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Case Summary for December 13, 2011

THE FOLLOWING DOCKET SUMMARIES ARE PREPARED BY THE COURT'S STAFF FOR THE INTEREST AND CONVENIENCE OF THE READER. THE SUMMARIES MAY NOT INCLUDE ALL ISSUES PENDING BEFORE THE COURT AND DO NOT REFLECT ANY OPINION OF THE COURT ON THE MERITS OF A CASE. COPIES OF ALL BRIEFS FILED WITH THE COURT ARE AVAILABLE AT THE SUPREME COURT BUILDING, COURT EN BANC DIVISION. SUMMARIES ARE UNOFFICIAL AND SHOULD NOT BE QUOTED OR CITED.


Attached to the following docketed cases are electronic copies of briefs filed by the parties. These electronic briefs have been converted to PDF to accommodate various word processors. If you do not already have Acrobat reader, which is necessary to open the PDFs, you may obtain it free at the Adobe website. (A set of free tools that allow visually disabled users to read documents in Adobe PDF format is available from access.adobe.com.) These briefs do not reflect any opinion of the Court about the appropriateness of the format of the briefs or the merits of the case, nor are they official court records. Copies of all briefs filed with the Court are available at the Supreme Court Building in the court en banc division.

The attachments below may not reflect all briefs filed with the Court, the complete filing or the format of the original filing. Appendices and other attachments generally will not be posted here. To see what documents have been filed in a particular case, visit Case.net.



DOCKET SUMMARIES
SUPREME COURT OF MISSOURI
9:30 a.m. Tuesday, Dec. 13, 2011

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SC91670
State of Missouri v. Danny Vaughn
Scott County
Constitutional validity of burglary and harassment statute

Listen to the oral argument: SC91670.mp3
The state was represented during arguments by John Grantham of the attorney general's office in Jefferson City, and Vaughn was represented by Ellen Flottman of the public defender's office in Columbia.

Danny Vaughn was charged with burglary and harassment under section 565.090.1, RSMo, for allegedly making repeated phone calls to his ex-wife and entering her house without permission to frighten her. The trial court dismissed both charges, finding that section 565.090.1 was unconstitutionally overbroad and that its phrase ďwithout good causeĒ made the statute vague. The state appeals.

The state argues the trial court wrongly found the statute was unconstitutionally overbroad or vague. It contends the law gives adequate notice of the actions that violate section 565.090.1, thereby informing the public and preventing discriminatory enforcement. The state further asserts the evidence would show Vaughn is guilty of the felony burglary charge because Vaughn entered a building to harass someone knowing he was breaking the law.

Vaughn responds that the trial court ruled correctly in that section 565.090.1 is broad and unconstitutionally vague. He contends the law violates the First and Fourteenth amendments to the United States Constitution as well as article I of the Missouri Constitution. To the extent that the law affects constitutionally protected speech and conduct, Vaughn asserts that the law is substantially overbroad.

SC91670_State_brief.pdfSC91670_Vaughn_brief.pdfSC91670_State_reply_brief.pdf


SC91150
State ex rel. Missouri Public Defender Commission, Cathy R. Kelly and Rod Hackathorn v. The Honorable John S. Waters and the Honorable Mark Orr
Christian County
Ability of public defenders to limit cases assigned to them

Listen to the oral argument: SC91150.mp3
The public defender commission was represented during arguments by Stephen Hanlon of Holland & Knight LLP in Washington, DC, and the judges were represented by Donovan Dobbs of the prosecuting attorney's office in Christian county.

Due to concerns about the increasing caseload of the stateís public defenders, a senate interim committee and a state bar task force made certain recommendations. In response to those recommendations, the legislature enacted section 600.042, RSMo, authorizing the state public defender to establish a protocol for determining the maximum number of cases each of its district offices could be assigned. Under the protocol adopted by the state public defender, when the number of cases assigned to a particular district has exceeded that districtís maximum for three consecutive months, the district director can file a certification of limited availability with the local presiding judge. In 2008, the director of the public defender district encompassing Greene County (the 31st Judicial Circuit) and Christian and Taney counties (the 38th Judicial Circuit) initiated this protocol and met with the presiding judges of the two circuits and the local prosecuting attorneys to reduce the public defenderís caseload. In 2010, the districtís caseload still exceeded the maximum set by the protocol, and the defenders, prosecutors and judges were unable to agree on a method to reduce it. The public defenders filed a motion to set aside the appointment of their office for new defendants who, although they qualify for representation by the public defender, would push the public defenderís office beyond its maximum set under the protocol. The circuit court overruled the motion. The public defenders seek review in this Court, which appointed a master to compile evidence and submit to the Court a report regarding the issues raised. The masterís report recommends overruling the state public defenderís protocol in light of consequences the caseload limits have on the criminal justice system.

The public defenders argue they are entitled to an order prohibiting the presiding judges from appointing them to represent otherwise eligible defendants in situations in which the defenders have declined representation due to limited availability under the caseload protocol. They contend their heavy caseload could cause them to provide incompetent or unethical representation to their clients if the defenders are forced to choose between existing clients and the new clients appointed to them. The defenders assert the only constitutional way to interpret section 600.042 is to allow them to limit their caseload to ensure effective, conflict-free counsel. They argue the protocol justifies their decision to decline to represent an otherwise eligible defendant when doing so would violate the defenderís obligations and ethical duties to existing clients and the new client.

The Christian County prosecuting attorney responds that the public defendersí request for an order prohibiting the appointment of eligible defendants to them is moot (no longer an issue) because the relevant underlying cases have been resolved. If the request is not dismissed as moot, then the prosecutor argues the presiding judges did not exceed their authority by appointing the public defenders to represent eligible defendants. The prosecuting attorney also asserts this Court the remedy of a writ of prohibition is not appropriate here because prohibition should be used only in cases of extreme necessity.

The American Bar Association argues, as a friend of the Court, that proper consideration should be given to the rules of ethics and professional obligations as provided in the Supreme Court of Missouri rules and ABA model rules. It contends these rules require all lawyers to provide diligent and competent representation to each of their clients. The Association asserts a lawyer either should refuse or withdraw from any representation that would cause them to violate these obligations. It further argues that proper consideration should be given to the public defenderís assessment that assignments sometimes must be stopped or withdrawals allowed to prevent violation of ethical and professional obligations.

The Missouri Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers argues, as a friend of the Court, that coercing attorneys to provide free services to defendants entitled to counsel amounts to an unconstitutional taking of private property for public use without just compensation. Alternatively, it contends this constitutes a taking of private property without a public purpose in violation of the Missouri Constitution. As to any potential remedy requiring that private attorneys be appointed to represent indigent defendants, the association asserts that if all attorneys (regardless of their area of practice) are appointed, then ineffective assistance of counsel is inevitable (as some will be practicing outside their area of expertise), but that if only criminal defense attorneys are appointed, then they are unfairly burdened because of their area of practice. The association argues that requiring private attorneys to represent indigent defendants would subject the defendants to substandard representation and inexperience and would cause conflicts of interest to arise in attorneysí attitudes toward their appointed clients.


SC91150_public_defenders_brief.pdfSC91150_prosecuting_attorney_brief.pdfSC91150_public_defenders_reply_brief.pdf

SC91150_American_Bar_Association_amicus_brief.pdfSC91150_Mo_Ass'n_of_Criminal_Defense_Lawyers_amicus_brief.pdf

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