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St. Louis County v. State

Court of Appeals of Missouri, Western District, First Division

August 8, 2017

ST. LOUIS COUNTY, MISSOURI, et al., Respondents,
v.
STATE OF MISSOURI, et al., Appellants.

         APPEAL FROM THE CIRCUIT COURT OF COLE COUNTY The Honorable Patricia S. Joyce, Judge

          Before: James Welsh, Presiding Judge, Lisa White Hardwick and Gary D. Witt, Judges

          Lisa White Hardwick, Judge.

         The State of Missouri, the Missouri Department of Public Safety, the Director of the Missouri Department of Public Safety, and the Missouri Sheriffs Methamphetamine Relief Taskforce (collectively, "the State") appeal the circuit court's judgment in favor of the Superintendent of Police of St. Louis County ("the Superintendent") on the Superintendent's motion for relief from the State's decision regarding the Superintendent's applications for grants to supplement deputy sheriffs' salaries. The State contends that the court's judgment exceeds the scope of our mandate from a prior appeal and orders an indefinite and confusing injunction that fails to comply with Supreme Court Rule 92.02. For reasons explained herein, we affirm.

         Factual and Procedural History[1]

         In 2008, the General Assembly created the Deputy Sheriff Salary Supplementation Fund ("the Fund"). §§ 57.278 and 57.280, RSMo 201 6.[2] The Fund is derived from moneys collected by sheriffs from a $10 charge for service of summons, writs, subpoenas, or other court orders. §§ 57.278.1 and 57.280.4. The Fund is to be used solely to supplement the salaries and benefits of "county deputy sheriffs." § 57.278.1. The Fund's 2013 Local Solicitation described who were "eligible applicants" for Fund grants: "Any County Sheriff's Office may apply for monies under the [Fund] to supplement the salaries and subsequent benefits of its full-time deputies so long as the deputies of that County Sheriff's Office are licensed peace officers or are deputies authorized to perform the same functions as the Sheriff."

         The Missouri Sheriffs Methamphetamine Relief Taskforce ("MoSMART") administers the Fund. Id. Each May, the MoSMART Board begins to review grant applications submitted by county sheriffs for the next fiscal year.[3] The Department of Public Safety prepares spreadsheets to aid in the review and funding decisions, including a spreadsheet outlining the total outlays for various funding scenarios. During the review process, the Board determines generally how much it wants to distribute from the Fund and then approves a funding formula to allocate the funds among the eligible applicants.

         In 2012, the Superintendent submitted an application seeking a grant from the Fund for the 2013 fiscal year. MoSMART denied the application on the ground that "the application was not submitted by the Sheriff of St. Louis County, as required by the qualifications of the Deputy Sheriff Salary Supplementation Fund."

         St. Louis County, the Superintendent, the St. Louis County Sheriff, the St. Louis County Deputy Sheriff, a St. Louis County police officer, the St. Louis County Transportation Officer, and the Director of the Department of Justice for St. Louis County ("the plaintiffs") filed a four-count petition for declaratory judgment against the State. In Counts I and II of the petition, the plaintiffs claimed that Section 57.278 was unconstitutional. In Count III, the plaintiffs alleged that the criteria for assessing grant applications were not properly promulgated as a rule. Lastly, in Count IV, the plaintiffs sought judicial review of MoSMART's rejection of the grant application on the basis that the rejection was unlawful, unreasonable, arbitrary, and an abuse of discretion. The circuit court dismissed the petition after finding that the plaintiffs lacked standing and that the suit was barred by sovereign immunity.

         On appeal, the Supreme Court affirmed the dismissal of Counts I through III for lack of standing. St. Louis Cty. v. State, 424 S.W.3d 450, 453-54 (Mo. banc 2014). With regard to Count IV, the Court ruled that the Superintendent was the only plaintiff with standing to challenge MoSMART's rejection of the grant application. The Court found that the Superintendent "has a legal interest in obtaining judicial review of whether he is a county sheriff who is eligible to file a grant application." Id. at 454. Therefore, the Court reversed the dismissal of the Superintendent's claim under Count IV and remanded the case to the circuit court. Id.

         On remand, the circuit court granted summary judgment in favor of the Superintendent in February 2015. In its judgment, the court found that the Superintendent was a "sheriff" who was eligible to file a Fund grant application; that the St. Louis County police department was a "county sheriff's office" under Section 57.015(4) and its officers were "deputy sheriffs" under Sections 57.015(1) and 57.278; and that there was no rational basis for treating St. Louis County licensed peace officers differently from deputies in other counties that were awarded grant funds simply because St. Louis County uses different job titles for employees that perform the same statutory duties as sheriffs.

         The court further found that the Superintendent's 2013 grant application was timely and met all the requirements set out in the Fund's 2013 Local Solicitation. Thus, the court concluded that MoSMART's denial of the application was unlawful and unreasonable. The court reversed MoSMART's decision and remanded the case back to MoSMART for further consideration of the 2013 application and all subsequent grant applications. The court further ordered MoSMART to "award grant funds that put the St. Louis County licensed peace officers in the same position that they would have been in if [MoSMART] had not denied the 2013 grant application."

         On appeal, we affirmed the circuit court's determination that the Superintendent was a "sheriff" who was eligible to apply for grants from the Fund and that the Superintendent's officers were "deputy sheriffs." St. Louis Cty. v. State, 482 S.W.3d 842, 850-51 (Mo. App. 2016). We also held that the circuit court acted within its authority under Section 536.150 when it remanded the case to MoSMART for further consideration of the Superintendent's 2013 grant application and any subsequent grant applications that were denied on the unlawful and unreasonable basis that the Superintendent was not a sheriff. Id. at 847. However, we reversed the portion of the judgment ordering MoSMART to "award grant funds that put the St. Louis County licensed peace officers in the same position that they would have been if [MoSMART] had not denied the 2013 grant application." Id. at 848. We held that, by making such an order, the circuit court removed MoSMART's discretion and substituted the court's discretion in its place. Id. We explained that this was contrary to the Supreme Court's pronouncement in St. Louis County, 424 S.W.3d at 453, that the awarding of grants is solely a matter of MoSMART's discretion, and it was also contrary to Section 536.1 50.1, which prohibits the court from substituting its discretion for discretion vested in an administrative body. Id. We issued our mandate in the case on March 30, 2016. That same day, the circuit clerk's office opened a new case and made a docket entry, "Reopen from Mandate." The circuit court took no further action on the case at that time.

         A few weeks later, on April 22, 2016, MoSMART met and reconsidered the Superintendent's applications for grants from the Fund for fiscal years 2013, 2014, 2015, and 2016. MoSMART's ...


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