Category Archives: Civil Law

African Hair Braiders Win! U.S. Supreme Court voids ruling

The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday vacated an appeals court ruling that supported a lengthy licensing process for hair-braiders in Missouri and ordered a judge in St. Louis to dismiss the case. The Supreme Court voided the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals opinion that upheld the previous cosmetology license requirements, because a new law, which is discussed in the background section, had already addressed it.

The Supreme Court didn't write a separate opinion, it simply reversed the 8th Circuit opinion. Therefore, the question of whether Missouri and other states within the 8th Circuit can require a cosmetology licensing for African hair braiders remains unanswered. However, the lawsuit which called the law into question in the first place is most likely the only reason the law was changed.

This case demonstrates why it is so important to understand and be able to use the law for your benefit. As we have said before, just because a law exists, doesn't mean it legitimate. You have a right and an obligation to question unfair and questionable laws!

Cases such as this is one of the reason Court.rchp.com exist; so people, especially those who have traditionally been oppressed can be empowered. Discover the hidden secrets of our legal and justice system with the information contained within Court.rchp.com.

Case Background

African hair braiders sue over Missouri law

Ndioba Niang and Tameka Stigers are professional African-style hair braiders in Missouri, but are not licensed as cosmetologists or barbers. The Missouri Board of Cosmetology and Barber Examiners required hair braiders to be licensed as cosmetologists or barbers even though African-style hair braiding is not included in the cosmetology or barbering school curriculum, and the licensing tests barely test on subjects related to the practice.

In order to obtain a Missouri cosmetology license, one must pass a background check, undergo substantial training, and pass an exam. Before sitting for the exam, an individual must have: (1) graduated from a licensed cosmetology school with at least 1,500 hours of training; or (2) completed an apprenticeship of at least 3,000 hours; or (3) completed similar training in another state. Alternatively, obtaining a barbering license requires at least 1,000 hours of training at a licensed barber school or completion of an apprenticeship of at least 2,000 hours. Completing the necessary requirements for a license would have forced Ms. Niang and Ms. Stigers to incur significant costs for irrelevant training. 

Four years ago, Ms. Niang and Ms. Stigers filed the federal lawsuit; they sued to vindicate their constitutional right to earn a living free of unreasonable government interference, and after losing in lower courts asked the Supreme Court to take their case. The original lawsuit, filed in 2014, complained that African-style hair-braiders were required to obtain a cosmetology license, which can cost thousands of dollars but doesn’t include any hair-braiding training.

When the lower courts considered the braiders’ challenge, they essentially ignored the evidence provided by the braiders that showed the licensing requirements were overly burdensome and did not sufficiently relate to the government’s asserted interests in public health and safety. In so doing, the lower courts applied a version of the rational basis test that is no more than a rubber-stamp of approval of government regulation. But that is not the proper application of the rational basis test.

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of Tameka Stigers, of Locs of Glory in St. Louis, and Ndioba “Joba” Niang, who runs Joba Hair Braiding in Florissant. Both have performed the hourslong braiding process for years without licenses and say they fear prosecution. 

one Tameka Stigers

Joba Hair Braiding owner Ndioba Niang, a native of Senegal who later lived in France, said she completed 1,000 of the required 3,000 hours of cosmetology training at a cost of thousands of dollars before dropping out.

Ndioba Niang

In 2016, U.S. Magistrate Judge John Bodenhausen upheld the requirements, and the 8th U.S. Court of Appeals agreed in January. A petition for writ of certiorari was filed on April 11, 2018 with the U.S. Supreme Court. However, the Missouri Legislature passed House Bill 1500 which eased the rules on hair- braiding, although those new rules have yet to take effect.

The Institute for Justice, which has filed suits across the country against regulation of various occupations, said the appeals court decision in the Missouri case was in conflict with other federal courts and the Supreme Court. Both the group and the Missouri attorney general asked the court to dismiss the case because of the change in the law, they said.

In May, the Missouri legislature passed a law easing requirements on hair-braiding that made the four-year lawsuit moot. Braiders are now exempted from the cosmetology license and a new specialty braiding license only requires that braiders pay a fee of $20, watch a four- to six-hour instructional video and submit to board inspections. Attendance at a licensed cosmetology school in Missouri can cost more than $16,000.

