What is a Form 14?

In Missouri, Supreme Court Rule 88.01 provides that, “There is a rebuttable presumption that the amount of child support calculated pursuant to Civil Procedure Form No. 14 is the correct amount of child support to be awarded in any judicial or administrative proceeding.”  You can find a copy here.

Be careful.  The form no more intuitive than typical income tax forms.  There are instructions and worksheets and ambiguities that lawyers argue in court.

Heien v. North Carolina

If you are interested in criminal defense, you are likely hearing about the Heien decision handed down on December 15. 

It doesn’t really matter whether you follow the law, you’re getting stopped either way.

In a nutshell, police officers may make objectively reasonable mistakes in law as a justification for a traffic stop without implicating the exclusionary rule for evidence discovered as a result of the bad stop.  In Heien, the officer effected a stop because a driver had a tail light out when the law in North Carolina only required one tail light, so the stop was based upon the officer’s mistaken understanding of the law.  As a result of the stop, the officer found contraband.

Lesson to law enforcement:  Don’t train your officers about traffic law and they will find more contraband.

Lesson to motorists:  It doesn’t really matter whether you follow the law, you’re getting stopped either way.

Filed for Alderman, Ward One, Buffalo, Missouri

I filed today as a candidate for Alderman, Ward One, Buffalo, Missouri in the April 7, 2015 election.

HalfGig, CC BY-SA 3.0

HalfGig, CC BY-SA 3.0

Don’t forget to vote!

Will I Get Points on My License?

I often get the question, “Will I get points on my license?” or “How many points will I get on my license?”

The Missouri Department of Revenue uses Form 899 to set out the point schedule.  You can view it here.

Froth82, CC BY-SA 3.0

Froth82, CC BY-SA 3.0

Missouri’s Christmas Law

Last year the Missouri General Assembly passed HB278 which amended the Missouri Revised Statutes, Chapter 9, “Public Holidays,” to include Sect. 9.015, RSMo.  The new section reads as follows:

No state or local governmental entity, public building, public park, public school, or public setting or place shall ban or otherwise restrict the practice, mention, celebration, or discussion of any federal holiday.

Dean Beeler, CC BY 2.0

Dean Beeler, CC BY 2.0

Federal holidays are listed in 5 U.S.C. 6103 and include New Year’s Day, Martin Luther King Day, Washington’s Birthday, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Columbus Day, Veterans Day, Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day.

Some commentators have suggested the Missouri law is unconstitutional, but it doesn’t look like any court has yet invalidated it.  So, if you see some more Christmas trees and caroling in public buildings and schools this year, you can thank the Missouri General Assembly.

Where can I go to SATOP?

Missouri Department of Mental Health

Missouri Department of Mental Health

For those who get a DWI, a Substance Abuse Traffic Offender Program completion is generally required.  I got the question from a client today, “Where do I go for my SATOP?”  The Missouri Department of Mental Health publishes a list of providers.

Here’s the list.

Parenting Education Providers

I often get the question, “Where do I go to complete the Parenting Education class required in dissolution and custody cases?”

Here is a short list of options.

Blueprints, Springfield, MO  (417) 883-8400

Divorce Education Services, Springfield, MO  (417) 831-1505

Burrell Behavioral Health, Springfield, MO  (417) 269-5400

University of Missouri Extension, http://missourifamilies.org/fok/

Tri-County Psychological Services, Marshfield, MO  (417) 859-7746

FOCIS, Ozarks Counseling Center, Springfield, MO  (417) 869-9011

Melissa Harp, Springfield, MO  (417) 850-5851

http://courseforparents.com/states/MO  (offered online)

This list is not at all exhaustive.  If you are a Parenting Education provider, send me an email if you want to be added to the list.

Domestic Violence Shelters

I can almost always have more success in court if a domestic_violence2victim of violence takes steps to protect him/herself and any children.

If you are a victim of domestic violence in need of a place to go, here is a list of facilities that provide emergency shelter service:

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Child Custody and a Child’s “Best Interests”

When a new client comes to me with a case involving custody of a child, there are invariably questions about how to get a good result.


Subharnab Majumdar, CC BY 2.0

Here is the statute the courts in Missouri generally follow to decide the custody of a child.  There are exceptions and the cited statute does not control in every type of case, but in divorce (also called “dissolution”) and paternity (also called “custody”) cases, it usually does.

Philosophers, historians, politicians, legal scholars, social workers, child psychologists, parents and just about anyone else could argue about all sorts of ideas for a child’s “best interests.”  But here is what the courts in Missouri usually consider:

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Inmate Phone Calls and Reducing Recidivism

Public Domain

Public Domain

In a statement issued last week, the Federal Communications Commission paves the way to reduce the high cost of telephone calls from prison inmates to their social support network.  According to one report, a 15-minute call can run as high as $17.30 for some inmates.  Long distance interstate calls already have rate caps at $0.25/minute for collect calls and $0.21/minute for prepaid calls.  Capping in-state rates would save the social support network of inmates $128 million/year by some estimates.  Many lawyers, myself included, refuse to take calls from inmates, in part because of the expense.

Why should we care?

Communication between inmates and their social support network has been demonstrated to reduce recidivism.

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