"Thank you for allowing me to serve you in the Mo. House of Representatives. I look forward to continuing to serve you in the new 97th District " John McCaherty
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Amendment 2 - Info
Amendment 2 is a product of a long journey with the Missouri Prosecutors Association. Here is some background on how I got involved….
A couple years ago I received a call from a constituent who’s child had been abused and the prosecutor could not press charges, this spurred an investigation that taught me more about the issue and its perpetrators than I ever wanted to know. During the investigative process, I learned that the child had been “Groomed” for sexual abuse before the actual abuse.
Our local prosecutor could not prosecute this case because of a supreme court decision that has hancuffed prosecutors for several years. Since a 2007 Supreme Court decision (State of Missouri v. Ellison) that prevented propensity evidence the prosecutor could not use these prior acts to support the case, all he could use was the actual act itself and he did not have the evidence he needed to prosecute the case.
The Supreme Court of Missouri decided that the law, which was already in State statue, was unconstitutional since the MO Constitution did not allow for any propensity evidence.
A discussion with the MPA, made us realize this is a statewide problem. According to the prosecutor’s association President, Eric Zahn this is "the number 1 thing we can do to help kids that have been sexually abused in the State of Missouri."
The only change made, and the reason it is a constitutional amendment put before voters is to satisfy the Supreme Court decision. Their argument was one of constitutional authority of the law. So an HJR was needed. This will authorize by constitution this evidence to be considered by a judge to determine the relevance in a case. If the judge determines the evidence is not relevant, it will never be heard. However, if the in fact the evidence is relevant it can then be present to corroborate the facts of the abuse and help prosecutors dramatically.
It is important to note that this evidence is already admitted in Federal court, as well as in 30 states across the United States. Missouri, has some of the most restrictive language in the Country when it comes to evidence usage in abuse cases. It is also important to note that prior to the 2007 Supreme Court decision, this evidence was allowed by Missouri State Statue here in our State.
We narrowly drafted the language to only apply very specifically to sexual abuse cases involving minors. This was intentional. We did not want to open up propensity evidence (evidence of prior acts) for all crimes, yet children are less likely to be able to defend themselves in a court of law.
The importance of this passing as you can see is critical for our kids. Currently, if a child is abused they must sit in a courtroom and relive the details of their abuse before a jury and the one that abused them since the actual act is the only thing the prosecutor can use. While that may be fine for an adult, a child can rarely do this effectively. Thus, many of the abusers are going free.
Let's Get Together for Coffee!
Residents Encouraged to Attend Get-Togethers to Discuss Issues of Importance
Now that our successful legislative session has concluded, it is time to get your feedback and input on the changes we made to our laws this year, as well as changes we may need to consider in future sessions. In an effort to provide an open line of communication with all residents of the district to discuss these issues, I will hold a series of get-togethers in Fenton and Arnold beginning in June and running through December. These get-togethers will give you and your neighbors the opportunity to sit down with me and have meaningful conversations about where we’re headed as a state and where we need to go in the future. These are the types of interactions that are extremely valuable to me as I do my best to represent your interests in the halls of state government. I hope everyone who wants their voices to be heard on the issues they care about will make plans to attend.
The schedule for the get-togethers is as follows:
Fenton St. Louis Bread Company
453 Old Smizer Mill Rd.
Fenton, MO 63026
Dates and Time:
Arnold St. Louis Bread Company
909 Arnold Commons Drive (Hwy 141)
Arnold, MO 63010
Dates and Time:
This Capitol Report is a weekly column by Representative John C. McCaherty, from the 97th District, covering events in the Missouri Legislature and district wide issues.
If our office can be of any help please feel free to contact my Legislative assistant at the Capitol, Carrie Burcham and she will help in any way she can. Of course if you need personal assistance from me you may feel free to contact me ANY time via email at email@example.com