attorney goes from Supreme Court to Night Court in one
It was the Supreme Court to local Night Court all in
one day for a Platte City attorney last week.
At 8 a.m. on Feb. 26, attorney Joe Vanover walked into
the Missouri Supreme Court in Jefferson City to argue
a case about a $120,000 loan.
At 9 p.m. the same day, Vanover walked out of the Platte
City Municipal Court after prosecuting a man for trying
to break into his estranged wife's house.
Vanover's Supreme Court case began nearly two years ago
when he filed a lawsuit against Craig McGrain to recover
a $120,000 loan that had not been repaid to Vanover's
On Feb. 26 Vanover made his case to the Missouri Supreme
Court that although McGrain lived in New York he could
be sued in Missouri.
"When I asked the Supreme Court to hear my case,
there wasn't much hope they would take it," Vanover
Only 10% of the cases in which lawyers ask to go to Supreme
Court are allowed a hearing.
"It was a surprise when I found out they wanted
to hear more about the arguments I was making," he
said. About 100 cases are decided by Missouri's highest
court each year.
In April of 2000, Vanover sued McGrain on the loan and
had him served with the summons in the state of New York.
Following limited pretrial proceedings, the Platte County
Circuit Court entered a default judgment to Vanover's
McGrain appealed the judgment by saying that he could
not be sued in Missouri. After the case went to the Court
of Appeals last year, Vanover asked the Missouri Supreme
Court to hear the case.
"During the arguments in the Supreme Court, an attorney
usually gets to say a few words to the judges before they
start asking questions," Vanover said. "However
I barely got started before they began peppering me with
The seven judges continued hitting Vanover with questions
for 20 minutes.
Vanover's Supreme Court case should be decided at some
point later this year. The judges normally vote on the
case after arguments and then assign one judge to write
Vanover's municipal court case was decided that night
when the defendant was found guilty of damaging his wife's
door with a screwdriver.