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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the circuit court denying Lender’s application to compel arbitration and stay proceedings on the claims brought by Borrower, holding that the plain language of the parties’ arbitration agreement showed they agreed to arbitrate before a specified, but unavailable, arbitrator and no other arbitrator. The contracts between the parties contained an arbitration agreement stating that any dispute between the parties shall be resolved by binding arbitration by the National Arbitration Forum (NAF). Thereafter, NAF entered into a consent decree requiring it immediately to stop providing arbitration services for consumer claims nationwide. After Borrower defaulted, Lender filed suit. Borrower counterclaimed. Lender moved to compel arbitration on Borrower’s counterclaim and asked the circuit court to designate a new arbitrator where NAF was unavailable as an arbitrator. The circuit court denied Lender's application. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that because Lender made the choice to insist upon NAF, and only NAF, as the arbitration forum, Lender could not now expand the arbitration promise it extracted from Borrower in the agreement. View "A-1 Premium Acceptance, Inc. v. Hunter" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court of Missouri affirmed the circuit court's judgment committing appellant to the custody of the Department of Mental Health under the Sexually Violent Predator Act. The court held that appellant failed to show how counsel was ineffective under either the "meaningful hearing based on the record" standard for ineffective assistance of counsel now applied in Missouri termination of parental rights cases or under the Strickland v. Washington standard. The court held that appellant's counsel was not ineffective in failing to object to evidence that appellant watched animalistic pornography, played a pedophilic video game, and was sexually attracted to animals. The court held that the evidence was admissible because the State's expert relied on it in assessing appellant's diagnosis and risk of reoffense. View "In re Grado" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Supreme Court of Missouri affirmed the circuit court's judgment committing appellant to the department of mental health as a sexually violent predator. The court held that appellant failed to show how counsel was ineffective under either the "meaningful hearing based on the record" standard for ineffective assistance of counsel now applied in Missouri termination of parental rights cases or under the Strickland v. Washington standard. The court held that the circuit court did not err in allowing testimony concerning appellant's prior murder arrest and in refusing to strike Juror 4. View "In re Braddy" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the motion court overruling Appellant’s motion for postconviction relief, holding that Appellant’s postconviction counsel created a presumption of abandonment, and therefore, Appellant was entitled to an abandonment hearing. Appellant’s probation was revoked and his sentence for trafficking drugs in the second degree was executed. Thereafter, Appellant filed a pro se Mo. R. Crim. P. 24.035 motion for postconviction relief. The motion court appointed the public defender’s office to represent Appellant. The motion court denied the motion. On appeal, Appellant argued that he was abandoned because postconviction counsel filed a statement in lieu of an amended motion beyond the sixty-day deadline for filing an amended motion. The Supreme Court held that postconviction counsel’s failure to file either an amended motion or a statement in lieu of an amended motion within the sixty-day deadline in Rule 24.035(g) created the presumption that Appellant’s postconviction counsel failed to comply with the postconviction rules and thereby abandoned Appellant. The Court remanded the case for an abandonment hearing. View "Latham v. State" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the trial court convicting Defendant of sodomy in the first degree and attempted sodomy in the first degree, holding that the trial court abused its discretion by failing to give a curative instruction following the State’s improper argument regarding the definition of deviate sexual intercourse. On appeal, Defendant argued, among other things, that the trial court abused its discretion by failing to issue a curative instruction after the State improperly argued during closing argument that there was more to the definition of “deviate sexual intercourse” than submitted in the jury instructions. The Supreme Court agreed and reversed the judgment, holding that the State’s improper closing argument was prejudicial, and the trial court abused its discretion by failing to correct the the argument under the facts and circumstances of this case. View "State v. Holmsley" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the circuit court in favor of Defendant in this wrongful death medical negligence action, holding that the circuit court did not abuse its discretion. Plaintiffs alleged that Defendant negligently caused the death of their mother when he perforated her bowel during a hernia repair surgery and failed to recognize and properly treat the bowel. The jury returned a verdict for Defendant. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the circuit court did not err by permitting Defendant to testify regarding a new causation opinion - different from the opinion he gave during his deposition - for the first time at trial; and (2) the circuit court did not abuse its discretion when it permitted cumulative evidence from Defendant’s expert witnesses. View "Shallow v. Follwell" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the circuit court’s judgment dismissing the the claims filed by the Board of Trustees of the Missouri Petroleum Storage Tank insurance Fund, by and through the Missouri attorney general (collectively, the State), against Pilot Travel Centers, LLC, holding that the appeal was timely and that the attorney general had authority to file this action on behalf of the Board. The State brought this action claiming breach of contract and, in the alternative, unjust enrichment. The circuit court sustained Pilot’s motion to dismiss for lack of standing, concluding that neither the Board nor the attorney general had authority to bring this lawsuit. The State appealed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) under the procedural posture of this case, the State’s appeal was timely; and (2) the attorney general is authorized to sue Pilot on behalf of the Board under Mo. Rev. Stat. 27.060, and the Board had standing to sue Pilot for breach of contract. View "State ex rel. Attorney General v. Pilot Travel Centers, LLC" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the circuit court dismissing Appellant’s petition asking the court to order the Missouri Department of Corrections (DOC) to provide him with a release date for his life sentence, holding (1) contrary to the argument of the DOC, Appellant’s notice of appeal was timely; but (2) because he was serving a life sentence and had no release date, the circuit court did not err in holding that DOC was not required to set a release date. Specifically, the Court held (1) the Rule 81.04(e) docket fee requirement is not a jurisdictional prerequisite for an appeal, and Appellant’s notice of appeal was timely; and (2) Appellant was not entitled to either release or the setting of a release date under the “three-fourths rule” adopted in 1865 because he had no release date. View "Goldsby v. Lombardi" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the motion court granting Respondent’s Maryland Rule 29.15 motion for postconviction relief and vacating the revocation of Respondent’s probation and imposition of sentences on two counts of involuntary manslaughter, holding that the record refuted Respondent’s claim that the trial court did not have the authority to revoke his probation after the expiration of his probation term. At issue was whether trial court’s authority to revoke Respondent’s probation was extended by Mo. Rev. Stat. 559.036 because the trial court made every reasonable effort to hold a revocation hearing before Respondent’s probation expired. The motion court sustained Respondent’s motion for postconviction relief, concluding that the trial court was without authority to revoke Respondent’s probation after the expiration of his term of probation. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that, under the circumstances of this case, the trial court had authority to revoke Respondent’s probation beyond the end of his probationary term. View "Miller v. State" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the motion court’s judgment denying Appellant postconviction relief, holding that the motion court’s findings of fact and conclusions of law were not clearly erroneous. On appeal from the motion court’s denial of postconviction relief from his conviction and death sentence for first-degree murder, Appellant claimed that the motion court committed multiple errors. The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment denying postconviction relief, holding (1) the judge did not err in limiting juror questioning; (2) the postconviction process was not tainted by a ruling on the juror issue by a judge who later refused; (3) defense counsel were not ineffective in failing to call additional lay and expert witnesses in the guilt and penalty phase; and (4) Appellant was not entitled to relief on his remaining claims of error. View "McFadden v. State" on Justia Law