Researching Public Law and Public Policy in the Public Interest
A continuing blog by students detailing important issues of equity that arise in their professional experiences. Here, third-year student Larry Krayne writes about his internship at the Newark municipal court, where he observes the complexities of race-, class-, and place-based bureaucratic obstacles to justice through the proceedings of traffic citations.
Over the last three years, St. Louis County municipalities have chronically violated the constitutional rights of indigent citizens by issuing unreasonable amounts of traffic tickets – tickets accompanied by slews of hefty fines and court costs. When indigent citizens are unable to pay the aforementioned, they are thrown in jail for extended periods of time. Civil rights groups allege that these practices, which are performed solely as a means of funding municipal endeavors, have created the functional equivalent of debtor prisons. This report by CLiME analyzes the extent to which northern and central New Jersey municipalities have deployed similar tactics as those in St. Louis County.
When a measure was introduced recently in the Republican-held General Assembly calling for sharp limits in the revenue that Missouri towns can derive from traffic fines, it was not surprising that black lawmakers voiced support. What was unexpected were their allies in the cause: white, suburban Republicans, a former St. Louis County police chief and leaders from several conservative groups.
The automobile is at the center of the biggest boom in subprime lending since the mortgage crisis. The market for loans to buy used cars is growing rapidly. And similar to how a red-hot mortgage market once coaxed millions of borrowers into recklessly tapping the equity in their homes, the new boom is also leading people to take out risky lines of credit known as title loans.
Rutgers Law student Charis G. Orzechowski examines transit conditions that discourage commuters entering from high poverty areas for work and the neglected transit needs of low-income citizens in four New Jersey counties. The paper explores whether certain poor, minority and transit-dependent populations are being excluded from traveling within high-growth suburban municipalities that have job opportunities available for people with fewer specialized skills. The analysis uncovers the "spatial mismatch" that harms transit-dependent minorities and suggests a possible violation of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
Many cities become over time economically interdependent with their surrounding areas, constituting a single economy and labor market (a metropolitan area). Such areas are usually integrated systems of local government jurisdictions. The economic links between the core and the periphery can become so close that one part cannot succeed without the other. This paper provides a typology of the main metropolitan-level governance approaches applied internationally, with their pros and cons, and related city examples. The paper focuses on areas with more than one local government, but also includes examples where the metropolitan area essentially coincides with one local government jurisdiction. It concludes with a summary of lessons learned and suggested topics for further applied research.

A national research and action institute advancing economic and social equity by Lifting Up What Works: http://www.policylink.org