Wednesday, November 19, 2014

United States v. Ronnie Whisenton

Opinion issued
September 2, 2014


Link to Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion



In United States of America v. Ronnie Whisenton, the Eighth Circuit considered whether law enforcement impermissibly violated the Fourth Amendment when they gained consent to search Mr. Whisenton’s house after a warrantless entry.[i]  The Eighth Circuit affirmed the Eastern District of Missouri’s denial of Mr. Whisenton’s motion to suppress the evidence obtained during the search of his house.[ii]   His conviction and sentence of 60 months imprisonment for conspiracy to distribute marijuana was upheld.[iii]

Conway v. CitiMortgage, Inc.

Opinion issued
August 19, 2014


Link to the Supreme Court of Missouri Opinion



Davis Conway and Sheri Conway (collectively, Homeowners) challenged the Circuit County of St. Charles County’s dismissal of their homeowner’s suit under the Missouri Merchandising Practice Act (MMPA). The Homeowners, on appeal, argued that although Fannie Mae and CitiMortgage were not parties to the original loan transaction, they were still liable for misconduct that occurred in connection with the loan transaction. The Supreme Court of Missouri agreed with the homeowners and reversed the Circuit Court’s dismissal.   In so holding, the Court emphasized that the MMPA prohibits the use of certain deceptive practices if there is a relationship between the sale and the alleged unlawful action.  It further stated that the unlawful action may occur by any person at any time before, during or after the sale.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

State ex rel. Middleton v. Russell

Opinion issued
July 16, 2014


Link to Supreme Court of Missouri Opinion



On July 16, 2014, after 20 years and at least three stays of execution, a sharply divided Missouri Supreme Court issued a brief opinion rejecting John C. Middleton’s final attempt to evade the death penalty.[i]  Following two initially successful but eventually fruitless attempts to bypass the state’s Supreme Court by imploring the federal district court for the Eastern District of Missouri to stay his execution,[ii] on July 16 Middleton filed a writ of habeas corpus asserting that under the Eight Amendment he lacked the mental competence which the constitution requires for an inmate to be executed.[iii]  Relying on the United States Supreme Court’s Panetti v. Quarterman[iv] and Ford v. Wainwright[v] decisions, the majority held that Middleton had fallen well short of establishing that he was suffering from the sort of gross psychotic delusions that might have presented a constitutional bar to his execution.[vi]  The dissent, on the other hand, written by Justice Draper, and concurred in by Justices Stith and Teitelmann, strongly criticized what it perceived to be the gross violation of Middleton’s right to due process.[vii]  Justice Draper’s dissenting opinion insisted that the same psychiatric report viewed as inadequate by the majority was a sufficient predicate for establishing a threshold showing of incompetence.  Further, the dissent argued that Middleton had raised substantial unanswered concerns regarding the constitutionality of RSMo § 552.060, which governs the procedure for determining whether a condemned prisoner is competent to be executed.[viii] 

State v. Jackson

Opinion issued
June 24, 2014


Link to Supreme Court of Missouri Opinion



Denford Jackson was convicted by a jury of first-degree robbery and armed criminal action.[i] Jackson requested that the instruction for the lesser included offense of second degree robbery also be included in the instructions given to the jury pursuant to Section 556.046 of the Revised Statutes of Missouri.[ii] The trial court refused to give the instruction, holding there was no basis in the evidence for a reasonable juror to determine that the victim did not reasonably believe that Jackson held a gun to her back.[iii]  On appeal from the Circuit court of the City of St. Louis, the Supreme Court of Missouri reversed and remanded the case, holding that a jury member can always disbelieve all or any part of the evidence and so evidence never proves any element until a jury says it does.[iv]  

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Templemire v. W&M Welding, Inc.

Opinion issued
April 15, 2014 and modified on Court's own Motion May 27, 2014


Link to Supreme Court of Missouri Opinion



In Templemire v. W&M Welding, Inc., Plaintiff John Templemire filed suit against his former employer, W&M Welding, alleging he was discharged in retaliation for filing a workers’ compensation claim.[i]  The Pettis County Circuit Court entered judgment in favor of W&M Welding.  The Supreme Court of Missouri overruled the Circuit Court and held that to make a submissible retaliatory discharge claim within RSMo § 287.780, “an employee must demonstrate his or her filing of a workers’ compensation claim was a ‘contributing factor’ to the employer’s discrimination or the employee’s discharge.”  Templemire is an extremely relevant opinion as the Missouri Supreme Court accepted the “contributing factor” standard over the previous “exclusive factor” standard.  