The Fourteenth Amendment states that “No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.” Passed during Reconstruction, these provisions held the promise that freedman would finally be granted the same rights and protections as their white brethren. Yet less than five years after this amendment was enacted, the Supreme Court eviscerated the Privileges or Immunities Clause in what became known as the Slaughter-House Cases (1873).

Slaughter-House eventually led to the development of modern “substantive” due process doctrine as a makeshift bandage over the hole in the Fourteenth Amendment left by the unprotected privileges and immunities. While allowing the Court to protect some rights, the “incorporation” of certain rights through the Due Process Clause relegated other, often “economic” rights to second-class status. Instead of judges’ taking a hard look at the actual reasons a law was passed and asking whether the government has overstepped its constitutional bounds, infringements of the right to earn a living or the freedom of contract barely receive a passing glance. They are upheld unless nobody—not even the judge hearing the case!—could possibly imagine a legitimate rationale for the law. Suffice it to say, hardly any laws are struck down under this so-called rational-basis test.

Enter Ndioba Niang and Tameka Stigers, both of whom are traditional African-style hair braiders attempting to support themselves by offering their services to willing customers. The Missouri Board of Cosmetology and Barber Examiners, however, demands that they first pay thousands of dollars to receive completely irrelevant training that has virtually nothing to do with hair-braiding. Applying the usual government-can-do-whatever-it-wants-regarding-economic-regulations level of judicial scrutiny, both the federal district court and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit upheld the licensing scheme.

You Shouldn’t Need a License to Braid Hair

This approach is wrong: ethically, historically, and legally. There is a long and well-documented history recognizing the right to earn an honest living as being at the center of the Anglo-American legal tradition and indispensable to the maintenance of a free and open society. Industry insiders often lobby for licensing laws and regulations—and then populate the boards or agencies tasked with enforcing the new rules as a means of limiting their competition. By contrast, those harmed are often politically powerless groups with limited means to fight back. But as long as the government says the magic words of “safety,” “health,” or “consumer protection” in asserting its restrictions, courts are content to turn a blind eye.

Because the right to earn a living is one of the basic rights that our Constitution was formed to protect, Cato has filed an amicus brief supporting the hair-braiders’ petition to the Supreme Court. We ask that the Court take Niang v. Tomblinson and establish that courts must meaningfully examine government incursions against this essential liberty, regardless where in the Fourteenth Amendment it finds the relevant right.


The background section was reprinted with permission under license from Cato at Liberty, with additional edits from other sources. 

You Don’t Earn Much and You’re Being Audited by the IRS. Now What?

By Paul Kiel,

The Internal Revenue Service audited nearly 1.1 million tax returns last year, but that represented just 0.5 percent of all returns. That means the chances of getting audited are fairly low.

But if you are audited, there’s a good chance it’s because you claimed the earned income tax credit. That’s a credit the federal government offers to people who work, have kids to take care of and don’t earn much money. Most households who claim it earn between $10,000 and $40,000 a year. The average credit is for $2,400, but it can go above $6,000 for larger families.

The IRS audits a lot of people who claim this credit. When that happens, the IRS blocks the refund. Some people may actually end up owing tax instead of getting a refund.

Here is an actual audit notice sent to a taxpayer last year, which was provided to us by the taxpayer’s legal aid attorney. We’ve annotated it to provide important context and added links to helpful resources for those facing an IRS audit.

If you claim the credit and are audited, there’s an excellent chance it will be done entirely through the mail. Of the 1 million-plus audits the IRS conducted last year, less than three-quarters were done by mail, with the remainder by examiners in the field. But for those who claimed the earned income tax credit, nearly all — 92 percent — were done by mail.

In the example here, the audit is ongoing, meaning the IRS hasn't yet made a final determination and won’t release the refund until the audit is closed. And the forms don’t make clear why this taxpayer, or any other, is selected for an audit. But for those claiming the EITC, the main issue is typically whether they have what's called a “qualifying child.” In other words, if you are audited, it’s usually because the IRS doubts that the child or children you claimed on your tax return actually live with you or are related to you (biologically or through adoption or marriage).

Whether a child qualifies can be confusing. This IRS FAQ can be helpful.

