Missoula Municipal Court: Over 18,000 Tickets Totaling Over $2 Million in Fines
The Missoula Municipal Court is a busy place. According to Judge Kathleen Jenks the court is so packed that sometimes hearings have to be done in city council chambers. Jenks believes most Missoulians would be surprised at the number of cases.
"They have no concept of the volume, that's something that blows people away: 18,000 tickets come through my court," Jenks said. "I would like to talk with the people on speeding tickets, but we don't always have time, sometimes we only have two minutes, you know. We also have times where all we do is omnibus hearings with attorneys and we'll to 60 or 80, sometimes, of those... in an afternoon."
All of those tickets end up pumping millions into the city of Missoula’s general fund.
"In the last fiscal year, we collected $2,273,000 on fines and we collected $137,192 in restitution that went directly to victims," Jenks said. "It's a big court and we do collect a lot and I feel very strongly that fines are not for revenue."
The number of warrants handled by the City of Missoula is also quite high, Jenks says she culled about a third of the warrants that were in the system because they were illegally processed, now, she says there are about 8,000 Missoula Municipal Court warrants still active.