Merriam is a small city with a population of a little over 10,000 people. It is located in northern Johnson County, Kansas and is surrounded by Shawnee to the west, Overland Park to the east and Wyandotte County to the north. Being less than 4.5 square miles in size, Merriam is one of the smallest municipalities in the Kansas City Metro area. It extends east to west from Lowell to Switzer and north to south from 47th to 75th street. Ikea, GE Money, Shawnee Mission Healthcare, and First Student are the largest employers in Merriam. Since 2015, Merriam has gone through an economic boom and is considered by many to be a great city to live in and raise a family.
Two criteria must be met for the Merriam Municipal Court to hear a case: (1) the alleged violation must have occurred inside the city limits of Merriam; and (2) the violation charged is a city ordinance violation. Examples of frequently charged city ordinance violations include DUI, driving on a suspended license, marijuana possession, drug paraphernalia, trespass, theft and a few other “code” violations. Generally, code violations deal with the maintenance and upkeep of Merriam’s residence’s homes and businesses.
Merriam contains a small stretch of interstate 35 and Merriam city officers are known for enforcing traffic laws along this stretch. Additionally, Merriam city officers target drivers heading westbound on Shawnee Mission Parkway from the Plaza and drivers heading out of downtown late at night. All of these stops lead to a high concentration of DUI suspects. Considering the small size of the city, Merriam gives out a substantial amount of DUI charges. Furthermore, the concentration of businesses compared to its resident inhabitants is relatively large in Merriam. Therefore, a higher rate of theft cases exist in the municipal court compared to other cities because a large portion of those businesses are retail stores.
Courthouse: The location of Merriam’s Municipal Court is between Shawnee Mission Parkway and Johnson Drive off of Ikea Way. The Courthouse shares a parking lot with the Merriam Police Station and can be found between Ikea and Barron BMW. The Merriam City Hall building houses the Merriam Municipal Court and the court is found on the first floor of the building and consists of one large court (which also serves as the Merriam City Council Chambers) and a small clerk’s office. The courtroom is directly linked to various detention facilities in Johnson County by a multimedia set up. This multimedia set up is used so defendants can be seen on video without actually having to be brought the courthouse.
The address of the Merriam Municipal Court is: 9001 W 62nd St. Merriam, KS 66202
Judge: Only one judge hears cases in the Merriam Municipal Court. However, there are a couple “fill in” judges if the regular judge is unavailable. The court does not have the ability to have cases heard in front of a jury so only the judge hears the cases. The Merriam judge has a full-time job at a law practice and presides over cases part-time. With this said, the Merriam judge is only available to handle court business on scheduled court dates.
The Judge in Merriam is: John Harvell
Prosecutor: The responsibility of the Merriam City Attorney’s office is to making charging decisions and prosecute alleged crimes that take place in Merriam. In all criminal cases, Merriam is represented by a city prosecutor whose office is located in the courthouse. Since the prosecutor is only part-time and has a private law practice in Johnson County, he is only available to talk about cases during court hours. If the case is appealed, the city prosecutor follows the case to the District Court.
The City Prosecutor in Merriam is: Christopher Mann
Court Clerk: The Court Clerk’s office is entrusted with the administrative tasks of conducting court. The office is located directly south of the court and makes up a small part of the courthouse. Around 2-3 employees work at the Court Clerk’s office and their job is to keep the court’s schedule, accept payments on behalf of the court and perform other essential administrative functions of the court.
The Court Administrator in Merriam is: Sheila Sherida
Court Security: Kansas law requires court security for all municipal courts. Therefore, the Merriam court security includes a bailiff and at least one Merriam police officer. Both the bailiff and police officer are present when court is in session and it is their job to monitor the public while they are in court, check patrons in when they come to court, make sure patrons get a chance to talk to the prosecutor and maintain order in the court when a judge is not present.
Appealing from the Merriam Municipal Court: Merriam Municipal Court does not have the ability to provide a defendant with all the protections afforded by the United State’s Constitution because they are a court of limited jurisdiction. So, the Merriam Municipal Court’s final decision is generally not the final word on any given case. Therefore, the defendant may appeal if he or she is not happy with the decision of the municipal court. Moreover, the defendant must appeal in a timely manner, which is defined as within 14 days of sentencing in a municipal court. The first step in the appeal process is filing a notice of appeal with the municipal court and paying an appeal bond.
Obtaining Discovery in a Merriam Case: Every individual that is accused of a crime or infraction in Merriam is allowed to conduct discovery. Brady v. Maryland outlines the constitutional protections one is entitled to when it comes to discovery. According to Brady, an individual is entitled to view all evidence that the city intends to use against them at trial and all the evidence the city has or can reasonably obtain that tends to prove the individual did not commit the offense. In short, an individual can see all of the city’s evidence. In Merriam, a defendant must follow a specific process to obtain discovery. This process includes going to the police station located in the same parking lot as the Merriam Municipal Court. Upon entering the police station, the defendant must first go to the window and ask for discovery request forms or the defendant can mail in the request with prepayment of production costs. Producing the evidence includes a small fee.
Merriam Specific Information: Every court has their own rules and processes set in place with regards to different aspects of the court and Merriam is no different. For example, Merriam has authorized certain providers for drug and alcohol evaluations. Additionally, Merriam has a specific provider they use for house arrest and a specific CWIP program they allow DUI defendants to partake in. Specific information about the Merriam Municipal Court is found below.