Tuesday, February 23, 2010

State v. Brooks[1]

Opinion handed down February 23, 2010.
Link to Mo. Sup. Ct. Opinion

The Supreme Court of Missouri unanimously held that during trial, the State’s repeated references to a defendant’s post-Miranda silence violated his constitutional rights.[2] The prosecutor’s opening statement and closing argument, audio evidence offered by the State, and the prosecutor’s examination of certain witnesses all contained statements that, after being Mirandized, the defendant had refused to offer an explanation of what had happened at the crime scene.[3] Although the trial court attempted to cure some of these violations by instructing the jury to disregard the State’s comments, it failed to properly instruct the jury to disregard other violative comments, and the curative effect of the court’s instruction to the jury was doubtful.[4] Finally, exculpatory evidence presented by the defense was not frivolous, and, although the evidence of the defendant’s guilt was substantial, it was not overwhelming.[5] The Supreme Court of Missouri reversed the judgment and remanded the case.[6]

Akins v. Director of Revenue
Opinion handed down on February 23, 2010[1]
Link to Mo. Sup. Ct. Opinion

The Supreme Court of Missouri addressed what constitutes a “conviction” for the purpose of determining when the Missouri Department of Revenue is required to revoke the driving privileges of a driver for ten years due to the driver receiving more than two convictions for driving while intoxicated. The Supreme Court of Missouri held that “conviction” means “a judicial determination that the defendant is guilty of an offense or a crime.”[2] As such, the defendant’s license was properly revoked even though his convictions arose from the same incident of driving while intoxicated.[3]