Justia Missouri Supreme Court Opinion Summaries

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the motion court to the extent it overruled Appellant's motion for postcondition relief on his driving while revoked conviction and affirmed the judgment in all other respects, holding that appellate counsel's failure to raise a sufficiency of evidence claim constituted deficient performance that prejudiced Appellant. Appellant was convicted of driving while intoxicated and driving while revoked. In his Mo. R. Civ. P. 29.15 motion for postconviction relief Appellant argued that his trial counsel was ineffective for failing to call his physician to testify that certain prescription medications he took made him appear intoxicated by alcohol the night he was arrested and that appellate counsel was ineffective for failing to argue there was insufficient evidence to enhance his driving while revoked misdemeanor to a felony. The Supreme Court agreed and reversed in part, holding (1) Appellant's postconviction relief claim relating to his driving while intoxicated conviction was properly denied because there was no reasonable probability the trial court's finding would have been different had the physician testified at Appellant's trial; and (2) appellate counsel's failure to raise the sufficiency of the evidence claim constituted deficient performance by which Appellant was prejudiced. View "Hounihan v. State" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the circuit court holding the City of Kansas City in civil contempt of a 1976 modified judgment, holding that the parties could not bring a contempt action to enforce the 1976 modified judgment because they were not parties to the litigation and the 1976 plaintiffs were not certified as a class. Sophian Plaza Association and a class of similarly situated plaintiffs brought claims of breach of injunction, breach of contract, specific performance, and civil contempt stemming from the City's termination of a trash rebate program. The court certified a class and then entered judgment in favor of the class on its claims. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the class could not avail itself of enforcement proceedings brought upon the 1976 modified judgment because they were not parties to the litigation nor were the 1976 plaintiffs certified as a class under Mo. R. Civ. p. 52.08. View "Sophian Plaza Ass'n v. City of Kansas City, Missouri" on Justia Law

Posted in: Class Action, Contracts
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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the circuit court affirming the constitutional validity of Senate Bill. No. 638 (SB 638) and Senate Bill 665 (SB 665), holding that the bills do not violate Mo. Const. art. III, 21 or 23 and that Appellant failed to state a claim for relief regarding his substantive title change claim. Specifically, Appellant argued (1) the original purpose of the bills were changed by amendments such that, as enacted, the bills violated article III, section 21; (2) the final bills violated the single subject requirement of article III, section 23; and (3) the substantive changes to the bills' titles during the legislative process violated article III, sections 21 and 23. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the bills maintained their original purpose throughout the legislative process; (2) the bills did not violate the single subject requirement; and (3) the circuit court did not err in dismissing Appellant's substantive title change claim for failing to state a claim. View "Calzone v. Interim Commissioner of the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education Roger Dorson" on Justia Law

Posted in: Constitutional Law
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The Supreme Court made permanent a preliminary writ of prohibition prohibiting the Jefferson County circuit court from taking any further action except to transfer the underlying action to Cole County, where venue was proper. Jefferson County 9-1-1 Dispatch filed this declaratory judgment action against the Director of the Missouri Department of Revenue in the Jefferson County circuit court seeking a declaration as to the meaning of subsections 5 and 6 of Mo. Rev. Stat. 190.460 and to enjoin the Director from applying section 190.460 to Dispatch. The Director filed a motion to change venue to the Cole County circuit court alleging that Cole County was the proper venue pursuant to Mo. Rev. Stat. 508.010.2, the general venue statute. The circuit court overruled the Director's motion. The Director then filed a petition for a writ of prohibition in the court of appeals, which ultimately denied the writ. The Director then sought a writ of prohibition from the Supreme Court. The Court issued a preliminary writ, which it made permanent, holding that venue was improper in Jefferson County and proper in Cole County. View "State ex rel. Zellers v. Honorable Stacey" on Justia Law

