State court to handle all Ferguson court cases, Missouri Supreme -

State court to handle all Ferguson court cases, Missouri Supreme Court rules

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The Missouri Supreme Court announced Monday it is assigning a state judge to handle all pending and future cases in Ferguson until further notice.

Under the order, Appeals Court Judge Roy Richter will hear all of Ferguson's pending and future cases. The order takes effect March 16.

Richter is also authorized to implement reforms in court policy and procedures to ensure that the rights of defendants are respected.

"Judge Richter will bring a fresh, disinterested perspective to this court's practices and he is able and willing to implement needed reforms,” Chief Justice Mary Russell said in a statement from the Court.

The move comes after a report by the Department of Justice that found civil rights violations by Ferguson's Municipal Court and police department. The DOJ report said the court was being used a source of revenue for the city.

“More than two-thirds of all Missouri court cases are filed in the municipal divisions,” Russell said. “Though these are not courts of record, they are the first – and sometimes the only – impression Missourians have of their court system. Although we recognize the local control our statutes give these uniquely local entities, we must not sacrifice individual rights and society's collective commitment to justice.”

Shortly after the Missouri Supreme Court announcement, News 4 learned Ferguson Municipal Judge Ron Brockmeyer resigned. In its report, the DOJ said Brockmeyer helped craft the city's policy of using it's court as a revenue stream.

Brockmeyer also came under fire after court documents revealed he owes more than $100,000 in back taxes, all while handing out fines that Ferguson residents say leave them in a cycle of debt.

One activist said she was relieved when she heard the news about the Missouri Supreme Court's action, and Brockmeyer's resignation.

"Finally they listened to us over the last 6 months and for some people for years," said activist Alexis Templeton.

The Ferguson City Council held a closed door meeting Monday night. News 4 attempted to obtain a comment from Ferguson officials, but was told they were not available to comment.

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