Missouri prosecutors sometimes seek indictments by grand juries instead of felony informations by way of preliminary hearings. A prosecutor may choose whether to summon a grand jury to come to court and hear evidence and consider whether to issue an indictment, charging an accused with a crime. Criminal defense lawyers do not spend much time with grand juries because the proceedings are held in secret. Transcripts are generally not available. In most cases, prosecutors use a preliminary hearing and a judge decides whether a defendant should proceed to trial, saving grand jurors from having to come to court and saving taxpayers the expense of a grand jury. Also, preliminary hearings are generally not held in secret, so they have the benefit of a public hearing.
Grand juries have other duties, including investigations.
It shall be the duty of the grand jury, at each term, or a committee, to consist of at least three members thereof, to visit the jail of their county, and examine the condition thereof, and inquire into the treatment of the prisoners, and make report thereof to the court.
Missouri statutes governing grand juries are set forth in Chapter 540, RSMo. Grand juries have far more responsibility than to simply sit back and passively do what the prosecutor asks.
I got the most thoughtful note from a client today after a total win on her case. It really brightens my day.
I just wanted to say thank you, thank you, thank you again! Thank you so much for all of your help – I am so glad this is over with! I hope you have a fantastic 2016! 🙂
And the other day, a past client for whom we obtained a total win brought two beautiful handmade tapestries all the way back from India on a family trip they took there. Angie and I have them proudly displayed in our home. Very generous, thoughtful people.
I really appreciate it when a happy client ends a case and lets me know things are looking up. Yesterday, a happy mother brought me a gift basket and a thank you note with a picture of her child and his doggie.
“Thank you so much for the constant support. It has meant a lot.”
While inmates nationwide have the right to marry under the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Turner v. Safley, (1987). Missouri inmates apparently do not have a constitutional right to divorce under a case handed down by the Missouri Supreme Court this week. In McNeal v. McNeal-Sydnor, No. SC94435 (Mo.banc, Sept. 8, 2015), the court upheld a dismissal of an inmate’s petition because he failed to appear in court at a hearing because he was behind bars.
“You are the MAN! Thank you so much for your help , and you have my best regards!” — Happy Client
In a ruling a judge in Cole County decided the Right to Farm Amendment does not apply to marijuana growing operations. The interpretation is surprising to some as Missouri was “traditionally” one of the largest hemp producing states, prior to prohibition.
Instead, the amendment only applies to “traditional” farming and ranching. The next question is: What is “traditional” farming and ranching?
They won’t take your kids just because you teach them to drive.
Daughter, 14 years old, had an accident with injury while mom’s boyfriend was teaching her to drive. Children’s Division substantiated a hotline against the boyfriend for neglect. Substantiation was upheld at the Child Abuse and Neglect Review Board. Trial de novo held in circuit court. Trial court found Division failed to prove at evidentiary hearing that the boyfriend neglected the daughter and ordered his name removed from the Central Registry. Division appealed but the trial court’s finding was affirmed. Division had the burden to prove by a preponderance of the evidence that Mother’s boyfriend neglected daughter. Division argued boyfriend was negligent in violating statute about unlicensed operator driving the vehicle. “Negligence” and “neglect” are not the same. “Negligence” is based upon an external and objective standard of conduct, not personal or subjective intent. “Neglect” focuses on physical deprivation or harm and the intent, generally inferred, determined by conduct. Subjective intent may or may not be considered by the court. Trial court believed boyfriend that he did not intend to harm daughter or physically deprive her of anything. Negligence is not necessarily neglect. In the Interest of Sercl, No. SD33396 (Mo.App. S.D. July 22, 2015).
August 28 is the day when many new laws go into effect each year in Missouri. This year is no exception. Many new laws go into effect today.
Some highlights of what your elected representatives have been up to this year:
SB5: Significant change to the law related to municipal courts in the wake of the Ferguson situation.
The Missouri Supreme Court this week in Pasternak v. Pasternak, No. SC94488 (Mo. banc August 18, 2015) decided a custody relocation/modification case and in so doing gave a helpful enumerated list of how not to parent, a sort of 13 commandments of parenting (i.e., things these knuckleheads did):
The Missouri Court of Appeals recognized yesterday in a case an option for same-sex unmarried couples to litigate custody where they have been living as a couple and raising a child together. The law on same-sex relationships is rapidly changing.
The Missouri Supreme Court found red light camera programs violated the constitution.
The Court says a city can’t convict using red light/speed cams 1) unless they issue points on a driver’s license as prescribed by state law; 2) unless there is no presumption of guilt; and 3) if an owner instead of an operator is charged, then the city must prove the owner expressly permitted the operator to break the law allegedly violated.
I previously litigated red light cameras in Springfield, resulting in the shut down of the program and removal of the cameras.
If you want to fight about whether a Missouri trial court has authority to decide custody, you better raise the objection early on.
“By participating in the Missouri dissolution case without raising any objection to the trial court’s authority to determine child custody until there was an allegation that she had not complied with one of the trial court’s rulings, Wife waived any right she might have had to contest the trial court’s authority to resolve the issue of child custody.”
In Schaeffer v. Schaeffer, No. SD33377 (Mo.App. S.D. Aug. 10, 2015), the Court of Appeals extended Hightower v. Myers, 304 S.W.3d 727, 733 (Mo. banc 2010) to apply to the UCCJEA. In a nutshell, if a party to a case involving child custody fails to properly object to a trial court’s authority to decide the case, the party waives the ability to object later. In Schaeffer, Mom filed a counter-petition for dissolution of marriage, answered the petition filed by her spouse, participated by counsel in a hearing to decide temporary custody, and the court entered an order for temporary custody. Only after all that did Mom file a motion to dismiss based on a lack of statutory jurisdiction under the UCCJEA. The trial court denied the dismissal and decided the case; the Court of Appeals affirmed.
Has your mugshot been put up on a mugshot website? Did you receive a solicitation suggesting you pay money to have the mugshot removed? Missouri law provides for a claim for $10,000 plus attorney’s fees. Talk to your lawyer to arrange to bring a claim.