Thursday, June 30, 2016

Peters v. Johns

Opinion handed down May 20, 2016 
I. Introduction
            In Peters v. Johns, the Supreme Court of Missouri resolved the constitutionality of requiring a state representative candidate to register in Missouri for at least two years to be eligible for election.[1] The court ruled with a 4-3 margin that the refusal to register is not an act of “symbolic speech,” and that the requirement does not violate either the First or Fourteenth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution.[2]

McGraw v. State

Opinion handed down May 24, 2016 


I. Introduction

Holding the title of “Honorable,” “Justice,” or “Judge,” might enable one to believe that an elected judge is paid commensurate with the noble title.  In reality, however, this is not the case.  Members of the Supreme Court of Missouri, the highest court in the state, are only paid a fraction more than some first year associates at large law firms.[1]  However, in a decision handed down by the Supreme Court of Missouri in May 2016, the court matter-of-factly denied elected judges their extra retirement compensation as prescribed to them by means of the Missouri Constitution.[2]  Lacking any type of policy argument, the court struck down the plaintiff-judges’ claims because their arguments relied on an incorrect interpretation of an amendment to the Missouri Constitution.[3]

Friday, May 13, 2016

Kittle-Aikeley v. Claycomb

Opinion handed down December 7, 2015; corrected December 9, 2015; vacated February 18, 2016.
In 2011, Linn State Technical College enacted a mandatory drug test policy.[1]  The purpose of the policy was to ensure a safe and healthy environment for students and faculty frequently engaged in the handling and operation of heavy machinery, as well as deterring drug use of students preparing to enter highly regulated, safety-sensitive fields.[2]  After surviving a facial Fourth Amendment challenge, the drug test policy was challenged on an as-applied basis.[3]  The trial court held the policy constitutional, but only as applied to educational programs involving a particularly high safety risk, which then required the trial court to determine which technical programs fell into such a category.[4]
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit reversed the trial court, determining that a program-by-program analysis was unnecessary, and held that the drug-test policy is constitutional as applied to all Linn State students.[5]  Ruling under the premise that drug use and the operation of any machinery is a recipe for harm, the court determined that Linn State’s interests in providing a safe atmosphere trumped the students’ privacy interests against being tested for drugs.[6]
Recently, the Eighth Circuit granted a motion for rehearing en banc, vacating this opinion, and momentarily leaving this issue of the law in limbo.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Harris v. Mortgage Professionals

Opinion handed down March 23, 2015
        The U.S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri granted summary judgment to Hartford Insurance and Mortgage Professionals, Inc. (“MPI”), rejecting a ten-year statute of limitations in favor of a three-year statute of limitations in a suit to collect on mortgage broker bonds.  The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit reversed the district court’s decision and remanded.