Articles Posted in Supreme Court of Missouri

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The Supreme Court vacated the judgment of the circuit court, after a bench trial, finding Defendant “not guilty” of felony sexual misconduct involving a child by indecent exposure because the statute under which he was charged was unconstitutionally overbroad as applied to Defendant’s case, holding that, based on the record, the Court was unable to ascertain the precise nature of the circuit court’s ruling. On appeal, the State argued that the circuit court’s judgment was equivalent to a dismissal of the indictment following a guilty verdict, and therefore, Defendant was not acquitted of the offense. In response, Defendant argued that the circuit court’s judgment was a judgment of acquittal because the circuit court expressly found him not guilty. Therefore, Defendant argued, the appeal was barred by double jeopardy. The Supreme Court vacated the judgment and remanded the case with instructions to enter a new judgment, holding that the Court could not consider the appeal or motion to dismiss on the merits because the Court was unable to determine if the judgment was an acquittal or a dismissal. View "State v. Ward" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court quashed its preliminary writ of mandamus to compel the circuit court to dismiss with prejudice Relator’s charge of driving while intoxicated, holding that Relator did not demonstrate a clear and unequivocal right to the dismissal of his charge because the plain language of Mo. Rev. Stat. 577.037.2 does not require a pretrial hearing or pretrial determination on the motion. Relator filed a motion under section 577.037.2 asserting that because the chemical analysis demonstrated that his blood alcohol concentration was under the legal limit, and because the State did not present evidence to prove the dismissal was unwarranted, the charge should be dismissed. The circuit court overruled the motion. Relator then sought a writ of mandamus. The Supreme Court quashed its preliminary writ of mandamus, holding (1) a pretrial hearing or pretrial determination on the section 577.037.2 motion is not required; (2) the circuit court has discretion to order that a hearing and determination on the motion be deferred until trial; and (3) because the circuit court’s overruling of the motion effectively deferred the matter until trial, Relator could seek relief on appeal. View "State ex rel. McCree v. Honorable Wesley Dalton" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the suspension of Appellant’s driver’s license for driving while intoxicated, holding that Appellant’s arguments on appeal were unavailing. Specifically, the Court held (1) the filing of a report with the department of health and senior services showing that a driver’s blood alcohol content was over the legal limit is a collateral requirement that does not affect the performance of the test or its validity or accuracy, and therefore, the failure to timely make that filing was not preclude admission of the report; (2) the implied consent notice complied with due process because it accurately informed Appellant that his license would be suspended immediately if he refused the breath test; and (3) a later notice of suspension given Appellant after he failed the breath test accurately informed him of the facts statutorily required to suspend his license and how to request a hearing. View "Carvalho v. Director of Revenue" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the orders of the circuit court overruling motions to retax court costs after each movant had his jail board bill taxed as costs against him by the circuit court, holding that no statutory authority exists to treat jail board bills as court costs. Both movants were sentenced to a term in jail. The circuit clerks taxed to the movants as court costs a jail board bill. The movants later filed motions to retax costs, arguing that the circuit court had no statutory authority to tax their board bills as court costs. The circuit courts overruled the motions. The Supreme Court reversed the rulings on both motions and remanded with direction for the circuit court to retax the costs by removing the board bill liability of the movants under Mo. Rev. Stat. 221.070 from their respective fee reports, holding that the circuit courts erred in taxing as court costs the movants’ board bills, as express statutory authority permitting jail board bills to be taxed as court costs does not exist. View "State v. Richey" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court made permanent its preliminary writ of prohibition preventing the circuit court from taking any action in this case other than discharging Relator from probation, holding that the circuit court lacked authority over Relator and could not hold a hearing to revoke her probation. During Relator’s term of probation, the division of probation and parole issued notices of citation, but none of those notices resulted in the issuance of probation violation warrants or the suspension of Relator’s probation. After a field violation report was filed, however, the circuit court suspended Relator’s probation. After a probation violation hearing was scheduled, Relator sought a petition for a writ of prohibition. The Supreme Court issued a preliminary writ, which it made permanent, holding (1) the notices of citation were not “initial violation reports” or “violation reports” pursuant to Mo. Rev. Stat. 217.703, and therefore, the division’s issuances of notices of citation did not stop the accrual of earned compliance credits because Relator was not out of compliance with the terms of her probation; and (2) after the optimal discharge date passed, the circuit court did not have the authority to hold a probation revocation hearing and, rather, should have discharged Relator from probation. View "State ex rel. Coleman v. Honorable Horn" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court held in these two cases that a probationer may not be discharged from probation as a result of Earned Compliance Credits (ECCs) accrued under Mo. Rev. Stat. 217.703 unless she has paid the full amount of any court-ordered restitution because Mo. Rev. Stat. 559.105.2, which prohibits such a discharge if the probationer has failed to pay the full