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Molette v. Wilson

Court of Appeals of Missouri, Eastern District, Fourth Division

September 1, 2015

CLEVE L. MOLETTE, Appellant,
v.
DARREN WILSON, Respondent

Appeal from the Circuit Court of St. Louis County. Honorable Maura B. McShane.

Cleve L. Molette, Appellant, Pro se, Forest Park, GA.

Darren Wilson c/o Ferguson Police Department, Respondent, Pro se, St. Louis, MO.

Sherri B. Sullivan, P.J., concurs. Patricia L. Cohen, J., concurs.

OPINION

KURT S. ODENWALD, Judge.

Page 429

Introduction

Appellant Cleve Molette (" Molette" ) appeals from a trial court order dismissing his affidavit without further action. Molette filed this affidavit with the trial court under Section 545.250.[1] This Section allows private citizens to submit affidavits detailing crimes for use by the prosecuting attorney. On appeal, Murray argues that the trial court violated his due-process rights in dismissing his affidavit without notice or an opportunity to be heard. Because Molette lacked capacity to prosecute this action in the name of the State of Missouri, his case is hereby dismissed.

Factual and Procedural History

After the Michael Brown (" Brown" ) shooting incident that occurred on August 9, 2014, in Ferguson, Missouri, Appellant Cleve Molette filed an " Affidavit for Criminal Complaint" under Section 545.250. Section 545.250 reads:

When any person has knowledge of the commission of a crime, he may make his affidavit before any person authorized to administer oaths, setting forth the offense and the person or persons charged therewith, and file the same with the clerk of the court having jurisdiction of the offense, for the use of the prosecuting attorney, or deposit it with the prosecuting attorney, furnishing also the names of the witnesses for the prosecution; and it shall be the duty of the prosecuting attorney to file an information, as soon as practicable, upon said affidavit, as directed in section 545.240.

Molette filed his affidavit pro se in the St. Louis County Circuit Court on December 2, 2014. The affidavit alleged Darren Wilson (" Wilson" ) shifted his vehicle into reverse and forcefully accelerated towards Brown and Dorian Johnson (" Johnson" ). Molette's affidavit further alleged Wilson initiated a verbal encounter with Brown and Johnson, thrusted the car door open which hit Johnson, and grabbed ahold of Brown's shirt. According to the affidavit, Wilson's conduct constituted third-degree assault under Section 565.070.

On December 4, 2014, the trial court entered an order dismissing the affidavit without further action. The trial court took judicial notice that the Brown-Wilson incident had been investigated by the prosecuting attorney of St. Louis County and a grand jury. The trial court noted that the prosecuting attorney has discretion under Missouri law to file charges. The trial court further noted that upon concluding a four-month investigation of the shooting incident, the grand jury issued a no true bill declining to indict Wilson on any charges. The trial court then reasoned that the prosecuting attorney had exercised his judgment not to issue any criminal charges against Wilson as a result of the incident. In dismissing Molette's affidavit, the trial court stated, " Mr. Molette files his affidavit in an apparent attempt to impose his judgment that a crime occurred over the judgment of the elected prosecuting attorney and the grand jury. This is not the purpose of 545.250 RSMo." The trial court did not denominate the order a " judgment" or a " decree."

On December 15, 2014, Molette filed a " Motion to Set Aside Order." Molette argued that the trial court's dismissal of his affidavit violated his constitutional rights, because " [d]ue process requires notice and the opportunity to be heard." Molette ...


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