Missouri PI Licensing Law, The Missouri Supreme Court; What It All Means
First of all, as much as it pains me to preface this post like I must, it is important to make it clear that no profession is without it’s ignorant, mis-informed, and downright stupid people. And the Private Investigator Profession is just like any other profession; it has its share of “Dipsticks”. What amazes me is the number of Private Investigators that can not correctly interpret a court’s ruling. While it is true that these rulings can generally only go one of two ways, there is much to be gleaned from reading these rulings in their entirety. It is shameful to have to admit that some Private Investigators don’t understand the value of reading these rulings in their entirety.
As we all know, I have been fighting a very lengthy battle with the state of Missouri in regards to the way it has set up the licensing statutes for Private Investigators. This week I lost my case in the Missouri Supreme Court; here is the opinion: Missouri Supreme Court Opinion_SC91741. Some Private Investigators believe that this means that I no longer have a Private Investigator’s License. Well, those Private Investigators should probably stick to Mystery Shopping and not ever try their hand at REAL P.I. work; because they seem to have less of an understanding of the law than the average consumer. So, let me clarify for the “Dipsticks”. My case in the Missouri Supreme Court was a completely separate case from my appeal to the Adminsitrative Hearing Commission, which granted my license over a year ago; as we can see below:
And this can be easily searched at this link: Missouri Professional License Search. My case in the Missouri Supreme Court had nothing to do with trying to obtain my PI License, as there was no need since I already had my PI License since 01/12/2011 as we can see above on my PI License Information Sheet, certificate, and actual license. Now again, for the “Dipstick Private Investigators” that believe this was a license denial; you have just shown the world how ignorant you are.
Now, let us dive into the actual ruling from the Missouri Supreme Court. There was nothing “bad” about the court’s ruling. The Justices used perfect logic in their ruling. I am not so sure that they completely considered the full implications of this statute that they were considering, but their logic was in fact perfect. The ruling was not harmful to me in any way, and as a matter of fact it was actually PROTECTIVE of every license holder in the state of Missouri and myself. Because the ruling set forth a clarification, and perhaps even a warning to any professional licensing board that might try to take away a person’s professional license. Read the language:
B. Procedural Due Process Claims:
Because professional licenses are considered to be “property” for the purposes of the Fourteenth Amendment, procedural due process is required before the government may deprive anyone of his or her professional license. See Stone v. Missouri Dept. of Health and Senior Serv., 350 S.W.3d 14, 27 (Mo. banc 2011). On the other hand, because no one has a property interest in a mere unilateral expectation, see Daniels v. Bd. of Curators of Lincoln Univ., 51 S.W.3d 1, 6 (Mo. App. 2001), due process generally is not required before the denial of a new application for professional licensure.
Effectively this language indicates that when I first applied for a Missouri State Private Investigator’s License, I did not have a protected property interest because I did not currently hold that state license, all I had was an idea that I might be issued a Private Investigator’s License. But this language also strongly suggests that now that I have had a Private Investigator’s License since 01/12/2011 that I effectively have a “protected property interest” under the Fourteenth Amendment, that can not be taken away from me without procedural due process.
Furthermore, when one looks at the ruling even closer one can see that I actually raise a valid point, and the court even admits that I raise a valid point, again read the language:
The crux of Gurley’s argument is that subdivision (9) lacks a commercial element. Thus, Gurley argues that “private investigator business” includes numerous First Amendment-protected activities performed every day by most American citizens. He focuses especially on subdivision (9)(b), arguing that anyone who uses a social networking website to locate a former classmate or to search for a potential romantic partner is “making [an] investigation for the purpose of obtaining information pertaining to … [t]he identity … whereabouts … 8or character of [a] person.”
