Saturday, March 07, 2015

gangsters of st. louis...,


slate |  This week the Department of Justice released a highly critical report about Ferguson, Missouri’s criminal justice system, accusing police and officials of perpetrating a racially biased regime that, among other issues, imposes abusive, excessive punishments and fines for trifling violations like jaywalking. The DOJ report was foreshadowed in September 2014 by Washington Post writer Radley Balko’s shocking investigation of the St. Louis County municipal court system, which seems to be a shakedown racket aimed at enriching everyone involved at the expense of regular citizens. Balko highlighted an individual named Ronald Brockmeyer who has made a lucrative living in the traffic-ticket game:
According to a recent white paper published by the ArchCity Defenders, the chief prosecutor in Florissant Municipal Court makes $56,060 per year. It’s a position that requires him to work 12 court sessions per year, at about three hours per session. The Florissant prosecutor is Ronald Brockmeyer, who also has a criminal defense practice in St. Charles County, and who is also the chief municipal prosecutor for the towns of Vinita Park and Dellwood. He is also the judge—yes, the judge—in both Ferguson and Breckenridge Hills.
(As I wrote at the time, Brockmeyer’s compensation as a prosecutor works out to about $1,500 an hour, which is what you’d make if you worked 40 hours a week at a salary of $3 million per year.)
As it happens, Brockmeyer is now back in the news thanks to the DOJ report, which criticized his work in Ferguson—and thanks to the Guardian, which reveals that Brockmeyer, who, again, makes his living by harshly enforcing the most trivial civic rules, owes the United States government some $170,000 in unpaid taxes.