Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Webb v. State[1]

Opinion handed down March 29, 2011
Link to Mo. Sup. Ct. Opinion

The Supreme Court of Missouri in Webb v. State adopted a longstanding lower court rule granting evidentiary hearings to defendants claiming ineffective assistance of counsel after having pled guilty allegedly due to misinformation regarding parole eligibility. However, the recent decision by the U.S. Supreme Court in Padilla v. Kentucky may have far greater implications for defense counsels’ traditional duty to inform clients of plea consequences.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Utility Service Co., Inc. v. Dep’t of Labor and Indus. Relations[1]

Opinion handed down March 1, 2011
Link to Mo. Sup. Ct. Opinion

Missouri’s Prevailing Wage Act governs the payment of wages to workers engaged in public works’ projects. This remedial legislation ensures fair compensation and protects those individuals involved in construction – not maintenance – of public structures. This case concerns a contractor, Utility Service, Inc. (“Utility Service”), that was hired by Monroe City, Missouri to care for the city’s water storage tank and tower structure, add a safety structure, and thoroughly clean and inspect the unit. After entering into the contract, Utility Service contacted the Department of Labor and Industrial Relations (“Department”) to confirm that their contract with Monroe City did not require the payment of prevailing wages. However, the Department disagreed with the company’s assessment, arguing that the work performed on the water storage tank and tower constituted “construction” under the Prevailing Wage Act. The trial court granted the Utility Service a declaratory judgment against the Department that the work was merely “maintenance.” The Western District Court of Appeals affirmed, but the Supreme Court of Missouri granted transfer and reversed, finding that Utility Service’s contract with Monroe City involved “construction” work and therefore required the payment of prevailing wages.

In re Foreclosures of Liens for Delinquent Land Taxes by Action in rem Collector of Revenue[1]

Opinion issued March 1, 2011
Link to Missouri Supreme Court Opinion

On appeal from a decision by the St. Louis City Circuit Court, the Supreme Court of Missouri upheld the confirmation judgment affirming a tax sale of the petitioner’s land. The court held that sending notice by mail to the address listed for the property did not violate petitioners’ due process rights even though the property was vacant and mail was not being delivered to that location. Additionally, because the petitioner failed to present any evidence that the sheriff knew or should have known that notice of tax sale was ineffective, the sheriff was not required to take any additional steps to notify the owner.

Johnson v. State[1]

Opinion issued March 1, 2011
Link to Mo. Sup. Ct. Opinion

Ineffective assistance of counsel claims are a fairly common part of criminal appeals and are present in nearly all capital appeals. In the instant case, the Supreme Court of Missouri held that all five of petitioner’s claims were without merit, either because counsel was not deficient, or if he was, that petitioner was not prejudiced by the deficiency, thus once again reaffirming the large burden that a movant carries in an ineffective assistance of counsel claim.