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Home / Opinions / Courts / Missouri Supreme Court / Missouri Supreme Court Digest: Feb. 2, 2023

Missouri Supreme Court Digest: Feb. 2, 2023



Threatening of Political Opponents

Respondent challenged the disciplinary hearing panel’s recommendation of suspension. Respondent, an associate circuit judge, was reprimanded for threatening involvement in a circuit clerk candidate’s campaign if she did not remove respondent’s opponent’s signs from her yard. Respondent also threatened to file an ethics complaint against his opponent and publicly disclose her husband’s infidelity if she chose to run against him again. The disciplinary panel found that respondent’s conduct violated the code of judicial conduct and rules of professional conduct.

Where respondent violated multiple professional rules of conduct by threatening his election opponent with an ethics complaint to keep her from running, respondent’s suspension was the appropriate sanction due to the potential damage he caused to the legal system.


In re: Prewitt (MLW No. 79379/Case No. SC99627 – 22 pages) (Supreme Court of Missouri, Ransom, J.) Original Disciplinary Proceeding (Nancy L. Ripperger, Jefferson City, for petitioner) (Michael Gross, St. Louis, and Ira M. Berkowitz, St. Louis, for respondent)


Criminal Law

Sex Offenders

Removal from Registry

Petitioners appealed the denial of their requests to be removed from the sex offender registry. Petitioners had argued that, as Tier I offenders, they were subject to a limited term of registration that they had completed and thus were eligible for removal from the sex offender registry. The trial court denied the petitions, concluding that statutory law required lifetime registration for anyone who had been required to register under the federal sex offender registry.

Where amendments to Missouri’s sex offender registry statutes did not alter the statutory provision that required lifetime registration for anyone required to register under the federal SORNA, the trial court correctly concluded that petitioners were ineligible for removal from the Missouri sex offender registry.

Breckenridge, J., dissenting: “When properly read, the plain language of section 589.400.1(7) does not mandate lifetime registration for every person who has been or is required to register under federal law. The relevant portion of section 589.400.1(7) states, “Sections 589.400 to 589.425 shall apply to: . . . (7) Any person who is a resident of the state who . . . has been or is required to register under . . . federal law[.]” Subdivision (7) provides merely that residents of Missouri who have ever been required to register by federal law are subject to MO-SORA’s provisions.”

Judgment is affirmed.

Smith v. St. Louis County Police (MLW No. 79378/Case Nos. SC99715 & SC999714 – 26 pages) (Supreme Court of Missouri, Fischer, J.) Appeal from circuit court, St. Louis County, Lay, J. (Nathaniel Diekman, Clayton, and Stephen R. Fleddermann, St. Charles, for petitioners) (Portia J. Britt, Clayton, Gregory M. Goodwin and George R. Lankford, Jefferson City, for respondent)


Real Property

Reformation of Deed

Mutual Mistake

Defendants appealed a judgment that reformed a property deed and divested defendants of their interest in the property. Plaintiff and her husband owned property and wished to leave it to defendants, their children. They executed deeds that left a remainder interest in one tract to all three children, and a remainder interest in a second tract to one child, Dennis, for his life with a subsequent remainder interest to his children. Plaintiff sought to reform the deed to the second tract, alleging that Dennis was only supposed to receive a remainder interest in the second tract. The trial court granted judgment for plaintiff.

Where plaintiff failed to show that the attorney’s scrivener’s error constituted a mutual mistake because the attorney merely acted as agent for plaintiff and her husband, or to show that there was any fraud or bad faith that prevented plaintiff from timely discovering the mistake in the deed, plaintiff was not entitled to obtain reformation of the deed.

Judgment is reversed and remanded.

Singleton v. Singleton (MLW No. 79380/Case No. SC99592 – 14 pages) (Supreme Court of Missouri, Draper, J.) Appeal from circuit court, Stoddard County, Preyer, J. (Michael Moroni, Cape Girardeau, for petitioners) (Christopher L. Yarbro, Poplar Bluff, for respondent)



Bicycle Accident

Notice of Suit

Plaintiff appealed the dismissal of his lawsuit against defendant city. Plaintiff fell off his bicycle while crossing an open-grated bridge in the city. Defendant moved to dismiss the action because plaintiff had not provided written notice of his claim within 90 days of the accident or at any time prior to filing suit. The trial court granted the motion, rejecting plaintiff’s assertion that the notice requirement was unconstitutional.

Where the constitutional provision cited by plaintiff did not apply to defendant, which did not meet the provision’s population requirement, defendant was not prohibited from enacting its own notice requirement and thus the trial court correctly concluded that plaintiff failed to give timely notice.

Judgment is affirmed.

Zang v. City of St. Charles (MLW No. 79381/Case No. SC99419 – 13 pages) (Supreme Court of Missouri, Ransom, J.) Appeal from circuit court, St. Charles County, Pelikan, J. (Andrew Martin, Brent A. Sumner, and John Greffet, Clayton, for petitioner) (Portia C. Kayser and Joshua C. Grumke, St. Louis, for respondent)