No single IRS employee is in charge of an EITC audit. Instead, taxpayers are told to call a service center to speak with a tax examiner. If you call, you may speak with a different person every time.

This taxpayer claimed the EITC and had been expecting a refund of several thousand dollars. Instead, because the IRS believes she doesn’t qualify for the credit, she is being told that she owes $599.53. Almost all of that amount is tax, not interest or penalties.

Since this is an open audit, she doesn’t owe the money quite yet. The tax is legally owed after she receives a notice of deficiency, which would be a separate letter. This taxpayer eventually was able to reverse the IRS’ audit finding through the help of a lawyer with the Low-Income Tax Clinic program and the Taxpayer Advocate Service.

The IRS has a full rundown of potential penalties and interest charges.

Taxpayers are responsible for notifying the IRS of their current address. So if this notice goes to an old address and isn’t forwarded, the taxpayer may lose the ability to respond to the audit notice. That doesn’t mean there’s no way to undo an IRS audit after it’s done, but it’s a lot harder.

Taxpayers can respond to audits on their own. However, your chances are much better with help. If you qualify for the EITC, then you will likely qualify for free legal help. Here is a directory of Low-Income Taxpayer Clinic locations. If, when the audit is finished, the IRS still does not agree that you qualify for the credit, the next step is usually to file a petition with the U.S. Tax Court.

To qualify for assistance from a low-income clinic, your household cannot make more than 250 percent of the federal poverty level. For example, a family of four living in the contiguous U.S., Washington, D.C., or Puerto Rico has to earn less than $62,750 per year in order to qualify. And the amount in dispute generally must be less than $50,000.

Once you receive the final notice of deficiency from the IRS, you legally owe the tax. Your best option then is to file a petition in Tax Court. If you don’t file within 90 days of receiving the notice of deficiency, you lose your chance to go to Tax Court. If you don't file a petition in Tax Court, the IRS may start to try to collect the tax you owe. You may still have a chance of undoing the audit finding through an audit reconsideration process, but that can take a very long time and your chances of success are lower.

Taxpayers who qualify for the EITC generally qualify for free legal help through the Low-Income Taxpayer Clinic program.

This letter was signed by an IRS manager in Austin, Texas. These audits are generally computer-driven with minimal human interaction. However, if you respond to an audit, it will be reviewed by a human being. But that’s also why the IRS can take as long as six months to review documentation that you submitted.


Republished with permission undder license from ProPublica a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative newsroom. 

Things to do when a retailer won’t exchange defective merchandise

I was happy to see the new GenX store openning in the old Aldi location at 1315 Aubert Ave, St. Louis, MO 63113. My son has made many purchases from GenX Clothing over the past few years. However, my happiness soon turned to disappointment because of two negative experiences. I decided to use experience number two as a teachable moment to help others who may experience similar issues with this or other retailers.

  1. On May 31, 2016, I took my son to GenX at 7:40 pm, the store's posted closing hours was 8 pm. The guard was outside as I entered the store and immediately informed me they were closing in five minutes and that I would be the last customer to enter. While my son was making his selections, the guard approached rather rudely at 7:46 to announce the store was closed. My son made his purchase, but did not get everything he came for and we left. There were two young ladies knocking on the door as we exited. Understandably they were both upset that the store was closed 10 minutes earlier than the posted hours. A gentleman who was parked next to my vehicle  made a negative comment about the store closing early. As far as I know there is no law that requires a merchant to honor their posted store hours. However, one of the easiest parts of operating a business is operating during posted business hours. If you can't do that, you're doing it wrong. I had to go out of my way to visit this store that day and I'm certain other customers did too. The grand openning banner was still posted outside and it's sad that they were already providing sub-par customer service. I took my son to a different store the next day. 
  2. My wife purchased a pair of jeans and other items for my son at the GenX in WestFall Plaza, 8035 W Florissant Ave, St. Louis, MO 63136. The metal fastner button came off while my son was wearing them and later the zipper broke. On Saturday, June 25, 2016, I went to the Aubert GenX and explained I wanted to exchange a pair of defective jeans purchased at the West Florissant location. When I mentioned the defective jeans were purchased a few weeks ago, I was told they had a 14-day return policy. I explained I didn't want a refund, but simply wanted to exchange. I was told the jeans could not be exchanged. I asked to speak to the manager, who was not in, but they called him. I was told to see the manager the next day and that he would be in the next morning. Coincidentally, later that same day, I ended up in WestFall Plaza with my wife and since I still had the jeans in the car, I figured I would try to exchange them there; since that was where they were purchased. I was basically told the same thing, that merchandise purchased more than 14 days ago could not be returned. This time, I actually spoke with the manager and after debating for a few moments, I asked; so GenX doesn't stand behind the merchandise they sell? I was told matter of factly, "no they don't." This is a violation of Missouri warranty law.

