many found the environment mystifying, she said.

▪ “Hate cannot win. We can't hide from hard truths about race and justice. We have to name them and own them and change them.” — Hillary Clinton speaking in the St. Louis area this week about the Charleston shootings.

In a reference to the crisis in nearby Ferguson last year, Clinton also said that law enforcement must “respect the communities they serve.”

▪ “We had a good talk. It was spirited. I told him it would have been nice if he had called me before the press release.” — Missouri state Rep. Chuck Basye, a Rocheport Republican, on his conversation with fellow Rep. Brandon Ellington, a Kansas City Democrat, who had criticized Basye for his involvement in a Saturday event near Rocheport that included dedicating a headstone for Confederate guerrillas killed in 1865.

Basye said he attended the ceremony merely as an observer as the fighters were buried on land Basye’s family has owned for generations. Ellington said he does not think that Basye is racist. “I told him it is the underlying issue, and the Confederacy has different effects on different cultures,” he said.

▪ “This is what you do to administrate justice fairly.” — Rich McClure, a co-chair of the Ferguson Commission, on a plan to overhaul St. Louis County’s municipal court system in the wake of last year’s riots.

Under a plan now under review, operations would be consolidated and practices deemed abusive would be eliminated. The municipal courts would be directly supervised by the Missouri Supreme Court through the circuit court. The county now has 81 municipal courts, a number deemed far too high.