Constitutional Law

Editor:
Joshua C. Devine, Esquire

Eastern District grants partial reversal of dismissal of petition regarding constitutionality of red light camera ordinance and ticket issued pursuant to same. Unverferth, et al. v. City of Florissant, et al., No. 98511 (Mo. App. E.D., September 10, 2013), Odenwald, J.

Pursuant to an ordinance passed by the City of Florissant, Appellants received red light camera tickets in the form of a “Notice of Violation” which directed that they pay a $100 fine. Appellants allege that the notice of violation did not set forth a court date or provide any information on how to challenge the violation. Unverferth paid the fine; the Cusumanos did not. The Cusumanos later received a “Notice to Appear” setting forth a date and time to appear in Florissant Municipal Court should they decide to not pay the fine. The Cusumanos declined to pay the fine, and instead joined Unverferth in this action which alleges, inter alia, claims under the Missouri Constitution for violation of their procedural due process rights. The trial court granted the defendants’ motions to dismiss each of Appellants’ claims.

Held
: Reversed in part. The Cusumanos’ claims were properly dismissed because they have an adequate remedy at law through a proceeding in municipal court. The trial court erred in finding that Unverferth lacked standing to pursue her constitutional claims, that she waived such claims, that she is estopped from bringing such claims, and that she failed to state a claim for violation of her procedural due process rights. Although Unverferth paid the fine, she alleges that Florissant did not provide her with a court date or information on how to challenge the violation. As such, she has standing to bring this action challenging the constitutionality of the subject ordinance. Further, she did not waive such claim and it cannot be said that she is estopped from bringing such claim at this time given the notice issue. Moreover, because of her allegations regarding the notice issue, Unverferth stated a claim for violation of her procedural due process rights. The subject ordinance, however, is not unconstitutionally vague.        


Criminal defendant has no Fourth Amendment reasonable expectation of privacy in stolen property. State v. Woodrome, No. 75460 (Mo. App. W.D., September 10, 2013), Pfeiffer, J.

Defendant was convicted on three counts of receiving stolen property. He claims that the trial court erred in denying his motion to suppress evidence and admitting evidence obtained during an unlawful search. The search occurred when police attempted to execute an arrest warrant on defendant at an RV and trailer park in which defendant rented a lot. While on defendant’s lot, a police officer saw the VIN number on the RV in which defendant resided in plain view. The officer ran the VIN number and determined the RV was stolen. The officers looked around the lot and observed signs that other property on the lot had been stolen.

Held
: Affirmed. The state produced evidence that the RV in which defendant resided was stolen property; the defendant presented no evidence refuting this point. Defendant can make no legitimate claim that his Fourth Amendment rights were violated, because he has no reasonable expectation of privacy in stolen property. Likewise, pursuant to the “open fields” doctrine, defendant has no reasonable expectation of privacy in the RV lot itself.