Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Latham v. State


            I. Facts and Holding
            In 2011, David Latham was charged with and subsequently pleaded guilty to trafficking drugs in violation of section 195.223 of the Revised Statutes of Missouri.[1]  He was sentenced to fifteen years in prison.[2]  The plea court suspended the execution of his sentence, placing him on supervised probation for a period of five years.[3]  In August 2013, the plea court found Latham violated his probation and ordered execution of his fifteen-year sentence.[4]  In November 2013, after the execution of his sentence, Latham filed a pro se Supreme Court of Missouri Rule 24.025 motion for post-conviction relief.[5]  Latham’s motion alleged relief was warranted on three grounds:
(1) counsel was ineffective for failing to investigate why his preliminary hearing was waived; (2) counsel was ineffective for failing to spend sufficient time with him to defend him at the revocation hearing; and (3) counsel was ineffective in that she misled him into believing she would request long-term drug treatment at his sentencing hearing.[6]

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Washington v. Denney



            Ecclesiastical Denzel Washington was an inmate at Crossroads Correctional Center (“Crossroads”) in Missouri.[1]  He suffered from asthma and other respiratory ailments that were aggravated by secondhand smoke.[2]  While Crossroads was nominally a smoke-free facility, in reality a large portion of the population smoked and were permitted to do so in their cells.[3]  This smoke-intensive environment aggravated Washington’s condition, which led him to bring a 42 U.S.C. § 1983 action to protect his Constitutional rights.[4]  Washington brought suit against a group of prison officials alleging a violation of his Eighth Amendment right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment.[5]  Washington prevailed, collecting compensatory and punitive damages in a federal district court.[6]  A three-judge panel for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit affirmed the jury’s findings of fact but vacated the award of punitive damages and remanded the case for further proceedings on damages.[7]

Monday, August 27, 2018

State v. Stricklin



            A Missouri mother awoke one morning in January of 2013 to discover her two-year old daughter crying and bleeding from her genitals.[1]  She took her to a hospital where she underwent surgery and spent five days recuperating.[2]  Suspicion fell on the mother’s boyfriend, Thomas A. Stricklin (“Stricklin”), who was staying in the house at the time of the incident.[3]  In a December 2016 trial, Stricklin was convicted of first-degree statutory sodomy, partially based on evidence collected in a police interrogation wherein Stricklin was not given Miranda warnings.[4]  The trial court admitted the evidence on a finding that the interrogation was not custodial.[5]  In a divided decision, the Missouri Court of Appeals for the Eastern District reversed and remanded the case, holding that, at a certain point, the interrogation became custodial and therefore portions of the interview should have been suppressed on Miranda grounds.[6]

Friday, August 24, 2018

Miller v. State


In Miller v. State, the Supreme Court of Missouri reviewed a grant of postconviction relief to a defendant who challenged his conviction based on the revocation of his probation.[1]  The question before the court was whether the trial court made “every reasonable effort” to hold the hearing before the end of his probation term.[2]  The Supreme Court of Missouri held that the trial court did make “every reasonable effort” to hold the hearing prior to the expiration of the probation term, despite allowing for continuances, because the continuances were agreed to by both parties.[3]