State ex rel. Public Defender Com'n v. County Court of Greene County, No. 65388

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Missouri
Writing for the CourtGUNN
Citation667 S.W.2d 409
Docket NumberNo. 65388
Decision Date20 March 1984
PartiesSTATE ex rel. PUBLIC DEFENDER COMMISSION, Relator-Appellant, v. COUNTY COURT OF GREENE COUNTY, et al., Defendants-Respondents.

Page 409

667 S.W.2d 409
STATE ex rel. PUBLIC DEFENDER COMMISSION, Relator-Appellant,
v.
COUNTY COURT OF GREENE COUNTY, et al., Defendants-Respondents.
No. 65388.
Supreme Court of Missouri,
En Banc.
March 20, 1984.

Page 410

Mark A. Brittingham, Alan Kohn, St. Louis, for relator-appellant.

Theodore L. Johnson III, John W. Housley, Springfield, for defendants-respondents.

GUNN, Judge.

Relator appeals from the trial court's judgment denying its requested writ of mandamus. Relator, the Missouri Public Defender Commission, filed its petition in mandamus seeking to compel respondents, the County Court of Greene County, to provide office space and utility services for the Public Defender for the Thirty-first Judicial Circuit. Relator premised its case on § 600.040.1, RSMo Cum.Supp.1983, which requires the appropriate city or county to "provide office space and utility services ... for the circuit or regional public defender and his personnel." 1 The trial court refused to issue the writ on the theory that the obligation placed on Greene County by reason of § 600.040.1 did not exist prior to the adoption of the Mo. Const. art. X, § 21, which mandates state funding for new local services required by a state agency. Hence, the trial court concluded, the obligation could not be enforced under this provision of the Constitution without a corresponding state appropriation and disbursement.

It is apparent on appeal that the county's responsibility to maintain the public defender's office was extant prior to article X, § 21 as a result of the unconstitutional nature of prior special legislation pertaining to public defenders which purported to exempt Greene County from its operation. Section 600.010, RSMo 1978 (added Laws 1976, p. 783; repealed Laws 1982, p. 696).

The constitutional challenge places this matter before this Court. Mo. Const. art. V, § 3. We reverse and remand the case to the trial court with directions that the writ of mandamus issue.

Page 411

In 1976, the General Assembly enacted § 600.010 (§ 600.010, RSMo 1978) which provided, as here pertinent, that a public defender be appointed in every judicial circuit of the state having a population of not less than 75,000. But the Thirty-first Judicial Circuit (consisting solely of Greene County) was specifically exempted from the provisions of the law.

Relator argues that the special exemption violates the constitutional prohibition against special legislation. Mo. Const. art. III, § 40. And, as manifestly seen, it does indeed.

The background of the Public Defender Law follows. It was first enacted in 1972. Section 600.010, et seq., RSMo Cum.Supp.1975 (added Laws 1972, p. 1035). That version provided for the appointment of a public defender "[i]n each judicial circuit of the state which has a population of not less than 75,000 nor more than 150,000, or has a population of more than 200,000." Section 600.010, RSMo Cum.Supp.1975. 2 The Thirty-first Judicial Circuit was excluded from the operation of this section, in that Greene County, its only constituent, had a population of less than 200,000 but more than 150,000. 1970 Census of Population, pt. 27, p. 27 (see § 1.100, RSMo 1978, authorizing the use of the decennial census).

In 1976, § 600.010 was amended to make the exclusion of the Thirty-first Circuit explicit. Section 600.010, RSMo 1978 (amended Laws 1976, p. 783). 3 As then amended, public defenders were appointed in each circuit having a population of not less than 75,000, except for the Thirty-first Circuit. Id. From its inception the Public Defender Law has required those counties within judicial circuits for which a public defender is appointed to provide office space and utility service. Section 600.040, RSMo Cum.Supp.1983; see Laws 1972, p. 1037. Greene County, being a part of the Thirty-first Judicial Circuit, was, of course, legislatively excluded from this requirement.

