I thought my client’s cause was just…

Termination of Parental Rights and the Incarcerated Parent

The Missouri Supreme Court handed down on January 5, 2017 its decision in In the Interest of J.P.B. This is an important case for the termination of parental rights for incarcerated parents. J.P.B. provides guidance on bases for terminating rights and the limitations on constitutional and procedural rights for incarcerated parents facing termination.

Nat Hentoff, Journalist and Social Commentator, Dies at 91

Nat Hentoff

Nat Hentoff

Legendary American historian, novelist, jazz and country music critic, and syndicated columnist, Nat Hentoff passed away yesterday. I had the incredible experience of being interviewed by Nat Hentoff during my work on a civil rights case I took all the way to the United States Supreme Court (Mellony Burlison, et al. v. The School District of Springfield, R-12, et al., 708 F.3d. 1034, (8th Cir.2013), cert. denied 134 S.Ct. 151, 187 L.Ed.2d 39 (2013)). Mr. Hentoff wrote a great article, Supreme Court Teaches Students They’re outside Constitution. Nat Hentoff will be sorely missed.

The mayor shot a dog in 2014. Now, the ACLU is suing Walnut Grove.

We are defending a lady sued for defamation related to her criticism of a Missouri mayor. Free speech applies even to criticism of Missouri mayors. We worked with the ACLU to develop a case. They are now representing her in a federal case to protect free speech. Next time you complain about your mayor without getting sued, thank this brave lady and the defenders of free speech at the ACLU.


Right to Farm Only Applies to “Traditional” Farming

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.

“Traditional” farming?










Instead, the amendment only applies to “traditional” farming and ranching. The next question is: What is “traditional” farming and ranching?

Red Light/Speed Camera Programs Unconstitutional

The Missouri Supreme Court found red light camera programs violated the constitution.

Joe Ravi, CC-BY-SA 3.0

Joe Ravi, CC-BY-SA 3.0

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.

Three cases:

City of St. Peters v. Roeder, No. SC94379 (Mo. banc August 18, 2015)

Tupper v. City of St. Louis, No. SC94212 (Mo. banc August 18, 2015)

City of Moline Acres v. Brennan, No. SC94085 (Mo. banc August 18, 2015)


Supreme Court Recognizes Right to Same Sex Marriage

“The Constitution promises liberty to all within its reach…”

In Obergefell v. Hodges, the Court recognizes a right under the Fourteenth Amendment to a marriage license for same sex couples.

The Jailhouse Lawyer’s Handbook

Anagoria, CC BY 3.0

Anagoria, CC BY 3.0

The Center for Constitutional Rights and the National Lawyers Guild publish  The Jailhouse Lawyer’s Handbook.  It is full of information for prisoners and families of inmates about the rights of the incarcerated and how to protect them.  How can we expect prisoners to emerge to be law-abiding citizens if their jailers are allowed to break the law?

Cops Can’t Extend Stops to Get Dog Sniff

Piotr Grzywocz, CC BY-SA 3.0

Piotr Grzywocz, CC BY-SA 3.0

The US Supreme Court handed down a decision today, Rodriguez v. United States, that says police officers cannot extend a traffic stop in order to subject its occupants to a drug dog sniff without specific reasons to suspect contraband.


UPDATE: After U.S. Supreme Court vacates judgment and remands for further consideration, Eighth Circuit says despite SCOTUS ruling, Defendant gets convicted anyways. Opinion here.

Gay Divorcée?

The Missouri Supreme Court ruled today that Missouri Circuit Courts have subject matter jurisdiction over same-sex dissolution of marriages.

Supreme Court of Missouri

Supreme Court of Missouri

The Court ruled in In re the Marriage of: M.S. v. D.S. that a sua sponte dismissal for lack of subject matter was error despite the Missouri constitutional and statutory ban on same-sex marriage.  The Court declined to rule on the constitutionality of gay marriage or whether the trial court could actually dissolve a same-sex marriage.

Missouri trial courts have jurisdiction over gay divorces.

Several groups including the ACLU, PROMO, Lambda Legal Defense, the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers and others filed briefs as friends of the Court.  The decision is being received as a small but significant step in the direction of equal rights for same-sex couples.

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