Ferguson City Attorney Calls It a Day

     FERGUSON, Mo. (CN) — Ferguson, Missouri’s city attorney has resigned, under public pressure from citizens who took their protests to her house.
     Stephanie Karr submitted her resignation letter Monday to Mayor James Knowles III, the City Council and City Manager De’Carlon Seewood.
     Karr is with St. Louis-based Curtis, Heinz, Garrett & O’Keefe, which the St. Louis Post-Dispatch calls “St. Louis County’s premier municipal firm. Its lawyers represent more than 20 municipalities in St. Louis County in roles such as prosecutor, judge and city attorney.”
     Protesters marched to Karr’s house this month, demanding her ouster, some carrying signs: “Stop the Karr-uption.”
     Karr essentially blocked the appointment of Lavaerne Mitchom to fill an empty City Council seat in January. Mitchom is a retired educator who participated in protests after the August 2014 shooting death of Michael Brown.
     The City Council voted 3-2 to appoint Mitchom, but Karr said four votes were needed. Karr did not provide explanation for her advice, saying only it was based on case history.
     At the time, Ferguson was weighing whether to approve an agreement with the Department of Justice over reforms in city courts and police.
     When the City Council rejected the agreement, the Justice Department sued it the next day. The Council eventually voted unanimously to appoint Mitchom, who provided the crucial vote to put the agreement back on the agenda. The council approved the agreement and the lawsuit was dropped.
     Nonetheless, Karr continued to prosecute “failure to comply” cases that the Justice Department deemed unconstitutional. According to the Post-Dispatch, Karr and her colleagues at Curtis, Heinz, Garrett and O’Keefe recorded more than $40,000 in prosecutor fees in the first four months of 2016.
     St. Louis County Associate Circuit Court Judge Joseph Dueker in April acquitted five defendants tried in the failure to comply cases.
     Three weeks ago, Ferguson officials said they removed Karr as city prosecutor, but she stayed on as city attorney.
     Karr wrote in her letter of resignation that the decision to resign “is mine alone.” She said she will stay on as city attorney until a replacement is hired.
     City Manager Seewood said the city will post its job opening soon. He said attorneys from Curtis, Heinz, Garrett & O’Keefe could apply.

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