Missouri Court Writes in a Down-home Southern Style

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Home of the Missouri Court of Appeals?

Ol’ Frank Zotter happened upon this little ol’ case and we reckon we’re mighty glad he did.

In State v. Knowles, the Missouri Court of Appeals, a good ol’ bunch of guys and gals from over in them parts, took up an appeal where the trial judge had tossed out a criminal information for receiving stolen property. Well, shucks, we’ll just let the court tell y’all about it:

Old Dave Baird, the prosecuting attorney up in Nodaway Count, thought he had a case against Les Knowles for receiving stolen property, to-wit, a chain saw, so he up and files on Les.

Now Les was a bit impecunious, so the judge appointed him a lawyer, old Dan Radke, the public defender from down around St. Joe. Now, Dan, he looks at that old information and decides to pick a nit or two, so he tells the judge that the information old Dave filed against Les is no good …. Dan says Dave charged that Les “kept” the stolen chain saw and that’s not against the law. You don’t commit that crime by “keeping” the chain saw, says Dan; the law says you commit the crime of “receiving” if you “retain” the saw, and that’s not what Dave charged Les with, and the judge should throw Dave out of court. And that’s exactly what the judge did.

But old Dave was not having any of that. No, sir! …

Bystanders could plainly see the fire in old Dave’s eyes. He was not backing down. Sure. Dave could simply refile and start over with a new information by changing only one word. Strike “kept”; insert “retained.” But that is not the point. Dave knows he is right.

And so he is.

So we’ll just send the case back to Judge Kennish and tell the boys to get on with the prosecution.

State v. Knowles, 739 S.W.2d 753, 754 (Mo. Ct. App. 1987). Thanks to Frank Zotter.

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Andrew Jay McClurg is a law professor whose teaching and research interests include tort law, products liability, legal education, privacy law and firearms policy. He holds the Herbert Herff Chair of Excellence in Law at the University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law.
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