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State v. Cooper

Court of Appeals of Missouri, Western District, Second Division

September 27, 2016

STATE OF MISSOURI, Respondent,
v.
STEVEN WAYNE COOPER, Appellant.

         Appeal from the Circuit Court of Jackson County, Missouri The Honorable Kevin D. Harrell, Judge

          Before: Karen King Mitchell, Presiding Judge, and Cynthia L. Martin and Gary D. Witt, Judges

          Karen King Mitchell, Presiding Judge

         Steven Cooper challenges his conviction for failure to register as a sex offender, a class D felony. § 589.425.1.[1] Because Cooper entered a guilty plea and does not challenge the subject matter jurisdiction of the plea court or the sufficiency of the charging document, we dismiss the appeal.

         Background

         Cooper pled guilty to first-degree sexual abuse on November 17, 1992, and received a suspended imposition of sentence. On September 2, 2014, the State filed a complaint alleging that Cooper had failed to register as a sex offender in violation of § 589.400. On January 4, 2016, Cooper pleaded guilty to not registering as a sex offender, and the trial court sentenced him to four years in the Missouri Department of Corrections, suspended execution of the sentence, and placed Cooper on probation for three years, with the condition that Cooper would have to register as a sex offender.

         Cooper appealed the sentence to the Missouri Supreme Court, attacking, among other things, the constitutionality of certain ordinances and statutes. The State filed a motion to transfer the case to this court, arguing that Cooper's constitutional challenges were not real and substantial. The Court granted the motion, and transferred the case to this court.

         Analysis

         Before we address the merits of Cooper's claims, we must address whether this court has jurisdiction over Cooper's direct appeal. "In Missouri, the general rule is that a guilty plea waives all nonjurisdictional defects, including statutory and constitutional guarantees." Garris v. State, 389 S.W.3d 648, 651 (Mo. banc 2012). "The general waiver rule exists because '[a] guilty plea not only admits guilt but also consents to judgment of conviction without a jury trial.'" State v. Hopkins, 432 S.W.3d 208, 211 (Mo. App. W.D. 2014) (quoting Garris, 389 S.W.3d at 651). "Therefore, '[i]n a direct appeal of a judgment and sentence entered as a result of a guilty plea, our review is restricted to [claims involving] the subject-matter jurisdiction of the trial court and the sufficiency of the information or indictment.'" Id. (quoting State v. Onate, 398 S.W.3d 102, 105 (Mo. App. W.D. 2013)).

         While some of his arguments are difficult to decipher, [2] it is clear that none of Cooper's six points challenge either the trial court's subject matter jurisdiction over the action ("[T]he circuit courts shall have original jurisdiction over all cases and matters, civil and criminal." J.C.W. ex rel. Webb v. Wyciskalla, 275 S.W.3d 249, 253 (Mo. banc 2009) (quoting Mo. Const. art. 5, § 14)) or the sufficiency of the indictment ("[T]he test of the sufficiency of an indictment is whether it contains all the essential elements of the offense as set out in the statute and clearly apprises defendant of the facts constituting the offense in order to enable him to meet the charge and to bar further prosecution." State v. Metzinger, 456 S.W.3d 84, 91 (Mo. App. E.D. 2015) (quoting State v. Reese, 687 S.W.2d 635, 636 (Mo. App. S.D. 1985))).

         "Rule 24.035 creates an exception to the general rule that a plea of guilty waives the right to challenge alleged error relating to the plea and sentence." Hopkins, 432 S.W.3d at 211. "Challenges to either the voluntariness of the plea or 'the legality of the sentence imposed may be considered only in response to a Rule 24.035 motion.'" Id. (quoting Onate, 398 S.W.3d at 105). But this is not an appeal from the denial of a Rule 24.035 motion. And again, "'[i]n a direct appeal of a judgment and sentence entered as a result of a guilty plea, our review is restricted to [claims involving] the subject-matter jurisdiction of the trial court and the sufficiency of the information or indictment.'" Hopkins, 432 S.W.3d at 211 (quoting Garris, 389 S.W.3d at 651). Accordingly, Cooper's "claims related to alleged [trial] court error . . . are not cognizable in a direct appeal."[3]Id. . at 213.

         Conclusion

         Because we have no authority to review Cooper's arguments on direct appeal related to allegations of trial court error ...


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