Missouri Supreme Court Clarifies Constitutional Requirements With Respect To The Original Purpose, Single Subject And Substantive Changes To The Bills Title
Introduction: The recent opinion by the Missouri Supreme Court in Calzone v. Chinn, answered important questions concerning the form and substance of constitutional requirements pertaining to changing the original purpose of a bill during passage, the single subject requirement, and substantive changes in the bills title during the legislative process. While the opinion did not overrule existing case law, the Court made it clear, in its unanimous decision, that it intended to clarify differences between these constitutional limitations. The twenty three page opinion by Chief Justice Draper is now the starting point for research pertaining to (1) Article 3, Section 21, of the Missouri constitution, which prohibits changing the original purpose of a bill passage; (2) Article 3, Section 23 the single subject requirement; and (3) substantive changes to the bill’s title during the legislative process.
It is not uncommon for city charter provisions pertaining to enactment of ordinances to contain similar limitations; therefore, the Courts analysis could apply to city ordinances. For example, Section 2.12 of the Springfield City Charter provides that no bill shall relate to more than one subject, which shall be clearly expressed in the title of the bill. The Springfield Charter provision mirrors a number of other city charters; therefore, there is a need to be aware of this in drafting city ordinances and the occasional challenge to a city ordinance making the analysis provided by the Missouri Supreme Court in this case important for local government practitioners.
Facts and Procedure: Calzone is a Missouri citizen and taxpayer and as such had taxpayer standing because the bills pertain to the expenditure of state money. In May 2017, Calzone, filed two separate, but nearly identical, declaratory judgment actions challenging the constitutional validity of the bills, pleading substantially the same counts in each petition. In Count I, Calzone alleged the original purpose of the bills were changed by amendments thereby violating Article III, Section 21. In Count II, Calzone alleged the final bills violated the single subject requirement of Article III, Section 23. In Count III, Calzone claimed the substantive changes to the bills’ titles, during the legislative process, violated Article III, Sections 21 and 23 because the substantive amendments to the bills’ titles defeated the purpose of these constitutional provisions.
When SB 638 was introduced in 2016 the original title of stated that it was “An act to repeal Section 170.011, RSMo, and to enact in lieu thereof two new sections relating to civics education.” During the legislative process, each chamber of the General Assembly adopted or introduced amendments to SB 638, resulting in a conference committee drafting a compromise bill. The compromise bill contained the original legislation to repeal Section 170.011 and to enact two new sections related to civics education. The compromise bill also included additional provisions concerning new curriculum offerings; programs to assist students, including those with dyslexia; reports about educational quality assurance; charter school certification and funding; school board governance; statutory bonding requirements for school district officers; and expansion of the A+ Schools Program to include nonpublic schools and provide nonpublic school students monetary benefits for postsecondary education. SB 638’s final title, as enacted, is “An act to repeal [twenty] sections … and to enact in lieu thereof twenty-nine new sections relating to elementary and secondary education, with an effective date for a certain section.”
The second bill at issue was SB 665, which when introduced in 2016 the title was “An act to repeal Section 261.235, RSMo, and to enact in lieu thereof one new section relating to the establishment of a fee structure for sellers electing to use the AgriMissouri trademark associated with Missouri agricultural products.” SB 665 underwent amendments during the legislative process, including the repeal of Section 261.235 and enactment of a new section regarding the fee structure to use the AgriMissouri trademark. The amendments also contained provisions concerning certain agricultural tax credits and incentives, provisions related to the AgriMissouri and Farm-to-Table programs, and amendments to the statute regulating the petroleum inspection fee used to fund oversight activities by the department of agriculture. SB 665’s final title, as enacted, is “An act to repeal [nine] sections … and to enact in lieu thereof ten new sections relating to agriculture.”
The circuit court sustained Defendants’ motions for judgment on the pleadings on Counts I and II, finding the bills as enacted did not violate the constitution’s original purpose or single subject requirements. The circuit court sustained Defendants’ motions to dismiss Count III for failure to state a claim. The circuit court overruled Calzone’s summary judgment motions and Calzone appealed both judgments to the Missouri Supreme Court.
