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.

State v. Savage

Court of Appeals of Missouri, Western District, Fourth Division

November 12, 2019

STATE OF MISSOURI, Respondent,
v.
THOMAS J. SAVAGE, Appellant.

          APPEAL FROM THE CIRCUIT COURT OF CLAY COUNTY The Honorable Janet L. Sutton, Judge

          Before: Karen King Mitchell, Chief Judge, Presiding, Lisa White Hardwick and Thomas N. Chapman, Judges

          Lisa White Hardwick, Judge

         Thomas Savage appeals from the circuit court's denial of his motion to retax costs to the State. Savage contends the court erroneously denied his motion because: (1) after originally ordering him to pay costs, the court made a subsequent finding that he was insolvent; and (2) he should not have been taxed any costs as an indigent person represented by the Public Defender's Office. For reasons explained herein, we find no error and affirm the judgment denying the motion to retax costs.

         Factual and Procedural History

         After a jury trial, Savage was convicted and sentenced to six years imprisonment for second-degree burglary and 180-days for misdemeanor stealing. At the sentencing hearing on November 30, 2018, Savage argued that costs should not be taxed against him as a "clearly indigent" person who was represented by the Public Defender's Office and lacked a high school diploma or current employment. The court stated the objection was "duly noted" before taxing costs against Savage in the amount of $371.50 ("original costs").[1] The court, however, granted Savage's motion to appeal in forma pauperis.[2]

         Nearly three months later, on February 20, 2019, the circuit court certified a bill of costs to the Department of Corrections ("DOC"), which included a $6.00 "Felony Clerk Fee," a $75.00 "Sheriff's Fee," and a $6, 629.68 board bill for the period of time Savage was detained in the Clay County Jail. Savage thereupon filed a motion to retax the original costs to the State, alleging that the circuit court, in certifying the bill of costs to the DOC, necessarily determined that he was insolvent and unable to pay court costs. Savage argued that the court was required to correct its previous judgment assessing costs against him.

         The circuit court denied Savage's motion to retax costs and stated during the hearing on the motion that it was doing so because "finding [Savage] insolvent for paying $6, 000 in a board bill is entirely different than [the court] find[ing] him indigent for purposes of assessing $300 in court costs. . . . There's a huge distinction in finding somebody indigent based on the difference in what [the court is] assessing against him." Savage appeals the denial of his motion to retax costs.

         Standard of Review

         "Statutory interpretation is an issue of law that [appellate courts] review[] de novo." State v. Richey, 569 S.W.3d 420, 423 (Mo. banc 2019). "When interpreting a statute, the primary goal is to give effect to legislative intent as reflected in the plain language of the statute." State v. Moore, 303 S.W.3d 515, 520 (Mo. banc 2010).

         Analysis

         Savage's points on appeal assert that the circuit court erred in denying his motion to retax costs to the State. In Point I, Savage contends the court should have reassessed the original costs against the State in light of its later determination that Savage was insolvent for purposes of the board bill and other costs. In Point II, Savage argues that he should not have been taxed any costs as an indigent person represented by a legal aid society or legal services organization. As both of Savage's points fail for the same reason, we will address them together.

         "[C]ourts have no inherent power to award costs," as they are creatures of statute, "which can only be granted by virtue of express statutory authority." State ex rel. Merrell v. Carter, 518 S.W.3d 798, 800 (Mo. banc 2017) (citation and quotations omitted). "Express statutory authority must be clear, definite, and unambiguous." Richey, 569 S.W.3d at 423 (footnote omitted). Indeed, "[t]here is no power to tax costs 'unless a finger can be put upon a statute permitting it.'" Id. (quoting Jacoby v. Mo. Valley Drainage Dist., 163 S.W.2d 930, 931 (Mo. banc 1942)). We, therefore, strictly construe the statutes authorizing the taxation of costs. Gene Kauffman Scholarship Found., Inc. v. Payne, 183 S.W.3d 620, 627 (Mo. App. 2006).

         In the normal course, a defendant "convicted of any crime or misdemeanor [ ] shall be adjudged to pay the costs, and no costs incurred on his part, except fees for the cost of incarceration, including a reasonable sum to cover occupancy costs, shall be paid by the state or county." § 550.010, RSMo 2016.[3] The General Assembly, however, codified an exception to this rule in Section 550.020, which states, in pertinent part, "in all cases in which the defendant shall be sentenced to imprisonment in the penitentiary . . . the state shall pay the costs, if the defendant shall be unable to pay them, except costs ...


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.