The Education Beat
3:04 pm
Wed July 9, 2014

Know Your Judicial Branch? New Website Can Help

The website allows teachers to request a visit from a judge who will, like appeals court Judge Gary Lynch, explain the roles of a judge in a classroom presentation.
Credit Discover Missouri Courts

How well do you know your judicial branch of government? For example, could you pinpoint the difference between a circuit court and a court of appeals, or how Missouri judges are selected? If you’re a little rusty, the Missouri Supreme Court is launching a website to make information about Missouri’s courts and judges easier to access. KSMU’s Anna Thomas has more.

In a press release, Supreme Court Judge Patricia Breckenridge said many Americans are more likely to know about reality TV shows than about the three branches of government or how a case is decided in court.

Springfield residents Shelli McGrath and Eddie Murphy agree.

“I think that’s entirely true and terrible,” McGrath said.

“Seventy five percent of my friends watch COPS a lot, Judge Alex, and Judge Judy, all that reality TV stuff,” Murphy said.

And why don’t Missourians know much about their courts, we asked them.

“I don’t think that we learn very much about it, and if you’re not involved in it then you don’t have a reason to educate yourself,” McGrath said.

“They just don’t really care to know,” Murphy said.

Another Springfield resident, Joseph Sneddon, says the jargon found in court documents is often too technical.

“I know that a lot of things that discourage me is how difficult it is to understand legal language,” Sneddon said.

The website, Discover Missouri Courts, provides information about the courts’ structure, processes and locations. It also allows teachers to request a visit from a judge to their classroom to give presentations.

Anthony Simones at the Office of State Courts Administrator says it’s important for the public to know that judges are not beholden to any particular party or cause, but instead, they are beholden to the law.

“The judiciary are the guardians of the constitution and of all of those rights and all of those principles that we hold so important about our system of government,” Simones said.

Click here for more information about Discover Missouri Courts.