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LeBeau v. Comm'rs of Franklin County

Supreme Court of Missouri, En Banc

March 31, 2015

ARTHUR L. LEBEAU, JR., et al., Appellants,
v.
COMMISIONERS OF FRANKLIN COUNTY, MISSOURI, Respondent

APPEAL FROM THE CIRCUIT COURT OF FRANKLIN COUNTY. The Honorable Robert D. Schollmeyer, Judge.

LeBeau and Reichert, both of Villa Ridge, represented themselves.

The county commissioners were represented by Mary E. Zastrow and Steven R. White of Purschke, White & Briegel of Union.

OPINION

Mary R. Russell, Chief Justice

Page 437

Background

In 2012, the 96th Missouri General Assembly truly agreed to and finally passed House Bill No. 1171 (HB 1171), titled " [an act to] repeal sections 67.320 and 211.031, RSMo, and to enact in lieu thereof two new sections relating to courts." H.B. 1171, 96th Gen. Assemb., 2d Reg. Sess. (Mo. 2012). The legislation was subsequently signed into law by the governor. HB 1171, in part, amended section 67.320, permitting any first-class county within a certain population range to establish a county municipal court division.[1] Id. HB 1171 also amended section 211.031 relating to proceedings in the juvenile and family divisions of the circuit court. Id.

After HB 1171 became law, the Franklin County Commission entered a county order establishing a municipal court division pursuant to the amended section 67.320. Arthur LeBeau, Jr., and other residents and taxpayers of Franklin County (Taxpayers) sued the members of the commission, arguing that HB 1171's enactment violated the Missouri Constitution: namely, the original purpose provision of article III, section 21, and the single subject provision of article III, section 23. As a result, they claimed the commission's order and the Franklin County Municipal Court

Page 438

Division itself were void. The trial court dismissed the amended petition, holding that Taxpayers did not have standing and that the suit was not ripe for judicial review.

On appeal of that judgment, this Court had jurisdiction pursuant to article V, section 3 of the Missouri Constitution because the case challenged the validity of a Missouri statute. This Court held that Taxpayers had sufficiently established standing to challenge HB 1171 and that the suit was ripe for review because the petition alleged that funds to establish the Franklin County Municipal Court Division pursuant to the authority of the allegedly unconstitutional bill had already been expended. LeBeau v. Comm'rs of Franklin Cnty., 422 S.W.3d 284, 290-91 (Mo. banc 2014) ( LeBeau I ).

On remand to the trial court, Taxpayers offered no evidence other than a copy of this Court's opinion in LeBeau I. They did not seek leave to amend their petition to include a challenge to SB 636, a bill enacted during the same legislative session as HB 1171 and which contained an identical amendment to section 67.320 as that of HB 1171.[2] S.B. 636, 96th Gen. Assemb., 2d Reg. Sess. (Mo. 2012). Rather, as they did when the case was first tried, they continued to maintain that they only requested that the court address the constitutional validity of HB 1171. The trial court found that HB 1171's enactment did not violate constitutional prohibitions against multiple subjects and change of original purpose. It also held that Taxpayers' failure to challenge SB 636 rendered any ruling on HB 1171 an impermissible advisory opinion because the Franklin County Municipal Court Division could be established independently of the success of the suit, and, consequently, a ruling on HB 1171 would have no practical effect upon an existent controversy.

Taxpayers again appeal to this Court, invoking jurisdiction under article V, section 3 of the Missouri Constitution. After the trial court's ruling on remand but while the instant case was pending on appeal, the 97th Missouri General Assembly truly agreed to and finally passed, and the governor signed into law, Senate Bill No. 621 (SB 621). SB 621 repealed and reenacted section 67.320, including the language regarding establishment of a municipal court division. SB 621, 97th Gen. ...


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