Missouri Civil Justice Reform
In July 2016, the Conference of Chief Justices (CCJ) and Conference of State Court Administrators (COSCA) approved a Resolution endorsing 13 recommendations that are designed to transform the civil justice system in our state courts to meet the challenges of contemporary civil caseloads and the needs of those who come to the courts for resolution of their disputes. Following this endorsement, IAALS and NCSC launched a Civil Justice Initiative (CJI) Implementation Plan to support implementation of the recommendations—by developing tools, providing education and technical assistance, evaluating demonstration projects, and hosting regional summits for state action teams. As part of this project, IAALS and NCSC have published Transforming Our Civil Justice System for the 21st Century: A Roadmap for Implementation, which provides a clear step-by-step process for moving from initial assessment and definition of issues to working with stakeholders and implementing reform.
IAALS and NCSC worked with four states—Idaho, Maine, Missouri, and Texas, as they moved through the roadmap process, providing technical assistance and documenting their efforts.
On June 28, 2017, the Missouri Supreme Court established a Commission on Civil Justice Reform. The Commission’s goal is to “globally and holistically examine and review current civil practices and procedures and to recommend measures to ensure the fair, affordable, and prompt resolution of civil disputes in the civil justice system—thereby enhancing public confidence in, and meaningful access to, the state court civil justice system.” The Supreme Court’s order provides that the Commission look to the Call to Action report and recommendations adopted by the Conference of Chief Justices (CCJ) and Conference of State Court Administrators (COSCA) in 2016, as well as the IAALS and ACTL Task Force report Reforming our Civil Justice System: A Report on Progress and Promise. The Missouri Order also identified specific groups of stakeholders to be included on the Commission.
In October 2017, Missouri was selected by the CJI Steering Committee to serve as the last roadmap state and represent the Midwestern CCJ/COSCA region. On November 28, 2017, the Supreme Court issued an Order appointing 25 diverse members to the Commission, including Circuit Judges, Associate Circuit Judges, court clerks, legal aid attorneys, representatives from the Missouri Bar, private practice attorneys, and a legislative member from the Missouri State House of Representatives. Missouri’s reform efforts are ongoing, and the Commission anticipates submitting its supplemental, and final, report by July 2020. The Commission and judiciary are planning on conducting educational training for the judges and commissioners across Missouri at their annual judicial conference. The Commission also plans on involving the Missouri Bar on education and training for attorneys.
In April 2020, IAALS published Transforming Our Civil Justice System for the 21st Century: The Road to Civil Justice Reform, which documented the experiences of Missouri and the other roadmap states as they moved through the roadmap process, noting successes and challenges, and identifying lessons learned for future courts implementing reform to provide practical insight into the process of implementing court changes. The study aims to help other jurisdictions understand how they can successfully implement similar changes in their courts, while also inspiring additional jurisdictions to undertake reform.