Under Missouri law, there's no right to cancel contracts or purchase agreements. Therefore, whether you can receive a refund is dependent on the retailer's return and refund policies. See Missouri Merchandising Practices RSMO Chapter 407. Retailers are however, still bound by Missouri's implied warranty statute.

I returned to the Aubert store about 12:30 Sunday afternoon to meet the manager I was told wanted to speak with me, but I was told that the manager had just left. I left a note and a copy of relevant Missouri State Law. 

The law recognizes two basic kinds of warranties— implied warranties and express warranties.  Section 2-314 of the Uniform Commercial Code, which is law in every state but Louisiana, covers the implied warranty of merchantability. Missouri Revised Statutes 400.2-314 states, "a warranty that the goods shall be merchantable is implied in a contract for their sale if the seller is a merchant with respect to goods of that kind." See "Understanding Warranties" for more details.

A contract consist of three elements; (1) an offer is made, (2) the offer is accepted and (3) consideration (something of value is exchanged). In a retail environment, a merchant displays merchandise with a price (offer), a purchaser decides to buy (acceptance) and then pays for the item (consideration).

Implied warranties are unspoken, unwritten promises, created by state law, that go from the seller or merchant to their customers. Implied warranties are based upon the common law principle of "fair value for money spent"

GenX is a retailer in the clothing business, therefore the garments they sell are subject to the statute and come with an implied warranty. The statute does not provide a time frame for how long garments should last. The standard is ordinary or reasonable expectation which may be affected by the type of garment, the material and the price. It is reasonable to expect that the buttons and zippers even on cheap jeans will last more than a couple of weeks. When garments don't meet minimum or reasonable expectations they are defective and it is the responsibility of the merchant to replace or repair them. In fact, I purchased a pair of $11 jeans years ago from Kmart that I do yard work in and the button and zipper still work properly.

If you have a problem with a product that you think is the result of an defect, let the manufacturer or retailer (preferably a manager) know that you'll take failure to resolve your complaint as a breach of the implied warranty. If you don't get satisfaction, you may be able to assert your rights through a credit-card chargeback. Some credit cards have refund assistance programs:  American Express Return ProtectionDiscover Return Guarantee and MasterCard Satisfaction Guarantee are all return assistance programs, though they are not available to everyone. The card issuer decides which cards get the benefit. If that doesn't work, send a letter threatening legal action. You might need to file a small-claims-court action or consult a lawyer.

How credit-card chargebacks work

If you used a credit card for a purchase and have a problem with the retailer, you may be able to obtain a chargeback from the card issuer. Federal law grants this right under two scenarios: 

Billing errors

These apply to charges you didn't authorize; that are the wrong amount; for goods that were never delivered or delivered late; and for delivered items that were misrepresented or in the wrong quantity. To make a claim, write to your issuer within 60 days of the issuing date on the statement in which the charge first appeared. State the specific reasons you think there was an error on your bill. Some issuers extend this period, but don't count on it.

Claims and defenses rule

You can request a chargeback under the claims and defenses provision for any legal reason you have to cancel a sale directly with the seller, including if there's a problem with the quality of the merchandise (implied warranty). See: 12 CFR 226.12 – Special credit card provisions. You have up to one year from the statement date to make a claim. You must meet four requirements:

  1. The disputed amount must be over $50;
  2. you must be able to prove that you made a good-faith effort to obtain a refund or credit directly from the seller;
  3. you can dispute only up to the outstanding balance on your card (if your balance is zero, you can't use this provision); and
  4. the merchant must be within 100 miles of your home and in your home state.

