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State ex rel. Sampson v. Hickle

Supreme Court of Missouri, En Banc

May 21, 2019

STATE OF MISSOURI ex rel. GARY D. SAMPSON, JR., Relator,
v.
THE HONORABLE WILLIAM E. HICKLE, Respondent.

          ORIGINAL PROCEEDING IN MANDAMUS

          George W. Draper III, Judge.

         Gary D. Sampson, Jr. (hereinafter, "Sampson") filed a petition for a writ of mandamus, requesting his immediate discharge from probation. Sampson argues the circuit court erred in overruling his motion to be discharged from probation and setting the matter for a probation violation hearing because the circuit court lost authority[1] by placing him on a third term of probation. Sampson asserts if his earned compliance credits (hereinafter, "ECC") were applied properly, he should have been discharged statutorily from probation and the circuit court had no authority to conduct another probation violation hearing because his term of probation had expired.

         This Court holds the circuit court erred in placing Sampson on a third term of probation. However, due to the fact Sampson should have still been serving a valid second probationary term, it is unclear whether the circuit court had authority to conduct a probation violation hearing or whether Sampson's probation expired statutorily. A permanent writ of mandamus is directed to issue ordering the circuit court to reinstate Sampson's previous probationary term.

         Factual and Procedural Background

         In November 2012, Sampson pleaded guilty to possession of a controlled substance. Sampson was granted a suspended imposition of sentence and placed on a five-year term of probation.

         Sampson's probation was revoked in November 2013. Sampson was sentenced to a six-year term of imprisonment, but the circuit court suspended the execution of the sentence and placed Sampson on a new five-year term of probation.

         In December 2014, Sampson admitted to violating his probation by using controlled substances. The circuit court continued Sampson's term of probation and imposed additional conditions.

         Sampson's probation was revoked again in July 2015, and the circuit court ordered his sentence to be executed. Sampson was placed into a 120-day institutional treatment program. Pursuant to section 559.115, RSMo Supp. 2013, [2] the circuit court retained jurisdiction for the 120-day period. Following the treatment program, the circuit court granted Sampson probation, effective November 2015, for a term of five years.

         In December 2017, the state filed a motion to revoke Sampson's probation. Sampson filed a motion to be discharged from probation in February 2018, claiming the state's revocation motion was filed after his statutory discharge date. The circuit court overruled Sampson's motion.

         Sampson then petitioned this Court for a writ of mandamus or, in the alternative, prohibition, requesting this Court direct the circuit court to discharge him from probation or, alternatively, prohibit the circuit court from holding a probation violation hearing. This Court issued a preliminary writ of mandamus.

         After oral argument in this case, the Board of Probation and Parole (hereinafter, "the Board") issued a letter to the circuit court. The Board informed the circuit court that with the application of ECC, Sampson was discharged statutorily from probation effective August 1, 2018.

         Standard of Review

         This Court has jurisdiction to issue original remedial writs. Mo. Const. art. V, sec. 4. A writ of mandamus may issue upon proof of a "clear, unequivocal specific right to a thing claimed." U.S. Dep't. of Veterans Affairs v. Boresi, 396 S.W.3d 356, 359 (Mo. banc 2013) (quoting Furlong Cos v. City of Kansas City, 189 S.W.3d 157, 165-66 (Mo. banc 2000). The denial of a petition for a writ of mandamus is reviewed for an abuse of discretion. Boresi, 396 S.W.3d at 359. "When a statutory right is at issue, a court must analyze the statute or statutes under which the relator claims the right." State ex rel. Hodges v. Asel, 460 S.W.3d 926, 927 (Mo. banc 2015). An abuse of discretion occurs when the circuit court misapplies an applicable statute. State ex rel. Robison v. Lindley-Myers, 551 S.W.3d 468, 471 (Mo. banc 2018).

         The primary rule of statutory interpretation is to effectuate the legislature's intent through reference to the plain and ordinary meaning of the statutory language. State v. Ajak, 543 S.W.3d 43, 52 (Mo. banc 2018). "This Court considers the words used in their plain and ordinary ...


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