STATE ex rel. CHRISTINE DELF, Relator,
THE HONORABLE DARRELL E. MISSEY, Respondent.
PROCEEDING IN PROHIBITION
W. Draper III, Judge.
Delf (hereinafter, "Delf") seeks a writ of
prohibition to prevent the circuit court from taking any
further action in her guilty plea proceeding other than
setting aside its judgment overruling her motion to enforce
her plea agreement or, in the alternative, to withdraw her
guilty plea. Delf contends the circuit court lacks the
authority to impose special conditions of probation that she
believes were excluded by the plea agreement she bargained
for with the state. This Court holds the circuit court did
not abuse its discretion in overruling Delf's motion to
enforce the plea agreement or in failing to permit Delf to
withdraw her guilty plea because its ruling comported with
Rule 24.02(d). The preliminary writ of prohibition is
Factual and Procedural History
was charged with one count of forgery, a class C felony,
after forging a $5, 000 check belonging to her elderly
neighbor. Delf and the state negotiated a plea agreement,
which stated: "7 years MDC, SES, 5 years' probation.
Restitution of $5, 000 plus administrative fee to be paid
through P.A. Restitution Dept., and to be paid in full prior
to the expiration of probation." The plea agreement
further stated, "The [p]arties agree that this
recommendation is being entered into pursuant to Rule
24.02(d)(1)(C) and agree to be bound by its terms."
pleaded guilty pursuant to the plea agreement. The circuit
court deferred sentencing and informed Delf that, if
probation was not granted as the state recommended, she would
be allowed to withdraw her guilty plea and proceed to trial.
The circuit court ordered a sentencing assessment report.
sentencing, the circuit court stated it initially intended to
reject the state's recommendation after reviewing the
sentencing assessment report. The sentencing assessment
report revealed Delf pleaded guilty to passing a bad check in
2000. In 2009, Delf was convicted of nine counts of forgery,
resulting in a $25, 000 loss to the victim. Delf committed
those forgeries while employed as a home healthcare aide to
an elderly patient. Delf received a suspended execution of
sentence and was placed on probation. In 2012, while on
probation for the 2009 offenses, Delf misappropriated money
from another elderly patient but was not charged with a crime
or found to have violated probation. The circuit court
expressed its concerns regarding Delf working as a home
healthcare aide for elderly people and her propensity to
steal their money. However, the circuit court indicated it
would not reject the state's recommendation; instead, the
circuit court planned to impose special conditions on her
counsel responded that if shock incarceration was one of the
conditions of probation the circuit court was considering,
"shock time" was discussed previously with the
prosecutor. When he negotiated the plea agreement, defense
counsel specifically asked the prosecutor whether the plea
agreement meant no "shock time." Defense counsel
contended the prosecutor confirmed no "shock time"
was involved. Defense counsel requested time to discuss this
issue off of the record prior to the circuit court's
imposition of sentence.
circuit court declined defense counsel's request to
discuss anything off the record and ordered Delf to serve 120
days' shock incarceration in the Jefferson County jail as
a condition of her probation. The circuit court explained
that, if it had ordered Delf to serve 120 days' shock
incarceration in the department of corrections, Delf would
have been able to set aside her guilty plea. However, the
circuit court did not want to set aside the plea so it
imposed the shock incarceration in the county jail as a
special condition of probation. Defense counsel objected and
pointed out the plea was "binding" because it was
entered into under Rule 24.02(d)(1)(C). The circuit court
overruled the objection, stating Delf could not pick and
choose the conditions of probation she wished to serve. The
circuit court further noted the plea agreement did not
prohibit the imposition of this condition of probation. As an
additional special condition of probation, the circuit court
barred Delf from working as a home healthcare aide.
was delivered to the Jefferson County jail immediately after
sentencing. Delf filed a motion to enforce her plea agreement
or, in the alternative, to withdraw her guilty plea and
proceed to trial. The circuit court overruled her motion.
subsequently filed a writ of mandamus in the Missouri Court
of Appeals, Eastern District, challenging the circuit
court's ruling. The Eastern District treated Delf's
filing as a writ of habeas corpus and issued a preliminary
writ, which secured her immediate release from jail pending
further proceedings. After the state filed an answer and
suggestions in opposition to Delf's writ, the Eastern
District quashed the preliminary writ and ordered Delf to
return to jail.
returning to jail, Delf sought relief from this Court, filing
a writ of mandamus or, in the alternative, habeas corpus.
This Court ruled it would treat Delf's petition as a writ
of prohibition. On July 27, 2016, this Court issued a
preliminary writ of prohibition, pursuant to its authority
under article V, section 4 of the Missouri Constitution. This
Court's preliminary writ of prohibition commanded the
circuit court to take no further action in this matter, other
than to show cause as to the reasons this writ should not
issue, until ordered to do so by this Court.
Court has jurisdiction to issue original remedial writs. Mo.
Const. art. V, sec. 4. "A writ of prohibition is
appropriate: (1) to prevent the usurpation of judicial power
when a lower court lacks authority or jurisdiction; (2) to
remedy an excess of authority, jurisdiction or abuse of
discretion where the lower court lacks the power to act as
intended; or (3) where a party may suffer irreparable harm if
relief is not granted." State ex rel. Strauser v.
Martinez, 416 S.W.3d 798, 801 (Mo. banc 2014).
argues she is entitled to a writ prohibiting the circuit
court from doing anything other than setting aside its order
overruling her motion to enforce the plea agreement or, in
the alternative, to withdraw the guilty plea and set the case
for trial. Delf argues Rule 24.02(d) requires the circuit
court to either accept a binding plea agreement without
modification or reject it and permit the defendant to
withdraw the guilty plea. Delf maintains the circuit court
effectively rejected the plea agreement by adding terms the
parties did not agree upon in reaching their agreement. Delf
argues the circuit court abused its discretion and acted in
excess of its authority when it effectively rejected the plea
agreement and did not permit Delf to withdraw her guilty
24.02(d) governs plea agreement procedures. In this case, the
parties reached an agreement pursuant to Rule 24.02(d)(1)(C),
which provides the prosecutor will agree that a specific
sentence is the appropriate disposition for the
case. The parties' agreement states Delf would receive a
seven-year sentence, execution of the sentence would be
suspended, she would be placed on five years' probation,
and she would pay $5, 000 in restitution before the end of
the probationary term. The parties disclosed the plea
agreement on the record as required by Rule 24.02(d)(2). At
sentencing, the circuit court had two options: (1) it could
accept the plea and dispose of ...