Missouri Supreme Court examines legality of private investigator licensing

Wednesday, November 9, 2011 | 4:13 p.m. CST

JEFFERSON CITY — The Missouri Supreme Court is considering whether a licensing law for private investigators violates the rights of members of the general public doing basic research on people and organizations.

Missouri law requires private investigators to be licensed and allows violators to face criminal penalties.

The court heard arguments Wednesday on a challenge by a Columbia private investigator who contends the requirement is too broad. The lawsuit contends the licensing law hinders free speech by criminalizing such activities as researching political candidates or checking a person or organization on the Internet.

The attorney general's office defends the licensing law. It argues that the regulations oversee the business of private investigating and do not apply broadly to people conducting their own basic research.

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