- Associated Press - Thursday, December 31, 2015

JOPLIN, Mo. (AP) - Officials with the Joplin Municipal Court are working to correct problems cited in a state audit.

The city court received a rating of “poor” in the report Monday from the office of State Auditor Nicole Galloway, The Joplin Globe (https://bit.ly/1Ozrw3y ) reported. The report’s rating, which is the lowest possible, was mostly due to record-keeping issues and security issues regarding records.

“It is essential people understand and trust the work these courts do,” Galloway said. “In Joplin, the municipal court can take steps recommended to ensure they’re protecting citizens’ confidential information and maintaining reliable records.”

Municipal Judge Chuck Brown said Tuesday that officials are making changes following the report. He said the report’s findings are based on examiners looking at a random sampling, and that it would have been impossible to look at all municipal court records.

The court audit began in July, after an audit of the city’s overall operations earlier this year also resulted in a rating of “poor.” Brown said court officials met with examiners a number of times during the audit process.

“Overall, while we may disagree or not necessarily appreciate some of the caustic comments they might have about it, generally it was an excellent experience for us and we will make some great changes as a result,” he said.

Most of the issues found in the audit have to do with reviews to ensure correct information or documentation of actions noted in court records, tightening access to records, and improving communication on the status of cash bonds and fines that are posted. Brown said no improprieties were found.

“There is nothing that the audit reveals about any fraud, any improprieties or missing funds at all,” he said.

The auditor’s office will follow up in three to four months to issue another report on the actions taken to address problems, Brown said.


Information from: The Joplin (Mo.) Globe, https://www.joplinglobe.com

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