While you're disputing charges, you can withhold payment for the amount at issue, but you must pay the undisputed portions of your credit-card bill to avoid late fees and finance charges. A successful chargeback won't prevent the merchant from pursuing you directly for payment, including in court, if it feels the chargeback was unwarranted. However, a claim of breach of implied warranty is a valid defense.

Municipal Court Reform or Sneaky Maneuver?

The jaws of power are always open to devour, and her arm is always stretched out, if possible, to destroy the freedom of thinking, speaking, and writing. – John Adams

About 200 municipal judges, prosecutors and court administrators met in secret Friday, August 14, 2015, at UMSL to plan for Missouri court reform changes forced by Senate Bill 5, the legislation that takes effect Aug. 28.

Meetings held by public officials, especially when they concern issues as important as municipal court reform which has been the subject of public outcry and protest which gained national attention invites suspicion. It has already been well documented that St. Louis area municipal courts have been used to generate revenue and abuse rights. However, this is nothing new, municipal courts have operated this way for decades. Professor T.E. Lauer, a law professor at the University of Missouri published, "Prolegomenon to Municipal Court Reform in Missouri" a stinging indictment of the municipal courts in 1966. Professor Lauer stated in his argument:

"It must be recognized, however, that in bringing about this reform it may be necessary to overcome substantial resistance on the part of municipalities which will be reluctant to lose their power over offenses defined by state law. Not only would this reform diminish the importance of the municipal court, but more importantly it would cause a loss of revenue to municipalities, in that municipal fines, which are now paid into the municipal treasury, would become state fines to be paid to the school fund."

Missouri lawyers, judges and court personnel certainly knew the greater St. Louis municipal court system was an issue. I'm certain some Missouri Circuit Court, Missouri Court of Appeals and Missouri Supreme Court judges were at one-time municipal court judges or represented clients in municipal court and saw first hand the problems. The fact that constitutional rights of poor and minority defendants were routinely violated was known to most lawyers who after all are officers of the court. However, the vast majority of those court officers remained silent instead of bringing it to the public's attention. It appears that very few lawyers lodged formal complaints, and many attorneys profited from an unfair court system resulting in an increase in clients and fees. It's unfortunate that it took a protest movement and international attention before anyone took serious action.

In 2013, the municipal courts of St. Louis City and County collected $61,152,087 in fines and fees. During that same time, the combined total of court fines and fees collected by Missouri municipal courts was $132,032,351.63. This means that the municipal courts in the St. Louis region accounted for 46% of all fines and fees collected statewide, despite being home to only 22% of Missourians.

St. Louis area municipalities have most certainly become dependent upon the revenue generated by their municipal courts. The judges, prosecutors, and court administrators mostly likely, directly or indirectly, receive their pay, raises or bonuses based on the amount of revenue generate. Reduced municipal court revenue would probably result in job losses, which of course those in attendance at the closed meeting, would not want to fall victim to. St. Louis area municipalities have a vested interest to keep their courts because municipal courts can generate revenue in others ways besides traffic tickets. Municipalities have already stepped up enforcement of tall grass, housing code, and various other types of municipal ordinance violations.

Holding a closed meeting naturally makes people wonder if this was a strategy session to exchange ideas how to keep the revenue from municipal courts flowing. After August 28th, there will certainly be increasing municipal court revenue from fines other than traffic violations. Even if a municipality does not increase the number of violation citations, they could simply increase the standard fine from say $100 to $500.

Until people educate themselves and become familiar and active within our "justice" system, justice will remain a concept unavailable to many. If you have not already done so, become familiar with the ordinances of your municipality. Browse around this site to learn how you can help yourself with certain legal issues without having to pay for an attorney.

St. Louis Municipalities Weaponized Ignorance

On the one year anniversary of Michael Brown's killing, keep in mind that before the militarized response to the Ferguson Protesters occurred, ignorance was weaponized in and around the St. Louis area. Ignorance is a state of being uninformed (lack of knowledge) and is not used here as an insult to anyone. Various police departments and municipal courts used people's ignorance of their rights and how to properly defend those rights in court as weapons against the very people they were sworn to protect and serve. 