Analysis: The Court recognized that Calzone, as a pro se plaintiff, could justifiably be confused because the cases discuss the one subject rule and the original purpose together, which are both intended to prevent legislation that might deceive legislators or the public with respect to its effect, even though they are different as noted below. Chief Justice Draper noted that sometimes the cases use interchangeable terminology and intertwined legal analysis concerning original purpose, single subject and clear title limitations. He warns that despite interchangeable language in a number of opinions the constitutional provisions contained three distinct requirements, which the court sets out to clarify, making this opinion the all-important starting point for your analysis as noted earlier.
Article III, Section 21 – Original Purpose: Calzone argued both bills violated Article III, Section 21, which prevents a bill from being amended during the legislative process to change the bill’s original purpose. The framers of the 1875 Constitution stated the policy behind enacting the first original purpose provision was “[t]o afford security against hasty legislation and guard against the possibility of bills becoming laws, which have not been fairly and considerately passed upon, wholesome restrictions are thrown around the law makers and greater particularity required in the enactment of laws than heretofore.”
Article III, Section 21 “is designed to prevent ‘the enactment of amendatory statutes in terms so blind that legislators … [would be] deceived in regard to their effects, and the public, from difficulty in making the necessary examination and comparison, [would fail] to become apprised of the changes made in the law.’” The Court notes however that Article 3, Section 21 was not designed to inhibit normal legislative processes in which bills are combined and additions necessary to comply with the legislative intent are made. To construe the constitutional provision in such a way would seriously hamper every amendment which might be offered, however germane it might be to the idea as formulated in the first draft. Therefore, the court liberally interprets the procedural limitations of original purpose consistently rejecting “original purpose” challenges in which the content of the bill will remain substantially intact throughout the legislative process as germane amendments were added.
“Purpose” is the key word of the above constitutional provision because purpose means the general purpose of the bill, not the mere details through which and by which that purpose is manifested and effectuated. Consequently, the general purpose is often interpreted as the overarching purpose although Article 3, Section 21’s restriction prohibits the introduction of matters not germane to the object of the legislation or unrelated to its original subject. Furthermore, “germane” is defined as “in close relationship, appropriate, relative, pertinent. Relevant or closely allied.”
Calzone argued that the Circuit Court erred because it applied the wrong standard for establishing the bill’s original purpose by looking at the bills earliest title contents at the time it was introduced. This argument confuses the purpose of the title of the bill, which performs an important function, is nevertheless not strictly a part of the act. “[T]he Constitution does not require that the original purpose be stated anywhere, let alone in the title as introduced.” Moreover, no constitutional provision requires an act to retain the same title throughout the legislative process. Therefore, modification of the title to reflect added provisions is permissible. Also, expanding the title is not a novel proposition, which a court has routinely approved.
The original purpose is measured at the time the bill is introduced. Therefore, the Court will compare the purpose of the bill that is introduced with the bill as passed to determine if it violates Article 3, Section 21. For example, a bill originally related to “contracts for purchasing, printing, and services for statewide elected officials which was amended to include provisions related to ethics was found to be not germane to the original purpose. There are limits but they are few and far between.
Titles that Descend to Particulars
Calzone argued that the bills original titles descended into particulars, which he believed required the court to construe the original purpose of the bills more narrowly. The Court responded:
A title that is broadly worded as to purpose will accommodate many amendments that may garner sufficient support for the bill’s passage. Alternatively, a title that is more limited as to purpose may protect the bill from undesired amendments, but may lessen the ability of the bill to garner sufficient support for passage. Because we are required to uphold the constitutionality of a statute against attack unless the statute clearly and undoubtedly violates the constitution, only clear and undoubted language limiting purpose will support an article III, section 21 challenge.
“For the sole purpose of” is an example of language of specific limitation which would support an original purpose challenge.
In Calzones challenge the bill’s original titles did not contain any specific limiting language indicating a restriction of original purpose (like “limited to” civics education or establishing a fee structure for the use of the AgriMissouri trademark.) Calzone reliance on a number of cases was mistaken because whether a title descends into details particulars is an argument that is employed in clear title challenges, not original purpose challenges. This is particularly true when Article 3, Section 21 contains no requirement that a bill’s original purpose be stated anywhere, yet alone in the title; therefore, the bills did not violate the single subject matter requirement of the Constitution.
