Impeachment in Missouri? Some notes.

Feb 26, 2018

With what’s happening in Jefferson City, it’s a good time to review a few points about impeachment in Missouri.

  • Impeachment is governed by the Missouri Constitution, not by statute.
  • The specific provision is Article VI, section 1. It authorizes removal by impeachment of “[a]ll elective executive officials of the state, and judges of the supreme court, courts of appeals and circuit courts.”
  • The last time impeachment was used in Missouri was the removal of Judy Moriarty as Secretary of State in 1994.
  • “Impeachment” technically refers to the charge voted by the house of representatives, which has “the sole power of impeachment.” Art. VII, section 2.
  • Once the House votes to impeach, the charges are tried. Charges against most officials, like Secretary of State Moriarty, are tried before the supreme court. But charges against a governor are tried “by a special commission of seven eminent jurists to be elected by the senate.”
  • Section 1 lists seven grounds for impeachment:
    1. crimes,
    2. misconduct,
    3. habitual drunkenness,
    4. willful neglect of duty,
    5. corruption in office,
    6. incompetency, or
    7. any offense involving moral turpitude or oppression in office.

Two of those grounds are expressly limited to acts “in office.” Implicitly, “incompetence” and “neglect of duty” would also be limited to performance in office. Whether the others would be limited to acts while in office would be for the House and the “seven eminent jurists” to decide.

James Layton leads the firm’s Appellate practice group and is a member of the firm’s Commercial Litigation, Labor, and Education groups. He assists clients with analysis and presentation of complex legal issues in Missouri and federal courts, both trial and appellate. In addition to handling cases himself and with other attorneys at Tueth Keeney, Jim consults with clients on appellate strategy and assists other counsel in high-stakes, complex appeals.

Jim has briefed and argued cases before the U.S. Supreme Court and before all Missouri appellate courts””including more than 90 cases before the Missouri Supreme Court. He has represented clients in U.S. district courts and in Missouri circuit courts from Jackson County to the City of St. Louis. He has extensive experience with government-related litigation and state taxation disputes. Jim is a fellow of the American Academy of Appellate Lawyers, a past president of the Bar Association of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit, and a past chair of the American Bar Association’s Council of Appellate Lawyers. He is a frequent speaker in the areas of appellate practice and constitutional law, both state and federal.