amount of court-ordered restitution, takes precedence over section 217.703.7. In the case of Nettie Pallai, the judge sustained Pallai’s motion for discharge from probation, and the prosecutor, Kevin Hillman, petitioned the Supreme Court for a writ of prohibition. In the case of Erica Long, the judge overruled Long’s motion to be discharged from probation. Both Pallai and Long accrued sufficient ECCs to be discharged under section 213.703.7 but failed to pay restitution. The Supreme Court made permanent the preliminary writ of probation in Hillman’s case and quashed the preliminary writ of prohibition in Long’s case, holding that a probationer may accrue ECCs under section 217.703.3, but she may not be discharged from probation by applying those ECCs to shorten her term of probation under section 217.703.7 unless she pays any court-ordered restitution in full pursuant to section 559.105.2. View "State ex rel. Hillman v. Honorable John D. Beger" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court quashed a preliminary writ of prohibition and denied Petitioner’s petition for a writ of prohibition seeking to prohibit the Honorable Brian May from proceeding with any action other than vacating an order denying Petitioner’s application for change of judge pursuant to Rule 32.07, holding that Petitioner did not timely file his application for change of judge. Rule 32.07(b) requires the applicable for change of judge to be filed within ten days of the initial plea in a criminal case or within ten days of the designation of the trial judge. Petitioner filed an application for change of judge pursuant to Rule 32.07 in the underlying criminal case. When Respondent denied the application, Petitioner filed a petition for writ of prohibition. The Supreme Court denied relief, holding (1) Petitioner did not file his application for change of judge within ten days of the initial plea in his criminal case, and the fact that Petitioner waived arraignment on new charges in a superseding indictment did not negate the fact that he previously entered the initial plea in his criminal case approximately two years earlier; and (2) Petitioner’s application for change of judge was not filed within ten days of the designation of Respondent as the trial judge for Petitioner’s criminal case. View "State ex rel. Mario Richardson v. Honorable Brian H. May" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the circuit court’s decision overruling Defendant’s motion suppress evidence found during a warrantless search and seizure of a bag that the police seized from the back seat of the vehicle in which Defendant had been riding, holding that no prejudice resulted from the suppression motion being overruled. On appeal, Defendant argued that under Arizona v. Gant, 556 U.S. 332 (2009), and State v. Carrawell, 481 S.W.3d 833 (Mo. banc 2016), the evidence should have been suppressed because, contrary to the ruling of the circuit court, the drugs and drug paraphernalia in the bag were not within his possession or control when the bag was seized. The Supreme Court affirmed without reaching the issue of whether Gant or Carrawell required the suppression of the evidence, holding that any error was not prejudicial because other unchallenged evidence fully supported the judgment reached by the circuit court. View "State v. Hughes" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court made permanent its preliminary writ of prohibition barring Respondent, Judge Bryan E. Round, from enforcing his order disqualifying the entire Jackson County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office (PAO) in the underlying post-conviction case, holding that Respondent’s order failed to comply with the Supreme Court’s holding in State v. Lemasters, 456 S.W.3d 416 (Mo. banc 2015), and will cause irreparable harm if relief is not granted. Jeanette Wolpink of the Missouri Public Defender System (MPDS) was appointed to represent on appeal Defendant in the underlying case. After Defendant’s convictions and sentences were affirmed on appeal, but before his amended post-conviction motion was filed, Wolpink left the MPDS and was hired by the PAO. After Defendant filed his amended post-conviction motion, he moved to disqualify the entire PAO because Wolpink represented him in his direct appeal. Respondent sustained the motion and disqualified the entire PAO. Relator, Jackson County Prosecuting Attorney Jean Peters-Baker, then sought this writ of prohibition. The Supreme Court granted the writ, holding that Wolpink’s conflict is not imputed to the entire PAO under the appearance of impropriety test, and by disqualifying Relator, Respondent infringed upon Relator’s ability to carry out her duties as a public officer. View "State ex rel. Jean Peters-Baker v. Honorable Bryan E. Round" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court made permanent its preliminary writ of prohibition barring Respondent, Judge Timothy J. Boyer, from enforcing his order disqualifying the entire City of St. Louis Circuit Attorney’s Office (CAO) in the underlying case, holding that Respondent’s order failed to comply with the Supreme Court’s holding in State v. Lemasters, 456 S.W.3d 416 (Mo. banc 2015), and will cause irreparable harm if relief is not granted. Defendant in the underlying case was charged with several offenses. Officer A.F. resorted to the use of deadly force to apprehend Davis and, consequently, Relator, City of St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kimberly Gardner, initiated an investigation into Officer A.F.’s use of force against Defendant. Prior to Defendant’s preliminary hearing, Officer A.F. moved to disqualify the CAO. Respondent disqualified the CAO from prosecuting Defendant’s case, concluding that there was an appearance of impropriety because the CAO was actively prosecuting Defendant while simultaneously reviewing the conduct of the officer upon whom it was relying to effectuate the prosecution. Relator then sought this writ of prohibition. The Supreme Court granted the writ, holding that Respondent failed to recognize the limitations placed on his authority to disqualify counsel and that Respondent’s order unnecessarily interfered with Relator’s duty to represent the interests of the public. View "State ex rel. Gardner v. Honorable Timothy J. Boyer" on Justia Law