Tuesday, May 31, 2011

State ex rel. Taylor v. Steele[1]

Opinion handed down May 31, 2011
Link to Mo. Sup. Ct. Opinion

Michael Anthony Taylor pled guilty in 1991 to kidnapping, rape, and first-degree-murder of a young girl. On two occasions he was sentenced to death by a judge. After multiple attempts in both state and federal court to have his sentence overturned, Taylor sought a writ of habeas corpus from the Supreme Court of Missouri. On appeal, Taylor argued that because of subsequent United States Supreme Court decisions, his death sentence was imposed unlawfully by a judge, rather than by a jury, and that his sentence violated his constitutional rights. The Supreme Court of Missouri disagreed, finding that Taylor was not entitled to jury sentencing because he had made a conscious and strategic decision to be sentenced by a judge believing it gave him the best chance of avoiding the death penalty.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

State v. Brown[1]

Opinion handed down May 17, 2011
Link to Mo. Sup. Ct. Opinion

The Supreme Court of Missouri reversed and remanded the second-degree murder conviction of Anthony Brown. At trial Brown had asserted self-defense, and during closing arguments the trial court had permitted the State to use a .38 revolver as demonstrative evidence to rebut Brown’s claim of self-defense. The conviction was reversed because there was no testimony that the .38 was similar to the gun allegedly carried by the victim.