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October 2, 2019

Messenger: St. Louis County, three municipalities, accused of charging illegal court costs

  • Jun 19, 2019

John Cibulka was hanging out watching his son’s baseball practice when a thought in the back of his head started nagging at him.

“I got the feeling that I was supposed to be somewhere else,” says the 59-year-old south St. Louis County resident.

Indeed, he was. In court.

It was 2013, and Cibulka was fighting a ticket he got the year before for running a red light. He made his first court date, pleaded not guilty, and a new court date was set in St. Louis County Municipal Court.

When he realized his mistake, Cibulka called his lawyer, who then negotia...

Messenger: Who pays restitution when courts take illegal fees from defendants? Two Missouri cases will decide.

At the heart of nearly every debate over criminal justice reform these days is one word:


And so it was last month in the St. Louis County courtroom of Circuit Court Judge Brian May.

At issue was what to do when a defendant misses a court date.

“Our system kind of collapses if people don’t show up,” May said.

He was hearing arguments in a class-action lawsuit brought by attorney Rob Schultz against the county over the long-standing practice of the municipal court in St. Louis County to attach a $75 court cost to cases as a penalty for those wh...

June 1, 2018

Generally, the photographer owns the copyright in photographs he takes. Of course, if a photographer working for someone else, then the photographer’s employer may own the copyright in the photographs. A photographer may transfer or not receive a copyright if he agrees to assign his copyright or if the photographer is employed and his work requires the photographer to take the photos.

Now if the photographer owns the copyright he may sue someone who copies or uses his photos without his permission or license.

However, if a photographer timely registers his photographs with the United States Copyright Office and receives a certificate of registration he c...

Congratulations to Robert Schultz and Ronald J. Eisenberg, who each recently received the "Missouri Lawyers 2018 Award" for obtaining one of the top 5 plaintiff’s verdicts statewide, recognizing their success in a robocall class action lawsuit under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act involving more than 3 million calls!

More on the lawsuit here.

September 19, 2017

Plaintiffs do not always know the names of all defendants when the complaint is filed. They name “John Doe,” hoping to amend when the defendants become known. In Heglund v. City of Grand Rapids, No. 16-3063 (8th Cir. Sept. 7, 2017), Jennifer Heglund and her husband sued cities and counties, state officials, and hundreds of John and Jane Does, alleging that officers had improperly accessed their private information in a driver’s license database. They amended their complaint to replace a John Doe with a former assistant chief of police. The district court granted summary judgment on the ground that the claim was barred by the statute of limitations. The...

August 23, 2017

The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals, in Kuhns v. Scottrade, Inc., No. 16-3426 (8th Cir. Aug. 21, 2017), just issued a decision, addressing an issue that is being raised more and more frequently by defendants in class actions in federal court, Article III standing or lack thereof. Citing Spokeo, Inc. v. Robins, 136 S. Ct. 1540, 1547 (2016), the Eighth Circuit explained:

Constitutional standing (as opposed to statutory standing) is a threshold question that determines whether a federal court has jurisdiction over a plaintiff’s claims. Article III extends judicial power only to “cases” and “controversies.” This limitation imposes as an “irreducible constit...

August 11, 2017

You risk your personal assets unless your horse-related business, no matter how small, is organized as a separate legal entity. If you fail to formally structure your business as a separate legal entity, a sole proprietorship or a general partnership will be presumed and your personal assets will be at risk.

Every horse-related business, no matter how small, should be organized as one of the following legal entities:

  • Corporation (ch. 351, RSMo)

  • Limited Liability Company (LLC or LC) (ch. 347, RSMo)

  • Limited Liability Partnership (LLP) (ch. 359, RSMo)

As preliminary matters, you should register the name of your business with the Missouri Sec...

August 7, 2017

Most city officials serve because they are committed to public service and seek to improve or protect their neighborhoods and the broader community. Do city officials forfeit their right to speak out on, to participate in discussions or deliberations about, or to vote on matters in which they have a personal or economic interest? When a zoning issue comes before the city that would directly affect themselves or their immediate neighborhood, are they prohibited from acting on it?


This section only addresses a number of Missouri statutes regulating conflicts of interest, §§ 105.450 - 105.498, R.S.Mo. Many cities' codes of...

July 19, 2017

There are several horses that are known for their artwork. Not paintings OF horses, but paintings BY horses. These horses hold paintbrushes in their teeth, and paint abstract artwork. One of the most famous horse/artist is Metro Meteor, a former race horse, which was not going to have a second career as a pleasure horse. However, it was discovered that Metro could hold a paintbrush in his teeth and create beautiful bold colorful abstract paintings. He literally saved his life with his painting! Metro’s paintings are sold for about $500 each, and proceeds go to other horses in need. Metro has his own social media account! Another horse, Cholla, has had...

Local governments normally have many boards or commissions, for the most part comprised of appointed volunteers. For instance, a city with zoning must have a board of adjustment and a planning and zoning commission. A question local governments face, but may not give much thought to, is who can serve on these boards. Everyone should be aware that the members of certain racial, religious, or sexes cannot be forbidden from serving on government boards. But you should also be aware of another limitation: boards should not be limited to landowners.

May the members of a government board be required to be landowners? Or put the other way, can non-landowners b...

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