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Missouri Lawyers Weekly: 10 reader favorites

These 10 Missouri Lawyers Weekly stories generated buzz around the water coolers and serve as evidence of the first-rate journalism covering the legal community that you’ll only find inside the pages of Missouri Lawyers Weekly.

1. The fighter: Judge Larry Permuter steps into boxing ring
In Round One, the punch to his face lands fast and hard. Larry Permuter stumbles backward in the ring, then falls on his side, his nose bloodied. On a white towel, his trainer presses out six, seven, eight meat-red stains. There’s no shame in calling it a day. But the 63-year-old associate circuit judge says he’s good for more. So he and his 16-year-old opponent, Tommy Daniels, square off again. » Read more

2. Mayor Sly James governs lawyer-style
Sly James is not the kind of guy — or mayor — to let showing up at the wrong place trouble him for long.

He’s used to overcoming obstacles. After all, he’s a politician with the first name Sly who persuaded the people of Kansas City to elect him, despite an initial lack of recognition of his name. He’s also a plaintiffs personal injury lawyer, the first person with a law degree to win the office since the 1970s. » Read more

3. You’ve been served: Process servers use politeness, persistence, guile to get job done

When a man attacked Dawn Voss with a frozen tuna, the incident became one of her better stories.

Voss had tried to serve papers on him and was unsuccessful, so she brought them to the fish packing plant where he worked. Voss donned a hard hat and sneaked in. The man took off running, throwing the 20-pound frozen fish at Voss as he went. » Read more

4. Slam dunk: Spirits of St. Louis most profitable franchise in sports history

Thirty-five years ago, what would become one of the greatest sports deals in history didn’t seem so remarkable.

Sports Illustrated made no note of it. Neither did the hometown St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Most people thought the issue had been decided a month before, in June 1976. That’s when the National Basketball Association owners settled an antitrust suit with its players and agreed to merge with the American Basketball Association.

All that was left, as a Sports Illustrated columnist wrote at the time, were a few loose ends and counter-signatures. » Read more


5. Loads of internal documents litter Locust Street

There they were, in open bins on a sidewalk in downtown St. Louis: enough internal documents to make the heart of a Macy’s competitor or a business journalist go pitter-patter.

But also enough vendor and customer information, including debit card numbers, to make privacy experts or concerned consumers scream.

Macy’s Inc., which announced the closure of its Midwest division in downtown St. Louis last year, was cleaning out some of its offices.

But there was a snag. » Read more


6. Chief Justice Teitelman wins over critics with work ethic, brains, personality

Widely regarded as an incurable liberal, a frequent dissenter, the only appellate judge in recent memory to face a serious retention challenge, Richard B. Teitelman is the Missouri Supreme Court’s most controversial judge — on paper.

In person, he is perhaps the court’s most beloved member. An unerring presence at parties, an inveterate glad-hander, he’s the judge who wanders through the courtroom before a hearing to say hello, then compliments the lawyers after their arguments.

That charm has proved to be a powerful weapon. » Read more

7. Doe Run jurors reflect on three-month trial, $358 million decision

Every day — for three months — they sat in judgment on wooden chairs, listening as dozens upon dozens of witnesses testified about the lead that poisoned children and the corporations behind the smelter that dominates the small town of Herculaneum.

Six years of motions, depositions and countless hours of preparation would come down to what a dozen St. Louis city residents would take away from all that testimony.

Ultimately, the jurors in Alexander v. Fluor, otherwise known as the Doe Run trial, would deliver the third-highest verdict in state history: $358.5 million, ranking only behind one against a mass murderer and one against a pharmacist who diluted people’s cancer drugs. » Read more

8. Missouri’s peculiar system takes a toll on rural lawyers

Every four years for the last quarter century, H. Scott Summers has wondered if his job as a part-time prosecutor is worth it.

“There were times I wouldn’t file for re-election until the very last day in the hopes that somebody else would run,” the long-time prosecutor in northeast Missouri’s Clark County said. “Basically, I was trying to decide myself, do I want four more years of this headache?”

In 2010, Summers pursued his long-deferred dream of running for Clark County’s associate judgeship but lost the election. Yet in nearby Schuyler County the prosecutor’s office went vacant. So late last year, at Gov. Jay Nixon’s request, Summers found himself as a part-time prosecutor once again.  » Read more

9. Two Missouri deer-doggers challenge hunting regulations as unconstitutional

Neil Turner loves to hear a hound hunt.

The dog disappears from sight, tromping through the crunchy underbrush, wet nose to the ground. Later, in the distance, the dog howls and whines, then barks ecstatically.

“Some people like to listen to the ocean,” Turner said. “I like to hear the race. It’s a dog doing its job.”

Turner, a 28-year-old from Fairdealing, deep in southeastern Missouri, is less enthusiastic about another sound: the metal clanking of the waist and ankle shackles clamped on him in 2009 when conservation agents arrested him on accusations of illegal “deer-dogging,” or using dogs to hunt deer, in the Mark Twain National Forest. » Read more

Pro Se proliferates10. Number of pro se litigants soars in some counties

When the Missouri Supreme Court approved standardized divorce pleadings in late 2008, about the only thing both sides in the
debate agreed up on was that it would, for better or worse, increase the number of people using them.

They were right, according to some anecdotal evidence.

In just over two years since the forms became widely available, some counties are reporting significant jumps in pro se litigants. No official statewide statistics on the number of pro se litigants are available. » Read more

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