The Supreme Court of Missouri Commission on Racial and Ethnic Fairness Civil and Municipal Justice subcommittees held a Listening Session in Ferguson on Saturday, September 28, hosted at the Ferguson Community Empowerment Center with assistance from the Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis. The session lasted 3 and a half hours with approximately 40 citizens in attendance.
The subcommittees heard concerns from the public on several issues, including driver’s license suspensions for failure to pay child support; need for bias training for court personnel, law enforcement, and juries; need for ombudsman in the courts generally and in the municipal courts specifically; need for pro bono attorneys for the pro se landlord tenant dockets; and municipalities increasing non-traffic ticketing.
“We were pleased to have offered our constituents and residents of Ferguson, North County and the entire St. Louis area the opportunity to speak with our judicial system about the issues that are affecting them,” said Michael P. McMillan, president and CEO of the Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis.
“Because the Ferguson Community Empowerment Center was literally born out of an advocacy crisis, the staff at the Urban League work diligently every day to ensure racial fairness and equity in our community.”
There was wide representation from the commission, including Judge Nicole Colbert-Botchway, Judge Angela Quigless, Judge Todd Thornhill, Judge Sandra Hemphill, Judge Doug Beach, and Washington University Law School Professors Karen Tokarz and Kim Norwood, who also served as moderator. Judge Sandra Hemphill coordinated court reporting staffer Denise Ballard.
The court reporter will complete a transcript of the concerns, and the subcommittees will submit a more extensive report thereafter.