Hearing Slated For Friday As Circuit Attorney Fights For Victim And Witness Privacy
ST. LOUIS, MO- The St. Louis Circuit Attorney’s office will go to court, Friday, on behalf of crime victims and witnesses in more than 170 cases whose personal information is at risk of being handed over to criminal defense attorneys and their clients.
The Circuit Attorney is asking a St. Louis judge to reconsider his blanket court order releasing victim and witness information. Prosecutors are asking for an individual hearing in each case covered by the order to protect the victims, witnesses, and our community. Circuit Attorney Jennifer M. Joyce says that handing over such information would violate the Missouri Constitution.
“We see situations where the personal information of witnesses is being distributed on social media,” she said. “In a time where witness intimidation is a problem in St. Louis and across the nation, allowing such personal information to be given to criminal defendants and their attorneys is like throwing gasoline on a fire.”
Joyce explained they are aware of two cases in the last seven weeks where witnesses to violent crimes were murdered in St. Louis. One of those men was shot to death the night before the trial.
The hearing is one in a series of legal steps the Circuit Attorney has taken to protect witnesses and victims’ personal information and get an outdated Supreme Court rule changed.
Circuit Attorney Joyce sees the potential distribution of personal information as dangerous to individuals and harmful to our justice system. Witnesses must have faith that they can safely step forward.
“We have the best vantage point to see the dangers of this action,” Joyce said. “And if we don’t advocate for this change, who will? Too many times in our history, rules and laws have been put in place that create a danger or are discriminatory to citizens. If good citizens had stood by and done nothing about changing those laws, think about where we might be today.”
Circuit Attorney Joyce says this is not about any single judge or defendant.
“This is about realizing when a rule has become outdated and must be changed.
The hearing on the cases in question will take place at 1:30pm on Friday June 9th in Division 16 of Missouri’s 22nd Circuit Court.