It seems like Ferguson, Mo. could be getting a new start. The city’s newly-appointed municipal judge Donald McCullin announced on Monday (Aug. 24) that all the arrest warrants issued prior to December 31, 2014 are being terminated, according to Reuters.
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“These changes should continue the process of restoring confidence in the Court, alleviating fears of the consequences of appearing in Court, and giving many residents a fresh start,” said McCullin who was appointed in June.
In addition to giving defendants new court dates and payment options, McCullin will also re-issue suspended driver’s licenses, which were cancelled by Ferguson’s Director of Revenue.
This is how Judge McCullin explained his stance on implementing the law, by his standards: “All active warrants more than five years old will be withdrawn,” he told KSDK-TV. “In addition, for cases in which the Director of Revenue has suspended a defendant’s driver’s license solely for failure to appear in court or failure to pay a fine, the license will be reinstated pending final disposition.”
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“If a defendant continually fails to appear on their scheduled court date, an arrest warrant may be issued and/or a request made to the Director of Revenue to seek a setoff of the defendant’s tax return,” he added. “If an arrest warrant is issued for a minor traffic violation, the defendant will not be incarcerated, but instead released on their own recognizance and given another court date.”
It’s refreshing to see these new changes are coming into fruition—considering the controversy that followed McCullin’s precedessor, Judge Ronald Brockmeyer’s resignation in March due to a justice department report that found the court engaged in “unlawful bias” against African-Americans—and other Ferguson officials also seem to agree.
“This is a good segue into having a good conversation about moving forward and what’s reasonable to expect from the court,” Patricia Bynes, Ferguson’s Democratic committeewoman, told the LA Times. “At some point, we need an olive branch to move forward, and what I see is a good olive branch.”