Court of Appeals of Missouri, Western District, Third Division
from the Circuit Court of Adair County, Missouri The
Honorable Gary L. Dial, Judge
Victor C. Howard, Presiding Judge, Cynthia L. Martin, Judge
and Gary D. Witt, Judge
CYNTHIA L. MARTIN, JUDGE.
Carter ("Carter") appeals from the judgment of the
trial court denying his application for conditional release
pursuant to section 552.040.10 as moot. Carter argues that the
trial court erred because section 552.040 entitled him to a
hearing and described factors the trial court was required to
determine. We reverse and remand.
and Procedural Background
January 2000, Carter was charged with forcible sodomy,
kidnapping, burglary in the first degree, felonious
restraint, and deviate sexual assault. Carter pleaded not
guilty by reason of mental disease or defect
("NGRI") to these charges in January 2002. As a
result, Carter was committed to the Department of Mental
Health ("Department") in accordance with section
552.040. Forcible sodomy and kidnapping were both defined as
a "dangerous felony" in section 556.061 at the time
of Carter's offenses.
case was subsequently reviewed to determine whether he met
the criteria of a sexually violent predator ("SVP")
under the Sexually Violent Predator Act ("SVP
Act"), sections 632.480 through 632.525. Following a
trial on the matter, a jury found that Carter was an SVP.
Carter was ordered committed to the Department's custody
pursuant to section 632.495 of the SVP Act. As a result, as
the trial court found in its judgment giving rise to this
appeal, Carter is "committed to the custody of the
Department of Mental Health in a dual capacity" as a
person who pleaded NGRI and as an SVP.
2015, Carter filed an application for conditional release
pursuant to section 552.040.10. Carter thus sought relief from
his commitment as a person who pleaded NGRI. Carter did not
file an application seeking conditional release from his
commitment as an SVP as permitted by section 632.498.3.
trial court convened a conference call with counsel, and
expressed concern that Carter's application for
conditional release pursuant to section 552.040.10 was moot
given Carter's dual commitment pursuant to the SVP Act.
The parties submitted briefing on this issue. On June 29,
2017, the trial court entered judgment denying Carter's
application for conditional release as moot. The trial court
reasoned that any relief granted to Carter on his application
for conditional release under section 552.040.10 would not
afford him "any effectual relief because Carter would
remain civilly committed under the SVP Act. Accordingly, the
trial court held that "as long as [Carter] remains a[n]
SVP under civil commitment pursuant to [the SVP Act], any
relief granted under Section 552 is moot." The trial
court expressly noted in its judgment that no findings or
conclusions were reached regarding the merits of Carter's
application for conditional release.
filed this timely appeal.
review of the denial of an application for conditional
release from the custody of the [Department] is governed by
Murphy v. Carron, 536 S.W.2d 30 (Mo. banc
1976)." Rowlings v. State, 22 S.W.3d 719, 723
(Mo. App. W.D. 1999). "We will reverse the trial
court's decision only if there is no substantial evidence
to support it, unless it erroneously declares or applies the
law, or unless it is against the weight of the
raises two points on appeal. In his first point, Carter
argues that the trial court erred in denying his application
for conditional release as moot because section 552.040
entitled him to a hearing. In his second point, Carter
asserts that by denying his application as moot, the trial
court failed to consider the factors set forth in section
552.040.12. We address ...