JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – A Missouri appeals court judge was appointed Monday to make "needed reforms" to Ferguson's municipal court after a highly critical U.S. Department of Justice report that was prompted by the fatal police shooting of Michael Brown.
The Missouri Supreme Court said it is assigning state appeals Judge Roy Richter to hear all of Ferguson's pending and future municipal court cases. The high court said Richter also will have the authority to overhaul court policies to ensure defendants' rights are respected and to "restore the integrity of the system."
"Judge Richter will bring a fresh, disinterested perspective to this court's practices, and he is able and willing to implement needed reforms," Chief Justice Mary Russell said in a written statement.
"Extraordinary action is warranted in Ferguson, but the Court also is examining reforms that are needed on a statewide basis," Russell added.
Richter will take charge of the court on March 16. The Supreme Court said it also is assigning staff from the state court administrator's office to aid Richter in reviewing Ferguson's municipal court practices.
The change comes after the Justice Department released a report last week that cited cases of racial profiling and bigotry by police and chided what it described as a profit-driven municipal court system in the predominantly black St. Louis suburb where Brown, 18, was shot by a white Ferguson police officer in August. The shooting prompted protests in the St. Louis area and across the nation.
A St. Louis County grand jury and the U.S. Justice Department both declined to bring charges against Officer Darren Wilson. The Justice Department report said Wilson acted in self-defense when he shot Brown.