Ferguson, Missouri, August 19, 2014. (Photo by Joe Raedle)
In further fallout from the recently released Department of Justice report into the corrupt and racist court and police system of Ferguson (this verified by a comprehensive report), the Missouri Supreme Court announced this evening that a state judge will take over municipal court cases in the St. Louis suburb.
The takeover directly speaks to the damning evidence that came from the DOJ report released on Monday, where municipal courts and police routinely targeted African Americans to increase revenue—often stopping them without probable cause, and then jailing and/or fining them disporportionately, thus violating their constitutional rights.
Based on the report, the federal government says it’s prepared to sue the city, if it doesn’t make drastic changes including revamping its approach to policing, retraining its employees and establishing new oversight.
Looks like they’re making it happen.
The New York Times reports that Ronald J. Brockmeyer, the current municipal judge, resigned his post effectively immediately, and Judge Roy L. Richter, who had been serving on a state appeals court, will move to the Circuit Court in St. Louis County and hear the Ferguson cases.
The report described a city that used its police and courts as moneymaking ventures, a place where officers stopped and handcuffed people without probable cause, hurled racial slurs, used stun guns without provocation and treated anyone as suspicious merely for questioning police actions.
Ferguson, of course, is where 18-year-old Michael Brown lost his life in July when officer Darren Wilson of the Ferguson Police Department killed him sparking protests that continue there to this day. Wilson was not charged with any crime—city, state or federal.
The Justice Department under Attorney General Eric Holder formally investigated the justice apparatus of Ferguson after Brown’s death, and found that it had engaged in so many constitutional violations that they could be corrected only by a total overhaul of the entire system.