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.