As the discussions about Michael Brown's death continued, the fact that people were being victimized not only by the police but by the municipal courts began to be reported. After I lost my job and ran into my own legal issues, I was shocked to see how blatant rights were being violated within our local courts. The new municipal court reforms put in place are a good start, but it's just a matter of time before municipalities start implementing new strategies. As time passes, new issues will dominate the headlines and memories of specific details about police and municipal courts will begin to fade. The remedies normally available through the courts are usually too expensive because of the high cost of attorneys, but you don't need an attorney to make the court system work for you. 

Policing has changed and the reactions to excessive force by police has changed dramatically. Prior to Mike Brown's killing, police departments almost always stood by the side and defended cops accused of brutal acts and unjustified killing. That has now changed, at least when a video exists. Hopefully, there will come a day when a video is not required to bring justice against rogue cops. I am certain the vast majority of police are decent, honest and hard-working, but there are some that are not and that factor coupled with the blue code of silence wreak havoc on certain communities. Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey, responding to comments about a University of Cincinnati Police Officer, during a conversation about with Meet the Press moderator Chuck Todd conceded police do protect each other from criticism no matter what, as do other professions.

Americans have short attention spans and memories. Municipalities will most likely start violating rights again using new creative unfamiliar methods and ignorance will once again be weaponized and used against people. Ignorance of the law is no excuse for breaking it. However, most people are only vaguely familiar with the law; even lawyers only know a small portion of the law. There is a principle which is sometimes put in the form of a rule of evidence, that everyone is presumed to know the law. That principal is based on the difficulty to prove that a person did, in fact, know the law. Additionally, many people would purposefully not make themselves aware of particular laws to preserve their ignorance. As long as people remain ignorant about their rights and how to invoke and protect them, that ignorance of the law will certainly be taken advantage of and weaponized not only by unscrupulous governments but by predatory businesses and institutions. 

Just as slavemasters used ignorance against slaves to exploit them, St. Louis area municipalities have used ignorance of state law, legal procedure and constitutional protections to exploit and oppress people. Many St. Louis municipalities created illegal laws with the sole purpose of creating revenue. Just because an ordinance exists doesn't mean it's valid; ordinances and other laws sometimes get struck down as being void, illegal or unconstitutional. Most municipalities know that many people won't even bother to read or research the law

You don't need a lawyer to discover what the law says, the law is available for everyone to read. Prior to my job loss, I made a pretty decent salary and could easily afford to pay an attorney to take care of traffic tickets. For example, I paid attorneys as little as $30 to handle traffic violations. Bellefontaine Neighbors has a speed trap on eastbound Lewis & Clark (Hwy 367) just past Hwy 270 overpass, where the speed drops from 55 to 45. There's a sign posted with the reduced speed limit about halfway on the overpass. A truck in the right lane blocked the posted 45mph sign from my view. A traffic cop was positioned just past the overpass and I got caught by that trap. I found an attorney on Craigslist, paid that attorney $30 to have the violation reduced to a moving violation, but I had to pay the City of Bellefontaine a fine of about $200. 

However, even a $100 red light ticket fine became a major burden after my steady income was gone. There are a lot of organizations that provide free legal assistance, their resources are limited and they can only help so many people. When my legal issues arose, I could not afford an attorney, and the legal assistance agencies I contacted couldn't help. I was facing the loss of tens of thousands of dollars, so I learned how to effectively defend myself. This site contains valuable free information for you to help yourself and additional information is constantly being added. No one will ever fight as hard for you as you will, don't get caught in the trap of being dependent on someone else to do for you what you can learn to do for yourself. Even if you can currently afford to pay for legal services; keep in mind that may not always be the case. During the very time when I was most vulnerable and need assistance the most was when I could not afford legal services. Fortunately, I was able to research the law for myself, but most people I witnessed in court on their own lost; your ignorance is their power. 

Skewed statics, policial, institutional and media spin all contribute to confusing the issues and create or increase ignorance. One of Adolf Hilter's closest advisers, Joseph Goebbels, stated; If you repeat a lie often enough, people will believe it, and you will even come to believe it yourself. To overcome ignorance, you must first learn to see through the layers of lies to first understand what the actual issues are and then formulate a strategy to overcome them.

Phillip Agnew, with Dream Defenders, gives a near perfect response to the systematic oppression of black people during the PBS program America After Ferguson and exemplifies what can happen when a person is no longer held captive to ignorance.

