Judge overhauls troubled Ferguson, Missouri, court

Police arrest a man as protesters gathered after a shooting incident in St. Louis, Missouri August 19, 2015. REUTERS/Kenny Bahr

Police arrest a man as protesters gathered after a shooting incident in St. Louis, Missouri August 19, 2015. REUTERS/Kenny Bahr

 

A new municipal judge in Ferguson, Missouri, on Monday ordered sweeping changes to court practices in response to a scathing Justice Department report following the shooting of unarmed black teenager Michael Brown a year ago.

Municipal Court Judge Donald McCullin, appointed in June, ordered that all arrest warrants issued in the city before Dec. 31, 2014 be withdrawn.

Defendants will receive new court dates along with options for disposing of their cases, such as payment plans or community service. Fines may be commuted for indigent people.

The changes come five months after the U.S. Department of Justice strongly criticized city leaders in its report, saying the police force and court worked together to exploit people in order to raise revenue.

The Justice Department specifically said Ferguson’s municipal court practices caused significant harm to many people with cases pending as minor municipal code violations turned into multiple arrests, jail time, and payments that exceeded the cost of the original ticket many times over.

Written by Carey Gillam
Full report at Reuters

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