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Ferguson Settlement Will Refund Court Fees, ArchCity Co-Founder Says

Michael-John Voss is a co-founder and special projects director with ArchCity Defenders.
Michael-John Voss

In 2015, a cohort of lawyers sued the city of Ferguson to stop municipal court abuses widely publicized after the killing of Michael Brown the previous August.

ArchCity Defenders, the St. Louis University School of Law Legal Clinics and the Campbell Law Firm filed on behalf of Roelif Carter, a Ferguson resident charged with court fees that the suit argued were illegal. In the class-action lawsuit, Carter stood in for nearly 10,000 people harmed by the city’s revenue-generating practices. 

Five years later, St. Louis County Circuit Judge Joseph Dueker approved a settlement of $1,699,405 to be distributed among Carter and members of the class as a partial return for the exploitative warrant and failure-to-appear fees they were charged by Ferguson’s municipal court from 2009 until now. 

Anyone who thinks they may have paid one of these fees in Ferguson between Dec. 8, 2009, and today should receive a notice in the mail about the lawsuit and can submit a claim on the website

On Thursday’s’s St. Louis on the Air, host Sarah Fenske was joined by Michael-John Voss. He is a co-founder and special projects director with ArchCity Defenders. They delved into the litigation, which was one of ArchCity’s longest cases to date, and how the three court fees charged by Ferguson — failure to appear, warrant recall and letter fees — are unconstitutional. 

St. Louis on the Air” brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. The show is hosted by Sarah Fenske and produced by Alex Heuer, Emily Woodbury, Evie Hemphill, Lara Hamdan and Joshua Phelps. The engineer is Aaron Doerr, and production assistance is provided by Charlie McDonald.

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Lara is a producer for "St. Louis on the Air" at St. Louis Public Radio.

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