Missouri's chief justice says the state needs to make sure its municipal court system is driven by fairness rather than economics.
Chief Justice Mary Russell said in her State of the Judiciary address Thursday that the local municipal courts are often Missourians' first encounter with the justice system.
Legal defense advocates have identified the maze of municipal court fines faced by residents as one cause of anger in the St. Louis area following the fatal shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson.
Russell says if municipal courts operate as revenue generators for a city, the public's perception of judicial impartiality is eroded.
The Supreme Court earlier this month issued a rule to require more time for people who are unable to pay big municipal court fines.