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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

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the trial court in favor of Plaintiffs on their claims of breach of contract and breach of fiduciary duty and the award of punitive damages. On appeal, Defendant argued that the trial court erred in overruling its motion for judgment notwithstanding the verdict (JNOV) because Plaintiffs failed to make a submissible case as to a breach of fiduciary duty and punitive damages. Plaintiffs, in response, argued that the Supreme Court lacked appellate jurisdiction because Defendant filed an untimely notice of appeal. The Supreme Court held (1) because Plaintiffs’ motion for attorney fees was an authorized after-trial motion to amend the judgment, Defendant timely filed its notice of appeal; and (2) Defendant failed to preserve for appellate review its claims that the trial court erred in overruling its JNOV motion. View "Heifetz v. Apex Clayton, Inc." on Justia Law

Posted in: Business Law, Contracts

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the motion court dismissing Appellant’s Mo. R. Crim. P. 24.035 motion for post-conviction relief without an evidentiary hearing and remanded the case with instructions to the motion court to make an independent inquiry to determine whether Appellant was abandoned by his appointed counsel. Appellant pleaded guilty to two counts of failing to register as a sex offender. Appellant later filed a pro se motion for post-conviction relief. After post-conviction relief counsel was appointed, Appellant sought to file an amended motion for post-conviction relief. Counsel did not file an amended motion for post-conviction relief until after the Rule 24.035(g) deadline. The motion court did not adjudicate Appellant’s amended motion and entered a judgment dismissing Appellant’s pro se post-conviction motion without an evidentiary hearing. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that because the motion court failed to make an independent inquiry into whether Appellant was abandoned by his appointed counsel. Because that determination should be reviewed and there was no record available for review of the motion court’s determination, this case must be remanded. View "Milner v. State" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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At issue was whether consent is required from would-be affected counties before the Missouri Public Service Commission can issue a line certificate of convenience and necessity (CCN) pursuant to the statute governing line CCNs, Mo. Rev. Stat. 393.170.1. Grain Belt Express Clean Line, LLC filed an application for a line CCN with the Commission seeking the Commission’s approval of Grain Belt’s proposed construction of an interstate electrical transmission line and associated facilities. The Commission denied the application for a line CCN, concluding that it was bound by In re Ameren Transmission Co. of Illinois (ATXI), 523 S.W.3d 21 (Mo. App. 2017), which purported to require prior consent from each county affected by the proposed construction. The Supreme Court reversed the Commission’s order, holding (1) the Commission’s reliance on ATXI was error because section 393.170.1 does not require prior consent from affected counties; and (2) to the extent that ATXI suggests consent from every would-be affected county is required before the Commission can grant a line CCN, it should not be followed. View "Grain Belt Express Clean Line, LLC v. Public Service Commission" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the circuit court entered in favor of Kohner Properties, Inc. in this rent-and-possession action, holding that circuit courts may exercise discretion on a case-by-case basis to determine whether an in custodia legis procedure is appropriate in a particular case. On appeal, Johnson argued that the circuit court erred in barring her from asserting the implied warranty of habitability as an affirmative defense and counterclaim because she remained in possession of the premises without depositing her unpaid rent to the circuit court in custodia legis. In making its ruling, the circuit court relied on the in custodia legis procedure in King v. Moorehead, 495 S.W.2d 65 (Mo. App. 1973). The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that although the in custodia legis procedure in King was dicta, that was immaterial because such dicta has been “dutifully followed by our circuit courts for almost five decades” and therefore constituted the status quo in Missouri. The Court went on to hold that, given the absence of contrary authority from the Court or contrary legislation from the General Assembly, the circuit court could not be faulted for relying on King when it barred Johnson’s affirmative defense and counterclaim. View "Kohner Properties, Inc. v. Johnson" on Justia Law

Posted in: Landlord - Tenant

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The Supreme Court vacated the decision of the Missouri Public Service Commission determining that the term “methodology” as used in Rule 20.093(1)(F) means not only the formula used to compute a sum (i.e., the variables to be used) but also the values of those variables. Staff of the Commission filed a complaint alleging that Union Electric Co. (Ameren) violated a rule of the Commission when it failed to use certain 2014 data to calculate Ameren’s net shared benefits under an energy-efficiency plan approved by the Commission in 2012. The Commission granted Staff’s motion for summary determination. Ameren appealed. The Supreme Court vacated the decision of the Commission, holding because the Commission’s erroneous determination of the meaning of term “methodology” played a central role in its decision, the matter must be remanded to the Commission for further proceedings. View "Missouri Public Service Commission v. Union Electric Co." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the circuit court in favor of Respondents in this declaratory and injunctive relief action challenging a series of regulatory amendments proposed by the Missouri Conservation Commission that banned the importation of cervids in an attempt to eradicate chronic wasting disease. Appellants sued Respondents to prevent the amended regulations from going into effect. The circuit court declared the challenged regulations invalid and enjoined the Commission from enforcing them. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the Commission has authority under Mo. Const. art. IV, 40(a) to regulate Respondents’ captive cervids as “wildlife” and “game”; (2) Respondents’ captive cervids are subject to regulation by the Commission under article IV, section 40(a) because they are “resources of the state”; and (3) and circuit court erred in concluding that the regulations were invalid and could not be enforced because they impermissibly infringed on Respondents’ right to farm under Mo. Const. art. I, 35. View "Hill v. Missouri Department of Conservation" on Justia Law

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The circuit court erroneously declared the law when it concluded that an employee’s violation of employer’s rules regarding vehicle operation were sufficient to preclude coverage under the omnibus clause of the employer’s insurance policy. James Campbell, an employee of BNSF Railway Company, rear-ended Ricky Lee Griffitts while driving a BNSF company vehicle. Campbell was intoxicated at the time of the collision. Numerous lawsuits ensued. This appeal was from an equitable garnishment action that Griffitts filed against BNSF and its insurer, Old Republic (collectively, Respondents), to collect on an unsatisfied judgment entered against Campbell in an earlier action. In this action, Griffitts claimed that Campbell was a permissive user under the omnibus clause of the insurance policy Old Republic issued to BNSF. The circuit court concluded that Campbell did not have permission to use the company vehicle at the time of the accident due to his violation of BNSF’s policy on the use of alcohol and drugs, and therefore, Campbell was not a permissive user under the omnibus clause. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that Campbell had permission to use the company vehicle at the time of the accident and that it did not matter, for purposes of insurance coverage, that Campbell was drunk. View "Griffitts v. Old Republic Insurance Co." on Justia Law