 

See the full-length PBS program America After Ferguson, which includes additional statements by Phillip Agnew not shown in the brief clip above. Tim Wise during his lecture on the Legacy of Institutionalized Racism addresses the topic of responsibility brought up in America After Ferguson.

Print your parking meter receipt

The City of St. Louis has recently installed new parking meter systems downtown. The new system has central payment kiosk and the parking spaces are individually numbered. At the kiosk, you enter your space number, insert your payment and then you are given an option to print a receipt, I highly recommend you print your receipt each and every time and keep it.

I have a case involving the City of St. Louis in a pending case currently before the Missouri Court of Appeals. Part of the appeal process involves securing the "legal file", which is the collection of court orders, motions and other pleading involved in a case. On June 30, 2015, I visited the St. Louis City Circuit Court to obtain my legal file. This was my very first time obtaining and organizing a legal file, so I assumed it would take a while and put the maximum amount of time on my parking meters, two hours.

I finished and had a few minutes to spare, but when I returned to my vehicle, I was shocked to see a parking ticket for an expired meter. I checked the ticket and saw that the ticket had my license plate number and the correct number of my parking meter 2150 and then I noticed the time on the ticket was 12:15 pm and my meter didn't expire until 12:44 pm. I still had almost a full half hour on my parking meter when the ticket was issued.

Fortunately, I knew the Parking Violation Bureau was at 229 North 7th Street, about six or seven blocks from where I was parked, so I immediately went there and was forced to park at another meter. I went inside handed the clerk the ticket and my meter receipt and inquired why I would have received a ticket when I clearly had plenty of time on my meter. She could offer no explanation, but made a photocopy of the ticket and receipt and told me I would receive a response most likely cancelling the ticket. The City of St. Louis has allegedly targeted and harassed me in the past for publishing information they do not like and I hope this was just a glitch in a new system and not more harassment from the city. However, the timing is suspect.

Had I not had my receipt, I'm certain the City would have argued that I must have made some type of mistake; maybe I put time on the wrong meter, or was mistaken about the time my meter expired, or maybe I was lying and just trying to get out of paying. However, since I had proof, I'm sure the City will claim some sort of system glitch or that the officer made a mistake using the new equipment.

Below is a copy of my ticket and meter receipt. I covered my license plate number from the ticket, but everything else is just as it appeared on the originals. Click the photo to see an enlarged version. Effective July 1, 2015, the fine for expired meters went up from $10 to $15 dollars. Don't forget to print your receipt whenever you park at the new St. Louis City parking meters!
scan of parking ticket and meter receipt


City of St. Louis Parking Meter Ordinance:

Chapter 17.62 – PARKING METERS

Chapter 17.63 – PARKING VIOLATIONS—INCAPACITATION OF VEHICLE BY CITY

Other parking and traffic related ordinances: Title 17 – VEHICLES AND TRAFFIC

Find the Lowest Cost Parking

BestParking is a search engine that allows users to find the cheapest parking rates or most convenient parking locations in a 105 cities (including St. Louis) and 115 airports. You can find parking in downtown St. Louis as low as $1 per hour and all day parking as low as $2.

There are also BestParking mobile apps for popular devices. To find parking location, rates and mobile app information visit: http://www.bestparking.com/st-louis-parking/


 

The Injustice System

The News 4 Investigates documentary, “The Injustice System: Cops, Courts and Greedy Politicians", aired yesterday June 26, 2015, and points out many of the flaws with our justice system. It's not enough to know the problem exist, people caught up in an unjust system must be taught how to navigate their way out. At the moment, a lot of attention is being given to this issue, but like all issues, over time people will forget and the system will eventually figure out new ways to strip rights and cash from its victims. 

Take the time to look around this site and become familiar with the tools you need to defend yourself. Your rights do not evaporate simply because you can't afford an attorney, but most people don't know how to invoke their rights. If you can't afford an attorney you have two choices; continue being a victim and having you hard earned money stripped away from you or take some time and learn about our court system and the rules that protect you. Decide whether you want to miss a few hours of television programming and develop knowledge that may help you the rest of your life or become a helpless victim to a system that will surely invent new ways to as my departed grandmother in law would say "rob you without a gun".

KMOV.com