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State ex rel. Koster v. Suter

Court of Appeals of Missouri, Western District

July 29, 2014

STATE OF MISSOURI EX REL CHRIS KOSTER, Relator,
v.
THE HONORABLE CYNTHIA SUTER, ASSOCIATE CIRCUIT JUDGE OF RANDOLPH COUNTY AND PEGGY BOOTS, CIRCUIT CLERK RANDOLPH COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT, Respondents

Appeal From: Randolph County Circuit Court. The Honorable Cynthia Suter, Judge.

Martha E. Ravenhill and Gregory M. Goodwin, Jefferson City, MO, for relator.

Chelsea R. Mitchell, Columbia, MO, for Respondents.

Before Writ Division: Gary D. Witt, Presiding Judge, Thomas H. Newton, Judge and Cynthia L. Martin, Judge. All concur.

OPINION

Page 674

Gary D. Witt, Judge

ORIGINAL PROCEEDING IN CERTIORARI

This cause arises from a petition for writ of certiorari filed by Relator State of Missouri (" State" ) to review Respondent Honorable Cynthia Suter's (" Judge Suter" ) entry of a writ of habeas corpus to Joseph Thomas Bowen (" Bowen" ), and a petition for writ of prohibition to review Judge Suter's accompanying dismissal of the State's petition to commit Bowen as a sexually violent predator (" SVP" ). We issued a writ of certiorari and a preliminary writ of prohibition and consolidated the writs for consideration. For the reasons set forth below, we quash the writ of habeas corpus and make our preliminary writ of prohibition absolute.

FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

This action arises in the midst of proceedings to civilly commit Joseph Thomas Bowen (" Bowen" ) as a sexually violent predator pursuant to Section 632.486.[1] On October 1, 2008, Bowen pleaded guilty to supplying liquor to a minor and to first-degree child molestation in the Circuit Court of Randolph County, case number 08RA-CR00592-01. At that time he admitted to supplying a twelve-year-old girl alcohol and then engaging in oral and vaginal intercourse with her. For the child molestation conviction, Bowen was sentenced on November 19, 2008 to five years' imprisonment under Section 559.115 (RSMo 2006), which included a 120-day assessment in the Sex Offender Assessment Unit (" SOAU" ).

Bowen participated in the SOAU program. The record includes a signed statement by Bowen agreeing to the terms of the program. The record also contains a " Court Report Investigation," dated March 5, 2009 that was generated by the Department of Corrections (" DOC" ) and filed March 12, 2009. That Court Report Investigation includes comments from a counselor with the Missouri Sexual Offender Services at the Farmington Correctional

Page 675

Center indicating that Bowen had " general life instability, a history of substance abuse, being intoxicated at the time of the offense[,] not seeing himself as a risk to sexually offend . . . no protective factors." That counselor concluded:

While he appears to be a somewhat high risk to reoffend, it also appears that much of his risk is dependent on his ability to stay sober. If he is not using drugs or alcohol, his risk may be lower. It appears that, in spite of this risk, that Mr. Bowen is a good candidate for community-based supervision and treatment.

After the counselor's statements, the same March 5, 2009 report then includes additional evaluative information as well as recommendations from a probation and parole officer with the SOAU. That portion of the report is titled " SOAU EVALUATION." The SOAU officer considered Bowen's record and recommended that probation be denied, with the following comments:

The SOAU clinician notes he scored within the medium high risk category on the Static-99.[2] Other test, file and interview data suggest this may be an underestimate of his risk. . . . This officer is concerned with public safety regarding ...

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