Missouri Supreme Court | St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri Supreme Court

The Supreme Court of Missouri
Flickr | david_shane

The Missouri Supreme Court on Wednesday will consider two cases that could have far-reaching implications for the civil rights protections granted to the state’s LGBTQ community.

The judges will be asked to determine whether the Missouri Human Rights Act prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, even though the words are not in the act itself. Lower courts are split on the issue.

Speaker of the House Todd Richardson (L) and Lt. Gov. Mike Parson (R) listen as Chief Justice Zel Fischer delivers his State of the Judiciary address on January 24, 2018.
Tim Bommel | House Communications

Missouri Chief Justice Zel Fischer wants the state’s lawmakers to help him expand the reach of the state’s drug court program.

“Right now, there are 15 counties with no access to any type of treatment court,” Fischer told legislators Wednesday morning in his State of the Judiciary speech. “Individuals addicted to opioids and other substances in these areas are restrained by county lines they cannot see.”

Missouri Supreme Court building
David Shane | Flickr

Can a woman who disagrees that life begins at conception exempt herself from Missouri’s informed consent laws around abortion?

The state Supreme Court is considering that question following oral arguments on Tuesday. But first, they have to consider whether the woman, identified as Mary Doe in court documents, has made a strong enough legal argument to avoid having the case thrown out.

Rici Hoffarth | St. Louis Public Radio

The Missouri Supreme Court will hear arguments Thursday on whether the state can determine that a mother is unfit because a court has previously terminated her right to parent other children.

The case involves a Kansas City-area mother who lost the rights to her older children — a ruling that became evidence in a hearing over infant twin girls. Her attorneys say the law that allows that to happen violates her constitutional rights to be a parent.

In Missouri, 415 judges and commissioners operate in courthouses across the state to hear roughly 2 million cases each year. Circuit Court includes associate, probate, juvenile and municipal divisions.

Opinions can then be appealed to the Missouri Court of Appeals, which is comprised of 32 judges over three districts; Springfield – Southern, Kansas City – Western, and St. Louis – Eastern.

The future of the Edward Jones Dome is a big topic of discussion now that the St. Louis Rams are gone -- especially since there's outstanding debt on the facility.
File photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated at 5:10 p.m. with attorney general office's having no comment — The NFL’s Rams left St. Louis, but some unsettled business — back taxes — apparently remains.

The Missouri Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that the Los Angeles Rams may owe the state $352,000 dollars in unpaid state sales taxes for three of the years the team played in St. Louis.

Mike Brownlee, 32, of Kirkwood, (right) fills out a survey about the municipal court system outside Sunset Hills City Hall. Researchers from Saint Louis University are studying courts in St. Louis County in hopes of addressing inequalities.
File photo | Kameel Stanley | St. Louis Public Radio

As of Saturday, municipal courts across Missouri have had to meet some new operating standards.

The state Supreme Court set the minimum requirements for the court in 2016. Courts must now have a judge available at all times, and cannot charge illegal fines or fees, among other things. The rules were the Supreme Court's response to findings by the U.S. Department of Justice and legal advocacy groups that the municipal courts operated in large part to fund city operations.

Cool Valley Mayor Viola Murphy stands near a grassy path near South Florissant Road. She says a new state law limiting traffic fine revenue will make it harder for her city to pay for new sidewalks.
File photo | Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

A top Democratic backer of the effort to limit fines and fees in St. Louis County believes Missouri lawmakers will have to play a role in forcing cities to change.

The Missouri Supreme Court on Tuesday threw out parts of a 2015 law that capped the amount of money cities could make from fines and fees and required them to meet minimum standards like having an accredited police department. 

Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens has appointed Jackson County Circuit Judge W. Brent Powell to the state Supreme Court.

Powell, a Springfield native and Mizzou law grad, will fill a seat on the seven-member court that has been vacant since Judge Richard Teitelman died in November.

At age 46, he will be the youngest member of the Missouri Supreme Court.  

Kansas City lawyers who dealt with Powell, both when he was a prosecutor and a judge, applauded his selection.

Lisa White Hardwick (L), Benjamin Lipman (C) and Brent Powell (L) are the three nominees to replace Richard Teitelman on the Missouri Supreme Court.
Supreme Court of Missouri

Two judges and a lawyer from St. Louis are the candidates for the open seat on the Missouri Supreme Court. The Appellate Judicial Commission, which interviews applicants for appeals court-level judges, announced the nominees Wednesday. Whoever is chosen will replace Judge Richard Teitelman, 69, who died in November. 

Illustrations by Zack Stovall
Illustrations by Zack Stovall

Gov. Eric Greitens is a few weeks away from putting his stamp on the Missouri Supreme Court — sort of.

The Show Me State employs what’s known as the Non-Partisan Court Plan, a process that places constraints a governor’s ability to appoint judges.  

