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A day off for inauguration? Not this year

While many of the state’s court staff might have hoped to have the day off for Gov.-elect Jay Nixon’s swearing-in, only those lucky enough to be working in Jefferson City are not in their offices today.

It has been fairly common for the retiring governor to make Inauguration Day a holiday for state employees. Gov. Bob Holden did so for the inauguration of Gov. Matt Blunt. Gov. Christopher “Kit” Bond did the same for incoming Gov. John Ashcroft. Gov. Mel Carnahan also gave state employees the day off for the inauguration of his second term.

But other governors, including Ashcroft, Roger Wilson and now Blunt, did not close state offices for the first day of the new administration.

Blunt made an executive order on Dec. 3 to close only the state offices in Cole County.

Given the earliness of the order, some courts thought there still might be a potential court closure and made arrangements.

Presiding Judge David Dowd of St. Louis Circuit Court decided that jurors should be summoned on Tuesday in case the court was closed.

“In the past Missouri courts have been closed,” said Matt Murphy, spokesman for St. Louis Circuit Court. “We were not sure if we would be closed, so the jurors were summoned on Tuesday instead of Monday. It was just a way of hedging our bets.”

State Courts Administrator Greg Linhares said his office is following the governor’s executive order and only the Supreme Court and Cole County Court are closed for the day.

“Other courts may have anticipated something and made arrangements, but they are acting independently of OSCA,” he said.

Attorney Jerry Dobson, of Dobson, Goldberg, Moreland & Berns, reported that his trial, which was originally scheduled for Monday in St. Louis Circuit Court, was moved to Tuesday because of the later juror summons.

All seems to be business as usual in Jackson and St. Louis county circuit courts, with juror selection to be begin as normal on Monday and judges having full dockets. 

Calls to Blunt’s office were not returned by press time.