The 25th Judicial Circuit that covers Maries, Phelps, Pulaski and Texas counties earned the O'Toole Award from the Missouri Supreme Court for the second year in a row.

The award is given annually to the judicial circuits who have been the most successful in efficiently managing and processing cases. For 2020, five out of the 46 judicial circuits earned the award. 

25th Circuit Presiding Judge William Hickle announced its receipt Thursday at the Phelps County Courthouse along with Circuit Clerk Sue Brown, Circuit Judge John Beger and Associate Circuit Judges Mark Calvert and Ken Clayton. 

Hickle thanked the judges, clerks, attorneys, bailiffs and probation officers of the circuit, saying, “We are committed in our Circuit to providing fair and impartial justice, and we owe all of you thanks for helping make that justice prompt as well.” 

The 25th Circuit covers four counties -- Texas, Phelps, Pulaski and Maries. 

Judge Clayton commented, "Behind each court case in Phelps County is a real person who deserves prompt justice under the law.” Added Judge Calvert, “the adage ‘justice delayed is justice denied’ is true, and that’s why we do our best to efficiently manage our cases.” 

The Supreme Court measures the average time for disposition of five different types of cases -- circuit felony, circuit civil, domestic relations, associate division civil and associate division criminal. The O’Toole award is given to the judicial circuits that are the most successful in meeting timeliness criteria for each of the five types of cases. 

Hickle said it is an honor to be one of the five circuits statewide to earn the award, and credited court personnel in helping achieve success. “The staff who work in our local courts in Phelps County are some of the nicest people you will ever meet. They care about the people they serve, and it shows.” 

The circuit has increased the use of videoconferencing in the last several months during the COVID-19 pandemic as in-person court proceedings have been curtailed.