Article III, Section 23 – Single Subject
Calzone next argued the bills are unconstitutional because they both contain more than one subject. Article III, section 23 provides, “No bill shall contain more than one subject which shall be clearly expressed in its title ….” This constitutional limitation protects the state, legislators, and citizens, in that [t]he practice of comprising in one bill subjects of a diverse and antagonistic nature, in order to combine in its support members who were in favor of particular measures, but neither of which measures could command the requisite majority on its own merits, was found to be not only a corrupting influence in the legislature itself, but destructive of the best interests of the [s]tate.
Since 1865 this Court has analyzed the single subject requirement numerous times and has “attempted to avoid an interpretation of the Constitution that will ‘limit or cripple legislative enactments any further than what was necessary by the absolute requirements of the law.’”
“A very strict and literal interpretation would lead to many separate acts relating to the same general subject, and thus produce an evil quite as great as the mischief intended to be remedied; hence a liberal interpretation and application” is warranted… Compliance with the single subject requirement is mandatory, not directory.
“[T]his Court’s test for determining whether a bill violates the single subject requirement of article III, section 23, has remained virtually the same since 1869.” A bill does not violate the single subject requirement “[s]o long as ‘the matter is germane, connected, and congruous.’”
This Court will examine “whether all provisions of the bill fairly relate to the same subject, have natural connection therewith or are incidents or means to accomplish its purpose.” “[M]atters which are incongruous, disconnected, and without any mutual relation to each other must not be joined in one bill ….” “[T]he words ‘one subject’ must be broadly read, but not so broadly that the phrase becomes meaningless.”
While Article III, Section 21 does not require the bill’s original purpose to be stated in the title or anywhere else in the bill, Article III, Section 23 specifically mandates the single subject of a bill shall be clearly expressed in its title. This Court examined the bill as it was finally passed to determine whether it violated the single subject requirement. the clear title rule necessarily applies to the version of the bill that passed, not the introduced version,” which it did not.
Substantive Title Changes During the Legislative Process: Calzone further argued that the circuit court erred in dismissing Count III, in both petitions, as non-cognizable claims under Missouri law. In Count III, Calzone alleged the substantive changes to the bills’ titles during the legislative process violated Article III, Sections 21 and 23 because allowing substantive amendments to the bills’ titles defeated the purpose of these constitutional provisions. Calzone further argued the circuit court was mistaken about this Court’s precedent regarding whether the title is a component of a bill. In response the Court noted that as stated previously, because the title is not part of the bill, it may be changed as the bill progresses through the legislative process without violating any of article III’s limitations. Calzone, v. Interim Commissioner of the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, (SC97132 and SC97211, 10/01/19)
Comment Howard: This is not an easy case because it does not provide bright lines or arm rails to tell you when you’re off course. It seems that the first order of business should be to determine what kind of challenge you have and where it fits within the court’s analysis. If you’re relying on an earlier case be sure that the opinion under consideration does not mix different concepts as Chief Justice Draper noted. One interesting thought concerning drafting bills is that by including certain limiting language you may make it more difficult to broaden the purpose by using the phrase “for the sole purpose of” or you can make the bill broader so it can more easily be amended. Also remember that the likelihood of challenges based upon the constitutional provisions discussed in the opinion are not likely to succeed because the courts have recognized that the legislature needs flexibility to engage in a process that allows amendments that are germane to the bill to be added.
Did “Off The Clock” Injuries Arise “Out Of And In The Course Of Employment”?
Introduction: It has been a long time since I have covered a worker’s compensation case but this case seemed particularly important because it focused on the question of whether an employee who was walking into a school slipped and fell on the floor before clocking in was in the course and scope of her employment.
Facts and Procedure: Maral Annayeva (“Claimant”) worked for the Special Administrative Board of the Transitional School District of the City of St. Louis (“Employer”) as a high school teacher at Roosevelt High School teaching English as a second language. Claimant sustained injuries after she slipped and fell in Employer’s hallway at the beginning of her work day.
