Case summaries for Feb. 18 - Feb. 24, 2022
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.
Stating a Claim Does Not Determine Jurisdiction
Appellant had notice of the relief sought and grounds for that relief but defaulted. A default judgment is subject to appeal for lack of subject matter jurisdiction shown on the petition's face, but the petition's failure to state a claim does not rob the circuit court of subject matter jurisdiction, because subject matter jurisdiction comes from the Missouri Constitution. A challenge to the petition's content must occur in circuit court or is waived. "Instead, any such purported pleading defects must be raised in the circuit court in a timely motion to set aside the default judgment, and an appeal taken from the circuit court’s ruling on the motion to set aside."
Patricia Robertson vs. Charles Rosner
Missouri Court of Appeals, Western District - WD84647
When a statute provides that an offense may occur by multiple methods, the charging instrument must specify the method charged, and the method of trespass charged was against actual notice. That method was not shown by evidence that defendant trespassed against barriers made to exclude defendant. But that evidence did support a charge of trespass in the second degree, so the Court of Appeals remands to replace judgment, finding defendant guilty of trespass in the first degree, with a judgment finding defendant guilty of trespass in the second degree and re-sentencing accordingly. Statutes provide that the elements of harassment in the second degree include a purpose to cause emotional distress, which the State showed with evidence in the context “of a years-long campaign by [defendant] to destroy [victim’s] property and disrupt barriers” designed to protect victim’s property from defendant, that defendant stole materials from such barriers.
State of Missouri vs. Brenda F. Morris
Missouri Court of Appeals, Western District - WD84269
Time Bars Witness Tampering Charge
The statute of limitations for tampering with a witness is one year. The information alleged that respondent attempted to dissuade victim from testifying to an underlying offense, but alleged that those events occurred one year and one day before the filing of the information, so the statute of limitations barred that charge. The information also alleged that respondent inquired about the offense the following day, which was within the statute, but did not constitute witness tampering. Appellant did not show that appellant preserved any argument on the public officer exception. Circuit court did not err in dismissing the information.
State of Missouri, Appellant, vs. Jatonya S. Clayborn-Muldrow, Respondent.
Missouri Court of Appeals, Eastern District - ED109848
Venue Is Not an Element
Venue is not an element of child molestation in the second degree. If defendant objects to venue, the State must prove that venue is correct by a preponderance of the evidence, but the issue is waived if not raised in circuit court. "If the defendant fails to object before trial, the case may proceed to trial even if venue is otherwise incorrect, and incorrect venue does not affect a trial court’s jurisdiction or authority to render judgment." No appellate court will re-weigh testimony presented in circuit court.
State of Missouri, Respondent, v. Keith Stewart, Appellant.
Missouri Court of Appeals, Eastern District - ED109602
Late Motion Must Be Dismissed
Mailbox rule deems a motion timely filed if properly addressed but movant mailed the motion to the wrong circuit court. Statute, rule, and case law treat a motion filed in the wrong venue to be transferred immediately, but movant filed late, so that treatment does not help movant. Remanded to enter a judgment of dismissal.
El-Vester Robinson vs. State of Missouri
Missouri Court of Appeals, Western District - WD84102
No Standing to Challenge Four-Day Week
Before circuit court will hear a petition, plaintiff must show standing, which is a legally protectable interest in the facts alleged. The facts alleged describe harm only to third persons, and possible harm to plaintiff's property value, not actual harm to plaintiff. Neither Missouri Constitution's Free Public Education clause, nor the statutes' Educational Excellence Act, guarantee any specific administrative policy subject to enforcement by lawsuit. Plaintiff did not allege the elements of taxpayer standing. Conclusory allegations do not support standing. No due process violation occurred when circuit court scanned color attachments into the electronic record in black and white.
Paul T. Lehmann vs. Board of Education of the Fayette R3 School District
Missouri Court of Appeals, Western District - WD84439
Award Restored on Permanent Partial Condition
Statutes provide that the elements of claimant's claim against the Second Injury Fund, for permanent partial disability, include “a preexisting permanent partial disability.” That means "a disability that is permanent in nature and partial in degree." Labor and Industrial Relations Commission decision erred in requiring a "preexisting condition of diabetes was “'permanent in degree.'” The record shows that claimant has diabetes that, though treated and stabilized, is permanent. Remanded for further proceedings to reinstate award.
Bruce Krysl, Appellant, vs. Treasurer of Missouri as Custodian of Second Injury Fund, Respondent.
Missouri Court of Appeals, Eastern District - ED109568