Missouri. Supreme Court Considers Red Light Camera Cases
December 3, 2014

(AP) — Attorneys for several St. Louis-area cities sought to defend the use of traffic cameras to spot speeding and stoplight violations Tuesday as the Missouri Supreme Court heard arguments on whether the local ordinances should be struck down.

The three traffic-camera cases all have slightly different twists, but could help settle the legal uncertainty over whether cities can issue tickets to vehicle owners on the presumption that they were the drivers and, if so, whether the same penalties should apply as if they were pulled over by a police officer.

At issue are challenges to traffic-camera ordinances used for stoplights in St. Louis and the suburb of St. Peters and for speed-limit enforcement in the suburb of Moline Acres. Lower courts invalidated the ordinances, in part because they ruled that the measures conflicted with state laws. The cities appealed.

The Supreme Court’s eventual decision also could affect how traffic cameras are used in dozens of other communities around Missouri. The court does not say when it will rule on the cases.

St. Louis Police Chief Sam Dotson, who attended Tuesday’s hearings, said the city has placed cameras at about 50 intersections in order to free officers to focus on other crimes.

“It has a real payoff – it keeps the community safe, and it keeps more police officers in our neighborhoods,” Dotson said after the hearings.

In St. Louis, tickets are issued to the owner of a vehicle shown running a red light, and that person then can assert that someone else actually was driving the vehicle.

That’s contrary to typical criminal proceedings, in which prosecutors bear the burden of proof, argued attorney Bevis Schock, who represented vehicle owners in all three cases.

“These protections of the Constitution … are completely rejected in this scheme from the city of St. Louis,” Schock told the judges. “They hand you an affidavit and say, `Prove you didn’t do it.’ That’s crazy.”

St. Peters uses cameras to capture images of both the vehicle license plate and the driver. Its red-light tickets are issued to the operator, not necessarily the owner, of the vehicle, said attorney Scott Williams, who represents the city. As is the case in most Missouri cities, St. Peters does not supply the state with information to assess points against a person’s driver’s license for red-light camera violations.

Former Missouri Justice Ron White Confirmed as Federal Judge
July 16, 2014

Fifteen years after a decisive defeat at the hands of a Republican Senate, Ronnie White is on his way to the federal bench.

The former Missouri Supreme Court Justice was approved by the Senate, now controlled by Democrats, to serve as a judge in the Eastern District of Missouri on Wednesday afternoon, 53-44. The vote marks a significant turnaround from 1999, when White was turned away from the federal bench in a party line vote and cast by Republicans as soft on crime.

“It’s not often that the Senate has a chance to go back and fix a grievous error that occurred in our history. And that error occurred in 1999 when a good and qualified man was defeated in the United States Senate,” said Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), who served as Missouri’s state auditor at the time. “This is a mainstream jurist. This is not someone who is outside of the mainstream.”

Missouri Closes in On Setting 2 More Executions, Could Set Record
March 14, 2014

(AP) – Missouri is on pace for a record number of executions in 2014, with two more inmates on the verge of getting their execution dates.

The Missouri Supreme Court on Thursday issued show cause orders in the cases of Leon Taylor and Michael Worthington. The orders give attorneys for the two men until April 14 to show why an execution date should not be set.

Missouri executed two men late last year and has already put to death two other convicted killers in the first two months of 2014 – Herbert Smulls in January and Michael Taylor in February.

Jeffrey Ferguson is scheduled to die March 26 for abducting and killing a teenager in St. Charles County in 1989. In addition to Taylor and Worthington, the Supreme Court has issued show cause orders for five other death row inmates, meaning their execution dates could be set soon.

Missouri’s highest number of executions in a year was nine in 1999. The state executed eight men in 1938 and seven in 2001

Chastain Calls for August Vote on Revived Mass Transit Plan
February 5, 2014

Light Rail Activist Clay Chastain says Kansas City should put in multi-billion dollar light rail
Plan on the August 2014 Missouri primary ballot.
Chastain claimed victory in a news release after Tuesday’s Missouri Supreme Court opinion
The opinion sends the matter back to the trial court. The majority opinion says the trial judge made some errors.
The opinion, however, did not endorse Chastain’s plan.
Chastain sued the city, saying it had no right to not present voters with his plan after he obtained the required voter signatures to put it on the ballot.
Chastain now wants the August vote.
“What are they afraid of?” He asked in his statement.
The City intends to put the first of two street care expansion votes on the same August ballot.
The City has plans to extend its still-under-construction street care line to much of the heart of the city.
The original two-mile line will go from the River Market area to Union Station.
Construction starts later this
Month. It’s expected to be running in late 2015.

Missouri Supreme Coury IKs Student Transfers Out of KC District
December 10, 2013

The Missouri Supreme Court has ruled students from the unaccredited Kansas City District may transfer to adjoining suburban schools.
The court ruled the transfers would not place a new burden on the receiving schools systems, but only re-locates existing state money.
Kansas City had argued the transfer would severely hurt the district’s enrollment and its finances.
Suburban schools fear being swamped with student fleeing a failing school system.
The ruling may turn the issue of student transfers into one of the pressing issues lawmakers will deal with when the 2014 legislative session starts next month.


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