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Case Summary for December 14, 2015


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 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


9:30 a.m. Monday, December 14, 2015

Lashiya D. Ellis v. JF Enterprises LLC d/b/a Jeremy Franklin's Suzuki of Kansas City, Condor Capital Corp.
Jackson County
Enforceability of arbitration provision in contract documents to sell vehicle
Listen to the oral argument: SC95066.mp3SC95066.mp3
The dealership was represented during arguments by Gary Willnauer of Morrow Willnauer Klosterman Church LLC in Kansas City; Ellis was represented by Kate Noland, an attorney in Liberty.

Lashiya Ellis purchased a 2012 Hyundai Sonata in November 2013 from Jeremy Franklinís Suzuki of Kansas City. She signed a retail buyerís order and a retail installment contract under which she traded in her previous vehicle and financed the purchase through Condor Capital Corporation. The dealership also had Ellis sign an arbitration agreement; it also signed all the documents. In July 2014, Ellis sued the dealership, alleging it violated the stateís merchandising practices act and made fraudulent misrepresentations. Specifically, she alleged that the dealership never executed an assignment of title nor delivered the title to her but refused to rescind the sale and that Condor required her to continue making monthly payments on the Sonata. In August 2014, the dealership filed an answer as well as a motion to stay the court proceedings and to compel arbitration instead. The circuit court overruled the motion in October 2014. The court found the contract was fraudulent, void and not enforceable because no title was given to Ellis as required by section 301.210, RSMo. The court also found the arbitration provision must be construed with the remaining contract documents, lacks consideration, and is fraudulent, void and not enforceable. The dealership appeals.

This case presents several issues for the Court in determining whether the circuit court should have granted the dealershipís motion to stay proceedings and compel arbitration. One is whether the arbitration agreement is severable and enforceable separately from the underlying contract documents, including the retail buyerís order and retail installment contract, or whether all the documents should be construed together. Related are questions of whether the underlying contract lacked consideration, making it void under section 301.210, RSMo, and, if so, whether the state law defense of voidability should have applied to invalidate the arbitration agreement as well or whether the parties mutually agreed to arbitrate. Another issue is whether the circuit court or an arbitrator had authority to determine whether Ellisí claim can be arbitrated and whether the underlying contract is void.


State of Missouri v. Daniel D. Hartman
Jasper County
Challenge to exclusion of witness, state argument in murder case
Listen to the oral argument: SC95110.mp3SC95110.mp3
Hartman was represented during arguments by Amy Bartholow of the public defenderís office in Columbia; the state was represented by Dora Fichter of the attorney generalís office in Jefferson City.

The state charged 17-year-old Daniel Hartman and four co-defendants with first-degree murder, armed criminal action and first-degree burglary for the July 2012 shooting death of a man in the manís Joplin home. Hartmanís case was tried to a jury in July 2014. Two of the codefendants pleaded guilty and testified against Hartman; a third codefendant testified on Hartmanís behalf. The state stipulated the fourth codefendant was unavailable for trial and would invoke his Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination in refusing to testify. Testimony differed as to what happened. Hartman sought to call a witness to testify that the fourth codefendant (who would not testify) had told the witness hours after the shooting that the codefendant had shot the victim. The court ultimately granted the stateís motion to exclude this testimony because there was no corroborating evidence and because the proposed witness was not sure he believed what the codefendant had said. During closing arguments, the state told the jury it had not heard evidence that any other person shot the victim. The jury found Hartman guilty as charged. Because Hartman was a juvenile at the time of his crime, the jury then was required to determine whether life in prison without the possibility of parole was a proper punishment. When the jury was unable to reach agreement on that determination, the court vacated Hartmanís convictions for first-degree murder and associated armed criminal action, instead entering convictions for second-degree murder and associated armed criminal action. The jury then recommended life sentences for the murder and armed criminal action convictions and 15 years in prison for the burglary conviction. The court sentenced Hartman accordingly, ordering the sentences to be served concurrently. Hartman appeals.

This appeal presents several questions for the Court. One is whether the trial court violated Hartmanís state and federal constitutional rights to due process, a fundamentally fair trial and to present a defense in excluding the proposed witnessís testimony that the fourth codefendant admitted, in an out-of-court statement, shooting the victim. A related question is whether the excluded testimony, had it been admitted at trial, would have provided a defense resulting in acquittal. Another issue is whether the trial court violated Hartmanís state and federal constitutional rights to due process and a fair trial by a fair and impartial jury in allowing the state to argue in closing that the jury heard no evidence that another person shot the victim when the trial court excluded this evidence. Related is the question of whether allowing the state to make this argument resulted in manifest injustice to Hartman.


State ex rel. Colin M. Hennen v. The Honorable Dennis Rolf
Lafayette County
Effect of earned compliance credits on end of probationary term, courtís authority to hold revocation hearing
Listen to the oral argument: SC95132.mp3SC95132.mp3
Hennen was represented during arguments by Clayton Gillette of the Gillette Law Office LLC in Kansas City; the state was represented by Scott Ison of the Lafayette County prosecutorís office in Lexington.

