969 S.W.2d 223 (Mo. 1998), 80742, State ex rel. York v. Daugherty

Docket Nº80742.
Citation969 S.W.2d 223
Party NameSTATE ex rel. Claudia J. YORK and James S. Stubbs, Relators, v. Honorable Jay A. DAUGHERTY, Administrative Judge, Family Court Division, Circuit Court of Jackson County, Respondent.
Case DateJune 16, 1998
CourtSupreme Court of Missouri

Page 223

969 S.W.2d 223 (Mo. 1998)

STATE ex rel. Claudia J. YORK and James S. Stubbs, Relators,

v.

Honorable Jay A. DAUGHERTY, Administrative Judge, Family

Court Division, Circuit Court of Jackson County, Respondent.

No. 80742.

Supreme Court of Missouri, En Banc.

June 16, 1998

Claudia J. York, James S. Stubbs, Kansas City, pro se.

Harlene J. Hipsh, Legal Counsel Jackson County Circuit Court, Kansas City, for Respondent.

Marvin E. Wright, Missouri Bar President, Jefferson City, Douglas E. Abrams, Columbia, for Amicus Curiae.

Page 224

PER CURIAM.

On June 10, 1996, Family Court Commissioner Sherrill L. Rosen ("Commissioner Rosen") entered a purported judgment dissolving the marriage of Claudia J. York and James S. Stubbs ("Relators"). Commissioner Rosen acted pursuant to section 487.030, 1 which states that "findings and recommendations of [a] commissioner [regarding family court actions] shall become the judgment of the court when entered by the commissioner." Nearly two years after Commissioner Rosen's purported judgment dissolving Relators' marriage, this Court held that documents signed solely by a commissioner are not final appealable judgments because they "are not signed by a person selected for office in accordance with and authorized to exercise judicial power by article V of the state constitution." Slay v. Slay, 965 S.W.2d 845 (Mo. banc 1998). Implicit in this holding is that section 487.030 is unconstitutional, at least so far as it authorizes commissioners to enter judgments. Since this Court's decision in Slay, there has been widespread and justifiable concern among the circuit courts regarding the validity of hundreds of purported judgments that were entered by family court commissioners under section 487.030. In reaction to the Slay decision, the Honorable Jay A. Daugherty ("Respondent"), a circuit judge who serves as the administrative judge of the family court division of the Jackson County Circuit Court, began entering "final judgments" in family court actions that had originally been decided by commissioners under section 487.030. In particular, on April 9, 1998, Judge Daugherty entered a "judgment" in Relators' dissolution of marriage action, confirming and adopting the findings and recommendations made by Commissioner Rosen on June 10, 1996. The effect of Respondent's action arguably was that the judgment in Relators' dissolution of marriage action became effective on April 9, 1998, rather than on June 10, 1996.

This Court entered a substitute preliminary order in prohibition and/or mandamus on April 27, 1998, ordering Respondent to set aside the "judgment" of April 9, 1998, and prohibiting Respondent from taking any further action in this case until ordered by this Court. This Court now holds that the rights of the parties were concluded by the June 10, 1996, "judgment" of the commissioner. 2

A writ of mandamus is the appropriate method for a party to enforce a right that is "clearly established and presently existing." State ex rel. Chassaing v. Mummert, 887 S.W.2d 573, 576 (Mo. banc 1994). By contrast, prohibition will lie only where necessary to prevent a usurpation of judicial power, to remedy an excess of jurisdiction, or to prevent an absolute irreparable harm to a party. Id. at 577.

The argument of the relators relies primarily on the rarely applied theory of prospective application of a constitutional ruling. However, there are other reasons more deeply rooted in precedent for holding that the rights between the parties to this case are fully resolved by the purported judgment of a commissioner. These reasons are the complementary doctrines of waiver and estoppel.

Constitutional violations are waived if not raised at the earliest possible opportunity. Adams v. Children's Mercy Hospital, 832 S.W.2d 898, 907 (Mo. banc 1992) (rejecting as untimely the following constitutional claims: equal protection, one subject, privileges and immunities, constitutional directives for amending statutes, prohibition against special laws and separation of powers). Even a person convicted by an unconstitutionally...

