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Cole County judge reinstates 2015 court reform provisions

A judge has reinstated parts of a 2015 court reform law spurred by protests after the police shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson.

Tuesday’s decision by Cole County Circuit Judge Jon Beetem keeps in place minimum standards for municipalities in St. Louis County. It also caps the amount of revenue they can raise in municipal court from traffic cases, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.

Those provisions were thrown out in a 2016 decision that the Missouri Supreme Court later affirmed. But the high court ruled last year in a separate case that the logic underlying its previous decision “should no longer be followed.”

“The aim of the bill was to stop the practice of taxation-by-citation, ensure citizens weren’t being used as ATMs, and to restore trust between citizens and municipal courts,” said Attorney General Eric Schmitt.

Schmitt, who spearheaded the bill when he was a state senator, said the ruling clears the way for the attorney general’s office to enforce the original provisions of the legislation.

The law came in response to the unrest after Brown’s shooting death in 2014. The shooting of the Black 18-year-old by a white officer touched off months of unrest.

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