I was tired of witnessing municipal and circuit court systems that are supposed to be fair and impartial prey on the poor and elderly. I was tired of seeing a “justice system” that discriminates and disregards constitutional rights and privileges. I was tired of seeing people treated like criminals because they are experiencing a financial crisis. I was tired of being silent.
I lost my job in 2011 and I've been involved in at least fifteen court cases since 2012. Since I was unemployed and I had more time than money, I researched the law and started representing myself in court. However, everyone else I saw in court were losing, even those that clearly should have won.
My cases included municipal ordinance violations and creditor lawsuits, I won thirteen of my fifteen cases, the fourteenth and fifteen cases were appealed. I partially won the appeal in the fourteenth case which resulted in a lower fine, but I ultimately lost with a Missouri Supreme Court ruling. The appeal in my fifteenth case went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court which denied my writ of certiorari.
Not including interest, attorney fees and court cost, I've saved over $30,000 in fines and judgments. It can cost $100,000 – 250,000 in attorney fees to take a case to the U.S. Supreme Court to request a writ of certiorari and more if they agree to hear the case.
I spent thousands of hours researching and gaining valuable information about the law and court process and wanted to share with others what I had learned. The courts are not nearly as fair as many people think they are.
The constitution and other laws provide protection from abuse of your rights; however, if you don't know how to invoke those protections, it's as if they don't exist. People are often convinced that they are powerless; when nothing could be further from the truth. The young men and women on the front lines in Ferguson, MO have proven what the power of the people can accomplish. Municipal Courts are used as methods of finance for the cities they serve. Municipalities routinely convince defendants to plead guilty. They use scare tactics on people who don't know any better. The municipality has the burden to prove you committed whatever offense they claim. However, because most people have never bothered looking up the law, they are easy prey and provide a stream of easy money. They simply don't know the rules that apply in court.
It is my hope that others will become inspired and benefit from what I have learned during my legal challenges. Help spread the word about this site, by telling others. If you have a municipal court date, download our four-part municipal court flyer (color or black and white), print then cut and give to others you see waiting in line to get inside the courtroom. Until everyone is afforded equal treatment, none of us are truly free. There is a quote from a survivor of the Tulsa Race Riot of 1921, that in many respects still ring true today.
“Some of our group feel their superiority over those less fortunate; but when a supreme test like the Tulsa disaster comes, it serves to remind us that we are all one race. That human feigns, like those who had full sway on June 1st have no respect of person. Every Negro was afforded the same treatment regardless of his education or other advantages. A Negro was a Negro on that day and was forced to march for blocks with his hands up that day. It should teach us to remember that we cannot rise higher than our weakest brother”. Mary Parrish
In the United States, far too many people are imprisoned, and far too many of the prisoners are low-income people of color. One of the purposes of this site is to even the playing field, by providing legal information to people who can’t afford private lawyers. Our library section contains information about exercising miranda rights, searches, how much to tell your lawyer, and more. It’s particularly important to know your rights when you're suspect or accused of a crime because the behavior of law enforcement toward the public has become increasingly militant and militarized.
Law enforcement officers often rationalize their actions as necessary tactics in the wars on drugs or terrorism. Predictably, as these campaigns progress, the primary casualties are people of color, people who are poor, and people who are activists. To make matters worse, recent legislation has given law enforcement greater legal license to pry and intimidate. And these changes in the law signal that the political climate is more accepting of ugly police practices such as infiltration or manipulative interrogation techniques. That’s why it’s critical to learn how to use the law to protect yourself—before you or the people you care about end up in jail.
Law enforcement officers are trained to mislead suspects whom they’re questioning, and it’s perfectly legal for police to lie when they’re interrogating someone. In particular, officers try to convince people to give up their rights to legal advice before being questioned. Using dirty tricks to get confessions is not only inconsistent with the idea of a just legal system but also makes it more likely that innocent people will be convicted as well as guilty ones.
For those readers who are concerned that this site will help bad people get away with their crimes, we sympathize and that is not our intent. Consider, however, that bad things do happen to good people. So it could be handy to know what to say to the police in case they’re ever laboring under the misapprehension that you’re actually a bad person and therefore deserving of manipulation and mistreatment.
City of St. Louis
This site primarily owes its publication to the illegal and harassing treatment I received from multiple St. Louis City divisions in retaliation for exercising my constitutional rights.
Between 2008 and 2013, I received one speed camera and four red light camera tickets; three of those tickets were from the city of St. Louis. I challenged all five tickets in court and had them dismissed. I strongly believe that red light cameras are simply a money grab disguised as a safety measure.
St. Louis has collected over $32 million in red light camera fines and didn't want anything to interfere with that revenue stream. On the same day my tickets were dismissed in court, the City of St. Louis began targeting property that I own, because of my website redlightphototicket.com which promotes my publication, "Red Light Photo Tickets: They Rob You Without a Gun". Although, there are other websites expressing negative opinions about red light cameras, mine was the only one that I am aware of in Missouri, that provided access to strategy to actually beat tickets in court including court documents which were filed.
Some people may believe that a few million dollars don't mean much to a city the size of St. Louis, but take a look at the video below of a news broadcast discussing how St. Louis City started a furlough program that required employees to take off weeks without pay to save $3 million dollars. The following year, St. Louis created an illegal $11 monthly solid waste tax, which generates approximately $14 million annually and disguised it as a user fee in order to avoid getting voter approval.
The City of St. Louis has a culture of corruption and retaliation. Recent news reports highlight that multiple St. Louis Area Municipalities are unfairly and illegally wreaking havoc with people's lives; especially those of color, poor, elderly and other vulnerable groups lacking knowledge of the legal system. Black residents are the largest population segment within the City of St. Louis but only one of the ten highest paid city employees is black. I wonder what segment of the population the lowest paid city employees belong to.
I am not a lawyer
The author of this site has not attended or had training at any law school. I learned how to navigate the legal system through independent self-study. I am not directing you to do what I have done, I am simply exercising my first amendment freedom of speech rights and explaining my personal experiences, sharing what I have learned, expressing my opinions about what I encountered and stating the results and personal conclusions from my many hours of research.
Genius Not Required
I believe all humans have the potential for genius. Many of us had educations that restricted our capabilities and failed to properly develop our genius; see, "Mindless Follower or Critical Thinker". However, you don’t have to be a genius to understand and apply the law. I was not a great student in high school, however, I got lucky during my senior year. I was required to take a business law class. At first, I hated the subject; but loved the teacher, Ms. Fountain, who had a bigger than life personality and she created a fun classroom environment. There was one assignment that is still memorable for me. We were assigned some sort of puzzle handout that required a trip to St. Louis University’s Law Library. I remember entering the library and feeling very intimidated. As we started looking up the references to find the answers, I realized that the assignment was much easier than I though and at that moment my apprehension and fear of those ivory tower bookshelves left. I realized then that anyone can find the law, most people just don’t know how or where to look.