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Case summaries for March 10 - March 16, 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.

Civil | Criminal | DWI | Post-Conviction


Lulled into default judgment  
On a motion to set aside a default judgment, the discretion to grant the judgment is greater than the motion to set aside the judgment, so an abuse of discretion is less likely on the grant of the motion than the denial of the motion. Rule allows circuit court to set aside a default judgment on a timely filed motion supported by evidence of a meritorious defense to the underlying action and good cause for the default. Good cause means anything “not intentionally or recklessly designed to impede the judicial process [,]” including a mistake or excusable neglect. Excusable neglect occurred when defendant relied on plaintiff’s statements that plaintiff did not intend to pursue an action filed in circuit court. Order setting aside default judgment affirmed.  
Liora Tech, Inc., Appellant, v. United Medical Network, Inc., and Alan M. Kneller, Respondents.  
(Overview Summary)  
Missouri Court of Appeals, Eastern District - ED110668


Motion to sever made in bad faith  
On a motion to sever, circuit court’s ruling is subject to appellate review for an abuse of discretion, meaning a particularized showing of prejudice. It is conclusory, and insufficient, to argue that the jury might think that guilt on one charge is proof of guilt on all charges. Evidence that bad faith motivated the motion, straightforward proof, a repeating fact pattern, and an instruction to consider each charge separately, supported denial of the motion to sever. Arguments on the quantity of charges and the brevity of deliberation, not raised in circuit court, are unpreserved for an appellate court.     
STATE OF MISSOURI, Plaintiff-Respondent v. BRYAN S. JONES, Defendant-Appellant  
Missouri Court of Appeals, Southern District - SD37453

Mandated reporter is not a government agent  
Appellate review of a criminal conviction for sufficiency of the evidence ignores evidence and inferences contrary to the verdict. Statute defining the offense of possessing child pornography does not include the date of possession as an element of the offense. A mandatory reporting statute does not make the mandated reporter a government agent for Fourth Amendment purposes. Yahoo discovered child pornography in defendant’s account and notified the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, so a government view of the same material required no warrant. Defendant had no reasonable expectation of privacy in defendant’s IP address. Evidence that defendant “intentionally searched for images of child pornography, found them, and knowingly accepted them onto his computer, even if that acceptance was merely temporary” supported a finding that defendant constructively possessed child pornography in his computer cache. Conviction affirmed.   
State of Missouri, Respondent, vs. Stephen Craig Ingram, Appellant.  
(Overview Summary)  
Missouri Court of Appeals, Eastern District - ED110207


Portable breath test admissible for probable cause without calibration  
Statutes provide that portable breath test results are admissible to show probable cause, on a foundation showing administration by a certified law enforcement officer, and evidence of calibration is expressly not necessary. In rejecting portable breath test results for lack of calibration, the circuit court misapplied the law and abused its discretion. Reversed and remanded with direction to admit the portable breath test results, and other evidence, which the parties may offer.  
Missouri Court of Appeals, Southern District - SD37588


Appellate court does not weigh the evidence  
On a claim based on ineffective assistance of trial counsel, movant’s points on appeal rely on movant’s own testimony, which the circuit court determined was “incredible, untruthful, and of no merit.” The Court of Appeals does not re-weigh the evidence, so movant’s points have no merit.    
SAVON JONES, Appellant vs. STATE OF MISSOURI, Respondent  
Missouri Court of Appeals, Southern District - SD37654