Analysis of the DoJ Ferguson Report Part 2: the court

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.

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6 thoughts on “Analysis of the DoJ Ferguson Report Part 2: the court

  1. Thanks for reporting on this for us, Brosephus. I doubt many of your readers, including me, would take the time, but we all should know about it.

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    • Things like this pique my interest for professional reasons more than anything else. I also try to get beyond the simplistic explanations to dig up the truth.
      I don’t know whether or not I’m anywhere near the truth. I do find it peculiar that no one is discussing the constitutional implications of the actions of the authorities in Ferguson.

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  2. I haven’t read the report, entirely, but I believe you’re probably dead on in your analysis.

    This “justice” as profit center runs deep in many places. One that happens frequently that people from large areas never hear about it the housing prisoner game. What happens is you have a county ready to build a new jail, for legitimate reasons. What they do is build a jail quite a bit bigger than what they need and they house prisoners from other jurisdictions who are overcrowded. That’s a pretty good money making deal, for as long as it lasts. Then down the road, the other jurisdictions do the same thing and your stuck with a jail twice the size of what you need, the rental prisoners have dried up and the locals are stuck paying for a bigger jail than they need. It’s just a circle.

    A sidebar to that is that the county commissioners usually want to include the funds from the out of jurisdiction prisoners in the sheriff’s budget. The sheriff usually doesn’t like this, rightfully stating that he has no way of knowing how many out of jurisdiction prisoners he’ll house in a coming year. They usually go back and forth and it causes unnecessary friction. The sheriff doesn’t want to get shorted on his budget and the commissioners want to spend the money in other places.

    You also have law firms hired to represent more than one jurisdiction, say they represent a city in one county and the county government in a neighboring county too, or sometimes 3 or 4 governments or even more.

    Things like this are just the tip of the iceberg. You could write a book on this stuff that would probably fill several volumes. I don’t know but what the justice system has gotten like the medical system, we just need to start over from square one and see if we can’t come up with something better.

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    • That’s all so true. I was trying to remember the Georgia town that led to the law that stopped the traffic enforcement for dollars approach based on what you said yesterday.
      It was Ludowici and their speed traps that led to the Georgia Assembly passing legislation to stop that. There were others, but that town was recognized by AAA for their efforts.
      I don’t think any of this will change until enough people get affected by it. As long as it’s only the poor who are hit, not many people are going to speak out against it. The standard response is always about personal responsibility and the lack thereof.

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      • One of the things that Lester Maddox tried to do when he was governor (66-71 I think) was try to clean up traffic enforcement in Ludowici. If I remember right, he had signs posted outside the city limits, warning people that they were approaching a speed trap. I’ve never been there so I don’t know if things ever got any better or not.

        I have been to Heflin, though, and know it well. 😉

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        • I know all about Heflin too. I think Pine Lake was another one here in the metro area. There were places all over Alabama where they ran radar for revenue. I don’t go home much so I don’t know if they still do that or not.

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