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Missouri Supreme Court Delays Hearing In Ricky Kidd Case

A hearing to determine whether a Kansas City man is being unlawfully held in prison by the state is now on hold.

The Missouri Supreme Court on Thursday issued an order staying the hearing of Ricky Kidd,who was found guilty in 1997 of two murders and sentenced to life in prison.

Kidd had been scheduled to appear before Jackson County Circuit Judge Sandra C. Midkiff on Monday to argue his claim that he is innocent and that failings by his state-assigned public defenders prevented him from getting a fair trial.

Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley argued that because Kidd is not incarcerated in Midkiff’s jurisdiction – he’s in the state prison complex in Cameron, Missouri – she is not empowered to hear the case. The stay by the state Supreme Court does not invalidate Kidd’s claims but rather delays it while the state and Kidd’s attorneys argue over where the hearing should take place.

Kidd’s claim that the public defender system failed him is one of many such claims. A class-action lawsuit, filed earlier this year by the American Civil Liberties Union of Missouri on behalf of several Missouri inmates, alleges that the system is chronically underfunded and understaffed. It may be impossible, the suit says, for an indigent defendant in Missouri to get a fair trial.

The Midwest Innocence Project, which represents Kidd, said on its Facebook page that the delay of his hearing was disheartening.

“We are saddened at yet another delay of justice for Mr. Kidd,” the post stated, “but we will not stop fighting.”

Jeremy Bernfeld is the editor of Harvest Public Media, based at KCUR 89.3. Follow him on Twitter @JeremyHPM.

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