The seven judges of the 43rd Circuit (Caldwell, Clinton, Daviess, DeKalb and Livingston counties) recently held our first “En Banc” meeting of the year. The hottest topics were changes mandated by the Missouri Supreme Court relating to bonding procedures and court costs in criminal cases. I will address these issues in future articles after we establish the most feasible

means to implement the changes.

We also are taking steps to address the increasing problem of truancy in our circuit. Truancy affects all of us/ all????. A significant amount of school funding is based upon student numbers and attendance. Students who fail to attend school on a regular basis (especially in lower grade levels) soon find themselves hopelessly behind in the education process. Failure to procure a good education in the developmental years bears a high correlation to serious future problems including criminal activity.

Annually, the 43rd Circuit Juvenile Office is asked to intervene in well over 100 truancy cases. Unfortunately, an increasing number of these involve children in the K – 6 levels. To address the problem I recently enacted an Administrative Order creating the 43rd Circuit Truancy Court. Livingston County Associate Circuit Judge Michael Leamer has agreed to implement our pilot program. Judge Leamer will convene “Court” and frequently meet with school officials and AWOL students in an attempt to address their issues in a prompt, professional manner. We sincerely hope “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”

Please keep in mind Judge Leamer is performing this task strictly as a public service. He will be donating his time and receive no additional compensation for his efforts. Judge Leamer is a native of Polo, and currently resides in Chillicothe. I believe his exceptional educational experiences as a “Panther” and nine years on the Chillicothe School Board will be of great benefit to the citizens of Livingston County.

PERSONAL NOTE: Imagine my sister-in-law Donna Elliott’s surprise when she recently picked up a Hallmark birthday card to find a picture of my parents on the front. Upon retirement and for several years prior to their passing, my parents went to breakfast every Saturday morning with other retired couples they referred to as “The Breakfast Club.” One of the couples had a son who worked for Hallmark and he decided to surprise his mother and father by showing up at a Saturday ritual with a company photographer. We had forgotten their experience until the recent discovery on the Birthday Card. The card depicts all of the club members looking toward the camera with the caption, “We all think you look great on your birthday!” The inside of the card

declares, “Of course, we don’t see as good as we used too!”

I could not tell you how many times I heard my father make a similar statement to a friend. Pardon me – I must go find a Kleenex.

Circuit Judge R. Brent Elliott’s “From the Bench” is a series of articles designed to provide the public with a better understanding of the judicial system.