After serving in the US Army and returning home to St. Louis, Thomas Baker was the target of overpolicing and racial profiling at every turn. He found himself trapped in a web of municipal tickets and warrants that put his family in financial peril and cost him thousands of dollars. “All of my money was going into the court system. You try to turn your life around but you have all the cards in the deck stacked against you,” said Thomas. He lost jobs because he had to make multiple court appearances. His marriage was strained by the burden of paying hundreds of dollars a week in excessive court fines, and he was illegally jailed in modern-day debtors’ prisons when he couldn’t keep up with payments.
ACD cleared all his warrants and helped reduce his fines, which enabled him to finish college and launch a successful career in tech. While we celebrate this good news, our struggle for justice continues. Since 2016, Thomas has been a lead plaintiff in a federal lawsuit against Florissant, and we still are fighting for Thomas and the thousands of people harmed by this city.
In August, Eddie Logan, an Army veteran and lifelong St. Louis resident lost the right to his home due to a remote eviction trial he could only access by telephone. Concerned about the conditions in his home, Mr. Logan repeatedly attempted to deliver evidence to the court prior to his trial. Each time court officials turned him away because the court lacked a process to accept evidence during the pandemic. On the date of his remote trial, Mr. Logan could not get the video conference app to work on his phone. Without the benefit of any documents to support his case, Mr. Logan was forced to dial into his eviction trial by telephone. Unsurprisingly, Mr. Logan lost his trial and was ordered to vacate his home and pay nearly $3,000 in rent.
Upon learning of Mr. Logan’s case, ACD filed an emergency lawsuit on his behalf. When our lawsuit reached the Missouri Supreme Court, the judge granted Mr. Logan a new trial. As the result of our subsequent advocacy, we were able to keep an eviction judgment off Mr. Logan’s record, save him thousands of dollars in rent, and help him relocate to a new home.