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56 practice notes
  • 482 S.W.3d 811 (Mo.App. E.D. 2016), ED102898, Duffner v. City of St. Peters
    • United States
    • Missouri Court of Appeals of Missouri
    • January 12, 2016
    ...failed to do so here and thus have waived those arguments. Similarly, the trial court cited State ex rel. York v. Daugherty, 969 S.W.2d 223 (Mo. bane 1998), for the general proposition that constitutional challenges are waived if not raised at the earliest opportunity. H......
  • 19 S.W.3d 141 (Mo.App. S.D. 2000), 22947, Perkel v. Stringfellow
    • United States
    • Missouri Court of Appeals of Missouri
    • March 31, 2000
    ...a party to a void judgment or decree may be estopped from attacking it, either directly or indirectly. State ex rel. York v. Daugherty, 969 S.W.2d 223, 225 (Mo. banc 1998); see also Matter of Estate of Tapp, 569 S.W.2d 281, Page 150 285 (Mo.App.1978) (one accepting and retaining benefits of......
  • 426 S.W.3d 644 (Mo.App. E.D. 2013), ED99389, Edwards v. City of Ellisville
    • United States
    • Missouri Court of Appeals of Missouri
    • November 5, 2013
    ...the unconstitutional act or statute by timely asserting the claim before a court of law." State ex rel. York v. Daugherty, 969 S.W.2d 223, 225 (Mo. banc 1998). In the red light cases of Unverferth v. City of Florissant, 2013 WL 4813851, at *5, and Smith v. City of St. Louis, ......
  • 427 S.W.3d 201 (Mo.App. E.D. 2013), ED99034, Brunner v. City of Arnold
    • United States
    • Missouri Court of Appeals of Missouri
    • December 17, 2013
    ...2012). Constitutional violations not raised at the earliest possible opportunity are deemed waived. State ex rel York v. Daugherty, 969 S.W.2d 223, 224 (Mo. banc 1998).15 " The critical question in determining whether waiver occurs is whether the party affected had a reasonable op......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
56 cases
  • 482 S.W.3d 811 (Mo.App. E.D. 2016), ED102898, Duffner v. City of St. Peters
    • United States
    • Missouri Court of Appeals of Missouri
    • January 12, 2016
    ...failed to do so here and thus have waived those arguments. Similarly, the trial court cited State ex rel. York v. Daugherty, 969 S.W.2d 223 (Mo. bane 1998), for the general proposition that constitutional challenges are waived if not raised at the earliest opportunity. H......
  • 19 S.W.3d 141 (Mo.App. S.D. 2000), 22947, Perkel v. Stringfellow
    • United States
    • Missouri Court of Appeals of Missouri
    • March 31, 2000
    ...a party to a void judgment or decree may be estopped from attacking it, either directly or indirectly. State ex rel. York v. Daugherty, 969 S.W.2d 223, 225 (Mo. banc 1998); see also Matter of Estate of Tapp, 569 S.W.2d 281, Page 150 285 (Mo.App.1978) (one accepting and retaining benefits of......
  • 426 S.W.3d 644 (Mo.App. E.D. 2013), ED99389, Edwards v. City of Ellisville
    • United States
    • Missouri Court of Appeals of Missouri
    • November 5, 2013
    ...the unconstitutional act or statute by timely asserting the claim before a court of law." State ex rel. York v. Daugherty, 969 S.W.2d 223, 225 (Mo. banc 1998). In the red light cases of Unverferth v. City of Florissant, 2013 WL 4813851, at *5, and Smith v. City of St. Louis, ......
  • 427 S.W.3d 201 (Mo.App. E.D. 2013), ED99034, Brunner v. City of Arnold
    • United States
    • Missouri Court of Appeals of Missouri
    • December 17, 2013
    ...2012). Constitutional violations not raised at the earliest possible opportunity are deemed waived. State ex rel York v. Daugherty, 969 S.W.2d 223, 224 (Mo. banc 1998).15 " The critical question in determining whether waiver occurs is whether the party affected had a reasonable op......
  • Request a trial to view additional results