Ferguson, USA ‘debtors’ prison judge’ owes $170K in unpaid taxes

This 9 February 2015 video from the USA is called Ferguson “debtors’ prisons” targeting low-income African-Americans – civil rights lawyers.

From the International Business Times:

Ferguson Judge Who Pushed Unjust Fines To Generate Revenue Owes $170K In Unpaid Taxes

By Mark Hanrahan

March 07 2015 12:37 AM EST

A Ferguson, Missouri, judge who was the driving force behind a revenue-generating policy in the city that saw poor citizens fined and often jailed for their inability to pay small penalties has been revealed to owe the U.S. government more than $170,000 in unpaid taxes.

An investigation by the Guardian found that the city’s municipal court judge, Ronald J Brockmeyer, is subject to federal tax liens as the result of tens of thousands of dollars in overdue personal income tax from joint filings with his wife. The paper also found that Brockmeyer owes several thousand dollars in employer taxes for his private law firm, and that he had paid off another three overdue tax bills totaling almost $65,000 since November 2013.

A Department of Justice report on civil rights violations carried out by the authorities was scathing about the practices in Brockmeyer’s court, which it said operates “not with the primary goal of administering justice or protecting the rights of the accused, but of maximizing revenue.”

The department concluded that the court does not act as a neutral arbiter of the law, but rather “uses its judicial authority as the means to compel the payment of fines and fees that advance the City’s financial interests.”

While Ferguson‘s municipal court regularly jailed impoverished citizens who were unable to pay fines for trivial offenses such as parking tickets or jaywalking, Brockmeyer and other senior law enforcement officials routinely dismissed similar tickets for friends and family, or requested others to dismiss tickets that had been issued to them, the report found.

When Brockmeyer ran a red light in neighboring Hazelwood, he emailed Ferguson’s prosecutor, Stephanie Karr, who is also the prosecutor in Hazelwood. Under the subject line: “City of Hazelwood vs. Ronald Brockmeyer,” according to the St. Louis Post Dispatch, Brockmeyer wrote to Karr:

“Pursuant to our conversation, attached please find the red light camera ticket received by the undersigned,” he wrote. “I would appreciate it if you would please see to it that this ticket is dismissed.” The ticket was subsequently dismissed.

The justice department concluded that the practice of writing off tickets was evidence of a double standard grounded in racial stereotyping.

“Even as Ferguson City officials maintain the harmful stereotype that black individuals lack personal responsibility — and continue to cite this lack of personal responsibility as the cause of the disparate impact of Ferguson’s practices — white City officials condone a striking lack of personal responsibility among themselves and their friends,” the report said.

Ferguson Official Who Makes $1,500 an Hour Via Rinky-Dink Fines Owes $170,000 in Back Taxes: here.

A Wholesale Failure of Missouri’s Judges: here.

Policing for profit: How Ferguson’s fines violated rights of African-Americans: here.

The US Justice Department released a report on Wednesday documenting systematic and wanton brutality, violence and outright criminality on the part of police in Ferguson, Missouri, carried out in violation of the legally protected constitutional rights of the city’s population: here.

‘THE BAIL TRAP’ “Every year, thousands of innocent people are sent to jail only because they can’t afford to post bail, putting them at risk of losing their jobs, custody of their children — even their lives.” [NYT]

Racist, Corrupt Judges Shaking Down the Poor: here.

27 thoughts on “Ferguson, USA ‘debtors’ prison judge’ owes $170K in unpaid taxes

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  5. Lee’s Summit sued over municipal court fees


    rpulley@lsjournal.comMarch 27, 2015

    Lee’s Summit and other area municipalities are part of a class-action lawsuit filed on behalf of residents who have paid so-called “warrant fees” or “failure to appear fees.”

    Lee’s Summit was served with the suit on Tuesday. The lawsuit is still early in the process, with some cities still not having gotten notice of the suit.

    The suit named three plaintiffs: Jonathan Gerke of Harrisonville, Jarid Ward of Kansas City and Julie Kenney of Lee’s Summit. They are suing on behalf of themselves and potentially thousands of others. They contend the named cities are collecting surcharges not authorized by Missouri statute. It contends the cities collect the fees to generate profit. Critics of the fees say they fall hardest on poor.

    Lee’s Summit, it said, charges an “escalating” $50 failure-to-appear fee.

    The suit, filed in Jackson County Circuit Court, is asking for a judge to order the cities that assessed and collected the fees to refund the money collected since Jan. 1, 2005 to plaintiffs in the class.

    Other cities named in the suit are Kansas City, Independence, Grandview, Raytown, Blue Springs, Greenwood, Lake Lotawana, Buckner, Oak Grove, Lake Tapawingo and Lone Jack.



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  12. A key part of the failed War on Drugs lets law enforcement agencies seize cash, cars, and other property from people merely suspected of violating a drug law without even charging them with a crime. Then they keep the cash and property for themselves, which gives them every financial incentive to violate our civil rights. And of course they target people of color and the working poor who can’t afford a lawyer to fight back.

    But now support for reform is growing across party lines. Let’s join the Drug Policy Alliance in telling Congress to end “policing for profit” by abolishing civil asset forfeiture.

    Thanks for all you do!

    Bob Fertik

    We need to fix disastrous drug policies. Sign the petition.

    Dear Activist,

    As a Democrats.com reader you know that the war on drugs has failed. That’s why I’m writing you about the growing bipartisan movement on Capitol Hill to stop one of our nation’s worst drug-related policies – asset forfeiture.

    Law enforcement seizes cash, cars, and other property from people suspected of violating a drug law without even charging them with a crime. And then what do they do with the cash and property they seized? They keep it for themselves.

    But momentum is mounting for reform and your representatives need to hear from you. Please urge your representatives to end policing for profit – sign the petition today!

    Law enforcement agencies nationwide have taken in $2.5 billion from nearly 62,000 cash seizures under the federal civil forfeiture program since 2001.

    And who do they target the most? Normally people of color, and those unable to afford a lawyer to fight back.

    A vast majority of Americans want Congress to end this brutish practice, and now momentum is mounting for bipartisan reform. But it’s pivotal that we enact real reform – because no one should have their property seized unless they are convicted of a crime in a court of law.

    This must end now – please send an urgent message to Congress immediately.

    It’s time to end this ugly relic of the drug war.


    Bill Piper
    Director of National Affairs
    Drug Policy Alliance

    P.S. If anyone else did this we would call it highway robbery, but thanks to laws enacted during the height of drug war hysteria in the 1980’s, it’s all technically legal. Help us end policing for profit – sign the petition now.


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