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Ferguson Mayor Hopes New Judge Marks 'New Chapter' After Scandal

A municipal court judge resigned Monday after being named in a scathing Justice Department report that found a culture of racism in police and courts.
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The mayor of Ferguson, Missouri, said Tuesday he hopes the resignation of a municipal court judge and the appointment of a new judge will "begin a new chapter" as the city tries to rebuild its tattered image, in the wake of a scathing Department of Justice report that found systemic racism in the police and courts system.

Judge Ronald Brockmeyer resigned on Monday, after he was named in the Department of Justice report released last week that said not only were black people far more likely to be stopped and ticketed by police, but that blacks were 68 percent less likely to have their cases dismissed, and were far more likely to be hit with petty offenses.

The federal report was conducted after white police officer Darren Wilson, who has since resigned, shot and killed unarmed black 18-year-old Michael Brown in August. Wilson was not criminally charged in the shooting.

A judge from the Missouri Court of Appeals, Judge Roy L. Richter, is now assigned to hear all of Ferguson's pending and future cases.

"The City of Ferguson Court staff is looking forward to working with Judge Richter, as it begins to regain the trust of the Ferguson Community," Ferguson Mayor James Knowles III said in a statement Tuesday. "We understand there has been mistrust for some time, but the naming of Judge Richter will begin a new chapter for our Court."

Knowles said Ferguson is beginning the process to find a new municipal court judge. "The city will seek a reform minded judge that will lead our court in a new direction, and will allow offenders to leave with a belief that they were treated fairly," Knowles said.

Brockmeyer was specifically accused in the Department of Justice report of "significantly increasing court collections over the years," sentencing people to jail for failure to pay a fine and asking for at least one offense against a relative to be dropped.

Two police officers were suspended and later resigned after the Justice Department report was released, and the city’s top court clerk was fired. The report also found racist emails were sent by police and court officials, including one depicting President Barack Obama as a chimpanzee.



— Phil Helsel