Missouri chief justice calls for review of municipal courts
JEFFERSON CITY (AP) - Missouri's chief justice said the state needs to make sure its municipal court system is driven by fairness rather than economics.
Chief Justice Mary Russell said in her State of the Judiciary address Thursday the local municipal courts are often Missourians' first encounter with the justice system.
Legal defense advocates have identified the maze of municipal court fines faced by residents as one cause of anger in the St. Louis area following the fatal shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson.
Russell said if municipal courts operate as revenue generators for a city, public perception of judicial impartiality is eroded.
The Supreme Court earlier this month issued a rule to require more time for people who are unable to pay big municipal court fines.