Best Innovative Idea by a Politician to Be Killed by a Judge - 2002
Making Public Records Accessible Over the Internet
When St. Louis Circuit Clerk Mariano Favazza came up with the idea of making public court records accessible over the Internet, it was a stroke of genius. A public servant actually doing something to serve the public was enough to give the most coldly cynical taxpayer the warm fuzzies. But St. Louis Circuit Judge Maggie Neill apparently isn't into warm fuzzies -- or public access. Access means information and information means questions, and that means Neill and the rest of the bench might have to launch into explanations. So Neill put the kibosh on the idea and ordered the project halted. But really, who can blame her? Why should a $100,000-a-year judge have to explain to a crime victim that a guy who's been convicted of six burglaries is receiving probation once again? Then there are the annoying neighborhood activists, constantly whining about drug dealers and thieves who get arrested, charged and put back out on the street again. Neill successfully squelched Favazza's mutiny, but now St. Louis Circuit Attorney Jennifer Joyce has borrowed Favazza's plan; inquiring minds can go to www.circuitattorney.org.