Missouri high court strikes jail sentence for lawyer

JEFFERSON CITY, MO (AP) - The state Supreme Court says a southern Missouri lawyer cannot be jailed over critical comments about a state trial judge and county prosecutor.

Carl Smith accused a judge and prosecutor in Douglas County in 2008 of using a grand jury investigation to threaten, intimidate and silence opposition. Smith made the accusations in an appeal that sought to quash a subpoena from that grand jury for a client.

Smith was convicted last year of criminal contempt and sentenced to 120 days in jail.

The Missouri Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that Smith cannot be jailed, saying his claims did not interfere with justice.

The court also noted there was no evidence about whether Smith's accusations were true - or at least whether Smith believed his claims were accurate.

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