Last updated: November 1, 2013
Columbia is known as the Athens of Missouri for good reason: the University of Missouri defines the downtown architecturally, historically and culturally. Combine it with Columbia College and Stephens College and it’s no wonder why Columbia is one of the most highly educated cities in the country. But locals know the best part of our city is the swinging blues and jazz scene; I personally recommend The Blue Note if you’re looking for a good time in renovated downtown.
The Missouri court system is composed of three levels. The primary trial level is Circuit Court, which handles general civil and criminal matters. Circuit Court is split into specialized divisions, such as civil, criminal, juvenile, municipal, family and probate. Above the Circuit Court the Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court review decisions made by Circuit Court judges. The court situation in Columbia is simple: the Boone County Courthouse handles basically everything except juvenile justice and some traffic violations.
The Boone County Courthouse is home to the 13th Judicial Circuit of Missouri, which also serves Callaway County. Circuit Courts are the primary trial courts in Missouri, and they have jurisdiction over almost all civil and criminal matters. The Boone County Courthouse handles civil, criminal, family and probate cases. There is a parking garage located in front of the courthouse at the intersection of 8th and Walnut, and metered parking is available all around courthouse. If you’re not sure which courthouse to try first, the Boone County Courthouse is a safe bet.
While not a traditional courthouse, the Alternative Sentencing Center plays an important role within the criminal justice system. The Center oversees voluntary sentencing alternatives such as drug or alcohol abuse programs, mental health treatment and inmate re-entry programs. Their drug testing center is open seven days a week. The Center is just one block west of the main courthouse, so you can find parking in the same garage on 8th and Walnut.
The Juvenile Justice Center handles cases where minors commit criminal offenses or situations where the child needs to be removed from the home for his or her safety. The goal of juvenile justice is rehabilitation, not punishment, so try asking the prosecutor about alternatives to hard time in Juvi Hall. There is free parking available in the Juvenile Justice Center parking lot.
The Municipal Court deals with violations of city ordinance codes and routine traffic or parking tickets. If you need to pay a ticket, try paying online instead of driving to the courthouse (and ricking another ticket!). You may receive a “bench trial” at the Municipal Court, but they never hold jury trials here. But beware, judges typically side with police and prosecutors.