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Senate Judiciary Committee conducts public hearing at bar meeting

The Senate Judiciary and Civil and Criminal Jurisprudence heard public testimony at a special meeting held Thursday at The Missouri Bar Annual Meeting in Columbia.

“What better place to get an abundance of wise counsel than here?” asked committee Chairman Bob Dixon, R-Springfield, at the beginning of the hearing. Holding the meeting after the legislative session required special permission by Senate President Pro Tem Tom Dempsey, Dixon said.

The committee heard testimony on several topics, including court costs and fees, the state public defender system and the criminal code.

Holding the hearing at the bar conference was part of an “ongoing dialogue” between the Legislature, the bench and the bar, Dixon’s chief of staff, Eric Jennings, said in an email.

Ten people testified before the committee, mostly about the criminal code revisions and the public defender system.

Dixon said he hopes to pass the criminal code revisions early in the next session.

Legislation to reorganize Missouri’s criminal code was introduced in both the House and Senate in the last legislative session. A version passed the House, but the Senate ran out of time to pass the bill.