When Claimant arrived at work at around 7:30 a.m. she parked her car in the school’s parking lot (where students and teachers park) next to the school building. She walked from the parking lot to the school’s main entrance carrying a bag with curriculum folders, student papers and tests, and lesson plans. Claimant always used this entrance to enter the school. When she arrived at the front entrance, she walked through a pair of double doors; there were no mats on the outside of the building, between the two sets of doors, or on the inside of the second set of double doors on which she could wipe her feet. After she entered the building, Claimant was heading to the “clock room” to clock in when she slipped on the floor and fell forwards, landing on her hands and knees. The guards at the entrance rushed over and helped her get up and sit her on a chair. When she sat down, she noticed that her clothes were dirty. Claimant was taken to the nurse’s office where she filled out a report of injury (“Injury Report”). In the Injury Report, Claimant wrote that she had slipped, however, when asked to specify the conditions that caused the accident, she wrote that she “could not determine the cause of the accident.”
That same day, Claimant went to the emergency room and received treatment and medication; Claimant returned to the emergency room the following day due to the pain she was experiencing. Subsequently, Claimant returned to work briefly, but experienced too much pain and could not continue working. Over time, Claimant continued treatment for her injuries that she claimed she sustained from the fall. Her medical records indicated that she received medical treatment, including: injections to her knee, spine adjustments, an MRI of her head, x-rays of her lumbar spine, water therapy, neurological evaluations, and was prescribed psychiatric medication.
Claimant subsequently filed a workers’ compensation claim and presented the above evidence at a hearing was held before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). Both parties also presented experts medical professionals who performed independent medical and psychiatric examinations of Claimant and also presented testimony of vocational rehabilitation counselors, who conducted vocational assessments to determine Claimant’s employability in the open labor market.
Thereafter, the ALJ entered an award denying compensation for benefits because Claimant failed to prove the issue of medical causation. The ALJ found that Claimant had “failed to provide credible testimony to [the] Court” and found that her testimony regarding her “injuries and their subsequent effects verged on the point of malingering.” Further, the ALJ found Claimant’s experts’ opinions “specious” because they were based on Claimant’s “own subjective description of her maladies.” The ALJ concluded that there was “little or no objective medical finding to support any of Claimant’s anomalies.” The ALJ further concluded that “Claimant has not met her burden of showing the incident was the prevailing factor causing the physiological and/or psychological complaints[;]” therefore, the ALJ denied Claimant’s claim on the basis of lack of medical causation, which Claimant appealed to the Labor and Industrial Relations Commission (Commission). In affirming the ALJ’s decision, the Commission determined that Claimant failed to show that she sustained an injury arising out of and in the course of her employment because “there was nothing about [Claimant’s] work that caused her to fall” and the accident occurred before Claimant clocked in for work The Commission also found that Claimant was “injured while she was at work, but not because she was at work” Noting that Claimant had not even clocked in for work, the Commission found that “[Claimant] was not in her course of employment at the time of the incident because she had not started for the day.” The Commission further held that, because Claimant did not establish that her injury arose out of and in the course of her employment and the remaining issues were moot. Claimant appealed to the Eastern District.
Analysis: On appeal Claimant asserted that the Commission erred in determining that injuries did not arise out of and in the course of her employment. The Court begins its analysis with the 2005 amendment to the Missouri Workers Compensation Act (Act) and the narrowing of the definition of accident, in Section 287.020.2, which reads as follows:
2. The word “accident” as used in this chapter shall mean an unexpected traumatic event or unusual strain identifiable by time and place of occurrence and producing at the time objective symptoms of an injury caused by a specific event during a single work shift. An injury is not compensable because work was a triggering or precipitating factor.
The Act also provides that Section 287.020.3 (2) controls the determination of whether an employee’s injury shall be deemed to have arisen out of and in the course of employment.
An injury shall be deemed to arise out of and in the course of the employment only if: (a) It is reasonably apparent, upon consideration of all the circumstances, that the accident is the prevailing factor in causing the injury; and (b) It does not come from a hazard or risk unrelated to the employment to which workers would have been equally exposed outside of and unrelated to the employment in normal nonemployment life.
In determining the risk source of the accident, the Commission concluded that “here, the risk source was walking. [Claimant] was walking on an even flat, surface when she fell. There was nothing about [Claimant’s] work that caused her to fall.”
