St. Louis County courts open new satellite center for people seeking justice in the pandemic

FOX Files

ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. – Some criminal defendants have been waiting years for their trial, only to meet more delays from the pandemic. Judges are compiling a priority list of criminal cases that will go first when the courthouse reopens for in-person proceedings.

“It really is frustrating for the defendants, their families, the victims. It’s a really frustrating process, but we’re hopeful,” St. Louis County Judge Michael Burton said.

Judge Burton is planning for criminal jury trials to begin this month. He described prioritizing cases – “There are some that have filed speedy trial motions. That means by the constitution they have a right to have their cases prioritized. Those who have no bonds set because of the gravity of the case will have their matter prioritized.”

St. Louis County prosecutors say they’re constantly reviewing delayed cases and looking for those they can close with plea deals. Chris King, a spokesman for the St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office, said delays can hinder their path to justice.

“You can imagine why. Evidence goes missing. Witnesses back down. Police officers retire or move away. It’s harder to find people. You have to physically find someone to get them in front of the jury or in front of the bench,” King said.

“If your client is bonded out, there’s nothing but a benefit for you to continue these – so for us to get plea agreements when they can keep pushing it off and going to trial next year at this point possibly – it shows a lot of creativity on behalf of our staff to close these cases.”

It’s not just criminal cases in court.

“You can get a lot accomplished by having these trials by Zoom. On countless occasions, particularly from the family cases,” Burton said.

He said here’s a lot going on in empty courtrooms, adding, “We do so much from a virtual standpoint and many of our dockets, especially in the family court and probate court, it’s as if nothing has changed. I mean they are conducting business as if everyone is here in person.”

They’ve opened a satellite court at The Crossings – formerly Northwest Plaza – to keep up with courtroom demand. It’s right next to the election office. You can appear virtually/in person in one of these eCourt public kiosks that will connect you directly with a judge in a Clayton courtroom. The courts recognized that some people don’t have access to a computer or the computer programs necessary to connect to a courtroom.

You can also now file for an order of protection there at an office they just opened this week. That address is 715 NW Plaza in St. Ann.

About the FOX Files

The Fox Files are groundbreaking investigations you won’t see anywhere else. The series is well known for breaking the Pam Hupp story nationally. The reports that led to the exoneration of Russ Faria. But, it is far from the only time in which our investigations led to overturned convictions and freedom for the wrongfully accused. The Fox Files investigations do not fit into just one category, other than the fact our reports shine a light on issues and corruption in ways you won’t see anywhere else.

You won’t know what to expect as our reports often take twists that surprise even Fox Files investigator Chris Hayes.

“You never know where the truth will lead and you have to keep searching for it, even when you think you might be done,” Hayes said.

From getting arrested for trying to cover a public meeting, to getting law enforcement involved in his report about a daycare fight club, the Fox Files has been at the forefront of breaking news investigations in the St. Louis area.

It doesn’t stop just in St. Louis. The Pam Hupp/Russ Faria story took him to Lincoln County. Fox 2 was the first to report, nationally, on the synthetic drug epidemic when it began in St. Charles County, MO. In St. Louis County, our Fox Files reporting led to the dismantling of some police departments, including the departments of Uplands Park and Jennings. And in the City of St. Louis, our investigations led to swift government actions, such as our report that led to the Governor’s ordered shut down of a daycare.

Our reporting in St. Louis also led to former Missouri Governor Eric Greitens’ exclusive Fox Files interviews involving his court fight to oust the chief prosecutor while attempting to prove that political corruption led to an illegal overturning of a state election.

“It’s not always bad news,” Hayes said about a recent victory for a restaurant in his coverage of a St. Clair County Illinois issue. A Fox Files report, exposing a health department’s mistake over the COVID-19 pandemic, led to an overturning of a decision, allowing the business to open for limited inside dining.

Another investigation took us to Madison County, where prosecutors praised Fox 2’s coverage while shutting down an illegal synthetic drug business – and to Monroe County, where we uncovered key evidence in the Chris Coleman murder trial.

Even the national media, continues reaching out to local affiliate Fox 2 KTVI and the Fox Files, for its work on cases that are important to St. Louis. When you see a network television’s coverage of St. Louis, you’ll often see that they gathered information that was first uncovered right here.

About FOX 2 News

FOX 2 and KPLR 11 in St. Louis cover the news in Missouri and Illinois. There are over 68 hours of live news and local programming on-air each week. Our website and live video streams operate 24/7. Download our apps for alerts and follow us on social media for updates in your feed.

President Harry Truman said: “It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit.” That spirit is alive and well at Fox 2. Our teamwork is on display each and every day.

Our news slogan is: “Coverage You Can Count On.” We quite frankly are too busy to worry about who gets the credit. Our main concern is serving the viewer.

We go where the stories take us. Whether it be Washington, D.C when a Belleville man opened fire during a congressional baseball game practice or to Puerto Rico where local Ameren crews restored power after more than 5 months in the dark.

Coverage You Can Count On means “Waking up your Day” with our top-rated morning show. From 4:00 am-10:00 am we are leading the way with breaking news. But our early morning crew also knows how to have some fun! Our strong commitment to the communities we serve is highlighted with our Friday neighborhood shows.

Our investigative unit consists of three reporters. Elliott Davis focuses on government waste, Chris Hayes is our investigative reporter, and Mike Colombo is our consumer reporter. They work in unison with the news department by sharing resources and ideas.

We continue to cover breaking news aggressively and relied on our seasoned journalists to make a difference with the stories we covered. The shooting of Arnold Police Officer Ryan O’Connor is just one example of that. Jasmine Huda was the only reporter who had exclusive access to the O’Connor family during his amazing rehabilitation in Colorado.

Last, but certainly not least, FOX 2 and KPLR 11 are committed to covering local politics. We host debates among candidates and have the most extensive presidential election coverage. Our commitment to politics isn’t just during an election year. We produce two political shows that air every weekend.


Latest News

More News