The ACLU agreed. And now a federal judge seems to agree.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
“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 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?
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.
The Missouri Supreme Court ruled today that Missouri Circuit Courts have subject matter jurisdiction over same-sex dissolution of marriages.
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.
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.
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.
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.