Missouri Supreme Court Rules That Circuit Court Can’t Deny Jim Layton’s Client an Appeal by Refusing to Enter Final Judgment

Feb 15, 2019

On February 13, 2019 the Missouri Supreme Court granted a writ of mandamus ordering a circuit judge in Boone County, Missouri to finally act in a case briefed and argued by Jim Layton, who leads Tueth Keeney’s appellate practice. The argument last September was Jim’s 93d appearance before that court.

Jim’s client, Jennifer Henderson, has been attempting for more than three years to challenge a December 2015 election establishing a sales tax for a community improvement district in Columbia, Missouri. She alleged that the proponents first tried to draw the district boundaries so that there would be no voters””but then discovered that Henderson lived within the proposed district. Eventually the election was held for a district with 13 voters, 7 of whom voted. Henderson challenged the way in which the election was run. The circuit judge ruled that she could not hear such an election contest. But the judge then refused repeatedly to make that ruling a final judgment that Henderson could appeal.

The circuit judge now has two options: to find that she has jurisdiction (as Henderson maintains) and proceed with the case; or enter a final judgment that Henderson can take to an appellate court.   The Supreme Court’s decision is available at: https://www.courts.mo.gov/file.jsp?id=136814

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.

Appellate Practice –  Tueth Keeney lawyers have briefed and argued hundreds of appeals, including appeals in all Missouri and Illinois state and federal appellate courts and in the U.S. Supreme Court. The Appellate Practice Group represents clients on a wide range of issues impacting businesses, individuals, government entities, and educational institutions. Tueth Keeney attorneys are also available to contribute their considerable experience (including more than 90 arguments before the Missouri Supreme Court) to appeals handled by others””strategizing, assisting with briefs, and preparing for oral argument.