On behalf of the 18th Judicial Circuit, Presiding Judge Robert Liston accepted the Permanency Award, presented by Supreme Court Judge Zel Fischer and State Courts Administrator Greg Linhares during a special ceremony Monday evening at the Pettis County Courthouse in Sedalia. This is the sixth time the 18th circuit, which includes Cooper and Pettis counties, has received the Permanency Award.
Judge Robert Koffman appointed Judge Robert Liston as Acting Presiding Judge for the sole purpose of receiving this award in recognition of his years of service to juvenile justice.
About the Permanency Award:
The Permanency Award is given to circuits for successfully holding timely hearings during fiscal 2013 in child abuse and neglect cases in which children removed from their homes are to be reunited with their families or are to be placed in another permanent home as soon as possible.
“Timely hearings are always important to the effective administration of justice,” Judge Fischer said. “When children are removed from their homes, that importance becomes even greater to determine whether it is safe to return those children to their biological parents or place them in other permanent homes. Those circuits which exert the extra effort necessary to ensure timely hearings in these cases should be recognized for their achievements.
“The success this circuit has achieved is a testament to the leadership and hard work of judges, juvenile officers, clerks, children’s division workers and other support staff,” Fischer said. In the seven years since we have instituted the awards, the timeliness of hearings throughout the state has increased. Of the more than 43,000 required hearings, 98 percent of them were held on time. This is an increase of six percent from 2006, when we instituted the award.”
The hearing time frames apply to six types of hearings and vary depending on the type of hearing. For example, when a child is taken into protective custody, an initial hearing must be held within three business days, the allegations must be proven within 60 days, and a disposition entered within 90 days. If the child remains in protective custody, the court must hold periodic reviews until the child is reunited with its natural parents, is adopted or another permanent placement is made. These time frames were developed based on recommendations from the Commission on Children’s Justice.
In evaluating what circuits qualify for the permanency awards, the circuits first were placed in size classes based on the total number of hearings that were due to be held during a particular time period. A circuit then had to achieve either 100 percent timeliness each quarter or an average of 100 percent annually to qualify. The 18th circuit is one of 16 judicial circuits to receive the award this year. Photos by Randy Kirby, Sedalia Weekly Observer.