State v. Pierce

Opinion issued
June 24, 2014


Link to Supreme Court of Missouri Opinion



Bruce Pierce appealed his conviction for second-degree trafficking and resisting arrest, claiming that both charges should have been dismissed on the ground that the trial court lacked authority to retry him.[i]  In addition, Pierce claimed that the trial court erred in refusing to instruct the jury regarding possession of a controlled substance as a lesser-included offense of second-degree trafficking.[ii]  Finally, Pierce claimed the evidence was not sufficient to support his conviction for resisting arrest.[iii]  The Court rejected the first claim finding that by choosing not to raise the deadline at his earliest opportunity, Pierce waived his claim under the retrial deadline in article I, section 19.[iv]  The Court agreed with Pierce as to his second claim, finding that the trial court erred in refusing to instruct the jury on the lesser-included offense of possession of a controlled substance.[v]  As to Pierce’s third claim, the Court found that the evidence was sufficient to support a conviction for resisting arrest.[vi]    

Monday, September 29, 2014

Eugene Carl De Boise, et al. v. Taser International, Inc., et al.

Opinion issued
July 28, 2014


Link to U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eight Circuit Opinion



Family members of Samuel De Boise brought a lawsuit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against individual officers of St. Louis County and also filed an action under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) against St. Louis County.[i] The defendant officers each tased Samuel De Boise multiple times while attempting to apprehend him, and these actions resulted in his death.[ii] The district court granted motions for summary judgment filed by the independent officers and St. Louis County, finding that the officers were entitled to qualified immunity under the facts of the case, and that the county had not violated the ADA.[iii] Plaintiffs appealed, and the Eighth Circuit affirmed, finding that the officers were entitled to qualified immunity because their actions did not violate any clearly established right, and that St. Louis County had not violated De Boise’s rights under the ADA by failing to utilize appropriate officer training in the relevant situation.[iv] The majority opinion engendered a dissent from one justice on the issue of qualified immunity.[v]

Frye v. Levy

Opinion issued
[July 8, 2014]

Link to Missouri Supreme Court Opinion

 
Melody Frye (“Mother”) was the subject of a hotline tip to the Children’s Division of the Missouri Department of Social Services (“Children’s Division”) alleging that she had neglected to monitor the interactions between her husband, Joseph Frye (“Frye”) and her three biological children.[i]  The Children’s Division conducted an investigation into the allegations against Mother and ultimately determined that the claims against one of the children, J.H. were substantiated and sought to add Mother’s name to the central registry.[ii]  She sought review of the Children’s Division’s decision by the Child Abuse Neglect Review Board, which ultimately affirmed the conclusion.[iii]  Timely, Mother sought judicial review and the trial court reversed the ruling, determining that the Children’s Division did not comply with the statutorily defined deadline in section 210.152.2, thus stripping the authority to make such determinations and ruled for Mother.[iv]  The Children’s Division appealed to the Supreme Court of Missouri, which ultimately vacated and remanded the trial court’s decision.[v]

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Mayes v. Saint Luke's Hospital of Kansas City

Opinion issued
May 27, 2014


Link to Missouri Supreme Court Opinion

Family members brought a suit against doctor and hospital for wrongful death and lost chance of recovery after the death of Mr. Mayes on March 28, 2008.  After voluntarily dismissing the first suit, the plaintiffs filed a second suit but did not file the required affidavit by a health care provider certifying merit required by RSMo 538.225.  Defendants successfully moved to dismiss for failure to comply with statutory requirements, as the statute mandated dismissal.  After dismissal, the plaintiffs brought a third suit, but the third case was dismissed because the statute of limitations had run on both claims.  Plaintiffs appealed, arguing the unconstitutionality of 538.225 for the second and third cases and that they had substantially complied with the statutory requirements in the second case.  The Supreme Court of Missouri held that the constitutional objections were not preserved in the second case, that there was no substantial compliance, and the statute of limitations was properly applied and barred the third case.