In November, David Pittinsky was hired by a small group of predominantly African American municipalities near St. Louis to challenge Missouri's principal reform measure enacted after the Aug. 4, 2014, police killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson: a law sharply reducing the amount of money the towns could use from traffic fines and other offenses to fund municipal budgets.

Towns had been using revenue from traffic fines and other offenses to fund municipal budgets—some making up to 30 percent of their budgets with that revenue. The practice likely intensified racial tensions and contributed to the civil unrest and rioting that occurred following the trial.

For towns in St. Louis County, the law reduced the portion of municipal budgets that can be funded by traffic citations and other fines to 12.5 percent; all other municipalities in Missouri, including St. Louis, which is not part of the county, could pay up to 20 percent of municipal operating costs with such revenue.

Pittinsky and his clients sued, and on March 28 a state trial-court judge found the law unconstitutional.

"They never would have gotten it through the legislature if all the municipalities had been restricted to 12.5 percent," said Pittinsky, who has been pounding the boards as a commercial litigator for 45 years.

To take away a big chunk of their revenue would force police layoffs and other cutbacks, he says. If it is good policy to limit revenue from traffic violations and other offenses to 20 percent of municipal budgets for towns outside St. Louis County, then it follows that it is good policy for towns within the county, as well, he says.