St. Ann courts violate rights of poor, alleges lawsuit - KMOV.com

St. Ann courts violate rights of poor, alleges lawsuit

Posted: Updated:
ST. ANN, Mo. (KMOV.com) - A lawsuit filed against a North County municipality accuses the town of violating the rights of the poor.

The suit singles out the City of St. Ann, accusing the courts of throwing people in jail for not being able to pay bond.

"That doesn't surprise me. They're always harassing people around here. It's crazy,” said St. Ann resident, Ryan Mahone.

"I'm not surprised that St. Ann is doing it because it's common in the St. Louis County in the North area,” added another resident, Wayne Schmidt.

The residents told News 4 that a federal lawsuit against the city has been a long time coming.

The lawsuit alleges people are jailed for not being able to pay bail money ranging from $150 to $350.

"They are picking on the people that don't have money and they are poor. And they could be black or white,” said Patricia Mann, who said she wants to see change.

News 4 spoke with Thomas Harvey, executive director of Arch City Defenders, the non-profit organization that initiated the lawsuit.

Harvey said it came after a client informed him that he was being held on bond without being first taken to a judge.

The case is similar to a story News 4 Investigates reported on earlier this month.

A woman told Craig Cheatham the St. Ann court threatened jail time if she missed her first court date, for a speeding ticket on Interstate 70.

Harvey said his client has now been released from jail, so he's holding off on the federal hearing, but residents tell News 4 it's still a good start.

"I think just bringing it up to the public can stop it, because this is what they are doing in Ferguson. They're bringing up stuff that we didn't even know about,” Mann said.

Harvey said he's now talking to St. Ann lawyers to work on a settlement agreement to end such polices in the city. He added that he's also working on a similar case in Velda Village.
Powered by Frankly