Court of Appeals of Missouri, Eastern District, First Division
CHRISTOPHER D. LEIGH, Appellant,
STATE OF MISSOURI, Respondent.
from the Circuit Court of Saint Francois County Honorable
S. ODENWALD, Judge
issue presented on appeal focuses on a recurring issue of the
filing deadline for a motion for post-conviction relief in
situations where an individual receives a suspended execution
of sentence, serves a short period of time in the Missouri
Department of Corrections ("DOC") as a requirement
of probation, is released from the DOC and continued on
probation, but is later returned to the DOC to serve the
remainder of the suspended sentence when the probation is
D. Leigh ("Leigh") appeals from the motion
court's dismissal of his Rule 24.035 motion for
post-conviction relief. On appeal, Leigh argues that the
motion court clearly erred in dismissing his Rule 24.035
motion without reviewing his substantive allegations because
the motion was timely filed and properly contested
Leigh's underlying convictions and sentences. Because the
trial court's findings and conclusions that Leigh's
motion was not a proper challenge to his underlying
convictions and sentences are clearly erroneous, we reverse.
We further remand this matter to the motion court, with
instructions to proceed on the merits.
and Procedural History
State charged Leigh with four counts of aggravated stalking.
Leigh pleaded guilty to the charged offenses. The plea court
sentenced Leigh to four-year consecutive terms in prison for
each of the counts, totaling sixteen years. The plea court
suspended Leigh's sentences and placed him on probation
for five years.
subsequently violated his probation. The plea court imposed a
court ordered detention sanction, pursuant to Section
559.036,  and ordered Leigh to participate in a
120-day program with the DOC. On December 19, 2016, Leigh was
delivered to the DOC. Leigh completed the 120-day program,
and the DOC released Leigh back on probation.
filed a pro se motion for post-conviction relief (the
"Motion") on April 28, 2017. Within the Motion,
Leigh alleged that he received ineffective assistance of
counsel, entered his guilty plea under duress, and did not
commit the charged offenses. The motion court appointed
State moved to dismiss the Motion, before an amended motion
was filed. On May 23, 2017, the motion court dismissed
Leigh's Motion, finding that Leigh challenged a condition
of his probation, which is not cognizable in post-conviction
proceedings under Rule 24.035. Leigh now appeals.
sole point on appeal, Leigh alleges that the motion court
clearly erred when it dismissed the Motion because the motion
court incorrectly characterized his Motion as a challenge to
his confinement pursuant to the court ordered detention
sanction, and not a challenge to his underlying convictions
and sentences. Leigh argues that he timely filed and properly
challenged his convictions and sentences in his Motion.
overturn the motion court's disposition in a Rule 24.035
motion if its findings of fact and conclusions of law are
clearly erroneous. Hall v. State. 528 S.W.3d 360,
361 (Mo. banc 2017); Rule 24.035(k). The motion court's
findings are clearly erroneous when, after reviewing the
entire record, we are "left with the definite and firm
impression that a mistake has been made." Stanley v.
State, 420 S.W.3d 532, 539 (Mo. banc 2014) (internal
citations omitted). The motion court's findings and