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Galloway announces audits of Ferguson, Pine Lawn municipal courts

Ferguson courthouse
File photo | Bill Greenblatt | UPI

The municipal court systems for the cities of Ferguson and Pine Lawn are being audited by the state of Missouri.

State Auditor Nicole Galloway confirmed in a written statement Tuesday that the audits are already underway.  She says they’re part of the Municipal Courts Initiative launched in 2014 under former auditor Tom Schweich.

"We know that the public's opinion of the justice system is directly tied to the interaction they have with local courts," Galloway said. "In Ferguson and Pine Lawn, our auditors will examine court operations and make recommendations to ensure Missourians are dealing with effective, transparent courts."

Data on traffic tickets and other penalties will be examined, along with any effects they've had on the courts' credibility with local residents.

Unfair and burdensome sentences, including jail time, were cited by some local residents and politicians as feeding into the unrest that was triggered by the fatal shooting of Michael Brown in August 2014.

The audits will also focus on the standard process of "reviewing financial transactions, accounting practices, and compliance with court rules and state law."

The state auditor's office is also examining the Bella Villa municipal court.

Follow Marshall Griffin on Twitter:  @MarshallGReport

Marshal was a political reporter for St. Louis Public Radio until 2018.