Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Barnes v. Uhlich

Court of Appeals of Missouri, Western District, Third Division

November 12, 2019

KEVIN BARNES, Appellant,
v.
REBECCA UHLICH, SALINE COUNTY CIRCUIT CLERK, Respondent.

          Appeal from the Circuit Court of Saline County, Missouri The Honorable Kelly Halford Rose, Judge

          Before: Gary D. Witt, P.J., Edward R. Ardini, and Thomas N. Chapman, JJ.

          OPINION

          Thomas N. Chapman, Judge

         Summary

         Kevin Barnes (Barnes) appeals the Saline County Circuit Court's judgment, dismissing his petition in mandamus brought against the Saline County Circuit Clerk, Rebecca Uhlich (Circuit Clerk). Kevin Barnes was charged with a felony offense in Lafayette County, but his case was subsequently transferred to Saline County, in the matter entitled State v. Kevin Barnes, Saline County Circuit Court Case No. 17LF-CR00300-02. Following his conviction and sentence, the Saline County Circuit Court sought to recover court costs from Barnes associated with his conviction. Barnes filed a motion to retax costs in the Saline County criminal case, arguing that the Circuit Clerk was required to present a bill of costs to the Lafayette County Commission (the county that initiated Barnes's prosecution). Barnes later withdrew the notice calling up his motion to retax costs in his criminal case; and filed his Petition in Mandamus in the instant action, seeking an order compelling the Circuit Clerk to present a bill of costs to Lafayette County. The Judgment Entry in the instant action dismissed Barnes's petition, finding that he failed to plead an essential element of his claim for mandamus relief and that he lacked standing to pursue such relief.

         Barnes appeals the dismissal of his petition in mandamus, arguing that the Saline County Circuit Court erred in dismissing his petition because (1) the Circuit Clerk had a ministerial duty to present a bill of costs to the Lafayette County Commission; (2) that the Circuit Clerk defaulted by not filing an answer to his petition; and (3) that the Circuit Clerk is liable for treble the amount of costs assessed in Barnes's underlying criminal case. Finding no error, we affirm.

         Facts & Procedural Background

         In March 2017, Barnes was charged with the class E felony of domestic assault in the third degree in Lafayette County, Missouri. Barnes sought and obtained a change of venue to Saline County, Missouri.[1] He was convicted and sentenced to four years imprisonment in the Missouri Department of Corrections.

         While serving his sentence in July 2018, Barnes received a demand letter from a collection agency stating that he owed "outstanding court debt" in connection with his criminal case in the amount of $409.61. Barnes responded to the collection letter by disputing the validity of the debt. In its reply to Barnes, the collection agency stated that its client, the Saline County Circuit Court, had verified the validity of the debt. As a result of the costs that were taxed to Barnes by Saline County, "the amount of approximately $2.12 per month" was being seized from his prison inmate account.

         In November 2018, Barnes filed a motion to retax costs in the Saline County criminal case. He argued that Lafayette County (the county that originated his prosecution) was responsible for reimbursing Saline County (the county where his case was transferred) for court costs incurred as a result of his prosecution and that he was "not responsible for any of the costs in this case." Barnes's motion to retax costs was taken up for hearing on November 29, 2018, and again for further consideration on December 20, 2018, and January 14, 2019; and remained under advisement after each hearing. On January 15, 2019, Barnes filed notice calling up his motion for change of judge and his "Request for Ruling on Defendant's Motion to Retax Costs" for hearing on January 28, 2019. On January 24, 2019, Barnes filed a Notice of Cancellation of Hearing, indicating that he would "be pursuing an alternate remedy in a separate action in the hopes of more expeditiously bringing resolution to the legal claims raised in this cause." (Emphasis added). The same day, Barnes filed his Petition in Mandamus in this matter, requesting an order compelling the Circuit Clerk "to complete and present a fee bill to the Lafayette county commission for payment of costs taxed in this cause[.]"

         On February 11, 2019, the circuit court entered a Preliminary Order in Mandamus in the instant action directing the Circuit Clerk to "file [her] pleading to the petition in mandamus on or before February 22, 2019[.]" On February 20, 2019, the Circuit Clerk filed her Motion to Dismiss Barnes's petition, arguing that (1) his petition failed to state a cause of action for mandamus because he had an adequate alternative remedy in the form of a motion to retax costs, and (2) he lacked standing to pursue his action in mandamus. The same day Barnes filed a Motion for Civil Judgment, asking the Court to enter judgment against the Circuit Clerk "in treble the amount of costs taxed in cause number 17LF-CR00300-02…" On February 23, 2019, Barnes then filed his Motion for Default Judgment, arguing that the Circuit Clerk was required to file an answer to his petition, and that she had defaulted by filing a motion to dismiss in lieu of an answer. Barnes did not file a notice along with his Motion for Default Judgment. The Circuit Clerk filed suggestions in opposition to Barnes's motion for default judgment and moved in the alternative for leave to file an answer out of time.

         On March 5, 2019, the circuit court granted the Circuit Clerk's Motion to Dismiss, finding that Barnes "failed to establish a necessary element of mandamus relief" in that he had "a specific adequate, alternative legal remedy in a motion to retax costs." The circuit court also found that Barnes lacked standing to pursue the relief requested in his petition. This timely appeal follows.

         Discussion

         "A writ of mandamus compels the performance of 'a ministerial duty that one charged with the duty has refused to perform.'" State ex rel. Sasnett v. Moorhouse, 267 S.W.3d 717, 720 (Mo. App. W.D. 2008) (quoting State ex rel. McKee v. Riley, 240 S.W.3d 720, 725 (Mo. banc 2007)). "There is no remedy that a court can provide that is more drastic, no exercise of raw judicial power that is more awesome, than that available through the extraordinary writ of mandamus." State ex rel. Kelley v. Mitchell, 595 S.W.2d 261, 266 (Mo. banc 1980). Thus, "[s]uch a writ is to be used only as a last resort, in those cases in which no adequate alternative remedy exists, and is only appropriate where it is necessary to prevent great injury or injustice." Riley v. City Adm'r of City of Liberty, 552 S.W.3d 764, 766 ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.