Case summaries for Feb. 17 - Feb. 23, 2023
Each week, The Missouri Bar provides links to all hand downs published online during the past seven days by the Supreme Court of Missouri and the Missouri Court of Appeals. The Missouri Bar has created headings and summaries for each case. Summaries are not part of the opinions of the Court. They have been prepared for the convenience of the reader and should not be quoted or cited.
Sunshine Law violations negated
Rule governing summary judgment determines the matters constituting the summary judgment record, which excludes a document not referenced in any statement of undisputed fact or response, even when gratuitously reviewed in camera. Statutes require or permit certain documents to be open or closed to public inspection. A public governmental body may close employee personnel records even if no employment discipline ever occurred. The provisions governing the identity of employees, and incident reports and investigative reports, do not apply. Other provisions allowing closure, cited and later abandoned, do not show a violation of law. Circuit court did not err in granting summary judgment to respondent agency.
City of Harrisonville, et al. vs. Missouri Dept. of Natural Resources and Board of Trustees for the Petroleum Storage Tank Insurance Fund.
Missouri Court of Appeals, Western District - WD85091
Maximum expungement explained
In an action for expungement of criminal records, statutes direct petitioner to name as defendant any entity that prosecuted the offense or has records of the offense, which includes the Highway Patrol. The Highway Patrol may therefore be aggrieved by the judgment, and may appeal errors raised at trial, even if it did not timely file an answer. The statute sets a lifetime maximum of one felony, defined to include one set of offenses, if charged “in the same indictment or information or were committed as part of the same course of criminal conduct [.]” Circuit court exceeded that limit when it ordered expungements of offenses charged by separate instruments, with different case numbers, one of which was disposed of before the other was charged. Remanded for a choice of which offense to expunge.
N.M.C., Petitioner/Respondent, vs. Missouri State Highway Patrol Criminal Records Repository, Appellant, and Creve Coeur Municipal Police Department, City of Creve Coeur Municipal Court, City of Chesterfield Municipal Division, St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney, St. Louis County Circuit Court Division 32, Chesterfield Municipal Police Department, and St. Louis County Police Department, Defendants.
Missouri Court of Appeals, Eastern District - ED110683
Sex offender registration issue is ripe for declaratory judgment
Courts hear only claims that are ripe for review, which may include a pre-enforcement determination of duty. Statutes require sex offender registration for certain offenses on release from prison. Whether petitioner must register on release was the subject of petitioner’s action for declaratory judgment. That controversy was ripe because all facts necessary for the determination already occurred and none remain for further development. Ultimate facts are all that petitioner must allege and evidentiary facts, like who told petitioner to register and when petitioner will be released, are unnecessary to withstand a motion to dismiss. Statutes providing an exemption from registration do not constitute an adequate remedy at law, because petitioner argues an exclusion, not merely an exemption. Whether the registration requirement applies to petitioner depends on the facts underlying petitioner’s offense, not just the statutory description of the offense, so the Court of Appeals remands to action to circuit court for a determination of the underlying facts.
Thomas Iseman vs. Missouri Department of Corrections, et al.
Missouri Court of Appeals, Western District - WD85178
Residence defined for sex offender registration
Missouri’s Sex Offender Registration Act provides that persons convicted of certain offenses must register specified information with the chief law enforcement officer of the offender’s county of residence. For appellant, an update was due every 90 days, and notice was due on change of residence from one county to another. Residence means any place where the person sleeps seven or more days or nights in twelve months. Appellant updated the 90-day registration timely, but did not register an intervening change of residence, though he was familiar with the registration procedure. Conviction for failure to register affirmed.
