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This Week at the Missouri Supreme Court: Jan. 17, 2017

  

The Missouri Supreme Court offered hand downs in two cases this week.

The first case, the City of Kansas City v. The Kansas City Board of Election Commissioners, made major headlines in Kansas City. The case dealt with a ballot proposal to raise the minimum wage in the city,  a proposal which was struck down by the Jackson County Circuit Court for violating a state statute enacted by 2015’s HB 722 — now a part of Section 285.055. That bill prohibited municipalities from banning plastic bags, but it also banned minimum wage hikes. The City of Kansas City brought the case to strike down the proposal, citing the ordinance would strike down the bill.

However, the Supreme Court voted 6-0 to put the proposal back on the ballot in order to go by proper process to see through the constitutionality of the issue.

Wilson
Wilson

“Courts should no more prohibit city voters from considering this proposed minimum wage ordinance on the ground that it would (if approved) conflict with section 285.055 than they should enjoin the City Council from considering a bill addressing the same subject,” Judge Paul Wilson said in the court’s unanimous opinion. “Instead, in both cases, the proper course is to wait and see if the proposal is enacted before considering challenges to an ordinance’s substance or effect.”

Proponents of the ballot have until the end of this week to get the final ballot language approved. More can be read on the case here.

The second case, the State of Missouri v. Randy Twitty, found in a 6-0 decision rejected Twitty’s appeal of the St. Charles County Circuit Court’s decision to find Twitty guilty of possession of a chemical with intent to create a controlled substance. After receiving a house call from police about suspicious purchases of pseudoephedrine, Twitty was seen by police officers discarding of cold medicine boxes and putting them in the trash can underneath his trash bag. He told the police he sold some of the pills for methamphetamine

After receiving a house call from police about suspicious purchases of pseudoephedrine, Twitty was seen by police officers discarding of cold medicine boxes and putting them in the trash can underneath his trash bag. He told the police he sold some of the pills for methamphetamine, but later contended in court that because no pseudoephedrine itself was found at his home when police searched it, they had erred in charging him with possession.

The court ruled unanimously Twitty had possessed pseudoephedrine on the day he was searched, and even if none of the drug was present at the time of his arrest, he could still be rightfully charged with possession.


In other news, Terence Lord, the court clerk of the Missouri Court of Appeals, Western District, announced he would retire after nearly 40 years of service to the court.

“Terry has been an invaluable resource to the lawyers practicing before the Court, as well as the judges, law clerks, and clerk’s staff at the court,” Chief Judge Mark D. Pfeiffer said. “He is the historical glue of the court, and his caring demeanor makes him feel much more like a cherished family member than work colleague. We will miss him, but we wish Terry and his family the best in his well-deserved retirement.”

Lord’s replacement will be Susan Sonnenberg, the court’s staff counsel.

“Susan will provide a seamless transition because she has already been a member of our court’s family for many years and she understands the pulse of our home at 13th and Oak,” Pfeiffer said. “She has served the court with distinction in the past as a law clerk for Judges Albert Riederer, Patricia Breckenridge and Harold L. Lowenstein.”


The court will hear for oral cases this week, starting Wednesday:

  • Anthony W. Bowman v. The Honorable Timothy W. Inman, a proceeding originating in St. Francois County involving a challenge to an order requiring payment of restitution.
  • Christine Delf v. The Honorable Darrell E. Missey, a proceeding originating in Jefferson County involving the effect of a binding plea agreement on a circuit court.
  • Joshua D. Hawley v. The Honorable Philip Heagney, Circuit Judge, St. Louis City, and Thomas L. Kloeppinger, Circuit Clerk, St. Louis City, a proceeding originating in St. Louis involving the validity of pleas of not guilty by reason of mental disease or defect.
  • Robert L. Johnson v. Auto Handling Corporation and Cottrell Inc., an appeal from St. Louis County involving challenges to evidentiary rulings, jury instructions and verdicts in a personal injury suit.