Ferguson Judge Resigns, State Takes Over Municipal Court

When a few police officers and court officials in Ferguson, Missouri resigned after the release of the DOJ investigation, my response was MEH. The problem is systemic, so that does little to change anything. But the resignation of the municipal judge who created what were essentially debtors prison and the taking over of the municipal court by the state is much more important.

The judge who allegedly turned Ferguson’s municipal court into a city cash cow resigned Monday, and the Missouri Supreme Court ordered a new jurist to take over the city caseload.

The Supreme Court of Missouri said in a statement that it was assigning Judge Roy L. Richter to take over Ferguson Municipal Judge Ronald Brockmeyer’s court “to help restore public trust and confidence.”

Supreme Court Chief Justice Mary R. Russell said in a statement that replacing Ferguson’s judge was warranted as the court reviews the need for broader reforms in municipal courts, which she noted handle two-thirds of all state court cases.

“Though these are not courts of record, they are the first — and sometimes the only — impression Missourians have of their court system,” Russell said. “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.”

Richter will handle all pending and future municipal court cases in circuit court.

If this state judge is serious about reforming the system there, that would be a major step forward for justice in Ferguson.

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  • abb3w

    Based on Washington Post coverage, I charitably suspect it could possibly be a more accurate allegation that the judge merely failed to notice how the city’s (now fired) court clerk turned Ferguson’s municipal court into a cash cow.

    Either way — whether it was personal malfeasance or supervisory nonfeasance — the judge needed to go for this mess to be straightened up, and probably deserved worse than he got.

  • The Other Lance

    That’s a very charitable reading of the Post article. I read the judge’s statement as an attempt to deflect blame onto the county clerk. Good riddance to both of them, I say.

    Frankly, I think every case handled by that court needs to be reviewed. Probably can’t make everyone slapped with usurious fines/fees whole but there must be something that can be done.

  • Taz
  • abb3w

    @2, The Other Lance:

    I read the judge’s statement as an attempt to deflect blame onto the county clerk.

    Absolutely. Contrariwise, that may have been because it was the clerk who deserved the blame. Nohow, note the presence of the weasel words “could possibly” in my remarks; it’s also possible the judge was the evil mastermind behind it all, and that the clerk was only following orders and getting blamed for it afterward. As I note, it seems moot, as either way there was a problem and both needed to be gone.

  • keithb

    It is a good thing that Ferguson is the only place this happens. (rolls eyes)

  • http://en.uncyclopedia.co/wiki/User:Modusoperandi Modusoperandi

    Taz “Two Officers Shot During Protest Near Ferguson Police Department”

    In the shooter’s defense, they did look black.

  • daved

    The Ferguson police chief has also resigned.

  • caseloweraz

    It would be naive to suppose that whoever fired those shots was thinking strategically. Now, when the police chief and the judge have resigned, is not the best time to attack police officers in Ferguson. Still, I wish that wiser heads had prevailed.

  • Eric Ressner

    The title of this post implies that the Missouri Supreme Court moved in only after the municipal judge resigned. But local reporting has the cause-and-effect, or at least the before-and-after, in the opposite direction:

    Missouri Supreme Court takes over cases in Ferguson; judge resigns

    I don’t think that’s a trivial distinction.

  • JustaTech

    Judge Richter was also asked (and did) step down as the prosecutor in the next town over. But I think he might still be a judge in another town.

  • macallan

    Roy L. Richter

    Now there’s an appropriate name.

    ( ‘Richter’ means ‘judge’ in german )

  • Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden

    Oh, no, Modus!

    That’s the LOLsobbiest thing I’ve read since the last time I read someone make a snarky comment about Ferguson.