Joseph Yeckel is acknowledged as an outstanding attorney by his peers. Missouri Lawyers Weekly named Mr. Yeckel a “Lawyer of the Year for 2011” in recognition of his work on the litigation team in Alexander v. Fluor Corporation, a case in which a St. Louis jury awarded over $358 million to sixteen children injured by lead emitted from the Doe Run smelter in Herculaneum, Missouri.
Mr. Yeckel has been recognized as an exceptional appellate attorney. In 2007 the Missouri Bar Foundation presented Mr. Yeckel with the David J. Dixon Appellate Advocacy Award for “outstanding achievement in appellate practice.” And since 2008 Super Lawyers has named him a Rising Star in Appellate Law.
Mr. Yeckel achieved excellent results for clients in several prominent cases.
In State v. Brooks, Mr. Yeckel represented Robert R. Brooks in an appeal from convictions for second degree murder and armed criminal action. Mr. Brooks was arrested and charged after his fiancée died in a shooting at their house. In the appellate briefs and at oral argument, Mr. Yeckel argued that the prosecution violated Mr. Brooks’s constitutional right to remain silent by repeatedly referring to Mr. Brooks’s refusal to respond to detectives’ questions about the shooting after he had been advised of his Miranda rights. Mr. Yeckel maintained that the prosecutor’s conduct deprived Mr. Brooks of a fair trial. The Missouri Supreme Court agreed and granted Mr. Brooks a new trial.
In State ex rel. Garcia v. Goldman, Mr. Yeckel represented David T. Garcia. In 2002 the state indicted Mr. Garcia for first degree assault and armed criminal action in connection with a 1998 shooting in Kirkwood, Missouri. Mr. Garcia was apprehended in Chicago in 2009, seven years after his indictment. Mr. Garcia moved to dismiss the indictment on the ground that allowing his prosecution to go forward would violate his Sixth Amendment right to a speedy trial because the police made no efforts to locate him for seven years after his indictment and could have easily found him had they exercised reasonable diligence. After the trial court denied the motion, Mr. Yeckel petitioned the Missouri Supreme Court for a writ to compel the trial court to dismiss the indictment prior to trial.
The Missouri Supreme Court found that law enforcement’s failure to look for Mr. Garcia between 2002 and 2009 gave rise to a presumption that the state violated Mr. Garcia’s right to a speedy trial. Dismissal of the indictment was warranted, the court concluded, because the prosecution did not rebut the presumption of prejudice with proof that the delay did not impair Mr. Garcia’s defense. Accordingly, the Missouri Supreme Court issued a writ of mandamus ordering the trial court to dismiss the indictment with prejudice. This case is significant because it represents the first instance in Missouri when a criminal case was dismissed prior to trial due to the state’s violation of a defendant’s constitutional right to a speedy trial.