In May 2012, Colin Hennen pleaded guilty to a drug charge, and the circuit court suspended imposition of sentence and placed Hennen on five years of supervised probation, in part requiring Hennen to complete a post-conviction drug treatment program. In September 2012, the state released Hennen from the program and transferred his probation to Pennsylvania, where he resides. He subsequently began receiving credits pursuant to section 217.703, RSMo, which allows him to earn 30 days of credit for each full calendar month in which he complies with his probation. In November 2014, the state applied to revoke Hennenís probation, alleging he failed to pay restitution as required by the court and prove to his probation officer that he had completed his required community service. Once Hennen completed the restitution and community service requirements, the state withdrew its application. In February 2015, the state filed field violation reports alleging Hennen had been arrested and charged with drug crimes in Pennsylvania. The state also filed an application to revoke Hennenís probation and issued a warrant for his arrest. Hennen pleaded guilty to a lesser drug charge and was held in Pennsylvania pending his transfer back to Missouri. After Pennsylvania notified Missouri that Hennen was available for transport, he was returned to Missouri in April 2015. Hennen filed a motion to discharge probation, alleging the state failed to take every reasonable effort to hold the revocation hearing before his probation expired, which he alleged occurred in March 2015. The circuit court ultimately overruled Hennenís motion to discharge probation and set a July 2015 hearing on the stateís motion to revoke probation. Hennen seeks relief from this Court.

This case presents one primary issue for the Court involving what compliance credits Hennen earned, when his probation ends and what circumstances affected the timing of the revocation hearing. The question now is whether the circuit court has authority to hold a revocation hearing or revoke probation.


Peggy Stevens McGraw and Samuel C. Jones, on Behalf of Themselves and All Others Similarly Situated v. State of Missouri, Missouri State Employees' Retirement System, Missouri Commissioner of Administration Doug Nelson, and Missouri State Treasurer Clint Zweifel
Cole County
Sovereign immunity, challenge regarding effect of federal action on state compensation
Listen to the oral argument: SC95271.mp3SC95271.mp3
The retired judges were represented during arguments by Matt Dameron of Williams Dirks Dameron LLC in Kansas City and Brett Emison of Langdon & Emison in Lexington; the state, Nelson and Zweifel were represented by Robert Presson of the attorney generalís office in Jefferson City; and MOSERS was represented by Allen Allred of Thompson Coburn LLP in St. Louis.

Under article XIII, section 3 of the state constitution, a citizens commission establishes a schedule of compensation for Missouri judges, among others. In its 2010 schedule, the commission indexed the compensation of Missouri state judges to the compensation received by their federal counterparts. That schedule took effect July 1, 2012. Also in 2012, a federal appellate court held, in Beer v. United States, that federal judges were entitled to automatic, annual cost-of-living adjustments to their base salaries under a 1989 federal act and the compensation clause of the federal constitution and directed the federal trial court to calculate back wages to adjust for cost-of-living increases the federal judges had not been paid. Beer applied only to the judges who had filed suit. The next year, another federal court held, in Barker, et al. v. United States, that all federal judges Ė including those who had retired during the relevant time frame Ė had been denied cost-of-living increases improperly and were entitled to receive those increases. The federal government subsequently began paying its judges their full salaries in accordance with the act. Beginning in July 2014 (the beginning of the stateís fiscal year), the state began paying its judges salaries reflecting the increase in the federal judgesí pay. In December 2014, two retired Missouri judges Ė Peggy Stevens McGraw, a circuit judge who retired in October 2013, and Samuel Jones, an associate circuit judge who retired in November 2014 Ė filed a proposed class-action lawsuit alleging they were entitled to back pay for July 2012 through June 2014 (and commensurate retirement benefits) based on the pay their federal counterparts should have been receiving during that time. They amended their petition in March 2015, ultimately naming as defendants the state of Missouri, the Missouri State Employeesí Retirement System (MOSERS), the state treasurer and the state commissioner of administration. The circuit court ultimately dismissed the lawsuit, stating that no claims had been pleaded against the treasurer and commissioner in their individual capacities, that sovereign immunity barred the action, and that the 2010 compensation schedule had not been violated. The two retired judges appeal.

This case presents several questions for the Court in determining whether the circuit court erred in dismissing the retired judgesí claims. One is whether the state (or MOSERS or the individual defendants) waived sovereign immunity or expressly consented to suits to enforce the compensation schedule or authorized financial obligations. A related issue is the extent to which article XIII, section 3 must be interpreted in light of or harmonized with other portions of the constitution relating to the stateís fiscal year and legislative appropriations. The parties dispute the extent to which the constitutional validity of the 2010 compensation schedule is directly at issue in this appeal. Another question is whether the retired judges alleged facts demonstrating that article XIII, section 3 or the compensation schedule has been violated. Related to this question is whether the compensation schedule operates prospectively only or whether judicial compensation can be increased retroactively, raising related issues of whether the state unlawfully underpaid Missouri judges from July 2012 through June 2014 and, if so, whether the state is liable for any back pay. Further issues involve whether the 2010 schedule adequately fixes compensation, unlawfully delegates state legislative power to the federal government, conflicts with the stateís constitutional appropriations process or results in unlawful retroactive compensation. An additional related question involves whether MOSERS correctly determined McGrawís retirement benefits based on the salary she received in October 2013 when she terminated her employment and whether that salary was correct.


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