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Harris v. Presson

Court of Appeals of Missouri, Eastern District, Fifth Division

October 7, 2014

REBECCA L. HARRIS, Petitioner/Appellant,
v.
JAMES PRESSON, Respondent

FOR APPELLANT: Gregory R. Futhey, Lake St. Louis, Missouri.

FOR RESPONDENT: Victor S. Williams, St. Charles, Missouri.

Lisa S. Van Amburg, Judge. Angela T. Quigless, C.J., and Kurt S. Odenwald, J., concur.

OPINION

Page 128

Lisa S. Van Amburg, Judge

I. INTRODUCTION

Plaintiff Rebecca Harris appeals the judgment of the Circuit Court of St. Charles County dismissing her negligence claim against defendant James Presson. On appeal, Harris argues that the trial court erred, because Presson's violation of her right to counsel under the Fifth Amendment of the United States Constitution supports a common-law negligence claim against him. We affirm the trial court's judgment.

II. FACTS

On November 29, 2007, Harris was arrested in connection with the grievous injury of a four-month-old infant for whom she had been an in-home nanny. Under interrogation by Presson, who was then a detective with the St. Peters, Mo., police department, Harris confessed to harming the infant. This confession was subsequently admitted at trial and Harris was convicted by jury of Assault in the Second Degree, § 565.060, R.S.Mo. (2000).

On appeal, this Court reversed Harris's conviction, because Presson obtained the confession in violation of Harris's Fifth Amendment

Page 129

right to counsel. See State v. Harris, 305 S.W.3d 482, 490, (Mo. App. E.D. 2010). Thereafter, with full knowledge that her improperly obtained confession could not be used in a new trial, Harris pleaded guilty to Assault in the Second Degree pursuant to North Carolina v. Alford, 400 U.S. 25, 91 S.Ct. 160, 27 L.Ed.2d 162 (1970). The trial court sentenced Harris to time served, which amounted to 550 days imprisonment.

On June 4, 2013, Harris filed the instant lawsuit alleging that Presson's negligent violation of her right to counsel caused her to be imprisoned. She requested $550,000 in damages. The trial court dismissed her ...


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