BRECKENRIDGE HILLS, MO (KPLR) – The judge who resigned amid scathing criticism from the Department of Justice may be out of Ferguson, but he’s not finished in the area’s municipal court system.
Judge Ronald Brockmeyer was on the bench in the Breckenridge Hills Municipal Court Tuesday afternoon, less than 24 hours after he was replaced in Ferguson by order of the Missouri Supreme Court.
Brockemeyer didn’t want to comment about his situation in Ferguson when approached by FOX 2 in Breckenridge Hills. His law partner, also present, referred us to a statement issued Monday night that questioned the accuracy of the Department of Justice report. That same law partner, Bert Fulk, said death threats Brockmeyer has received since the DOJ report came out last week contributed to his decision to quit in Ferguson.
In Breckenridge Hills, the mayor, Jack Shrewsberry, wouldn’t comment, saying only the matter had not yet been brought up.
Other communities are taking a variety of approaches to their employment of Brockmeyer. In Dellwood, next door to Ferguson, Brockmeyer was prosecutor, and doing a good job according to the mayor. But the proximity to Ferguson made it all too much. Brockmeyer was asked to resign and did.
“He kind of helped our courts as far as speed as far as people getting in and out of the court system,” Dellwood Mayor Reggie Jones said. “But I think in light of what’s going on now in our neighboring city, I think it’s appropriate at this time to not associate our courts with what’s going on next door.”
In Vinita Park, Mayor James McGee, an African-American, says he has seen no evidence of the racial bias the report claims Brockmeyer took part in Ferguson. He questions the accuracy of the report about the man who is also prosecutor in his city.
“I think they just (threw) him under the bus. I think they needed a target and he was a target, because we have no problem with him here. We lay down the rules and he follows the rules,” McGee said.
The rules he’s referring to are a set of best practices his city has adopted.
“We don’t lock anybody up for their inability to pay. We have a payment plan. We have community service. We allow children in court. So if you lay down the rules he follows the rules to the T.”
In Florissant, where Brockmeyer is also prosecutor, he has been asked to take a leave of absence. The mayor says he wants to discuss the issue with “all the stakeholders” before making a decision about Brockmeyer’s future.
On Tuesday, the Ferguson Commission, appointed by Governor Jay Nixon, issued a statement calling for an “accelerated review” of municipal courts in St. Louis County.
“This action is clearly necessary to restore basic principles of consistency, fairness and equity to our municipal courts as well as to restore public confidence, which has been eroded by local and national attention to abuses,” the commission said in that statement.
Other groups calling for reform question why Brockmeyer still has any involvement in municipal courts. They say he should not.
“Absolutely not,” Roslyn Brown of Missourians Organizing for Reform and Empowerment said, “because those practices, his way of practicing justice is also going to translate in those courtrooms.”