By: Paul C. Dawley et al. Published by: Trial Court Fines and Fees Working Group. Published on: November 17, 2016
Following the United States Department of Justice(DOJ) report on the Ferguson, Missouri police force and court system, the DOJ Civil Rights Division Office for Access to Justice convened a diverse group of stakeholders in December 2015 to discuss the assessment and enforcement of fines and fees in state and local courts. As a result of the stakeholder meetings, the Department of Justice issued seven recommendations, directed at both criminal and civil court systems, to ensure that “courts at every level of the justice system operate fairly and lawfully,” and to suggest “alternative practices that can address legitimate public safety needs while also protecting the rights of participants in the justice system.”
In June 2016, Hon. Paula M. Carey, Chief Justice of the Trial Court, convened the Trial Court Fines and Fees Working Group to review the DOJ recommendations and to evaluate whether and how the Trial Court should ensure compliance with the seven recommendations. The Working Group, chaired by Hon. Paul C. Dawley, Chief Justice of the District Court, consists of representatives from six Trial Court departments, the Probation Service, and the Supreme Judicial Court.
This report outlines the Working Group’s assessment of the DOJ recommendations and the five legislative amendments they propose that would change or eliminate laws that detrimentally affect the Trial Court’s ability to adhere to the DOJ recommendations.