Messenger: Public defender asks appeals court to release pregnant woman from Missouri prison | Tony Messenger

Palmer knows that simply by filing this writ, he’s made life more difficult for himself, and potentially his other clients in Saline County. That’s simply the reality of rural justice in Missouri. Public defenders’ offices, long overworked in the state, tend to have few staff members in most rural counties, and many times they are just out of law school. Every day, they walk into courtrooms where judges and prosecutors wield most of the power, and generally don’t take kindly to public defenders gumming up their dockets with motions that seek to protect the rights of all defendants.

So even if Palmer were to win on the Clevenger writ — perhaps especially if he wins — he’ll walk into the next law day facing a judge who doesn’t like to be questioned. That was obvious when Palmer told Rolf he planned to file a writ on the day Clevenger was told she was going back to prison.

“What kind of writ do you think you’re going to get out of this?” Rolf asked Palmer. “She violated her probation.”

Even so, the probation office believes the best place for Clevenger is in treatment, where the sober living home said she had been doing well. The question now is, did Rolf send Clevenger to prison because of Baby Clevenger, or in spite of the unborn child that is due in March?

“Simply put, no reasonable person, would lift a pregnant woman from a home where she has been actively sober for six months, send her to prison amid a deadly global pandemic, all because she used marijuana to calm debilitating morning sickness,” Palmer writes. “Such an act shocks the conscience.”

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