Articles Posted in Supreme Court of Missouri

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the motion court overruling Appellant’s motion for postconviction relief under Rule 29.15, holding that Appellant’s argument that his appellate counsel was ineffective was unavailing. Appellant was convicted of second-degree murder. On appeal, appellate counsel did not raise as points of error the trial court’s rejections of Appellant’s requested jury instructions. In his Rule 29.15 motion for postconviction relief, Appellant argued that his appellate counsel was ineffective for failing to raise these issues. The motion court denied the motion. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that appellate counsel’s performance was not constitutionally deficient because appellate counsel did not fail to exercise the customary level of skill and diligence of a reasonably competent attorney. View "Meiners v. State" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the motion court overruling Appellant’s motion for postconviction relief under Rule 29.15, holding that Appellant’s argument that his appellate counsel was ineffective was unavailing. Appellant was convicted of second-degree murder. On appeal, appellate counsel did not raise as points of error the trial court’s rejections of Appellant’s requested jury instructions. In his Rule 29.15 motion for postconviction relief, Appellant argued that his appellate counsel was ineffective for failing to raise these issues. The motion court denied the motion. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that appellate counsel’s performance was not constitutionally deficient because appellate counsel did not fail to exercise the customary level of skill and diligence of a reasonably competent attorney. View "Meiners v. State" on Justia Law

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Article I, section 35 of the Missouri Constitution, which protects “the right of farmers and ranchers to engage in farming and ranching practices” does not create a new constitutional right to engage in the illegal drug trade. Defendant appealed his convictions of producing more than five grams of marijuana, possession of more than five grams of marijuana with intent to distribute, and possession of drug paraphernalia, arguing that the statutes prohibiting marijuana cultivation and possession violate the constitutional right to farm guaranteed by article I, section 35. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the plain, ordinary, and natural meaning of article I, section 35 demonstrates no purpose to sub silentio repeal laws criminalizing the cultivation or possession of controlled substances; and (2) Defendant’s marijuana cultivation operation was not a farming practice to be protected by article I, section 35. View "State v. Shanklin" on Justia Law

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In 1983, Carr was convicted capital murder for killing his brother, stepmother, and stepsister when he was 16 years old. He was sentenced to three concurrent terms of life in prison without the possibility of parole for 50 years. His sentences were imposed without any consideration of his youth. The Missouri Supreme Court granted his petition for a writ of habeas corpus. His sentences violate the Eighth Amendment because, following the Supreme Court’s 2012 decision in Miller v. Alabama, juvenile offenders cannot be sentenced to life without parole pursuant to mandatory sentencing schemes that preclude consideration of the offender’s youth and attendant circumstances. Carr was sentenced under a mandatory sentencing scheme that afforded no opportunity to consider his age, maturity, limited control over his environment, the transient characteristics attendant to youth, or his capacity for rehabilitation. Carr must be resentenced so his youth and other attendant circumstances surrounding his offense can be taken into consideration to ensure he will not be forced to serve a disproportionate sentence in violation of the Eighth Amendment. View "Carr v. Wallace" on Justia Law

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Willbanks was 17 years old when he was charged with kidnapping, first-degree assault, two counts of first-degree robbery, and three counts of armed criminal action, based on a carjacking. He was convicted and sentenced to consecutive prison terms of 15 years for the kidnapping count, life for the assault count, 20 years for each of the two robbery counts, and 100 years for each of the three armed criminal action counts. On appeal, he argued his sentences, in the aggregate, will result in the functional equivalent of a life without parole sentence and that Missouri’s mandatory minimum parole statutes and regulations violate his Eighth Amendment right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment in light of the Supreme Court holding in Graham v. Florida (2010). The Missouri Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Missouri’s mandatory minimum parole statutes and regulations are constitutionally valid under Graham. Graham held that the Eighth Amendment barred sentencing a juvenile to a single sentence of life without parole for a nonhomicide offense. Graham did not address juveniles who were convicted of multiple nonhomicide offenses and received multiple fixed-term sentences. View "Willbanks v. Missouri Department of Corrections" on Justia Law