Posted in: Civil Procedure
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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the motion court overruling Defendant's Rule 29.15 motion for post conviction relief without an evidentiary hearing, holding that Defendant failed to plead facts showing his counsel was ineffective. In his Rule 29.15 motion Defendant claimed that his trial counsel provided ineffective assistance by failing to seek suppression of methamphetamine found during a warrantless search of a cigarette pack seized from his pocket on the grounds that the search occurred thirty minutes after his arrest in an area outside his immediate control. The motion court overruled the motion. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the search of Defendant's cigarette was a lawful search incident to arrest, and therefore, Defendant failed to plead facts showing his counsel was ineffective in not challenging the search. View "Greene v. State" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed in part the circuit court's judgment upholding Jeanette Huey's sale of her home located in the Clayton Terrace subdivision and holding the "one residence per lot" subdivision indenture provision was valid and precluded subdivision of the lot but reversed the portion of the judgment finding abuse of process on the part of the subdivision trustees as well as its awards of attorney's fees to Huey and the trustees, holding that the circuit court erred in part. The Supreme Court upheld the judgment upholding Huey's sale of her home despite allegations she failed to comply with the right of first refusal contained in the subdivision indentures as well as the circuit court's refusal to reject the amended indenture provision prohibiting the building of more than one residence per lot but reversed the circuit court's judgment holding the trustees' attempt to have the home sale set aside constituted an abuse of process and the court's award of attorney's fees to the trustees, holding (1) an abuse of process claim required more than the proof Huey offered that the trustees' purpose was allegedly improper; (2) the indenture provision not be avoided by attempting to divide the lot into two sub-lots; and (3) the attorney's fees awards were improper. View "Trustees of Clayton Terrace Subdivision, v. 6 Clayton Terrace, LLC" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the circuit court overruling Appellant's Rule 75.06(b) motion to set aside the dismissal of a wrongful death suit filed by his deceased son's grandmother and the overruling of his motion to intervene in that suit, holding that Appellant never became a party to the grandmother's suit and that there was no judgment to be set aside. The grandmother filed a petition alleging wrongful death after the police shot and killed Appellant's son. Appellant sought to join the grandmother's suit, but the motion failed to comply with the requirements of Rule 52.12(c). The grandmother later dismissed her lawsuit. Appellant later filed his motion to set aside the judgment and to intervene in that suit. The circuit court overruled the motion. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) because Appellant failed to comply with Rule 52.12 governing intervention and his motion was never ruled on prior to the grandmother's voluntary dismissal of her suit, Appellant never became a part to the grandmother's suit; and (2) there was no judgment to be set aside because the grandmother voluntarily dismissed her suit, and that dismissal took effect immediately upon filing. View "Henry v. Piatchek" on Justia Law

Posted in: Personal Injury
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In this appeal from the circuit court's finding that D.C.M. committed an act that, if committed by an adult, would have constituted the felony of making a terrorist threat in the second degree, the Supreme Court remanded this case to the circuit court for an evidentiary hearing to determine whether counsel was ineffective and otherwise affirmed the judgment, holding that the record was insufficient to determine whether counsel was ineffective. D.C.M. was sitting in a school cafeteria when he told another student that he felt like "blowing the school up" or wanted to see how it felt to "shoot the school up." Based on this evidence, the circuit court placed D.C.M. in the custody of the division of youth services for an indefinite term. The Supreme Court held (1) D.C.M.'s ineffective assistance of counsel claims could not be addressed on direct appeal because the record was insufficient to address these claims; (2) the circuit court did not abuse its discretion in denying counsel's request for a continuance; and (3) there was sufficient evidence for the circuit court to find beyond a reasonable doubt that D.C.M. committed an act which, if committed by an adult, would have constituted the felony of making a terrorist threat in the second degree. View "D.C.M. v. Pemiscot County Juvenile Office" on Justia Law

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In this medical negligence action, the Supreme Court affirmed the judgment against Plaintiffs following a jury verdict in favor of Defendants, holding that the circuit court did not commit reversible error when it refused to allow Plaintiffs' counsel additional voir dire time so he could ask the "insurance question" after counsel forgot to ask it during his initial voir dire. In Ivy v. Hawk, 878 S.W.2d 442 (Mo. banc 1994), the Court held that a party has the right to ask the insurance question during voir dire if the proper procedure is used so as to avoid unduly highlighting the question. The Supreme Court noted, however, that Ivy did not divest the circuit court of its discretion to control the proper form and timing of voir dire questioning, including discretion as to whether counsel's proposed procedure would unduly highlight the question. The Court then affirmed, holding that because Plaintiffs' counsel forgot to ask the insurance question during multiple hours of voir dire, the court acted within its discretion in finding it would unduly highlight the question to allow counsel to recommence his questioning to ask the insurance question after voir dire had otherwise concluded. View "Eoff v. McDonald" on Justia Law

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After the court of appeals dismissed Appellant's appeal from the circuit court's order overruling its motion, the Supreme Court retransferred this case to the court of appeals to review the underlying merits of the circuit court's order as asserted in Appellant's remaining points on appeal, holding that the circuit court's order was appealable and did not have to be denominated a judgment for an appeal to be taken. The motion at issue was Appellant's "Motion for Order Revoking, or in the Alternative, Modifying and Changing Interlocutory Order Appointing Receiver." The circuit court overruled the motion. The court of appeals dismissed Appellant's appeal because the order was not denominated a judgment pursuant to Rule 74.01(a). The Supreme Court retransferred the case, holding (1) the circuit court's order was appealable pursuant to Mo. Rev. Stat. 515.665 and 512.020(2); and (2) the circuit court's order did not need to be denominated a judgment under Rule 74.01(a) for an appeal to be taken because it was an interlocutory order that did not fully resolve at least one claim and did not establish all of the rights and liabilities of the parties with respect to that claim. View "Meadowfresh Solutions USA, LLC v. Maple Grove Farms, LLC" on Justia Law

Posted in: Civil Procedure