A court ruling that struck down key sections of a Missouri law limiting the ability of cities to profit from court fines and traffic tickets will be appealed by Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster.
Missouri lawmakers last year strongly supported the bill meant to address worries raised after the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo. The shooting led to scrutiny of municipal courts in Ferguson and nearby towns, where high percentages of revenue were gleaned from fines and court costs reportedly paid disproportionally by minorities and low-income residents.
Koster's announcement that he’ll appeal the ruling came a day after Cole County (Mo.) Circuit Judge Jon Beetem ruled that the law unconstitutionally targeted St. Louis-area municipalities with revenue caps lower than other Missouri cities.
"A municipality should not depend upon prosecuting its citizens in order to fund the cornerstone functions of government," Koster said in a statement.
Judge Beetem also struck down requirements included in the law for St. Louis-area police departments, including written use-of-force policies and procedures for reporting police stops. Beetem found that some parts of the law, including a provision requiring police departments in St. Louis County to become accredited within six years, were unconstitutional mandates because the state didn't provide funding for them.
The law lowered the percentage of revenue most cities can collect from traffic fines and fees from 30% to 20% - except for cities in St. Louis County, which faced a 12.5% cap.