Articles Posted in Constitutional Law

by
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

by
The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the circuit court overruling Defendant’s motions to suppress evidence and sentencing Defendant to eight years’ imprisonment in connection with his conviction for possession of a controlled substance. Specifically, the Supreme Court held (1) the circuit court did not err in overruling Defendant’s motions to suppress methamphetamine because Defendant was not unlawfully seized when an officer requested that Defendant produce his driver’s license to verify whether he was driving on a suspended license and Defendant complied with that request; and (2) even though the range of punishment was misstated at the sentencing hearing, Defendant failed to establish that the circuit court imposed sentence based on a mistaken belief. View "State v. Perry" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the circuit court overruling Defendant’s motions to suppress evidence and sentencing Defendant to eight years’ imprisonment in connection with his conviction for possession of a controlled substance. Specifically, the Supreme Court held (1) the circuit court did not err in overruling Defendant’s motions to suppress methamphetamine because Defendant was not unlawfully seized when an officer requested that Defendant produce his driver’s license to verify whether he was driving on a suspended license and Defendant complied with that request; and (2) even though the range of punishment was misstated at the sentencing hearing, Defendant failed to establish that the circuit court imposed sentence based on a mistaken belief. View "State v. Perry" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the circuit court convicting Defendant of one count of possession of child pornography and sentencing him to fifteen years’ imprisonment. On appeal, Defendant argued (1) the circuit court erred in overruling his motion to suppress evidence because the State failed to prove by a preponderance of the evidence that his consent to the search of his home was voluntary or that exigent circumstances existed warranting officers’ warrantless entry into his home; and (2) he was sentenced based on the circuit court’s “materially false understanding of the possible range of punishment.” The Supreme Court held (1) assuming, without deciding, that Defendant’s consent to the search was not freely and voluntarily given, application of the exclusionary rule was not appropriate because the officers had no knowledge that the search was unconstitutional; and (2) the record did not support a conclusion that the circuit court imposed sentence based on a mistaken belief. View "State v. Pierce" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the circuit court convicting Defendant of one count of possession of child pornography and sentencing him to fifteen years’ imprisonment. On appeal, Defendant argued (1) the circuit court erred in overruling his motion to suppress evidence because the State failed to prove by a preponderance of the evidence that his consent to the search of his home was voluntary or that exigent circumstances existed warranting officers’ warrantless entry into his home; and (2) he was sentenced based on the circuit court’s “materially false understanding of the possible range of punishment.” The Supreme Court held (1) assuming, without deciding, that Defendant’s consent to the search was not freely and voluntarily given, application of the exclusionary rule was not appropriate because the officers had no knowledge that the search was unconstitutional; and (2) the record did not support a conclusion that the circuit court imposed sentence based on a mistaken belief. View "State v. Pierce" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court affirmed as modified the Labor and Industrial Relations Commission’s determination that because Robert Casey’s exposure to asbestos occurred while he was employed by Employer, its insurer (Insurer), was liable to Dolores Murphy, Casey’s widow, for benefits under Mo. Rev. Stat. 287.200.4. Casey died from mesothelioma caused by repeated exposure to asbestos in the workplace. An administrative law judge (ALJ) found Employer liable and awarded section 287.200.4’s enhanced mesothelioma benefits to Murphy and Casey’s eight children. The Commission largely affirmed, limiting recovery to Murphy and determining Murphy to be the sole proper claimant because the amended claim did not identify Casey’s child as dependents or claimants. The Supreme Court modified the Commission’s decision to include Casey’s children in the final award and otherwise affirmed, holding (1) Insurer was liable for the enhanced mesothelioma benefits; (2) section 287.022 is constitutional as applied; and (3) because section 287.200.4 does not limit recovery to dependent children and because the children were properly listed on the amended claim, they should have been included in the final award. View "Accident Fund Insurance Co. v. Casey" on Justia Law

by
Here, the Supreme Court reaffirmed its decision in Mahoney v. Doerhoff Surgical Services, Inc., 807 S.W.2d 503 (Mo. 1991), upholding the constitutional validity of Mo. Rev. Stat. 538.225’s requirement of an affidavit stating the plaintiff has the opinion of a legally qualified medical provider on the issues of breach of the standard of care and causation of damages in medical malpractice actions. Appellant appealed the dismissal of her medical malpractice case without prejudice for failure to file an affidavit of merit under section 538.225, arguing that the statute’s affidavit requirement violates Missouri’s open courts provision, her right to trial by jury, and the principle of separation of powers under the Missouri Constitution. The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the circuit court and reaffirmed the constitutional validity of requiring an affidavit from a qualified health care provider. View "Hink v. Helfrich" on Justia Law

by
Article I, section 18(c), which voters added to the Missouri Constitution in 2014, does not violate due process. Defendant was convicted of three counts of first-degree statutory sodomy. On appeal, Defendant challenged the constitutionality of article I, section 18(c), arguing that it violates due process because it allows admission of evidence of prior criminal acts in the prosecution’s case-in-chief to prove a defendant has the propensity to commit the charged crime. The Supreme Court held (1) article I, section 18(c) does not violate federal due process on its face; (2) the circuit court is not required to make an express finding of legal relevance before admitting evidence under article I, section 18(c), provided the record reflects a sound basis for the balancing the amendment requires; and (3) the circuit court did not err in admitting evidence of Defendant’s prior criminal act because the danger of unfair prejudice from that evidence did not substantially outweigh its probative value. View "State v. Williams" on Justia Law

by
At issue was whether the relief ordered by the trial court for the Columbia Police Department’s infringement of Shayne Healea’s attorney-client privilege and violation of his Sixth Amendment rights was adequate. The Department surreptitiously recorded a conversation between Healea and his attorney at the police department. All parties agreed that the recording violated Healea's Sixth Amendment rights and infringed on his attorney-client privilege. After reviewed the recording, a special master found no discussion of trial strategy, but paragraph ten of the master’s report specifically described the substance of questions Healea posed to his attorney. The trial court directed the circuit clerk to unseal the entire report. Healea then sought a writ of prohibition or mandamus to prevent the trial court from unsealing the master’s report. The court of appeals issued a preliminary writ. The Supreme Court made the preliminary writ permanent in part and quashed it in part. The Court ordered that paragraph ten of the report shall be sealed but that the remainder of the report shall remain unsealed, as it contained no confidential statements by Healea. View "State ex rel. Healea v. Honorable Frederick P. Tucker" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the circuit court granting summary judgment in favor of the State on Plaintiff’s action seeking a declaration that the State could not enforce Mo. Rev. Stat. 571.707 against him without violating Mo. Const. art. I, 23 and the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution. Plaintiff, a convicted felon who had completed his sentences, was required to surrender his federal firearms license, class 01 after the General Assembly, in 2008, amended section 571.070 to make it unlawful for any person who has been convicted of a felony to possess a firearm. Plaintiff filed a declaratory judgment action raising facial and as-applied challenges to section 571.070. The circuit court rejected the State’s argument that Plaintiff’s claims were not ripe and found that section 571.070 did not violate the Missouri or United States Constitutions because felons categorically are removed from the group of people who can claim the protections of those constitutional provisions. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) Plaintiff satisfied the requirements to bring a pre-enforcement declaratory judgment action challenging the constitutional validity of section 571.070; and (2) section 571.070 withstands constitutional scrutiny. View "Alpert v. State" on Justia Law

Posted in: Constitutional Law