Going to Court in Stone County - The Basics

The Stone County Courthouse is located at 110 South Maple, Galena, Missouri, about forty-five minutes from downtown Branson or twenty minutes from Branson West.  Stone County is in the 39th Judicial Circuit, along with Barry and Lawrence Counties, and is presided over by Circuit Court Judge Jack Goodman and Associate Circuit Court Judges Mark Stephens and Alan Blankenship.

When you enter the courthouse, be prepared to remove your belt, empty your pockets, and walk through a metal detector.  Do not wear shorts, cut off shirts, or hats into the courthouse and do not bring your cell phone inside.  Once you are through the entry, you'll head up the stairway to your left or the elevator straight ahead and to one of the courtrooms on the second floor.

If you aren't sure which courtroom you are supposed to be in, check the dockets hanging up outside each of their doorways.  Unless you're case is one of only a few types which aren't printed on dockets, you should find your name listed there along with other pieces of information about your case.  If your name isn't listed, however, don't leave.  You likely just have one of the case types that aren't listed on dockets such as paternity cases, adoptions, and a few others.  Your best bet is to ask a Bailiff or head to the Clerk's Office for help if you don't know where you are supposed to appear.

Although court is held almost every day, the first Friday of each month is typically "law day" and is especially busy as its hosts many different types of cases in front of both Judge Stephens and Judge Blankenship.  If you have an attorney, chances are good that you will be able to get in and out fairly quickly on one of these quick dockets, but that could easily change depending on why you're there.

If you have a traffic ticket or are facing criminal charges and are appearing for the first time, you will likely be in front of Judge Alan Blankenship.  Judge Blankenship also holds Drug and DWI Treatment Court in Courtroom B at the end of the hall on the second floor.  Judge Blankenship was in private practice for many years, but has been on the bench since 2002 and is highly regarded as being a very fair judge, but he expects progress and compliance.

If you are dealing with a family law issue such as a divorce, custody case, modification, or order of protection, you will most likely be in front of Judge Mark Stephens in Courtroom A on the second floor (first courtroom on the left). Judge Stephens was also in private practice before taking the bench in 2008.  He has extensive experience with family law cases and examines each family law case carefully to make sure that anything being agreed to is truly what is best for any children involved. He cares about the parties and children in his cases and it shows as he contemplates how to come to sensible resolutions in the matters before him.

Matt Selby is the Stone County Prosecuting Attorney.  His Assistant Prosecutors are Dayrell Scrivner, Brynna Howell, and John Taylor.  Matt is well respected in the community and is known for being tough, but reasonable.  The Prosecutors' Office is on the second floor on the right, just across from Courtroom A.

If you need additional information and do not have an attorney, or if you need to pay a fine or costs, you will need to visit the Clerk's Office.  Our Circuit Court Clerk is Deborah Scobee and her office is located at the top of the stairs on the second floor to the left.  If you take the elevator, you will need to take a left and then the Clerk's Office will be on your right.  You will do well to be nice to the clerks.  They work hard to keep the courthouse functioning appropriately and effectively and can be a great resource if treated with the respect and kindness they deserve.

Going to Court in Taney County - The Basics

The Taney County Courthouse is located at 266 Main Street, Forsyth, Missouri, about twenty minutes from downtown Branson.  Taney County is the only county in the newly created 46th Judicial Circuit and is presided over by Circuit Court Judge Tony Williams and Associate Circuit Court Judges Eric Eighmy and Tiffany Yarnell.

When you enter the courthouse, be prepared to remove your belt, empty your pockets, and walk through a metal detector.  Once you are through the entry, you'll most likely head up the large stairway to your right and to one of the courtrooms on the second floor, although court is occasionally held in Courtroom 4 on the main floor as well.

If you aren't sure which courtroom you are supposed to be in, check the dockets hanging up outside each of their doorways.  Unless you're case is one of only a few types which aren't printed on dockets, you should find your name listed there along with other pieces of information about your case.  If your name isn't listed, however, don't leave.  You likely just have one of the case types that aren't listed on dockets such as paternity cases, adoptions, and a few others.  Your best bet is to ask a Bailiff or head to the Clerk's Office for help if you don't know where you are supposed to appear.

Once you've located your courtroom, be sure to turn your cell phone off before you go in. One sure way to upset the judge before your case is even called is to let your phone ring while court is in session.  Don't be that person.

Each day of the week is set aside for certain case types in Taney County, although any case type can be heard on any day by permission of the Court.  Thursdays are "law days" and are especially busy as they host many different types of cases and sometimes even Drug Court dockets.  If you have an attorney, chances are good that you will be able to get in and out before lunch, but without an attorney you may be looking at waiting for your case to be called well into the afternoon.  Take this into consideration when scheduling work, child care arrangements, and other responsibilities.

If you have a traffic ticket or are facing criminal charges and are appearing for the first time, you will likely be in front of Judge Tiffany Yarnell in Courtroom 3 at the end of the hall on the second floor.  Judge Yarnell was previously a prosecutor in Taney County, however, so if your charges were filed before she took the bench in 2017 or if you have extensive prior dealings with her, you may be reassigned to Judge Eric Eighmy in Courtroom 1 on the second floor.

If you are dealing with a family law issue such as a divorce, custody case, modification, or order of protection, you will most likely be in front of Judge Eric Eighmy in Courtroom 1 on the second floor. Judge Eighmy was in private practice in Taney County for over thirty years and also acted as the Taney County Guardian ad Litem for Juvenile Cases until he took the bench in 2015.  He has extensive experience with family law cases and does not have the wool pulled over his eyes easily. He tends to be consistent, and therefore predictable, in his approach to family law cases, so if you are represented by a good family law attorney who is experienced at handling cases in front of him, such as those at Smith Law Firm, then you will do well to listen closely to their advice on what Judge Eighmy is likely to do in your case.

For general civil law issues or if you are charged with a felony and have been bound over to Circuit Court after your preliminary hearing, you will likely be in Courtroom 2 on the second floor in front of Judge Tony Williams.  Judge Williams was both a prosecutor and private counsel for many years before taking the bench and has extensive experience handling the types of matters that are before him.  He is well-respected in Taney County and is known to be tough on criminal activity.  He is also sometimes known to give second chances to those who seem like they may truly benefit from it, but is not fond of those who make him regret any leniency he grants.

Jeff Merrell is the Taney County Prosecuting Attorney.  His Assistant Prosecutors are Chris Lebeck, Tony Brown, Thomas Kondro, and Shana Mora.  Judge Tiffany Yarnell previously worked as a part of this team until she was appointed to the bench effective in January of 2017.  The Prosecutors' Office is on the first floor straight ahead from the entry to the courthouse.

If you need additional information and do not have an attorney, or if you need to pay a fine or costs, you will need to visit the Clerk's Office.  Our Circuit Court Clerk is Beth Wyman and her office is located behind the stairs on the second floor.  If you take the elevator, you will come out directly across from the Clerk's Office once the elevator arrives on the second floor.  You will do well to be nice to the clerks.  They work hard to keep the courthouse functioning appropriately and effectively and can be a great resource if treated with the respect and kindness they deserve.

(Photo courtesy of Shive-Hattery.)