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Young lawyers, work rules, the State of the Judiciary and more: Top takeaways from the March-April 2019 Journal of The Missouri Bar

by Gary Toohey, editor and director of communications

April 2019 Top Takeaways

Evidence of a criminal defendant’s past crimes is generally not admissible in court due to the risk that a jury will act on a perceived propensity for criminal behavior. But, as author H. Morley Swingle points out, the Supreme Court of Missouri has recognized at least six exceptions to that general rule.

The winds of change are blowing at the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). A 2018 directive from the agency’s general counsel modifies the legal standard against which the validity of employer work rules is measured. Authors Brian J. Christensen and Austin O. Jaspers note that the consequences of these shifting standards are significant for both employers and employees—not to mention the lawyers who represent them.

The preamble to Missouri’s Rules of Professional Conduct mandates that lawyers “should further the public’s understanding of and confidence in the rule of law and the justice system because legal institutions in a constitutional democracy depend on popular participation and support ….” In his regularly appearing column, Missouri Bar President Ray Williams traces how The Missouri Bar has honored that call with a commitment to civic education throughout the organization’s 75-year history.

In this issue’s “Executive Summary” column, guest contributor Nicole Fisher, chair of The Missouri Bar Young Lawyers’ Section, focuses on the group’s ongoing professional and public contributions.

One of the highlights of the first weeks of each legislative session is the annual “State of the Judiciary Address” from the chief justice of the Supreme Court of Missouri. In his remarks this year, Chief Justice Zel M. Fischer summarized the judiciary’s achievements and needs, including a call for additional treatment courts and veterans’ courts; support for lawyer spouses of active military members; the use of retired lawyers to fill the need for pro bono representation; changes to pretrial release rules; and funding for upgrades to court technology.