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In connection with a home-invasion robbery and murder, Nathan, 16 years old, was convicted on 26 counts. Pursuant to RSMo 565.020.2, the court sentenced Nathan to life in prison without the possibility of parole plus five life sentences and five 15-year sentences, to be served consecutively. While Nathan's appeal was pending, the U.S. Supreme Court decided, in Miller v. Alabama, that "the Eighth Amendment forbids a sentencing scheme that mandates life in prison without possibility of parole for juvenile offenders." In compliance with the Missouri Supreme Court's instructions on remand, the circuit court entered a finding of guilt for second-degree murder and for armed criminal action in connection with second-degree murder. The jury recommended a life sentence for the second-degree murder conviction, a 30-year sentence for the first-degree robbery conviction, a 15-year sentence for kidnapping, and three life sentences for the related armed criminal action convictions. Nathan requested resentencing by a jury on the 20 convictions that were not part of the remand, claiming a Brady violation because the state failed to disclose, before his original waiver of jury sentencing, a police report detailing an investigation into alleged sexual abuse committed against him. The court rejected his arguments and imposed the jury-recommended sentences, to run consecutively. On appeal, Nathan argued the combined effect of his consecutive sentences amounted to the functional equivalent of life in prison without the possibility of parole. The Missouri Supreme Court disagreed and affirmed. View "State v. Nathan" on Justia Law

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Carl Kirk was committed to the custody of the Department of Mental Health under the Sexually Violent Predator Act (SVPA), Mo. Rev. Stat. 632.480 through 632.525. On appeal, the court of appeals transferred the case to the Supreme Court on the ground that the appeal involved issues within the Supreme Court’s exclusive appellate jurisdiction as set forth in Mo. Const. art. V, section 3. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the issues raised in this case did not fall within the Supreme Court’s exclusive appellate jurisdiction, and even thought he court of appeals erred in transferring the case, the Supreme Court granted transfer prior to opinion pursuant to Rule 83.01 and therefore had jurisdiction; (2) the SVPA, among other things, evidences no punitive intent and violates no constitutional prohibits against ex post facto laws, and the standard of proof required under the SVPA and employed in Kirk’s case is not unconstitutional; and (3) Kirk’s remaining claims of error were unavailing. View "In re Care & Treatment of Kirk" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs filed a petition against the State for declaratory judgment alleging that provisions of Senate Bill 5 violated the special laws provision in the Hancock Amendment to the Missouri Constitution, and five other constitutional claims. The trial court declared the SB 5 contained special laws and unfunded mandates and permanently enjoined the enforcement of those provisions. The Supreme Court (1) reversed the trial court’s judgment that Mo. Rev. Stat. 67.287 and 479.359.3 are Hancock violations because these claims were not ripe for review where the General Assembly has until August 28, 2021 to appropriate funds, and the alleged increased duty is de minimis; and (2) affirmed the trial court’s dismissal of Plaintiffs’ other constitutional claims. View "City of Normandy v. Greitens" on Justia Law

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After a jury trial, Appellant was convicted of two counts of murder in the first degree for shooting and killing two deputies. Appellant was sentenced to death. Appellant’s convictions were affirmed on direct appeal. Thereafter, the motion court granted Appellant post-conviction relief and remanded the case for a new penalty phase. After the penalty phase retrial, the jury recommended that Appellant be sentenced to death on each count. The trial court sentenced Appellant in accordance with the jury’s recommendation. Appellant’s death sentences were affirmed on direct appeal. Appellant then filed a Mo. R. Crim. P. motion for post-conviction relief, alleging several claims of ineffective assistance of trial and appellate counsel. The motion court overruled the motion. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the motion court did not clearly err in finding that Appellant failed to establish that he was provided ineffective assistance of trial or appellate counsel. View "Tisius v. State" on Justia Law

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When William Fleming failed to pay his court costs within the first three years of his probation, Fleming’s probation was revoked and execution of his concurrent seven-year sentences was ordered. Fleming filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus, arguing that the sentencing court violated his due process and equal protection rights by revoking his probation solely because he was indigent. The Supreme Court issued a writ of habeas corpus, holding that the sentencing court’s revocation of Fleming’s probation violated Fleming’s Fourteenth Amendment rights because the court failed to inquire into the reasons for Fleming’s failure to pay his court costs. View "State ex rel. Fleming v. Missouri Board of Probation & Parole" on Justia Law