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State ex rel. Becker v. Lamke

Court of Appeals of Missouri, Eastern District, Writ Sixth Division

July 23, 2019

STATE OF MISSOURI, ex rel. MATTHEW BECKER, Franklin County Prosecuting Attorney, Relator,
v.
THE HONORABLE I. I. LAMKE, Circuit Judge, Division II, Twentieth Judicial Circuit, 401 East Main Street Union, Missouri 63084, Respondent.

          Writ of Prohibition Circuit Court of Franklin County Cause No. 15AB-CR00641

          ROBERT M. CLAYTON III, PRESIDING JUDGE.

         Matthew Becker, the prosecuting attorney for Franklin County ("Relator"), filed a petition for writ of prohibition seeking to prohibit the Honorable I. I. Lamke ("Respondent") from enforcing a pre-trial order issued in the underlying criminal action against Douglas Summers ("Defendant"), which would require the State to produce a memorandum summarizing the corpus delicti evidence the State intends to use to support the charge against Defendant. This Court issued a Preliminary Order in Prohibition. Our Preliminary Order in Prohibition is made permanent.

         I. BACKGROUND

         A. The Underlying Action

         Respondent is presiding over the underlying criminal action against Defendant, which is denominated 15AB-CR00641. Pursuant to a grand jury indictment filed on April 2, 2015, Defendant was charged with one count of first-degree statutory rape and one count of first-degree statutory sodomy.[1] Defendant waived formal arraignment.

         On December 11, 2018, Respondent set Defendant's case for jury trial on July 24, 2019 and issued a pre-trial order. On May 31, 2019, Respondent issued a revised pre-trial order ("the May 31 revised pre-trial order" or "revised pre-trial order"), which directed the State to submit a memorandum "stating the corpus delicti of the charge(s) and identify those corroborating circumstances, independent of the confession, which the State contends can be considered with any confession, and which together with any confession establishes the corpus delicti." The State filed a motion to amend the preceding order on June 12, 2019, to which Defendant consented. Respondent denied the motion to amend on June 20, 2019. Thereafter, Respondent issued an additional order stating, "Defendant may file any motion in limine Defendant deems appropriate to exclude the confession of Defendant on or before July 8[.]" In response to Respondent's orders, Defendant filed a notice specifically waiving any motions in limine relating to the adequacy of the State's corpus delicti evidence and reserving such objections for trial if necessary.

         B. The Instant Writ Proceeding

         Relator, acting on behalf of the State, subsequently filed the instant petition for writ of prohibition seeking to prohibit Respondent from enforcing the portion of his May 31 revised pre-trial order that directs the State to produce a memorandum summarizing the corpus delicti evidence the State intends to use to support the charge against Defendant. Relator's petition alleges compliance with Respondent's order would result in disclosure of the State's trial strategy and production of privileged matters of work product. Relator's petition further argues that if the State was required to produce the materials covered by the May 31 revised pre-trial order, Defendant would be given an unfair tactical advantage at trial resulting in irreparable harm to the State. Notably, Defendant filed an answer consenting to issuance of the writ of prohibition.

         Respondent subsequently filed an answer with suggestions in opposition. We issued a Preliminary Order in Prohibition, which ordered Respondent to refrain from taking any action in the underlying criminal case until further notice.

         II. DISCUSSION

         A. This Court's Authority to Issue a Writ of Prohibition in this Case

         Pursuant to the Missouri Constitution, our Court has jurisdiction to issue original remedial writs, including the extraordinary, discretionary writ of prohibition. Mo. Const. art. V, sec. 4.1; State ex rel. Cullen v. Harrell, 567 S.W.3d 633, 637 (Mo. banc 2019); Ballard v. Siwak, 521 S.W.3d 296, 300 (Mo. App. E.D. 2017). The issuance of a writ of prohibition is appropriate:

(1) to prevent the usurpation of judicial power when the trial court lacks authority or jurisdiction; (2) to remedy an excess of authority, jurisdiction or abuse of discretion where the lower court lacks the power to act as intended; or (3) where a ...

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