(KMOV.com) – Ferguson’s Municipal Court has been under fire for being used as a huge revenue generator for the city.
In 2013, Ferguson collected $2.6 million in fines and fees, making it the city’s second biggest source of revenue. A judge said the court has made some changes, such as getting rid of some fees and automatic arrest warrants for those who fail to show up to court for minor cases such as traffic offenses.
The docket is dominated by traffic violations and minor drug cases. Cases can include a half dozen citations for one traffic stop, which can quickly add up to thousands of dollars in fines for some defendants who often fail to appear in court because they fall behind on their bills. Those defendants then have warrants issued for their arrest.
“A person can’t afford it,” said Larron Leydin, who had the same thing happen to him.
In 2013, Ferguson issued around 33,000 warrants for non-violent warrants. Only 21,000 people live there.
When News 4 went to visit the Ferguson Municipal Court, reporter Craig Cheatham noticed all 17 court employees were white, a figure that includes the judge, prosecutors, police, and clerks. Nearly 9 out of 10 defendants were African American.
“I think it sends a bad signal,” said Ferguson Municipal Judge Ron Brockmeyer. Brockymeyer is also a judge in Breckenridge Hills and a prosecutor in Florissant, Dellwood, and Vinita Park.
A report released by Arch City Defenders, a public defender group, said municipal courts in Ferguson, Florissant, and Bel-Ridge consistently violate the rights of the poor and undermine public confidence in the judicial system.