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Chief justice seeks public defender aid

Missouri Supreme Court Chief Justice Laura Denvir Stith used the annual State of the Judiciary Address to call for "creative solutions" to assist the state's public defender system. She also called for using "resources more efficiently" in a difficult budget environment. Her comments came a day after Gov. Jay Nixon's proposed budget called for a roughly $1 million increase to the Office of the State Public Defender, including money to hire 12 additional staff members. Public defender officials said it would be the first staff increase to the system in years.

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Court delivers blow to arbitration agreements

In a pair of decisions that caught the attention of lawyers across the state, the Missouri Supreme Court for the first time weighed in on the enforceability of arbitration agreements in nursing home contracts. The early outlook for business interests is not good, according to lawyers who defend businesses in injury cases. The court ruled that the surviving children of nursing home residents are not bound by the fine print legal clauses in their parents' contracts, and a concurring opinion found them to be unconscionable adhesion contracts.

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