Missouri Supreme Court

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.

Flickr/SuperFantastic

The Missouri Supreme Court is expected to decide as soon as today whether to consider the fate of a proposed tobacco tax increase that backers hope to get on the November ballot.

Secretary of State Jason Kander’s office made the request late Tuesday, after an appeals court declined to reconsider its ruling last week that could kill the proposed constitutional amendment.

car lot
Martin Kleppe | Flickr

On April 5, all St. Louis County voters, and residents of more than four dozen municipalities in St. Louis and St. Charles will see a variation of the following proposition, known as Proposition B  (A, V, or 1) on their ballot.

Members of Missourians Organizing for Reform and Empowerment conduct a silent protest during a public hearing on municipal court reform on Nov. 12, 2015.
Rachel Lippmann | St. Louis Public Radio

A working group created by the Missouri Supreme Court to recommend changes to the municipal courts is rejecting the idea that the state's highest court can force the smaller ones to consolidate.

An HD camcorder
Nebrot | Wikipedia

The Missouri Supreme Court is weighing a lawsuit that accuses state senators of violating the Sunshine Law. Progress Missouri filed suit after being kicked out of Senate hearings on multiple occasions while videotaping proceedings.

The group's appeal to the state Supreme Court comes after the circuit judge of Cole County sided with the Senate. The high court heard arguments from both sides on Wednesday.

Ernest Johnson
Missouri Department of Corrections

Updated 8:05 p.m. Nov. 3 with court action - The U.S. Supreme Court has hit pause on Tuesday night's scheduled execution of Ernest Lee Johnson.

The high court issued a stay, pending the outcome of one of his appeals. It centers on claims that the state's execution drug pentobarbital could cause Johnson to experience violent seizures, due to part of his brain being removed in 2008 during surgery to remove a tumor.

(via Flickr/david_shane)

A new commission set up by the Missouri Supreme Court will examine ways to ensure that minorities receive fair and just treatment from the state's court systems and legal profession.

Chief Justice Patricia Breckenridge announced the formation of the commission at a recent Missouri Bar meeting in St. Louis. She cited findings in two Department of Justice reports, one on Ferguson and the other on St. Louis County's juvenile division, as reasons for forming the commission.

Mary Russell discusses her tenure as chief justice with reporters Tuesday.
Marshall Griffin | St. Louis Public Radio

Mary Russell says she's mostly satisfied with her two-year term as chief justice of the Missouri Supreme Court, which ends next week on June 30.

She took over as chief in July 2013 after fellow Supreme Court Judge Richard Teitelman wrapped up his two-year term.

Russell's tenure coincided with the resumption of executions in Missouri, which have been on a record pace as 16 convicted killers have been put to death since November 2013.  Russell says the increase is due to several factors.

Steakpinball | Flickr

The Missouri Supreme Court is asking members of the public to write in about their experiences, both good and bad, at municipal courts around the state.

(via Flickr/davidsonscott15)

Legislation to cap the amount of revenue from traffic fines cities and towns in Missouri can include in their budgets is getting early attention in this year's regular session.

Under the current law, known as the Macks Creek law, local municipalities can receive up to 30 percent of their income from speeding tickets and other traffic citations.  That would drop to 10 percent if the proposed measure becomes law. 

Arch City Defenders executive director Thomas Harvey speaking during a 2014 meeting of the Ferguson Commission.
File photo | Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

The Missouri Supreme Court issued a new rule two weeks ago that eases the financial burden on poor people facing big fines in municipal courts. The new rule should reduce the number of people who spend time in jail for failing to pay fines. 

James Cridland via Flickr

Two proposed amendments to Missouri's Constitution will appear on August's ballot, and they are raising questions among law enforcement officials, lawmakers and voters. 

(via Flickr/functoruser)

The Missouri Supreme Court has agreed to hear a legal challenge to a red light camera program.

school buses
Flickr

One year ago Wednesday, the Missouri Supreme Court threw the lives of thousands of students, teachers, parents and school administrators into a turmoil that shows no signs of stopping.

By unanimously overturning a lower court ruling and allowing students in unaccredited school districts to transfer to nearby accredited schools, the court enforced a 20-year-old law in a way that no one had foreseen would ever happen.

As a result:

Photo courtesy of Kelly Glossip

Updated at 10:05 a.m. Wednesday to correct Judge Teitelman's first name.

Updated with comments from the American Civil Liberties Union of Missouri.

The Missouri Supreme Court has ruled that a gay man whose longtime partner, a state trooper who was killed in the line of duty, is not eligible for the trooper's survivor benefits because the two were never married.

(via Flickr/david_shane)

Missouri's long-ailing Second Injury Fund is at the center of a lawsuit heard Tuesday before the State Supreme Court.

David Spradling was injured on the job in 1998 after having previously been declared disabled, and died in 2005 from unrelated circumstances.  He had filed a Second Injury Fund claim, which his three children pursued, and in 2011 were awarded his disability payments for the rest of their lives.  Attorney Sheila Blaylock represented the Spradlings before the High Court.

(via Flickr/david_shane)

The Missouri Supreme Court heard arguments Wednesday in a lawsuit that's delaying the implementation of the state's student transfer law in the Kansas City area.

A lower court ruling declared the transfer law to be an unfunded mandate for school districts in Independence, Lee's Summit and North Kansas City, but not for Blue Springs and Raytown.  Attorney Duane Martin argued Blue Springs' position before the High Court, saying the transfer law would be an unfunded mandate for them as well.

(St. Louis Public Radio)

The Missouri Supreme Court is considering whether laws restricting actions by sex offenders and felons can be applied to people who were convicted before the laws were enacted.

The court heard arguments on Tuesday on five cases dealing with sex offenses and guns.

Three people are challenging whether a law passed in 2009 applies to them because they were convicted of sex offenses before the law was made. The law prohibits sex offenders from being near public parks with playgrounds or swimming pools.

Mo. Supreme Court

Judge Mary Russell is set to become Chief Justice of the Missouri Supreme Court next week.

The Hannibal native has sat on the state's highest court since 2004, and previously served on the Appeals court for Missouri's Eastern District.  Russell lists the expansion of specialty courts as one of her top priorities for her two-year term.

Andrew Wamboldt/KOMU News - via Flickr

The Missouri Supreme Court heard arguments Tuesday for and against the constitutionality of a Metropolitan St. Louis Sewer District storm water fee.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: The Missouri Supreme Court cleared the way for developer Paul McKee to use $390 million in tax increment financing to redevelop two square miles of north St. Louis.

The court ruled unanimously that St. Louis Circuit Judge Robert H. Dierker Jr. erred when he ruled in 2010 that the St. Louis ordinances authorizing the huge project did not set out a “defined development project.”

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