Tim Bommel|Mo. House Communications

Missouri's Supreme Court chief justice wants the Republican-controlled state legislature to proceed carefully as it seeks to curb the number of personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits.

Patricia Breckenridge delivered the annual State of the Judiciary Address Tuesday to lawmakers and to governor Eric Greitens.

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon remembers Judge Teitelman on Dec. 1, 2016.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Speaking with reporters in St. Louis on Thursday, Gov. Jay Nixon said he’s “ready to appoint if the chief justice wants to call a commission together.” That’s a reference to how Missouri Supreme Court Chief Justice Patricia Breckenridge would have to start the process to replace Richard Teitelman, a Missouri Supreme Court judge who died last month.

“I’d be certainly be willing to do that and I think there’s a lot of good candidates for it,” Nixon said. “I have never in my eight years called a commissioner and asked them to put somebody on a panel. And in this situation, that’s up to the courts. I do think with an opening, you could get it done if there’s enough time to. But that’s their choice, not mine.”

Rachel Lippmann, Mike Wolff, Bill Freivogel and Jason Rosenbaum joined St. Louis on the Air's "Behind the Headlines" segment on Friday.
Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

On Friday’s St. Louis on the Air, we discussed the past and the future on “Behind the Headlines.”

Earlier this week, Missouri Supreme Court Justice Richard Teitelman died at age 69. He was considered a leading liberal voice in the Missouri legal community. We heard from two of his colleagues, SLU Law School Dean Mike Wolff and SIUC Journalism Professor Bill Freivogel, in reflection of his life and service.

Hundreds gathered at Graham Chapel at Washington University to honor and remember Court judge Richard Teitelman on Dec. 1, 2016.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Hundreds packed Graham Chapel at Washington University Thursday to remember Missouri Supreme Court judge Richard Teitelman. 

Teitelman died overnight Monday at his home in St. Louis at the age of 69. A native of Philadelphia, he moved to St. Louis to attend Washington University Law School and never left the state. After two years in private practice, he joined Legal Services of Eastern Missouri in 1975 and became its executive director in 1980.

Democratic Gov. Mel Carnahan appointed him to the state Court of Appeals in 1998. Another Democrat, Bob Holden, elevated Judge Teitelman to the state high court in 2002.

Missouri’s two Planned Parenthood affiliates on Wednesday morning sued to overturn the state’s highly restrictive abortion laws, a move expected since the U.S. Supreme Court struck down similar laws in Texas in June. 

The lawsuit, filed in federal court in Jefferson City, sets up a showdown over state statutes that were enacted in the wake of the Supreme Court’s landmark Roe v. Wade decision, which held that the right to an abortion in the early stages of pregnancy is rooted in the Constitution.

Missouri Supreme Court Judge Richard B. Teitelman pictured in this June 1, 2016 file photo, has died at the age of 69. Teitelman was the first legally blind and Jewish judge to serve on Missouri’s highest court.
File photo | Bill Greenblatt | UPI

Updated at 11:00 a.m. Wednesday with audio of obituary.

 A leading liberal voice in the Missouri legal community has died.

Judge Richard Teitelman was 69. The Missouri Supreme Court confirmed his death, saying Tuesday that he had died in the morning at his home in St. Louis. Teitelman had been experiencing health problems for some time, including complications from diabetes.

File photo

Missouri’s battle to recoup lost tobacco settlement revenue is now being weighed by the state Supreme Court.

The Show-Me State’s share of the 1998 Master Settlement Agreement reached between the tobacco industry and 46 states is roughly $130 million a year. In 2003, an additional partial settlement with 24 states was made, which Missouri was not a part of because it was found not to be diligent in policing smaller tobacco companies that did not sign onto the 1998 agreement. Those companies were found to be undercutting their prices to compete with larger companies that did sign the agreement.

An infrared photograph shows a water main leak in Webster Groves. Water utility companies photograph roads at night to determine which pipes may be in need of repair.
Missouri American Water | Provided

Updated Nov. 1 with court arguments – The Missouri Supreme Court is weighing whether state law still allows Missouri American Water to charge its St. Louis County customers an infrastructure surcharge.

The Public Service Commission agreed to allow Missouri American to charge the $3 a month fee, even though St. Louis County's population dropped below 1 million during the 2010 U.S. census. But the western district court of appeals overturned that decision in March.

Nearly 100 people demonstrated outside the Missouri Supreme Court shortly after two cases were argued seeking higher minimum wages in St. Louis and Kansas City.
Marshall Griffin | St. Louis Public Radio

The Missouri Supreme Court is weighing two cases, one from St. Louis and the other from Kansas City, seeking to allow higher minimum wages in each place.

At issue is a law enacted during last year's veto session that bars cities from enacting a minimum wage that's higher than that set by the federal or state government. House Bill 722 was passed in response to both cities seeking higher minimum wages, along with Columbia's efforts to ban plastic grocery bags.

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