Lawrence Municipal Court receives big haul in school supply drive to reduce ticket fines

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A Lawrence Municipal Court initiative that allowed people to pay for $50 worth of traffic tickets with $15 worth of school supplies brought in more than 900 items.

Vicki Stanwix, court administrator, said via email Tuesday that 44 people donated items in exchange for a reduction in parking or infraction fines.

The court also received donations from some people who owed less than $50 in fines, and from people who did not owe fines to the court but wanted to give back to the community, she said.

Altogether, the court received 924 school supply items including 187 glue sticks, 160 boxes of crayons, 79 notebooks, 55 packs of pencils and 15 backpacks, Stanwix said.

The monthlong drive and debt forgiveness program was designed to help motorists with outstanding traffic fines while allowing them to help local school children and their families, Stanwix said last month.

Chris Kopecky

Municipal Court Judge Chris Kopecky, who started in his role in October 2022, said during the Aug. 8 Douglas County Criminal Justice Coordinating Council meeting that the Olathe municipal court had a similar initiative, and he thought it might be a good thing to do here.

“We’ve been getting a lot of people taking advantage of that and it’s hopefully a win-win,” Kopecky said. “… We do have some very inquisitive people that will come up with scenarios that we’re often challenged to find out how we want to answer the question, but it’s been a lot of fun. So that’s been going well.”

Stanwix said it was the first time the municipal court has tried the campaign, and if it was a success, it could become an annual event. On Tuesday, Stanwix said the drive “looks promising for next year.”

The court also recently implemented a pilot night court program that adds an early evening docket once a month to create more flexibility for defendants. Read more about that at this link. The city is also working to change the way it handles parking enforcement; read more about that here.

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Mackenzie Clark (she/her), reporter/founder of The Lawrence Times, can be reached at mclark (at) lawrencekstimes (dot) com. Read more of her work for the Times here. Check out her staff bio here.

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