In an unusual move the Eastern District, disagreed overruling the ALJ and the Commissions’ determination with respect to the credibility of the Claimant noting that:
It is uncontested that Claimant slipped and fell in Employer’s hallway and that she was employed by Employer. Consequently, being employed at the high school exposed her to that particular hazard, in that she walks through that same entrance every day and she walks to the clock room each work day. Claimant’s injury did not result because she was walking; it resulted from walking on Employer’s allegedly unclean floor as a function of her employment and slipping on the foreign substance(s) present on that floor. Therefore, Claimant met her burden of establishing that her injury “arose out of” her employment because it resulted from a condition that was related to her employment.
The Eastern District, noted that there was uncontroverted evidence by the Claimant, which was not impeached or refuted by the state showing that there was “dirt, ice, dust, [and ] moisture” on the linoleum tile surface where the Claimant fell injuring herself.
Despite the 2005 Amendments to the Act the Court noted that “the extension of premises doctrine is not totally eliminated but is now limited to situations where the employer owns or controls the area where the accident occurs.” “Because extension of premises cases involve injuries sustained before or after the actual performance of job duties, the legislature clearly contemplated and accepted compensability of injuries sustained as a result of work related risks even though [an] employee was not engaged in the performance of job duties at the time (e.g.[,] going to or coming from [an] employer’s worksite).” Annayeva vs. SAB of the TSD of the City of St. Louis, (ED107558, 07/30/19)
Comment Howard: I thought that this case was extremely interesting and important because the State decidedly took the position there was no way the claimant was going to get compensated for her injuries by finding that the Claimant was not credible. This made the case noteworthy (I have not seeing one of these) because the Eastern District had to unwind the findings showing that evidence did not support the position taken by the ALJ and the Commission concerning the credibility of the witness. The failure of the State to make any effort to impeach the witness was a major strategic mistake. Of course, once the Eastern District unwound the credibility finding it was able to reach what seemed to me to be an important question as to whether or not “off the clock” injuries are compensable under the 2005 Amendments to the Act.
Police Officer Can Not Lawfully Use Taser Against Defendant Who Did Not Pose A Risk
Facts and Procedure: On July 23, 2013, Jacksonville Police Department (JPD) officers were dispatched to a dispute in progress at Vaughn Tire. The dispute arose because Jackson believed that Vaughn Tire had damaged a wheel lug during the course of a repair of his dump truck. Officer Stair was the first to respond on the scene, where he found Jackson walking with another man. Video evidence showed that Officer Stair asked, “What’s going on guys?” In response, Jackson, who was obviously quite agitated, began to yell and point toward another group of men. Officer Stair instructed Jackson to relax, and Jackson replied, pointing at one of the men, “Get him, and I’m gonna relax.” Officer Stair directed Jackson to go stand by the patrol car. Jackson began to comply, still yelling, when Officer Stair told him to keep his hands out of his pockets. Jackson reached his left hand into his pocket and stopped immediately in front of Officer Stair to shout that he did not have anything in his pockets. Officer Stair ordered Jackson to turn around. Jackson got louder and did not comply. Officer Stair pulled out his Taser, pointed it at Jackson, and again ordered Jackson to turn around, or he would be tasered. More yelling and pointing ensued from Jackson, at one point Jackson shouted: “You tase me and see what happens.” Officer Stair ordered Jackson to turn around five more times before Jackson began to comply.
Officer Stair told Jackson to put his hands up, and he did, but he was still facing Officer Stair. Officer Stair again ordered Jackson to turn around, and Jackson did so with his hands in the air, but Jackson continued to yell, asking for Officer Stair’s badge number and threatening to file a complaint with his supervisor. Another officer, Kenneth Harness, approached Jackson and attempted to handcuff him. Jackson put his hands behind his back, and then he stated: “Don’t hurt my arm.” Jackson turned around to face Officer Harness and raised his right fist toward the officer’s head. Officer Stair immediately deployed his Taser, and Jackson fell to the round, kicking his legs.