STATE OF MISSOURI, Plaintiff-Respondent v. MICHAEL PAUL SHANDS, Defendant-Appellant
Missouri Court of Appeals, Southern District - SD36965
Stale report no grounds for termination of parental rights
Statutes provide one chapter governing adoption, and another chapter governing termination of parental rights, but a petition did not cite either. The petition sought adoption, did not allege biological parental consent, and alleged facts relevant to termination of parental rights. Therefore, the Court of Appeals applies both chapters, including all requirements for an involuntary termination of parental rights. Those requirements included an investigation, which must start “after the filing of the petition [,]”and a report to the circuit court. The circuit court used a report from an earlier action five years before, which does not satisfy the chapter on termination of parental rights, and an adoptive home study under the adoption chapter was no substitute. “[T]he entire judgment is reversed as to all findings pertaining to [biological parents], including the” grounds for termination of parental rights, with directions to expedite the proceedings.
In the Interest of: F.S.K., a minor.
Missouri Court of Appeals, Eastern District - ED110706
Probation and earned compliance credits timely suspended and rescinded
Statutes provide that any “probationary period may not extend indefinitely or even beyond the five-year statutory maximum for felonies [.]” But within that time, a circuit court may suspend probation, which also suspends the accrual of earned compliance credits, which are rescinded when probation is revoked. Both suspension and revocation happened within the five-year period, so earned compliance credits and efforts to extend the probationary period are irrelevant. Judgment denying post-conviction relief affirmed.
Antoine Watkins, Appellant, v. State of Missouri, Respondent.
Missouri Court of Appeals, Eastern District - ED110551
No evidentiary hearing necessary
When the record refutes the motion’s allegations, no evidentiary hearing on the motion is necessary to deny the motion. The motion alleged ineffective assistance of plea counsel, but the plea hearing transcript showed a thorough colloquy, at which movant expressed no dissatisfaction with plea counsel’s performance. Movant expressed frustration with the delay in consulting with plea counsel, but also expressed satisfaction with the eventual consultation, so the record refuted movant’s allegations. The circuit court did not err in denying the motion without a hearing.
Markell D. Jackson, Appellant, v. State of Missouri, Respondent.
Missouri Court of Appeals, Eastern District - ED110501
Representation at sentencing not ineffective
On charges of child neglect, movant did not show that investigating an alternative cause of victim’s death would have been “fruitful” when the State’s allegations had consistent support in physical evidence, medical records, and movant. “When the information before Counsel reflects the narrative told by her client, and together they review the available information and discovery and determine a case strategy, it is not unreasonable for [plea] counsel to determine that further investigation into a contradicting strategy is unnecessary.” As to representation at sentencing, counsel may be ineffective if sub-standard performance resulted in a lost chance of a lesser sentence. Lack of investigation into an alternative cause of death did not render the guilty plea involuntary. Counsel need not call a witness who is less than wholly supportive. Movant showed no prejudice in counsel’s decision not to use high school records reflecting movant’s mental illness. Refraining from an objection to cumulative hearsay was sound strategy and presumptively caused no prejudice in the bench-tried proceeding.
Megan L. Hendricks, Movant/Appellant, vs. State of Missouri, Respondent.
Missouri Court of Appeals, Eastern District - ED110418
Statutes provide the grounds for removing a trustee, but the grounds must be evident, and the ruling is subject to review for abuse of discretion. Substantial evidence supported the circuit court’s findings, that the trustee faithfully executed the provisions of the trust. But according to the trust’s provisions, no such finding is necessary to fill a vacant co-trustee position, so the Court of Appeals remands the case for appointment of a co-trustee. Motion for attorney fees denied.
In the Matter of the H. Boone Porter Trust created under the deed of trust dated August 1, 1960, as amended by amendment dated May 14, 1968, as reformed by judgment dated July 27, 1999, and as further amended by consent judgment dated November 21, 2002, and April 23, 2004, and also known as registered trust no. 169041, H. Boone Porter, III. vs. Caroline Porter Hayes, et al.
Missouri Court of Appeals, Western District - WD84894
Labor and Industrial Relations Commission must hold the parties to their stipulations, including a date for maximum medical improvement, applicable to both physical and psychological injuries. Statute sets a time limit for concluding the evidentiary hearing, but employer did not object to multiple continuances beyond that limit, so preserved no error for appeal.
LME, Inc. vs. Robert Powell and Second Injury Fund
Missouri Court of Appeals, Western District - WD85427