Articles Posted in Constitutional Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part the circuit court’s judgment in favor of Emilee Williams in this medical malpractice action brought against Mercy Clinic Springfield Communities and Dr. Elene Pilapil, holding that the circuit court improperly deprived Williams of the full value of the jury’s award and erred in striking post-judgment interest. After a jury returned a verdict in favor of Williams the circuit court entered judgment on the verdict for a total amount of $28,911,000. The court then allocated a portion of the future medical damages to periodic payments in accordance with Mo. Rev. Stat. 538.220.2. The Supreme Court remanded the case for entry of a new judgment in accordance with this opinion, holding (1) the application of section 538.220.2 was unconstitutional as applied to Williams because it deprived Williams of the full value of the award and violated her due process rights; and (2) the circuit court did not have the authority to amend the judgment to remove post-judgment interest. View "Williams v. Mercy Clinic Springfield Communities" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the circuit court’s decision overruling Defendant’s motion suppress evidence found during a warrantless search and seizure of a bag that the police seized from the back seat of the vehicle in which Defendant had been riding, holding that no prejudice resulted from the suppression motion being overruled. On appeal, Defendant argued that under Arizona v. Gant, 556 U.S. 332 (2009), and State v. Carrawell, 481 S.W.3d 833 (Mo. banc 2016), the evidence should have been suppressed because, contrary to the ruling of the circuit court, the drugs and drug paraphernalia in the bag were not within his possession or control when the bag was seized. The Supreme Court affirmed without reaching the issue of whether Gant or Carrawell required the suppression of the evidence, holding that any error was not prejudicial because other unchallenged evidence fully supported the judgment reached by the circuit court. View "State v. Hughes" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the motion court overruling Appellant’s Mo. R. Crim. P. 29.15 motion for postconviction relief after an evidentiary hearing, holding that the motion court did not err. After a jury trial, Appellant was convicted of two counts of first-degree murder. The circuit court adopted the jury’s recommendations and sentenced Appellant to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole for one murder and to death for the other murder. The Supreme Court affirmed the convictions. At issue in this appeal was the motion court’s judgment overruling Appellant’s Rule 29.15 motion after an evidentiary hearing. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Appellant was not entitled to postconviction relief for ineffective assistance of counsel because Appellant did not show by a preponderance of the evidence that he was entitled to relief under Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. 668 (1984). View "Anderson v. State" on Justia 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 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 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

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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

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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

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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

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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