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02/21/95 STATE MISSOURI v. JUDITH K. MORIARTY

February 21, 1995

STATE OF MISSOURI, EX INF. JEREMIAH W. (JAY) NIXON, ATTORNEY GENERAL OF MISSOURI, RELATOR,
v.
JUDITH K. MORIARTY, RESPONDENT



All concur.

PER CURIAM

OPINION REGARDING ORDER IN MANDAMUS

This action was filed on October 7, 1994, as a quo warranto seeking the ouster of Judith K. Moriarty from the office of Secretary of State. We heard the action on October 11, 1994. Treating the petition as one for mandamus, we suspended Ms. Moriarty from exercising the duties of her office while allowing her to enjoy all other emoluments of her office pending the trial of her impeachment.

I.

Ms. Moriarty was elected to the office of Secretary of State by the voters of Missouri for the term commencing January 11, 1993, to expire in January, 1997. On October 6, 1994, the House of Representatives voted to impeach Ms. Moriarty. Three articles of impeachment, numbered 2, 3, and 4, were transmitted to this Court for trial. Article 2 charged that Ms. Moriarty purposely caused, directed, or allowed the signature of Barbara Campbell to be placed on a declaration of candidacy filed on behalf of Tim Moriarty for the office of state representative, which declaration was blank and not signed by Tim Moriarty, falsely stating that Tim Moriarty appeared in her presence at 1:19 p.m., March 29, 1994. Article 3 charged that Ms. Moriarty purposely caused, directed, or allowed the signature of Tim Moriarty to be placed on his declaration of candidacy falsely stating that he appeared and signed said declaration at 1:19 p.m., March 29, 1994. Article 4 charged that Ms. Moriarty purposely caused, directed, or allowed the signature of Barbara Campbell to be placed on a declaration of candidacy filed on behalf of Tim Moriarty for the office of state representative, which declaration was partially blank and had not been signed by Mrs. Campbell, falsely stating that Tim Moriarty had appeared in Mrs. Campbell's presence on March 29, 1994, at 1:19 p.m. and signed the declaration.

On October 7, 1994, the Attorney General filed this proceeding in quo warranto. Quo warranto is a special procedure utilized to permanently remove or oust a person from public office. The Attorney General based this action upon section 106.050, RSMo 1986, which provides that:

If any officer shall be impeached, he is hereby suspended from exercising his office, after he shall be notified thereof, until his acquittal.

Ms. Moriarty answered the petition generally admitting that the House of Representatives had impeached her. Moriarty, however, asserted that our holding in State ex inf. Shartel v. Brunk, 326 Mo. 1181, 34 S.W.2d 94 (Mo. banc 1930), established that a quo warranto action against a statewide elected official such as herself was unconstitutional. Oral argument as to this matter of law was held on October 11, 1994, and on that same day we entered our order with opinion to follow.

II.

The office of Secretary of State exists pursuant to the Constitution of Missouri and is designated as an office in the Executive Department. Mo. Const. art. IV, §§ 12, 14. The office is filled by an individual elected statewide for a term of four years. Id. art. IV, § 17. The Secretary of State serves in this manner at the pleasure of the people of Missouri. The tenure of office for all statewide officials, including the Secretary of State, is also controlled by the Constitution. Article VII, Section 12, states:

Except as provided in this constitution, and subject to the right of resignation, all officers shall hold office for the term thereof, and until their successors are duly elected or appointed and qualified.

(Emphasis added.) The single method provided in the Constitution for removal from office of statewide elective executive officials, such as the Secretary of State, is impeachment. Id. art. VII, §§ 1-3. The exclusivity of this method is further emphasized by article VII, section 4, regarding the removal of state officers not subject to impeachment. There, the Constitution provides that:

Except as provided in this constitution, all officers not subject to impeachment shall be subject to removal from office in the manner and for the causes provided by law.

(Emphasis added.) The plain reading of these sections of the Constitution can allow only one Conclusion. Elective executive officials may be removed from office solely and exclusively by impeachment pursuant to article VII, sections 1-3 of our Constitution, while any other officer may be removed in a manner provided by law. Thus, while the legislature may enact statutes providing for the removal from office of most state officers, the legislature is without authority to enact statutes that ...


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