Gurley also argues that the definition of “private investigator business” describes the work of any political volunteer conducting opposition research, any freelance reporter and any author. 8
Gurley is quite right that requiring prior government approval before engaging in so many speech-related activities by uncompensated volunteers would raise serious constitutional questions. But the Court need not confront those questions. “[T]he first step in overbreadth analysis is to construe the challenged statute.” Stevens, 130 S. Ct. at 1587. “The primary rule of statutory interpretation is to ascertain the intent of the legislature from the language used, to give effect to that intent if possible, and to consider the words in their plain and ordinary meaning.” S. Metro. Fire Prot. Dist. v. City of Lee’s Summit, 278 S.W.3d 659, 666 (Mo. banc 2009) (internal quotation marks and citations omitted). That being said, “[i]t is presumed that the General Assembly would not pass laws in violation of the constitution.” Planned Parenthood of Kansas v. Nixon, 220 S.W.3d 732, 742 (Mo. banc 2007). For this reason, “[a] narrowing construction is the preferred remedy in First Amendment cases.” Id. at 741. “In determining claims of overbreadth, our construction of the statute is definitive and we are obliged to give it a construction which will render it valid, if possible.” Pollard v. Bd. of Police Comm’rs, 665 S.W.2d 333, 341 (Mo. banc 1984).
8 An even more troubling possibility would be that licensure might be required for members of religious congregations volunteering to investigate candidates for leadership and other positions.
In essence, my argument certainly is not being viewed as frivolous or meaningless; it simply raises questions that the court feels are not necessary to address at this time. The court does not advocate that the issue I bring could never happen, the court just simply states that this issue has not happened yet and so at this point in time it is purely speculative. All and all, I believe the Missouri Supreme Court made a logical conclusion that I can live with. The Missouri Supreme Court’s ruling certainly did not damage, harm, or hurt me in any way.
I think that there is one issue here that should be understood. There are many Private Investigators out there that are not very fond of me, and that is okay because I don’t care about anyone’s fondness. Some of these Private Investigators seem to derive a pleasure out of what they ignorantly believe is a failure for me, and that is okay too because I really enjoy watching ignorant people show just how ignorant they are. But here is a point for them to consider, and they may have already considered it, which is why they are not too fond of me. Could you have taken a case all the way to your state Supreme Court? Do you have the resources and finances to take a case to the highest court in your state? Could you deal with the stress and financial hardship of having your bsuiness shut down for ten months, and then turn around and revive your business after you open it back up ten months later? Could you stand such a loss and still come back? It is not for the faint of heart. It takes a certain kind of person to be able to do what I have done. It was not easy, and most people could not do it; most people would have thrown their hands up and gave up a long time ago. Me? I still have plenty of fight left. I have not been worn down. I adopted two mottos a long time ago that I try to live my life by; I believe there is a simple three word motto that every person should live their life by. It is an old British SAS Motto, which simply says “Who Dares, Wins”! I am a Risk Taker by nature, and always have been. That is the true spirit of the Entrepreneur, which is what most of us strive to be but very few know how to be. I have fought battles and won some and lost some; but I have never been afraid to step up and fight for what I believe to be right. I also live my life by this motto: “Illegitimi Non Carborundum”; meaning “Don’t Let The Bastards Grind You Down”! Thus far, I am still standing. I am still here, fighting the good fight and I would not have it any other way!
It would not be right to take credit for winning my license at the Administrative Hearing Commission and getting this case to the Missouri Supreme Court by myself. I had two of the very best attorneys that I have ever had the pleasure of handing a case for me: Jay and Randall Barnes. Also, I think it is worth mentioning that every attorney and every Judge that I dealt with in this case, the State Attorneys, Judge Paul Wilson, and Commissioner Nimrod Chapel were all very professional and civil, they treated me with dignity and were very respectful to me. They have all honored their profession in my eyes.
For those of you that like to read my blog, and are fans of my blog, thank you for taking the time to read this post. For those of you reading this because you thought I failed here, perhaps now you will see how ignorant you really are. But, the chances are that you are ignorant about your own ignorance. Stupid people simply do not believe that they are stupid…