A review of the Municipal Court judges 

The KCMO Municipal Court has several specialty court dockets that hear special types of cases as well as other alleged ordinance violations. 

By John Sharp

Seven of the eight current KCMO Municipal Court judges that hear cases regarding alleged violations of city ordinances will be up for retention on the June 20 ballot in the city.

The judges in the order they will appear on the ballot are Corey A. Carter, Michael C. Heffernon, Courtney A. Wachal, Katherine B. Emke, Anne J. LaBella, Martina L. Peterson and Todd D. Wilcher. 

Judges need a simple majority of those voting in their races to be retained in office for another four years.  There is no apparent organized opposition to the retention of any of the judges, and major political organizations have endorsed their retention. 

An eighth judge, Shayla M. Marshall, was just appointed to the Municipal Court in January.  New judges must serve at least a year before they are put on the ballot at the next regular municipal election for retention and every four years after that.

Municipal judges must be residents of the city for at least a year before their appointment and must retain their residency continuously. They also must be less than 70 years of age.

There is currently a vacancy on the Municipal Court that the Mayor and City Council have not filled.

The KCMO Municipal Court has several specialty court dockets that hear special types of cases as well as other alleged ordinance violations.  The domestic violence and housing court dockets are designed to be permanent.  

The four judges that currently preside over these special dockets are:

Judge Carter who presides over truancy court that works with agencies that provide services and programs for parents and guardians to help assure their children between 7 and 17 years of age are regularly in school, and veterans treatment court which allows veterans to choose to take part in treatment through the Veterans Administration instead of the standard sentencing process;

Judge Peterson who presides over mental health court that refers and monitors therapeutic interventions for defendants with mental illnesses, and reinstatement court that works with defendants with driver license suspensions due to non-payment of child support to reinstate their licenses and meet their child support obligations; 

Presiding Judge Wachal who presides over domestic violence court and drug court that oversees supervised treatment programs for defendants who display signs of chronic and severe substance abuse; and

Judge Wilcher who presides over housing court that has jurisdiction over cases involving alleged violations of city ordinances regarding animals, building codes. fire prevention & protection, hazardous substances, land use, nuisances, property maintenance, unlawful activities of landlords or tenants of residential properties and zoning. 

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