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Your Day in Court - Magistrate Court

NCJ Number
W SollnerCurtis D
Date Published
0 pages
This public interest film describes Missouri's magistrate courts, presents scenes from a preliminary hearing to illustrate problems facing the court, and suggests reforms.
It notes that 90 percent of the citizenry have their only direct experience with the court system in these courts and shows a preliminary hearing in which the court decides whether enough evidence exists to try the case. Witnesses are shown being sworn in at the preliminary hearing of a murder case. The filmed sequences illustrate wasteful practices during the hearing, such as asking irrelevant questions, and the problems facing the court when confronted with an inarticulate person accused of a crime. The film argues that lower court personnel are often poorly trained, that political connections often enable judges who are ignorant of the law to obtain a seat on the bench, that lower courts are shabby and unventilated, and that judges receive little compensation for their work. Moreover, no uniform national standards or guidelines exist to which lower courts can be held accountable. A nationwide reform effort is needed to remedy these problems.


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