The court system has become a victim of its own success, with hundreds of thousands of wrongful death lawsuits filed every year.
But a new law in Missouri is taking away the death-penalty attorney’s ability to get her case dismissed, in a decision that could put more people at risk of being put to death.
The Missouri Supreme Court’s new law is designed to help avoid the problem of lawyers and lawyers getting sued for wrongful death, according to a new report by The Associated Press.
The court’s decision is likely to make it harder for some lawyers to get their cases dismissed in court, said Mary Ann Cramer, an attorney at the Innocence Project of Columbia.
It could make it more difficult for families to get justice when the lawyers are not on the case, she said.
The Supreme Court will hear arguments for and against the new law at a hearing set for Tuesday.
The case is the latest case to come to light after a Missouri law passed in 2016 that allows judges to dismiss wrongful death cases from a murder charge.
That law was later struck down by a federal appeals court.
The state Supreme Court has now taken a different approach, saying lawyers can be sued for “actual malice” when they make statements that could lead a jury to conclude that the defendant was in fact innocent.
In the new case, the lawyer’s client, Robert James Wilson, was accused of fatally stabbing his girlfriend and stealing her car in a parking lot at a suburban Kansas City apartment complex in 2015.
The woman’s mother had sued Wilson for wrongful injury to her, alleging Wilson assaulted her when she pulled out of the parking lot.
The trial court dismissed Wilson’s case, saying his statements were protected by attorney-client privilege, a legal principle that shields statements made to a client by an attorney from being used against that client.
The law was challenged by the Innosciences Center, which has filed hundreds of wrongful-death lawsuits in Missouri.
The Innocences Center said that Missouri courts are not immune from the problem.
In fact, there is an even stronger and more specific statute, the Missouri Innocensure Act, that states that attorneys are protected against wrongful-jury claims, and the Missouri Supreme court did not take that case.
But the Innoscopes report found that Missouri was one of only nine states that did not have a similar statute.
Missouri is one of 17 states that don’t require a lawyer to testify at a wrongful-trial trial, the report said.
While Missouri has a statute that protects against “actual” malice, the Innoclips report said that many lawyers don’t believe that law applies to their work.
They may not be able to show the statements were made with actual malice, or they may have the same “misleading” or “deceptive” statements that other lawyers use to defend themselves, the authors of the report wrote.
It is “not clear whether Missouri courts can distinguish between these two types of statements,” the report added.
The new law also protects lawyers from having their clients put to the death chamber if they don’t show up for trial.
That means, for example, that if a Missouri judge wants to dismiss a wrongful death lawsuit against a lawyer, she may ask the prosecutor to file a motion for a new trial if the attorney doesn’t appear for jury selection.
The problem with that, according the report, is that attorneys often have to sign non-disclosure agreements to protect themselves from testifying about their clients’ deaths.
That could make them less likely to go to trial in the first place, said Robert L. Davenport, a professor at the University of Missouri-St. Louis.
He said the law could make Missouri more vulnerable to wrongful-Death lawsuits by forcing lawyers to sign the documents that protect them from being sued.
The issue is especially concerning to the families of those who have died, said John Burt, a former Missouri prosecutor who now works for the Innaclips.
He said that some families might be more inclined to sue a lawyer if the lawyer didn’t show, and could face financial costs in a trial.
It also creates the potential for wrongful deaths to go unsolved, he said.
“The law could allow a wrongful defendant to go free,” he said, adding that it could also make it difficult for the state to get to the bottom of what happened to the victims.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.