In Issue Raised By Ferguson, MO Sues Towns Over Traffic Case Profits


Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster has sued 13 municipalities in St. Louis County, accusing them of violating a state law limiting profits that cities can take from traffic cases, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports. The law caps traffic court income at 30 percent of a municipality's general operating revenue and requires that any excess be sent to the state for education. Municipal courts are required to send detailed financial information to the state auditor for tracking.

Koster said he found a “pattern of noncompliance” in those financial statements. He said more cities could be added after December, when more cities' financial reports will be filed. He said it wasn't clear whose job it is to prosecute violators. Several of the municipalities shot back, saying Koster unfairly judged them for failing to report traffic fine data before the law required them to. Some criticized him for filing suit without knowing whether they had actually exceeded the cap, or contacting them with questions first. The issue of towns’ financing their operations by relying on fine and court fees has been in the news since protests erupted after the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson on Aug. 9

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