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Missouri Court Upholds Hate Law

May 30, 2001

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) _ The Missouri Supreme Court upheld the state’s hate crime law on Tuesday, allowing a case against a Ku Klux Klan member to proceed.

The court, in a 4-3 decision, overturned a trial judge’s ruling that the law was unconstitutionally vague and reinstated a felony trespassing charge against Joseph Callen.

Callen, who has white supremacist tattoos and posted racist signs on his truck, was accused of trespassing at a plasma center managed by a black woman.

Trespassing is typically a misdemeanor punishable by up to six months in jail and a fine up to $500. But a 1999 Missouri law allows enhances penalties for violations ``which the state believes to be knowingly motivated because of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation or disability of the victim.″

In Callen’s case, the charge was raised to a felony punishable by up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000.

Prosecutors and Callen’s attorneys did not immediately return phone calls form comment Tuesday.

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On the Net:

Missouri Judiciary: http://www.osca.state.mo.us/

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