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St. Louis County v. Heiman

Court of Appeals of Missouri, Eastern District, Third Division

June 24, 2014

ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Respondent,
v.
AVIVI HEIMAN, Appellant

Appeal from the Circuit Court of St. Louis County. Honorable Renee Hardin-Tammons.

FOR APPELLANT: D. Dean Plocher, Clayton, Missouri.

FOR RESPONDENT: Kathryn E. Linnenbringer, Steven B. Robson, Assistant County Counselors, Clayton, Missouri.

Mary K. Hoff, P.J., Concurs. Angela T. Quigless J., Concurs.

OPINION

Kurt S. Odenwald, Judge.

Page 161

Introduction

Avivi Heiman (" Heiman" ) appeals from the judgment of the Municipal Court of St. Louis County overruling his motion to dismiss and finding him guilty of committing numerous violations of the Property Maintenance Code of St. Louis County (" Code" ).[1] On appeal, Heiman argues that the municipal court erred in entering judgment against him because (1) the information charging him was facially insufficient in that it failed to state which sections of the Code Heiman was charged with violating, and (2) the judgment is against the weight of the evidence because St. Louis County failed to prove Heiman is the owner of the property at issue. Because the County's failure to include a precise reference to section numbers of the Code did not prejudice Heiman's understanding of the charges brought against him in the information or his ability to defend against the charges, and because the municipal court's finding that Heiman was an owner of the property under the Property Maintenance Code was not against the weight of the evidence, we affirm the judgment of the municipal court.

Factual and Procedural History

In January 2011, Vernon Casimere (" Casimere" ), Program Manager of St. Louis County's Neighborhood Preservation Program, conducted a preoccupancy inspection on the Elta Rose Apartment Complex in North St. Louis County. While performing the inspection, Casimere met Heiman, who was working on the property grounds. Casimere found numerous Code violations as a result of the inspection, and on at least ten occasions thereafter, Casimere spoke with Heiman about the violations and what repairs and improvements were needed to bring the property in compliance with the Code. Heiman told Casimere that he would hire a crew to complete the necessary repairs, and at one point also provided Casimere a work scope that laid out Heiman's plans for completing the repairs. Throughout Casimere's communications with Heiman, Heiman never referred Casimere to a different individual to discuss the violations and necessary repairs, nor did he indicate that he lacked authority to approve repairs at the property.

On October 13, 2011, St. Louis County charged Heiman by information with numerous violations of the Code at the Elta Rose Apartment Complex.[2] The charging documents set forth the name of the defendant, the date of the violation, the address of the building in violation, and a short description of each violation with reference to an attached numbered photograph depicting the violation.[3] The charging documents did not include citations to the specific section numbers of the Code allegedly violated by Heiman.

On February 14, 2013, Heiman filed a motion to dismiss arguing that the charging documents were facially insufficient. Specifically, Heiman asserted that property ownership is an essential element of the charged offenses, and the charging documents failed to allege any facts showing

Page 162

that Heiman was the property owner of the Elta Rose Apartment Complex. Therefore, Heiman alleged the charging documents were insufficient to ...


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