STATE OF MISSOURI ex rel. APRIL L. COLEMAN, Relator,
THE HONORABLE WENDY L. WEXLER HORN, Respondent.
ORIGINAL PROCEEDING IN PROHIBITION
R. Russell, Judge.
April Coleman, seeks a writ of prohibition preventing the
circuit court from taking any action in this case other than
discharging her from probation.
Coleman's term of probation, the division of probation
and parole issued four notices of citation, none of which
resulted in the issuance of probation violation warrants or
the suspension of Coleman's probation. The division
issued a field violation report in June 2016 resulting in the
circuit court suspending Coleman's probation and issuing
a capias warrant for her arrest. A probation violation
hearing was scheduled for February 2018. Coleman filed a
motion to be discharged from probation, which the circuit
court overruled. This Court issued a preliminary writ.
on the record, the notices of citation were not "initial
violation reports" or "violation reports"
pursuant to section 217.703. The division's issuances of
notices of citation did not stop the accrual of earned
compliance credits (ECCs) pursuant to section 217.703 because
Coleman was not out of compliance with the terms of her
probation. After the May 2016 optimal discharge date, the
circuit court did not have the authority in February 2018 to
hold a probation revocation hearing, and further, the circuit
court should have discharged Coleman from probation. This
Court makes permanent its preliminary writ of prohibition.
pleaded guilty to one count of the Class C felony of
distribution of a controlled substance in October 2013. She
was given a suspended imposition of sentence and placed on
five years' probation under the supervision of the
division of probation and parole.
January 2014 to September 2014, the division filed with the
circuit court three case summary reports. Each listed
Coleman's optimal discharge date as May 1, 2016,
indicating she would be discharged from her probation on this
date should she be awarded ECCs during each month of her
probation. In April 2015, the division issued the first
document titled "Notice of Citation." In the
notice, Coleman was cited for a positive urinalysis for
tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and nonpayment of monthly
intervention fees. Later that month, the division issued a
fourth case summary report, in which Coleman's optimal
discharge date remained May 1, 2016. The division issued
three more notices of citation in November 2015, February
2016, and April 2016. In the November 2015 notice, Coleman
was cited for testing positive for THC and failing to report
as directed. In the February 2016 and April 2016 notices,
Coleman was cited for admitting to the use of marijuana and
failing to report as directed. No probation violation
warrants were issued as a result of any of the notices of
2016, the division issued a document titled "Field
Violation Report," which was filed with the court in
August. The report did not include an earned or optimal
discharge date but noted an earned discharged date would be
established when Coleman paid her restitution in full. The
report further noted that Coleman would not be awarded ECCs
until her costs were paid. The probation officer recommended
"capias, suspension" and provided that a probation
violation warrant would be issued. The circuit court issued
an order suspending Coleman's probation and ordering
issuance of a capias warrant for her arrest. The order set a
revocation hearing for September. On the date of the hearing,
the circuit court took notice the warrant had not been
served, and the cause was passed generally pending service of
probation violation hearing was scheduled for February 2018.
Before the hearing, Coleman filed a motion to be discharged
from probation, arguing the circuit court lacked authority to
have suspended her probation. Coleman argued that under
section 217.703 she was entitled to ECCs during the four
months the division issued a notice of citation, effectuating
her discharge in May 2016, prior to both the submission of
the field violation report and order suspending her
probation. The circuit court issued an order overruling
Coleman's motion, which determined a notice of citation
has the same meaning as a "violation report" for
purposes of section 217.703. The circuit court rescheduled
the probation revocation hearing.
filed a petition for a writ of prohibition or, in the
alternative, a writ of mandamus in the court of appeals,
seeking to bar the circuit court from holding a probation
violation hearing and from taking any action other than
discharging her from probation. The court of appeals denied
Coleman's petition. This Court issued a preliminary writ.
Coleman now seeks a permanent writ of prohibition from this
Court barring the circuit court from holding a probation
violation hearing and from taking any action in this case
other than discharging her from probation.
and Standard of Review
Court has jurisdiction to "issue and determine original
remedial writs." Mo. Const. art. V, sec. 4. A writ of
prohibition may issue to: (1) "prevent the usurpation of
judicial power when a lower court lacks authority or
jurisdiction;" (2) "remedy an excess of authority,
jurisdiction or abuse of discretion where the lower court
lacks the power to act as intended;" or when (3) "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).
case presents the question whether the issuance of notices of
citation to Coleman resulted in her remaining in compliance
for purposes of the division's calculation of ECC
accrual. The division issued to Coleman notices of citation
in April 2015, November 2015, February 2016, and April 2016.
The awarding of ECCs is governed by section 217.703.
Section 217.703.1 provides:
1. The division of probation and parole shall award
compliance credits to any offender who is:
(1) Not subject to lifetime supervision . . .
(2) On probation, parole, or conditional release for [certain
offenses, including distribution of a controlled substance];
(3) Supervised by the board; and
(4) In compliance with the conditions of supervision
imposed by the sentencing court or board.
is no dispute Coleman met the requirements in section
217.703.1(1), (2), and (3). The issue is whether, under
section 217.703.1(4), Coleman was "[i]n compliance with
the conditions of supervision imposed by the sentencing court
or board." If Coleman was "in compliance" from
the beginning of her probation in November 2013 through April
2016, then, pursuant to section 217.703.3,  she accrued
sufficient ECCs to reduce her five years' probation term
by 30 months and effectuate her discharge in May 2016. After
that date, the circuit court lacked authority to revoke her
probation. See Strauser, 416 S.W.3d at 801
("When the probation term ends, so does the court's
authority to revoke probation.").
determine the meaning of "in compliance," section
217.703.4 and section 217.703.5 are instructive. Section
217.703.4 provides, "For the purposes of this section,
the term 'compliance' shall mean the absence of
an initial violation report submitted by a probation or
parole officer during a calendar month, or a motion to revoke
or motion to suspend filed by a prosecuting or circuit
attorney, against the offender." (Emphasis added).
Further, section 217.703.5 provides, "Credits shall not
accrue during any calendar month in which a violat ...