The Missouri Incarceration Reimbursement Act ("MIRA") is a powerful tool which allows the State to recover incarceration costs directly from an inmate's personal assets. But what if the inmate's assets include funds obtained in some fashion by the legal services of an attorney? Could a subsequent MIRA claim take priority over that attorney's interest in being paid from the fruit of his labor? In the 2003 case of State ex reL. Nixon v. Karpierz, the Missouri Supreme Court sought to provide answers to these questions. Karpierz placed a limitation on the parameters of MIRA's reach by allowing a plaintiff inmate's attorney to take a reasonable fee for legal services performed in obtaining a judgment prior to the attachment of the MIRA claim. In the factually similar case of State ex rel. Nixon v. Bass, the Missouri Court of Appeals, Western District made no mention of Karpierz. This Note argues that in deciding Bass, the Missouri Court of Appeals should have discussed the Karpierz holding in order to provide more clear and definitive guidance for attorneys who undertake the representation of inmates. Particularly helpful would have been some direction regarding whether and when Karpierz might be invoked to protect from MIRA's grasp a legal fee arising from an attorney's active defense of an inmate.

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