Articles Posted in Supreme Court of Missouri

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The director of the Missouri State Public Defender System filed a complaint against the Honorable Christina Kunza Mennemeyer (Respondent), alleging, inter alia, a judicial practice of deliberately postponing the appointment of counsel to indigent defendant in probation violation cases for the overt reason of preventing the public defender from disqualifying her. The Commission on Retirement, Removal and Discipline found serious violations of the Code of Judicial Conduct, as well as misconduct under article V, section 24 of the Missouri Constitution, and sought discipline against Respondent. The Supreme Court held that the evidence supported each of the charges brought against Respondent and accepted the recommendation of the Commission. The Court then suspended Respondent, without pay, for a period for six months. View "In re Honorable Christina Kunza Mennemeyer" on Justia Law

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The Missouri Real Estate Appraisers Commission denied Funk’s application for certification as a state-certified appraiser. The Administrative Hearing Commission (AHC) granted the application and, after judicial review, awarded Funk attorney fees (RSMo 536.0871) based on its determination that the Commission’s appeal was not substantially justified because a court is required to defer to the AHC’s factual and credibility findings. The circuit court reversed that award; the Missouri Supreme Court affirmed. A prevailing party in an agency proceeding normally must apply for attorney’s fees from that agency within 30 days of its decision; the request is held in abeyance until final disposition of the case. Because Funk represented himself before the AHC, he did not incur attorney’s fees at the agency level, however, and that requirement had no application. He should have applied for fees with the court of appeals, the first forum in which he prevailed while represented by an attorney. Because Funk wrongly submitted his application to the AHC within 30 days of the final decision by the court of appeals, and only requested attorney’s fees from the court of appeals after the deadline for seeking fees from that court had expired, his request was untimely. The court further stated thatCommission’s position in the original proceeding was reasonably based on fact and law and was substantially justified. The AHC erred in considering evidence that was not before the Commission when it made the decision to deny Funk’s application. View "Mo. Real Estate Appraisers Comm'n v. Funk" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs believed that Arnold police department employees had accessed their confidential records in the “Regional Justice Information System” database and filed a complaint. The department completed an internal affairs investigation. Pursuant to Missouri’s Sunshine Law, RSMo 610.010, plaintiffs sought parts of the report “for the purpose of investigating civil claims.” The city’s attorney replied that there had been no criminal investigation, but only an internal affairs investigation, and that the resulting report and other requested documents were closed because they contain personnel information. Plaintiffs again demanded the documents, citing section 610.100.4, which refers to obtaining records "for purposes of investigating a civil claim.” Plaintiffs filed suit, claiming that, whatever the original motivation for the investigation, someone who “intentionally accesses a computer without authorization or exceeds authorized access, and thereby obtains … information from any protected computer” commits a crime, 18 U.S.C. 1030(a)(2). On remand, the trial court ordered disclosure of the report with redaction of employees’ timesheets. Plaintiffs moved, under RSMo 610.027, for attorney’s fees and a fine for a purposeful or knowing violation. The court denied the motion. The Missouri Supreme Court affirmed. To prove a “knowing” violation, a party must do more than show that the city knew that it was not producing the report; section 610.027.2 requires proof that the public entity knew that its failure to produce the report violated the Sunshine Law. The court upheld a finding that the city’s failure to disclose the investigative internal affairs report was neither knowing nor purposeful. View "Laut v. City of Arnold" on Justia Law