After the recent shooting of unarmed Mike Brown in Ferguson, many St. Louis area jurisdictions have come under scrutiny. Protestors are claiming that these courts, especially in North County overtax the residents with excessive court fees and fines. Better Together which is an organization advocating the consolidation of St. Louis City and St. Louis County, issued a report indicating that 34% of all the municipal fines and fees in the entire state of Missouri come out of the approximately ninety St. Louis Area municipal courts.
State law caps revenue from traffic cases at 30% of a city’s general revenue. Ten St. Louis Courts are currently being audited by Missouri Auditor Tom Schweich to determine if these municipalities have been abusing their authority in order to obtain more income from tickets.
Using the report from Better Together, Missouri Democrat Representative William Lacy Clay is calling for the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate the St. Louis Municipal Court. Rep. Clay represents constituents out of North St. Louis County. He alleges that these jurisdictions target minority and low income residents as “ATM machines for local government.”