Case summaries for March 18 - March 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.
Pro Se Defendants Treated Generously
Circuit court relaxed procedural and evidentiary rules to accommodate the pro se defense’s presentation of evidence and argument, so no deprivation of due process occurred when circuit court found in plaintiff’s favor. Appellants did not ask to present more evidence in circuit court, so that request will not be granted in the Court of Appeals. Court of Appeals declines plain error review.
William M. Davis, Trustee of the Restatement of the Bill D. Davis and Judith E. Davis Joint Revocable Trust Agreement dated January 27, 1993 vs. Larry A. Smith and Mary L. Smith
Missouri Court of Appeals, Western District – WD84125
Standards Explained for Good Samaritan Drug Possession Defense
Dismissal of a criminal case without a finding of guilty or not guilty “had the practical effect of terminating all possibility of future prosecution” so it is subject to appeal without double jeopardy. Statutes immunize defendant from prosecution for possession of substances, when such possession is found in the course of a call for medical assistance, made in good faith. Good faith means honestly and diligently for the person needing medical assistance, rather than as part of a cover-up, and is an issue of fact on which the defendant has the burden of proof. Remanded for an evidentiary hearing to make a record under that standard.
State of Missouri, Appellant, v. Paul E. Gill, Respondent.
Missouri Court of Appeals, Eastern District – ED109852
Suggestive Line-Up Is an Issue Only for Police
Unduly suggestive identification procedures are no grounds for excluding an identification unless performed by police; so, display of photographs to victim, by victim’s great-aunt, did not bar evidence of identification, and those circumstances go to the weight of that evidence. Jailhouse phone calls directing a hit on witnesses constituted uncharged bad acts but were admissible to show consciousness of guilt.
State of Missouri, Respondent, vs. Tyrone Butler, Appellant.
Missouri Court of Appeals, Eastern District – ED109523
Minimum and Maximum Dates for Parole Eligibility Explained
For any sentence of confinement, statutes and regulations govern parole eligibility, setting a minimum that appellant must serve before becoming eligible for parole, and a maximum by which appellant shall be eligible for parole. Serving that minimum does not entitle appellant to parole eligibility. The maximum applies to each sentence, so the maximums for consecutive sentences aggregate to a greater maximum when sentences are consecutive. Appellant did not show that judicial estoppel or Equal Protection required a different result. “[W]e are troubled by the apparent frequency with which the Department is required to correct parole eligibility determinations which are governed by long-standing statutory and regulatory provisions.”
James Dunn vs. Missouri Department of Corrections
Missouri Court of Appeals, Western District – WD84515
Speculation No Grounds for Continuance
The elements of murder in the first degree include deliberation, meaning cool reflection, which the State showed with evidence of a chance to de-escalate an altercation and flight after shooting. The circuit court did not abuse its discretion in denying defendant’s motion for continuance based on defendant’s speculation about how the COVID-19 pandemic was going to affect an eventual jury.
STATE OF MISSOURI, Respondent vs. JOSHUA L. OLDHAM, Appellant
Missouri Court of Appeals, Southern District – SD36928
Official Immunity Applied
“Pleading merely that an employee was performing a ministerial act with ‘no discretion’ is insufficient to state a cognizable claim against a public official.” Public officials have official immunity from liability when making official discretionary decisions. Discretionary means everything but a merely clerical function that has no “room for variation in when and how a particular task can be done.” That includes making application of policies for public safety.
Isabella Gray-Ross, Appellant, vs. St. Louis Public Schools, Respondents.
Missouri Court of Appeals, Eastern District – ED109775