Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

In re J.M.

Court of Appeals of Missouri, Eastern District, Second Division

October 1, 2019

IN THE INTEREST OF: J.M.

          Appeal from the Circuit Court of the City of St. Louis Cause No. 1822-JU00455 Honorable Robin Ransom Judge.

          OPINION

          LISA P. PAGE, JUDGE.

         J.M. appeals the judgment of the Juvenile Division of the City of St. Louis Circuit Court convicting him of unlawful use of a weapon, pursuant to Section 571.030.1(10) RSMo (2016). [1]We affirm.

         BACKGROUND

         On August 31, 2018, J.M. was a student at Lift for Life Academy ("Academy") when the principal, Dr. David Lemay ("Dr. Lemay"), searched his bag and discovered a handgun. The Juvenile Officer charged J.M. with one count of unlawful use of a weapon, alleging that on or about August 31, 2018, J.M. knowingly carried a firearm into a school in violation of Section 571.030.1(10). On September 26, 2016, J.M. filed a motion to suppress "any and all articles seized and intend[ed] to be used against [J.M.], and any testimony regarding such evidence" alleging it was obtained as a result of an unlawful search and seizure in violation of his Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment rights. At trial, on October 1, 2018, the court adjudicated both the motion to suppress and the Juvenile Officer's allegations against J.M.

         J.M. was participating in Academy's long-term on-site suspension program, Success Academy ("Success"), for possession of drug paraphernalia. As a suspended student, J.M. was permitted to be on Academy's premises during the regularly scheduled hours for Success, but was otherwise forbidden to "be on any academy property or attend any [Academy] function whether on or off campus during the period of suspensions" unless authorized to do so by Academy's principal or director. Consequently, on August 31, 2018, J.M. was dismissed at noon and was required to immediately leave campus.

         The Juvenile Officer presented the testimony of Chandra Palmer ("Palmer"), dean of students at Academy, Ariel Turner ("Turner"), assistant dean at Academy, and Dr. Lemay. All three witnesses consistently testified about the events giving rise to the search.

         Palmer testified she saw three students waiting for Dr. Lemay to give them their bus tickets. Palmer ensured the students received their bus tickets, and requested they leave the building.[2] Shortly thereafter, Turner was transitioning students from lunch to class, when she saw J.M. with another student, J.J., outside of the front entrance. She saw J.J. throw "his arm to his side as if he was trying to hide something in his pocket." It appeared to Turner that both students were communicating with someone in the English classroom. Turner informed Palmer that "something was going on" because both J.M. and J.J. were still on campus. Specifically, Palmer testified Turner told her that she observed J.J.'s and J.M.'s behavior and suspected they were possibly attempting to exchange drug paraphernalia with other students in the building. Palmer returned to the front door and saw J.J and J.M. communicating with someone in the building. She once again demanded they leave campus. Palmer returned to her office; however, when she came out moments later, she saw both J.M. and J.J. continuing to attempt to communicate with someone up the stairs. At this point, Palmer agreed with Turner's assessment of the students' conduct and she focused on "stopping them or trying to prevent them from doing something." Palmer believed Academy's school officials had reasonable suspicion to search J.M. due to his unauthorized presence after the dismissal of Success, his refusal to leave despite multiple requests, his suspicious behavior with J.J., and his record for previous possession of drug paraphernalia on school grounds.[3] Palmer decided to bring both students to the main office to see Dr. Noble.[4]

         A search of the students was conducted in the presence of Dr. Noble and Dr. Lemay. J.J. was searched without issue; however, J.M. became resistant and an argument ensued. At some point, Dr. Lemay recalled Dr. Noble telling J.M., "[i]f you don't calm down, we're contacting the police." The arguments between J.M. and the administrators continued to escalate and when Dr. Noble again stated he was contacting the police, J.M. stated, "[y]ou can call the police. You can call the police[.]" However, when the call was actually placed, J.M. replied, "[w]ell, you didn't even have to call the police. You can just search it. You can search it." J.M. gave Dr. Lemay his bag, in which he discovered a small handgun.

         J.M. testified in his defense. He recounted that after being dismissed from Success he waited outside for his bus pass for about an hour while Dr. Lemay was on the phone. He claimed he only communicated with the other two students who were also waiting for their bus passes. He denied that Palmer asked him to leave the premises, and the first time he spoke with her was when she requested they all report to Dr. Noble's office.

         J.M.'s counsel called J.J. as a witness and the Juvenile Officer objected due to the late endorsement of the witness. The Juvenile Officer filed a request for disclosure on September 10, 2018; however, J.M. filed his endorsement of the witness on September 29, 2018-five days after the due date. The objection was sustained. An offer of proof was made regarding J.J.'s testimony. J.J. testified that after being dismissed, he, J.M., and another student walked over to the building where Dr. Lemay's office was located to receive their bus passes. Dr. Lemay told the students to wait for him out front. He denied Palmer asked them to leave the premises and stated they waited at the front entrance until Palmer asked the students to come inside to Dr. Noble's office. Once there, they were told they were going to be searched.

         After all of the evidence was presented, the parties argued J.M.'s motion to suppress. The motion to suppress and J.M.'s motion for judgment of acquittal were denied. The juvenile court entered its judgment finding the juvenile officer had proven beyond a reasonable doubt that J.M. committed the offense of unlawful use of a weapon and placed him on official court supervision in the care, custody and control of his mother.

         This appeal follows.

         DISCUSSION

         J.M. submits two points on appeal. In his first point on appeal, J.M. contends the juvenile court clearly erred in denying his motion to suppress evidence regarding the search of J.M.'s bag, the seizure of the handgun, and any testimony concerning such evidence, because the search was not based ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.