St. Louis County Courts report more ‘no-shows’

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ST. LOUIS (KTVI) - Fewer people are showing up to court in St. Louis County Municipalities.  It could be setting up a big problem for some people.

A municipal court Judge fears some people with warrants may misunderstand the new amnesty programs.

Frank Vatterott is an attorney and a Judge in Overland.  He`s also part of the new St. Louis County Municipal Court Improvement Committee, that`s working to crack down on court abuses and improve relations with citizens.  He says they`ve run into something they didn`t expect, up to a 50% drop in the number of people showing up to court.  These are reports he says that are coming from municipalities all over the county.  He says courts always see a small drop during the Holidays, but nothing like this.  He wonders if some people are thinking that their cases will simply disappear under current reforms.

Vatterott said, 'You still have to show up to court, that`s the most important thing. Because when a Judge issues a warrant for not appearing, that judge doesn`t know if you`re poor or rich or black or white. He doesn`t know, but if you don`t appear in court, we have no choice under our cannon of ethics we have to issue a warrant.'

He speculates that some people may think it`s a trick in which they`ll show up to court and get arrested.  He says it`s no trick.  He said the amnesty program allows you to pay a flat $100 bond, even if the Judge has set it for over $1,000 due to multiple warrants.  If you win your court case, he says you get that money back.

Vatterott added, 'This would be a very unique Christmas present for people, if you could for your son or daughter or your grandson or granddaughter, say `you know what I`m going to do? I`m going to go to this court with you and post your $100 bond, that`s your Christmas present. You`re off the warrants and you can go around without being afraid of being arrested. `'