Articles Posted in Criminal Law

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The Supreme Court of Missouri affirmed the circuit court's judgment committing appellant to the custody of the Department of Mental Health under the Sexually Violent Predator Act. The court held that appellant failed to show how counsel was ineffective under either the "meaningful hearing based on the record" standard for ineffective assistance of counsel now applied in Missouri termination of parental rights cases or under the Strickland v. Washington standard. The court held that appellant's counsel was not ineffective in failing to object to evidence that appellant watched animalistic pornography, played a pedophilic video game, and was sexually attracted to animals. The court held that the evidence was admissible because the State's expert relied on it in assessing appellant's diagnosis and risk of reoffense. View "In re Grado" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Supreme Court of Missouri affirmed the circuit court's judgment committing appellant to the department of mental health as a sexually violent predator. The court held that appellant failed to show how counsel was ineffective under either the "meaningful hearing based on the record" standard for ineffective assistance of counsel now applied in Missouri termination of parental rights cases or under the Strickland v. Washington standard. The court held that the circuit court did not err in allowing testimony concerning appellant's prior murder arrest and in refusing to strike Juror 4. View "In re Braddy" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the motion court overruling Appellant’s motion for postconviction relief, holding that Appellant’s postconviction counsel created a presumption of abandonment, and therefore, Appellant was entitled to an abandonment hearing. Appellant’s probation was revoked and his sentence for trafficking drugs in the second degree was executed. Thereafter, Appellant filed a pro se Mo. R. Crim. P. 24.035 motion for postconviction relief. The motion court appointed the public defender’s office to represent Appellant. The motion court denied the motion. On appeal, Appellant argued that he was abandoned because postconviction counsel filed a statement in lieu of an amended motion beyond the sixty-day deadline for filing an amended motion. The Supreme Court held that postconviction counsel’s failure to file either an amended motion or a statement in lieu of an amended motion within the sixty-day deadline in Rule 24.035(g) created the presumption that Appellant’s postconviction counsel failed to comply with the postconviction rules and thereby abandoned Appellant. The Court remanded the case for an abandonment hearing. View "Latham v. State" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the trial court convicting Defendant of sodomy in the first degree and attempted sodomy in the first degree, holding that the trial court abused its discretion by failing to give a curative instruction following the State’s improper argument regarding the definition of deviate sexual intercourse. On appeal, Defendant argued, among other things, that the trial court abused its discretion by failing to issue a curative instruction after the State improperly argued during closing argument that there was more to the definition of “deviate sexual intercourse” than submitted in the jury instructions. The Supreme Court agreed and reversed the judgment, holding that the State’s improper closing argument was prejudicial, and the trial court abused its discretion by failing to correct the the argument under the facts and circumstances of this case. View "State v. Holmsley" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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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 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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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