STATE ex rel. MICHAEL KELLY, Petitioner,
JULIE INMAN, Respondent.
ORIGINAL PROCEEDING IN HABEAS CORPUS
R. RUSSELL, JUDGE.
Kelly seeks a writ of habeas corpus on the ground his due
process rights were violated as a result of the circuit court
exceeding its authority pursuant to section 552.020.
circuit court accepted his not guilty by mental disease or
defect ("NGRI") plea after finding he lacked
competence to continue with the criminal proceedings. Kelly
argues that, pursuant to section 552.020.8, upon finding him
incompetent, the circuit court was required to suspend the
proceedings and commit him to the department of mental
accepting Kelly's NGRI plea despite finding him
incompetent to proceed, the circuit court exceeded its
authority pursuant to section 552.020.8 and violated
Kelly's due process rights. Accordingly, Kelly's NGRI
plea is vacated, and the criminal proceedings against him
remain pending, although suspended by virtue of the circuit
court's additional finding that Kelly was incompetent to
proceed. Because of the improper commitment after acceptance
of Kelly's NGRI plea, the department of mental health did
not conduct an examination of Kelly six months after his
commitment to ascertain whether he was fit to proceed, as
required by section 552.020.10(1). Within 90 days from the
date the mandate issues in this case, the circuit court
should order such an examination to be conducted pursuant to
section 552.020.11(1), RSMo Supp. 2018. After the completion
of the examination, the procedure in section 552.020.11, RSMo
Supp. 2018, should govern.
State charged Kelly with first-degree robbery and armed
criminal action. The defense moved for a mental evaluation of
Kelly to determine his competency to proceed to trial and
whether he had a mental disease or defect excluding
responsibility. The circuit court sustained the motion. A
medical evaluation found Kelly suffered from chronic
undifferentiated schizophrenia and polysubstance abuse or
dependence. The evaluation opined Kelly lacked the capacity
to understand the proceedings or assist in his own defense,
and it recommended Kelly be held in a hospital facility for
treatment pending determination of his competency to proceed.
It further concluded that, at the time of the alleged
criminal conduct, Kelly did not fully appreciate the nature,
quality, or wrongfulness of his conduct and was incapable of
conforming his conduct to the law.
filed a notice of intent to rely solely on a defense of
mental disease or defect. The State accepted the defense. The
circuit court entered an order titled "Order Committing
Defendant to Department of Mental Health (State Acceptance of
Mental Defense)." The order found Kelly lacked capacity
to understand the proceedings against him or assist in his
own defense and, accordingly, lacked mental fitness to
proceed with the charges against him. In the same order, the
circuit court found Kelly not guilty by reason of mental
disease or defect excluding responsibility, determining that,
at the time of the alleged crime, Kelly did not appreciate
the nature, quality, or wrongfulness of his conduct and was
incapable of conforming his conduct to the requirements of
the law. The circuit court then committed Kelly to the
department of mental health, where he has remained since
filed petitions for writs of habeas corpus in the St.
Francois County Circuit Court and then the court of appeals,
both of which were denied. Kelly now seeks a writ of habeas
corpus from this Court.
and Standard of Review
Court has jurisdiction to issue original remedial writs. Mo.
Const. art. V, sec. 4.1. "Any person restrained of
liberty within this state may petition for a writ of habeas
corpus to inquire into the cause of such restraint."
Rule 91.01(b); see also section 532.010, RSMo 2016.
A court can issue a writ of habeas corpus when an individual
is "restrained of his or her liberty in violation of the
constitution or laws of the state or federal
government." State ex rel. Woodworth v. Denney,
396 S.W.3d 330, 337 (Mo. banc 2013). The petitioner bears the
burden to demonstrate he or she is entitled to habeas relief.
State ex rel. Clemons v. Larkins, 475 S.W.3d 60, 76
(Mo. banc 2015). "[H]abeas corpus is available as a
remedy for a person confined pursuant to Chapter 552
procedures if an application therefor is properly pleaded,
filed in a court having jurisdiction, and facts are proven
showing entitlement to relief." State v. McKee,
39 S.W.3d 565, 569 n.6 (Mo. App. 2001).
argues he is entitled to habeas relief on the ground the
circuit court exceeded its authority pursuant to section
552.020 when it accepted his NGRI plea and committed him to
the department of mental health after finding he lacked
competence to proceed.
Is Kelly's Claim Procedurally Barred?
State asserts Kelly's claim is procedurally barred
because he did not raise it in the circuit court at the time
he made his NGRI plea or on direct appeal. Habeas relief is
not a substitute for direct appeal or postconviction
proceedings. Denney, 396 S.W.3d at 337. Claims that
were cognizable on direct appeal or in postconviction
proceedings are procedurally barred. Clay v.
Dormire, 37 S.W.3d 214, 217 (Mo. banc 2000).
appeal is proper "[i]n all cases of final judgment
rendered upon any indictment or information." Section
547.070. "No right of an appeal exists without statutory
authority." State v. Craig, 287 S.W.3d 676, 679
(Mo. banc 2009). There is no statutory right to appeal from
an acquittal as a result of an NGRI plea. State ex rel.
Koster v. Oxenhandler, 491 S.W.3d 576 (Mo. App. 2016)
("Habeas is thus the only viable means by which
the lawfulness of confinement as a result of the NGRI defense
can be challenged." (emphasis added)). Because the trial
court acquitted Kelly as a result of an NGRI plea, he could
not have filed a direct appeal and habeas is the proper
remedy in this case.
Kelly's failure to raise his claim in the circuit court
does not bar him from habeas relief. The State cites
State ex rel. Strong v. Griffith, 462 S.W.3d 732
(Mo. banc 2015), in support of its argument that Kelly's
claim is procedurally barred for failure to raise the claim
in the circuit court, but that case can be distinguished on
its facts. The Court in Strong determined the claim
was barred not only because it was not raised at trial, but
also because it was not raised during post-conviction
proceedings. 462 S.W.3d at 734. Kelly, on the other hand,
could not have raised his claim at post-conviction
proceedings because he was acquitted - not convicted.
See Rule 24.035(a).
procedural bar to habeas proceedings exists "[o]ut of
concern over duplicative and unending challenges to the
finality of a judgment." Clay, 37 S.W.3d at
217. Such a concern is inapplicable here, as Kelly could not
have raised his claims on direct appeal or in a
postconviction proceeding. For these reasons, ...