Moments later, and without another warning, Officer Stair deployed his Taser a second time. Officer Stair then ordered Jackson to turn on his stomach or he would be tased again. Officer Stair repeated the order, but Jackson rose to one knee, in the direction of Officer Stair. Officer Stair deployed his Taser a third time. Jackson finally complied with the order to lie on his stomach, and Officer Harness handcuffed him. Jackson was arrested for disorderly conduct. Jackson filed a complaint under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against Officer Stair, in his individual and official capacities, the City of Jacksonville (City), and the JPD, alleging that his constitutional rights were violated during the tasing incident. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of the defendants, and Jackson filed a timely notice of appeal to the Eighth Circuit
Analysis: Claims against the City: Jackson lodged several claims against the City, including an official-capacity claim against Officer Stair. Jackson argued that the district court erred in granting summary judgment in favor of the City, because Officer Stair’s conduct during the tasing incident was consistent with a City policy, custom, or practice, and because the City had been deliberately indifferent to Officer Stair’s conduct.
To counter this argument the City submitted copies of its relevant policies and training manuals. Evidence showed that Officer Stair received specific Taser training on top of his general law enforcement training. Moreover, the City investigated the tasing incident after the fact; as a result, Officer Stair received a written warning, and was required to undergo additional use-of-force training. Under Section 1983 a municipality may be held liable for a constitutional violation if the violation resulted from “(1) an ‘official municipal policy,’ (2) an unofficial ‘custom,’ or (3) a deliberately indifferent failure to train or supervise.” Based on the actions of the City and lack of evidence by Jackson to the contrary the Court held that the City was entitled to summary judgment as to Jackson’s claims against the City.
First Amendment Free Speech Claim: Jackson also claimed that the officers’ actions violated his First Amendment rights by detaining him based on his speech. Nevertheless, the video evidence clearly showed that Jackson was loud and profane during the minutes surrounding the tasing incident. It showed that the arrest was grounded in an effort by Officer Stair to restrain Jackson and that the speech and non-speech elements were combined in the same course of conduct. There was no evidence to support a First Amendment claim, “Otherwise any foul mouth citizen could bring a constitutional claim against an arresting officer.
Excessive Force Claims: Jackson was tased three separate times by Officer Stair, claiming that he used excessive force violating his fourth amendment right to be free from unreasonable searches or seizures. The Eighth Circuit noted that the District Court treated the three incidents together without analyzing each tasing incident separately. With respect to the first incident, the Court noted that Jackson was aggressive and was given repeated orders to turn around and warned several times that if he did not comply he would be tased. When Jackson raised his fist near the other officer’s head, who was assisting in the arrest, Officer Stair deployed his Taser. Clearly, the evidence in the record showed that the first teasing was objectively reasonable.
Nevertheless, the second tasing was a much different story because in this situation moments after Officer Stair tased Jackson the first time Officer Stair immediately and without warning deployed his Taser a second time. The video showed that Jackson did not appear at that time to pose a threat to law enforcement, resist arrest, or flee. Jackson was on his back and on the ground; therefore, there was a genuine material issue of fact as to whether or not the second tasing was objectively reasonable amounting to the use of excessive force. This claim was remanded to the district court for further proceedings.
The third tasering occurred after Officer Stair gave several clear orders for Jackson to stop moving and lay down on the stomach or he would be tased again. After being warned Jackson moved in the direction of Officer Stair rose to his knee in an attempt to get off the ground at which time Officer Stair deployed his Taser for the third and final time. Based on the record the Eighth Circuit concluded that the third tasering was objectively reasonable. Jackson v. Stair, (8th Cir., 18– 2617, 09/12/19)
Comment Howard: Lawsuits involving the use of tasers are quite common, making it important that appropriate procedures and policies are in place and that the officers are properly trained. In this case, examination of the procedures and policies of the city disclosed that the policies were valid and that in addition to regular training all officers perceived additional training on the use of tasers. Just as important, was the practice of the city to retrain officers who may have an inappropriately used their Taser in violation of the policy. In addition, this case made it extremely clear that if the person is not a threat to the officer or other persons a Taser should not be used because use of such force is not objectively reasonable when there is no threat. The corollary to this rule is that the courts seem to give broad sway to actions by the officer to use a Taser if there was any possibility of a threat.
