State ex rel. Garcia v. Goldman, 316 S.W.3d 907 (Mo. 2010), cert. denied, 131 S. Ct. 1603 (2011)
Charges: First degree assault and armed criminal action.
Description: David Garcia was a suspect in a 1998 shooting at a Kirkwood restaurant. Immediately after the shooting, officers obtained Garcia’s full name, date of birth, home address, and social security number. The police officers searched for Garcia for several weeks but did not find him. Three years later, the prosecutor’s office asked the Kirkwood police to resume the search for Garcia, and in early 2001 two Kirkwood officers were dispatched to look for Garcia. After looking for Garcia for four days over a two-week period, the officers found no new leads.
In 2002 a grand jury indicted Garcia for first degree assault and armed criminal action. Law enforcement made no further efforts to find Garcia for seven years. In 2009 a detective realized that the case was still active and typed Garica’s social security number in a law enforcement database. This search revealed that Garcia was in living Chicago (where he had resided and worked as a valet at the Renaissance Hotel since 2000). Based on this information, Garcia was arrested in Chicago two days later.
Garcia filed a motion to dismiss his indictment on the basis that the prosecution violated his constitutional right to a speedy trial guaranteed by the Sixth Amendment. Garcia argued that the state’s lackadaisical efforts to bring him to trial violated his constitutional right to a speedy trial. Garcia contended that he was living and working openly in Chicago when the indictment was returned and that the police had a duty after he was indicted to find him and bring him to trial in a timely manner. The trial court denied Garcia’s motion and ordered him to stand trial.
Outcome: Prior to Garcia’s trial, Joseph Yeckel petitioned the Missouri Supreme Court for a writ of prohibition to dismiss the indictment. The Supreme Court ordered a full briefing and argument.
The Missouri Supreme Court concluded that the right to a speedy trial attached after Garcia was indicted in 2002 and that the prosecution presented no evidence that the police made any effort to locate Garcia until 2009. The seven-year delay created a presumption that the state violated Garcia’s right to a speedy trial. The court concluded that dismissal was the proper remedy because the prosecution failed to prove that the delay did not impair Garcia’s ability to defend himself. The court entered a permanent writ of prohibition and ordered the trial court to dismiss the indictment with prejudice. The court
The State of Missouri petitioned the Supreme Court of the United States to review the Missouri Supreme Court’s decision. Mr. Yeckel filed a brief in opposition. The Supreme Court denied Missouri’s petition for review.
After the charges against him were dismissed, Garcia returned to Chicago and resumed his employment at the Renaissance Hotel.
Missouri Supreme Court Opinion
Brief filed in the Missouri Supreme Court
Brief in Opposition to Missouri’s Petition for Writ of Certiorari filed in the U.S. Supreme Court
Missouri Lawyers Weekly article featuring Garcia case
State v. Brooks, 304 S.W.3d 130 (Mo.), cert. denied, 131 S. Ct. 159 (2010)
Charges: Second degree murder and armed criminal action.
Description: Police responded to a fatal shooting at the home of Robert Brooks and his fiancée. They found Brooks’s had sustained a gunshot wound to her neck. Detectives questioned Brooks at the police station and videotaped the session. The detectives advised Brooks of his Miranda rights, including the right to remain silent. Brooks maintained his innocence but refused to explain how his fiancée was shot. The detectives told Brooks that if he didn’t do anything, he could tell them what happened. He never answered their questions regarding the shooting.
Robert Brooks was charged with second degree murder and armed criminal action. Throughout the trial the prosecutor commented on Brooks’s silence in response to the questions the detectives posed about the shooting. Brooks claimed the shooting occurred in self-defense. He maintained that his fiancée pulled her gun on him because she was upset over their relationship and that she was shot when he tried to disarm her and they struggled over the gun. The jury convicted Brooks and he was sentenced to life plus 75 years.
Outcome: Joseph Yeckel represented Brooks in the Missouri Supreme Court. In his appeal Brooks contended that the State of Missouri violated his constitutional right to remain silent and to not have his silence used against him when the prosecutor repeatedly highlighted his failure to tell the police his side of the story.
The Missouri Supreme Court found Brooks’s argument meritorious and granted him a new trial. The court concluded that the State “developed a theme that carried throughout all phases of trial . . . that if Brooks was innocent, he would have made an exculpatory statement during the police interview.” The State’s “repeated, improper references to Brooks’ post-Miranda silence violated his constitutional rights” and the State “failed to meet its burden to show that the constitutional violations were harmless beyond a reasonable doubt.”
The State of Missouri filed a petition for writ of certiorari in the Supreme Court of the United States, which Mr. Yeckel opposed on Brooks’s behalf. The Supreme Court of the United States denied the State’s petition.
Missouri Supreme Court opinion
Brief filed in the Missouri Supreme Court
Oral argument in Missouri Supreme Court
Brief in Opposition to Missouri’s Petition for Writ of Certiorari in the U.S. Supreme Court
St. Louis Daily Record article featuring State v. Brooks
Calvert v. Plenge, 351 S.W.3d 851 (Mo.App. 2011)
Donaldson Company v. Burroughs Diesel, Inc., 581 F.3d 726 (8th Cir. 2009)
State v. McGee, 284 S.W.3d. 690 (Mo.App. 2009)
Vinson v. Vinson, 243 S.W.3d 418 (Mo.App. 2007)
Margolis v. Steinberg, 242 S.W.3d 394 (Mo.App. 2007)
Parker v. South Broadway Athletic Club, 230 S.W.3d 642 (Mo.App. 2007)
State v. Sund, 215 S.W.3d 719 (Mo. 2007)
Brown v. Bailey, 210 S.W.3d 397 (Mo.App. 2006)
Klinkerfuss v. Cronin, 199 S.W.3d 831 (Mo.App. 2006)
Fru-Con/Fluor Daniel Joint Venture v. Corrigan Brothers, Inc., 154 S.W.3d 330 (Mo.App. 2004)