Case summaries for Sept. 1 - Sept. 7, 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.
Law of the case supports summary judgment
In plaintiff’s action against defendant and co-defendant, defendant established, beyond genuine dispute, facts negating an element of plaintiff’s claim, and so prevailed on summary judgment and on appeal. That appeal’s holding bars further litigation, on remand or subsequent appeal, of “matters decided by the appellate court’s opinion, either directly or by implication.” On that basis, co-defendant also established, beyond genuine dispute, facts that negated plaintiff’s claim against co-defendant and so prevailed on a motion for summary judgment. The fact that plaintiff’s claim was for breach of fiduciary duty does not alter the result—that claim is subject to summary judgment like any other claim. “A multifarious point, joining multiple, independent claims into one, does not comply with [the governing rule] and preserves nothing for review.”
CARMEN E. WOOD (f/k/a Carmen E. Ready), an individual in her capacity as Trustee of the Donald J. Ready and Carmen E. Ready Revocable Living Trust dated November 19, 2009, Plaintiff-Appellant v. MILLSAP & SINGER, P.C., et al., Defendants-Respondents
Missouri Court of Appeals, Southern District - SD37921
Judgment partially subject to appeal
On a charge of first degree child endangerment by “[k]knowingly [creating] a substantial risk to the [child’s] life, body, or health [,]” the State carried its burden of proof by showing that appellant refused mental health care for child. The circuit court did not err when it denied appellant’s objection to arguments impugning appellant’s credibility as to appellant’s purported conformity to biblical standards. A criminal judgment is not final as to any counts on which the circuit court suspends the imposition of sentence, but appellant appealed only those counts in which the circuit court imposed its sentences, so the Court of Appeals reaches the merits and affirms the convictions.
State of Missouri, Respondent, vs. Monica C. Shoemaker, Appellant.
Missouri Court of Appeals, Eastern District - ED110820
No plain error in Fifth Amendment comment
The right to remain silent includes protection from using silence for impeachment in closing argument. A waiver must be express and may be selective. The State transgressed against that right, but review for plain error is discretionary. It requires appellant to show an error that is open, obvious, and clear and results in manifest justice or miscarriage of justice. The volume of evidence negates the latter element.
STATE OF MISSOURI, Respondent vs. JOHN WILLIS HOUGH, Appellant
Missouri Court of Appeals, Southern District - SD37664
Conviction for tampering with a judicial officer affirmed
The elements of tampering with a judicial officer include a purpose to harass, intimidate, or influence such an officer in the performance of their official duties. Judicial officers include a prosecuting attorney, and a threat may be indirect. As to that element, the State carried its burden by showing that defendant could logically foresee his threats reaching the prosecuting attorney when conveyed to a third person. The jury could, and an appellate court must, disregard innocent explanations. No abuse of discretion occurred when the circuit court denied a last-minute, untimely, and unwritten motion for change of judge that was based on speculations of bias. An appellate court may decline plain error review when appellant shows no prejudice.
STATE OF MISSOURI, Plaintiff-Respondent v. CHRISTOPHER B. SHULTZ, Defendant-Appellant
Missouri Court of Appeals, Southern District - SD37585
No duty to remove venireperson sua sponte
A circuit court has no duty to remove any person from a venire sua sponte. The statements of a venireperson, who did not sit on the jury, on voir dire did not attribute any bad act to defendant and did not taint the jury pool, so defendant did not show plain error. The elements of assault in the first degree include an attempt to cause serious bodily injury. On that element, the State carried its burden with evidence that defendant made a U-turn in his truck to reach victim, drove his truck at victim, repeatedly declared an intent to kill victim, and repeatedly struck victim. The State asked a witness about ultimate issues but the defendant did not show bad faith, the circuit court sustained defendant’s objections, and defendant did not show that the circuit court’s curative instruction was inadequate.
STATE OF MISSOURI, Plaintiff-Respondent vs. IRA S. BRUCE, Defendant-Appellant
Missouri Court of Appeals, Southern District - SD37363
Garrity violations require reversal
Continued government employment is a property interest protected by the due process of law, including notice and an opportunity to be heard before termination, which were adequate as to appellant. Constitutional provisions bar the State from compelling anyone to testify against themselves. The right to remain silent extends to police officers in an employment discipline context. It is unnecessary to cite the Fifth Amendment or name the right to silence; a refusal to answer questions clearly indicates an exercise of that right. Respondent police department granted appellant police officer immunity for criminal proceedings only, and not for employment discipline proceedings, and terminated appellant for exercising the right to remain silent in an employment discipline action. The circuit court affirmed. The Court of Appeals reverses that judgment because termination constituted coercion of appellant to testify against himself. Remanded to consider other causes for employment discipline.
Zachariah Foltz, Appellant, vs. City of St. Louis, et al, Respondents.
Missouri Court of Appeals, Eastern District - ED111086
No jurisdiction over federal offenses
On a motion to modify judgment, circuit court may adjudicate new matters, meaning matters not alleged in the underlying action, upon an evidentiary hearing under the standard of proof beyond a reasonable doubt and a further dispositional hearing. The record shows that the circuit court substantially followed that procedure. United States statutes provide that federal courts have exclusive jurisdiction to adjudicate federal criminal offenses, and Missouri statutes expressly authorize circuit courts to exercise juvenile authority only over “a state law or municipal ordinance,” and no Missouri statute incorporates federal criminal offenses into Missouri juvenile law. Therefore, a circuit court judgment, purporting to dispose of appellant, in part based on federal criminal law, was void to that extent for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. Remanded for disposition under Missouri offenses only.
In Re: The Matter Of: D.H.C vs. Juvenile officer
Missouri Court of Appeals, Western District - WD85324
No successive motions
Any conviction can be the subject of only one motion for post-conviction relief. A motion that addresses a conviction that has already been the subject of a motion is a successive motion, which a circuit court has no authority to hear, and must dismiss. Appeal dismissed.
Matthew B. Randolph, Appellant, vs. State of Missouri, Respondent.
Missouri Court of Appeals, Eastern District - ED111343
Appeal dismissed for lack of final judgment
The Court of Appeals will affirm a judgment unless it has the firm and definite impression that the circuit court made a mistake. A mistake occurred when the circuit court dismissed all six of movant’s claims, on a motion that addressed only one claim, and did not rule on the remaining five claims. A judgment that disposes of less than all claims as to all parties is not a final judgment and is not subject to appellate review. Nothing in the record refutes the motion’s allegations, so an evidentiary hearing will be necessary on remand. Appeal dismissed.
JOSE A. HUCKLEBERRY, JR., Movant-Appellant v. STATE OF MISSOURI, Respondent-Respondent
Missouri Court of Appeals, Southern District - SD37782