Justia Missouri Supreme Court Opinion Summaries

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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

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The Supreme Court vacated the judgment of the circuit court convicting Defendant of first-degree assault and armed criminal action, holding that the circuit court erred in failing to submit a self-defense instruction. On appeal, Defendant argued that the circuit court erred by refusing to submit a self-defense instruction. In response, the State argued that Defendant was not entitled to a self-defense instruction because Defendant denied stabbing the victim. The Supreme Court disagreed with the State, holding (1) the only relevant inquiry when a defendant requests an instruction on a theory of defense is whether, after viewing all the evidence and drawing all reasonable inferences in favor of the theory propounded by the defendant, there was substantial evidence to support the requested instruction; and (2) the circuit court erred in failing to give a self-defense instruction because there was substantial evidence to support the submission of such an instruction. View "State v. Barnett" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the circuit court finding Defendant guilty of the first-degree murder of a ten-year-old girl and sentencing him to death, holding that none of Defendant's assignments of error warranted reversal. Specifically, the Court held that the circuit court did not abuse its discretion by (1) overruling Defendant's objection to the admission of photographs from the victim's cellphone; (2) admitting gun evidence found in Defendant's home; (3) admitting the contents of a folder containing photos of Defendant's female, middle school students and accounts of fictional sexual encounters with thirteen-year-old girls; (4) admitting victim impact evidence; (5) permitting the State to argue during closing argument that the jury could speak for the victim and her family by sentencing Defendant to death; and (6) sustaining the State's motion to strike a venire person for cause during the death qualification voir dire. Further, Defendant's constitutional arguments were unavailing, and Defendant's death sentence met all the statutory requirements. View "State v. Wood" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court made permanent a preliminary writ of prohibition it issued directing the circuit court to dismiss Plaintiff's claims against Relators for lack of personal jurisdiction, holding that Plaintiff failed to show that Relators were "at home" in Missouri and failed to identify any conduct by Relators in Missouri out of which Plaintiff's claims arose. Plaintiff filed suit against Relators, Kansas business entities, alleging personal injury sustained while working at an apartment complex in Kansas. Relators sought a writ of prohibition on the ground that the circuit court lacked personal jurisdiction over them. The court of appeals overruled the motion. Relators then petitioned the Supreme Court for the same relief. The Supreme Court granted relief, holding (1) Relators were not "at home" in Missouri to such an extent that they were subject to the general jurisdiction of Missouri courts; and (2) Relators' contacts with Missouri were not sufficient to create general or specific jurisdiction on their own. View "State ex rel. Cedar Crest Apartments, LLC v. Honorable Jack Grate" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the motion court accepting Defendant's guilty plea to first-degree murder, first-degree robbery, and armed criminal action and sentencing him to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole, holding that Defendant's counsel was effective and that Defendant's plea was entered knowingly and voluntarily. After the circuit court imposed the sentence Defendant filed a motion for postconviction relief alleging, among other things, that his counsel was ineffective, and therefore, his plea was not entered knowingly and voluntarily. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) Defendant was not coerced into accepting the State's plea agreement; (2) Defendant was competent to plead guilty; and (3) counsel was not ineffective for declining to seek a second competency examination. View "Johnson v. State" on Justia Law