If there was a point of origin for all that ails Ferguson, in my opinion, that point would be the Ferguson Municipal Court. It’s not as much of a court for the dispensation of justice as it is a profit engine for the city of Ferguson. When there’s open dialogue between the city manager, the judge, and the chief of police talking about ways to increase revenue, the court no longer serves as an arbiter of justice. The people involved with making the court systems in St Louis County, and not just Ferguson, more concerned about generating funding for the city than ensuring that laws are adjudicated properly are the ones primarily responsible for the dysfunction that we see now.
Last September, I posted what I thought was the root cause of the protests and riots in Ferguson. I still stick with that idea in light of what I’ve read in the DoJ’s report. Had the city not decided to fund its budget on the backs of fines and citations, I don’t think any of the other dominoes would have fallen as they did.
The system is set up for corruption to creep in. For example, Ronald Brockmeyer was the judge in Ferguson. He was simultaneously the judge in nearby Breckenridge Hills, lead prosecutor in Florissant, and municipal prosecutor in Vinita Park and Dellwood. He did all those positions in the evening while moonlighting after completing his day job of being a divorce and criminal defense lawyer in St. Charles. He’s not the only one either. There are other lawyers there doing the same thing with some even working for the same law firms during the day. There have been a few stories in the media about the system there, but for the most part, the national media has skipped that story.
In light of the arrangements between judge and prosecutors, I think they would be ripe for a RICO charge if it’s possible to charge government in that manner. I’m not sure if such a thing could be done. However, the manner in which the police departments and courts operate with each other, it’s nothing short of a criminal enterprise in full regalia. The police are hammering away at the 4th Amendment while the courts are crushing the 14th, among others. See, while the regular citizens have to pay their fines or go to jail and ending up with more fines, those on the inside regularly had tickets magically disappear without having to pay a dime. I’m not sure if the mob could pull off such a feat.
Brockmeyer resigned his position as judge in Ferguson as well as most of the others that he held. That is a start. If there is anyone brought before a grand jury, it should be him and every other judge/prosecutor/lawyer that aided and abetted the system. The politicians who appointed and paid them should have to face the music as well.
No one is above the law, not even those of us who are entrusted to enforce it. When the enforcers become the oppressors, who are the people going to turn to when they have problems? Want to know why the people of Ferguson have a problem with their government? Read the report. It’s all there in black and white. Contrary to what you hear from the media, race has nothing to do with it other than being collateral damage.