Articles Posted in Constitutional Law

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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The Supreme Court affirmed the motion court’s judgment denying Appellant postconviction relief on his twelve claims of ineffective assistance of trial counsel, two claims of ineffective assistance of appellate counsel, and claims challenging the constitutional validity of Mo. Rev. Stat. 562.076 regarding voluntary intoxication and the time limits. Appellant filed his motion under Mo. R. Crim. P. 29.15. In affirming, the Supreme Court held (1) the motion court’s findings of fact and conclusions of law were not clearly erroneous; and (2) the motion court’s judgment regarding an unpreserved claim of error was not plainly erroneous. View "Collings v. State" on Justia Law

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The circuit court did not err in sustaining Defendants’ motions to suppress all evidence seized pursuant to warrant authorizing search of a residence for stolen items. On appeal, the State argued that, while no probable cause existed for a provision of the search warrant form authorizing a search for any deceased human fetus or corpse, the circuit court should have applied the severance doctrine to redact the invalid portion of the warrant and suppress only the evidence seized pursuant to the invalid portion. The Supreme Court disagreed, holding that the circuit court did not err in refusing to apply the severance doctrine and in suppressing all evidence seized because the invalid portions of the search warrant so contaminated the whole warrant that they could not be redacted pursuant to the severance doctrine. View "State v. Gaulter" on Justia Law

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The circuit court did not err in sustaining Defendants’ motions to suppress all evidence seized pursuant to warrant authorizing search of a residence for stolen items. On appeal, the State argued that, while no probable cause existed for a provision of the search warrant form authorizing a search for any deceased human fetus or corpse, the circuit court should have applied the severance doctrine to redact the invalid portion of the warrant and suppress only the evidence seized pursuant to the invalid portion. The Supreme Court disagreed, holding that the circuit court did not err in refusing to apply the severance doctrine and in suppressing all evidence seized because the invalid portions of the search warrant so contaminated the whole warrant that they could not be redacted pursuant to the severance doctrine. View "State v. Gaulter" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the Administration Hearing Commission (AHC) affirming the Missouri Ethics Commission’s (MEC) imposition of fees arising from the failure to Robin Wright-Jones and Wright-Jones for Senate (collectively, Appellants) to comply with the rules of Mo. Rev. Stat. chapter 130. The court also affirmed the judgment of the circuit court finding that Mo. Rev. Stat. 105.961.4(6) was not unconstitutional. On appeal, Appellants claimed that the monetary fees assessed by the MEC violated Mo. Const. art. I, section 31. Specifically, Appellants argued that, pursuant to section 105.961.4(6), the MEC may not assess fines for violations of state statutes, regulations, or rules. The Supreme Court disagreed, holding (1) there was no improper delegation of authority to the MEC; (2) the AHC’s decision was supported by the record; and (3) the assessed fees were not excessive. View "Wright-Jones v. Missouri Ethics Commission" on Justia Law