This Judge In Ferguson Is Withdrawing All Arrest Warrants Issued Before 2015
It is not news to learn that Ferguson, Missouri has a lot of problems. From the epicenter of some of the worst #BlackLivesMatter riots, to having the Department of Justice step in to undertake a civil rights violation investigation, to a new judge who just decided to sweep a lot of it under the rug, the city now has a lot on their plate.
Municipal court Judge, Donald McCullin, has decided to get the ball rolling with respect to turning the current situation around. Although, it would seem that his approach is a teensy-weensy bit questionable, for it is certain to raise a few eyebrows.
Judge McCullin, by seeming fiat, has decided to wipe a whole bunch of folks’ slates clean. All arrest warrants issued in Ferguson, prior to December 31, 2014, and any drivers’ license suspensions, are poof!-gone.
Pre-trial release? No problem. You are released to yourself, and you will be issued a new court date, also you can look forward to maybe some community service in lieu of jail time, and may even score a payment plan for any fines you are ordered to pay to the court, should you be issued a new notice to appear. Most of the violations are traffic related or having to do with warrants for failing to appear in court and failing to pay a fine.
While the protest crowd takes a victory lap, everyone else involved in this judicial edict appears to be standing around staring and one another. You see, this McCullin order, isn’t really an order. It is more of a suggestion.
As pointed out by the Arch City Defenders (non-profit legal aid), “…because the order is voluntary and not part of a decree that would be overseen by a higher court—there is no guarantee the city will comply” (Thomas Harvey, Executive Director). Of course Harvey just wants a “blank slate” so everyone can just “start over.”
Riots aside, this action by this judge appears to be fruitless. What does it accomplish? How is this supposed to quell the violence? While the idea of wiping out traffic violations might sound minor, it is a slippery way to begin to fix what appears to be a broken systems.
It will be interesting to see how this plays out in the coming months.