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City of St. Joseph v. Leer

Court of Appeals of Missouri, Western District, Third Division

November 3, 2015

CITY OF ST. JOSEPH, MISSOURI, Respondent,
v.
DEWAYNE A. LEER, Appellant

APPEAL FROM THE CIRCUIT COURT OF BUCHANAN COUNTY, MISSOURI. THE HONORABLE DANIEL F. KELLOGG, JUDGE.

Laura B. Lutz, for Respondent.

Jonathan Sternberg, for Appellant.

Before Division Three: Joseph M. Ellis, Presiding Judge, Gary D. Witt, Judge and Zel M. Fischer, Special Judge. All concur.

OPINION

Page 197

Joseph M. Ellis, J.

Dewayne Leer appeals from a judgment entered in the Circuit Court of Buchanan County, following trial de novo, finding him guilty of violating two of the City of St. Joseph's non-smoking ordinances, § § 17-335 and 17-337,[1] and fining him $100 for each of those violations as authorized by § 17-338. For the following reasons, the judgment is affirmed.

Appellant and his wife own Uncle D's Sports Bar & Grill, a restaurant and bar located in St. Joseph, Missouri. In addition to serving food and alcohol, Uncle D's has two coin operated pool tables, four other coin operated games, and dart boards for its patrons to use.

On August 21, 2014, an enforcement officer with the City Health Department issued a citation to Appellant for allowing smoking inside Uncle D's in violation of city ordinance § 17-337. On August 29, 2014, an officer cited Appellant for having " ashtrays at the bar with ashes inside" in violation of § 17-335. At trial, Appellant admitted that he allows smoking at Uncle D's.

In defending against the charges, Appellant filed motions to have the charges dismissed. Appellant maintained that the ordinances he was charged with violating did not apply to Uncle D's because it is a " billiard parlor" and that billiard parlors had been deemed not to be a " public place" in a previously enacted 1993 article limiting smoking in public places (" the 1993 Article" ).[2] In the alternative, he argued that the ordinances are unconstitutional special laws because the 2014 no-smoking article under which he was charged (" the 2014 Article" )[3] improperly exempts casino gaming areas and grants a special privilege to the local casino. He further contended that the 2014 Article was unconstitutional because an ordinance provision provides that the casino gaming area exemption would end if smoking were banned at all other non-Native American casinos in the region, improperly delegating to other governmental entities in the region the legislative power to ban smoking in St. Joseph casino gaming areas.

After the municipal judge denied Appellant's motions to dismiss, found him guilty of both offenses, and fined him a total of $300, Appellant requested a trial de novo in the circuit court. The circuit court denied Appellant's motions to dismiss without making any findings of fact or conclusions of law. Appellant was tried by the court and found guilty as charged. The circuit court fined him $100 for each of the two violations.

Appellant brings four points on appeal from that judgment, all of which challenge the trial court's decision not to dismiss the charges against him. Ordinarily, " [w]e review the trial court's ruling on a motion to dismiss for an abuse of discretion." City of Columbia v. Henderson, 399 S.W.3d 493, 494 (Mo. App. W.D. 2013). " A trial

Page 198

court abuses its discretion when its decision is clearly against the logic of the circumstances before the court and is so arbitrary and unreasonable as to shock the sense of justice and indicate a lack of careful consideration." Id. (internal quotation omitted). However, where the trial court's decision regarding whether to dismiss a criminal charge turns on a question of law, ...


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