Court report raises conflict-of-interest concern in Ferguson

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The lines separating government powers have been blurred among Ferguson's court staff, police and prosecutor, raising concerns about potential conflicts of interest, according to a report released Monday by Missouri's judiciary.

The state report examining Ferguson's municipal court system comes as a follow-up to a highly critical U.S. Justice Department report released earlier this year, which asserted that the city's police and courts had been used as a revenue-generating machine.

The Justice Department review was prompted by the fatal shooting last August of 18-year-old Michael Brown, who was black, by a white Ferguson police officer.After the federal review, the Missouri Supreme Court in March appointed appeals Judge Roy Richter to take over the Ferguson court and asked court administration experts to take a look at how things were working.

The new report summarizes the observations and recommendations of those unnamed experts, noting several potential conflicts of interest that caused concern.

Until very recently, the report said, court staff were required to report to the police chief. That structure "potentially compromises the separation our government is to have" between the judicial and executive branches, the report said.

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