It is worth noting, that in 2016 the United States Supreme Court remanded a case involving a Massachusetts law that banned the possession of stun guns, noting that the Second Amendment extends prima facie, all instruments that constituted verbal arms, even if they were not in existence at the time of the founding. The Supreme Court remanded the Massachusetts case to the Supreme Court of Massachusetts for further consideration in light of Heller. https://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/15pdf/14-10078_aplc.pdf
Missouri does not prohibit the sale, possession and use of stun guns or tasers all over the misuse of a stun gun in the commission of a crime can result in criminal liability. https://www.stun-gun-defense-products.com/buy-stun-gun/missouri-stun-gun-laws.html
St. Louis County Circuit Court Holds That There Was No Civil Rights Violation For Operating The Bel-Ridge Municipal Court When It’s Statutory Authority Had Expired
Municipalities that operate their own municipal courts are required under the Mack’s Creek law to submit financial reports to the Missouri Auditor, no later than six months after the end of the fiscal year. The purpose of the law is to allow the state auditor to check for compliance with the Mack’s Creek law, which caps revenues from court fines and fees at 30% of the city’s general revenue.
Bel-Ridge failed to file with the state auditor as required by state law in 2013 and 2014, creating a situation whereby operation of law Bel-Ridge lost jurisdiction over Municipal Court violations. Several citizens who paid fines filed a civil rights lawsuit contending that the actions taken by the city violated their civil rights. In order to establish a civil rights violation the plaintiffs were required to show policymaking officials displayed “deliberate indifference to authorization of” the misconduct, after receiving notice of it. The Circuit Court ruled that the plaintiffs failed to establish a “policy” or “custom” that caused their alleged injury as required under the Civil Rights Act. In addition, the court found that public officials were protected by qualified immunity. It is my understanding, that the Plaintiffs will in all likelihood appeal. Interestingly, the plaintiffs tried to show that the Bel-Ridge officials received notice because they were informed by a Missouri Municipal League newsletter about the convening of five regional seminars for associate circuit judges. This argument failed because the plaintiffs did not authenticate the newsletter and seminar registration which made the evidence inadmissible hearsay. Bel-Ridge, is a 0.8-square-mile village of 2,728 residents, issued 7,706 traffic tickets in 2013. You may find that issues discussed in the circuit court’s opinion may be of some value. For more on this case see Pruiett v. Village of Bel-Ridge case no 14 SL-CC03593
Supreme Court Justices Divided On Federal Protections For LGBT Employees
One of the first cases heard in the current term of the United States Supreme Court involved sex discrimination, which is advertised by constitutional law experts is potentially the blockbuster case of the current term. As you may recall we have written numerous articles involving sex discrimination in the MMAA newsletter but we are still waiting for some sort of clarification by the United states Supreme Court, which it seems like we are about to get this term. The arguments are analyzed in a Scotus Blog by Amy Howe, Argument analysis: Justices divided on federal protections for LGBT employees (UPDATED), SCOTUSblog (Oct. 8, 2019, 2:14 PM), https://www.scotusblog.com/2019/10/argument-analysis-justices-divided-on-federal-protections-for-lgbt-employees/
UPDATED: Officers Use Of Force In Suicide Situation Was Not Objectively Reasonable – No Claim Stated For Familial Relationship
We wanted to provide more analysis on the following case which was discussed in the July Newsletter (Issue 07-2019). In particular we wanted to include analysis on the familial relationship claim.
Familial Relationship Claim: The parents, Partridge and Schweikle also claimed that Ellison’s unjustified shooting violated their Fourteenth Amendment to their due process right to a familial relationship. In order to plead a plausible familial-relationship claim under § 1983 a plaintiff must allege that the state action was intentionally directed at the familial relationship. Here, Partridge and Schweikle did not allege in their complaint, or argue on appeal, that Ellison’s shooting was directed at their relationship with Keagan. Therefore, their claim based on a familial relationship was denied. Piper Partridge, Individually as mother and next of kin to Keagan Schweikle and as Special Administratrix of the Estate of Keagan Schweikle v. City of Benton, (8th Cir., 18-1803, 07/03/19)
Comment Howard: This opinion goes into a lot of detail about circumstances involving the use of deadly force in suicide situations. Some pretty fine lines were discussed, so this case would be a good one to drill down on the use of excessive force in suicide situations.