Effective April 1, 1982, the Public Defender Law was substantially revised. Section 600.011, et seq., RSMo Cum.Supp.1983. This revision created a new state agency, the Public Defender Commission, with the power to establish local or regional public defender offices. Id., § 600.021(4). Shortly after its creation, the Commission appointed a public defender for the Thirty-first Judicial Circuit and requested Greene County to provide support for the office pursuant to § 600.040. The request was refused on the basis of the Mo. Const. art. X, § 21, and this action followed.

Mo. Const. art. X, § 21 provides:

The state is hereby prohibited from reducing the state financed proportion of the costs of any existing activity or service required of counties and other political subdivisions. A new activity or service or an increase in the level of any activity or service beyond that required by existing law shall not be required by the general assembly or any state agency of counties or other political subdivisions, unless a state appropriation is made and disbursed to pay the county or other political subdivision for any increased costs.

This provision of the Constitution, along with certain other sections, was adopted November 4, 1980 and became effective thirty days after that date. Id.; Mo. Const. art. XII, § 2(b).

The issue presented to this Court is whether Greene County's financial responsibility under § 600.040, sought to be enforced by the Public Defender Commission, is a "new activity or service or an increase in the level of any activity or service beyond that required by existing law," within

Page 412

the meaning of § 21 of article X. A threshold question, then, is whether existing law at the time of § 21 required Greene County to fund the operation of a public defender office. This question may be answered affirmatively, thus obviating any further § 21 inquiry, if the following two conditions are met: First, the exclusion of Greene County from the provisions of the Public Defender Law (as it existed prior to § 21) was unconstitutional; and, second, the remainder of the Public Defender Law, purged of the exclusion, is severable from the unconstitutional provision and therefore of continuing effect. We hold that these two conditions are met and that Greene County may not therefore claim exemption from the requirements of § 600.040.

In testing the constitutionality of Greene County's former exclusion from the ambit of the Public Defender Law, it is unnecessary to consider any version of that act prior to the...

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19 practice notes
  • Blaske v. Smith & Entzeroth, Inc., Nos. 73588
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Missouri
    • December 17, 1991
    ...Ross v. Kansas City General Hospital and Medical Center, 608 S.W.2d 397, 400 (Mo. banc 1980). In State v. County Court of Greene County, 667 S.W.2d 409, 412 (Mo. banc 1984), we pointed out I]t is not enough to demonstrate constitutional invalidity to conclude that the statute excepts from i......
  • City of Aurora v. Spectra Commc'ns Grp., LLC, No. SC 96276
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Missouri
    • December 24, 2019
    ...of proof, this burden-shifting seems to have originated in State ex rel. Public Defender Commission v. County Court of Greene County , 667 S.W.2d 409 (Mo. banc 1984). There, the Court reasoned that the ordinary presumption of constitutional validity when the attacker claims a law is an inva......
  • Harris v. Missouri Gaming Com'n, No. 76123
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Missouri
    • January 25, 1994
    ...law is presumed. City of Blue Springs, 853 S.W.2d at 921; State ex rel. Public Defender Commission v. County Court of Greene County, 667 S.W.2d 409, 413 (Mo. banc 1984). The party defending the facially special statute must demonstrate a "substantial justification" for the special treatment......
  • Curchin v. Missouri Indus. Development Bd., No. 68784
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Missouri
    • January 8, 1987
    ...Inc. v. City of Jennings, 700 S.W.2d 809, 810-11 (Mo. banc 1985); State ex rel. Pub. Defender Comm'n v. County Court of Greene County, 667 S.W.2d 409, 412 (Mo. banc 1984). Lastly, § 100.297 does not violate Mo. Const. art. X, §§ 16-24 because the authorized tax credit does not constitute an......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
19 cases
  • Blaske v. Smith & Entzeroth, Inc., Nos. 73588
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Missouri
    • December 17, 1991
    ...Ross v. Kansas City General Hospital and Medical Center, 608 S.W.2d 397, 400 (Mo. banc 1980). In State v. County Court of Greene County, 667 S.W.2d 409, 412 (Mo. banc 1984), we pointed out I]t is not enough to demonstrate constitutional invalidity to conclude that the statute excepts from i......
  • City of Aurora v. Spectra Commc'ns Grp., LLC, No. SC 96276
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Missouri
    • December 24, 2019
    ...of proof, this burden-shifting seems to have originated in State ex rel. Public Defender Commission v. County Court of Greene County , 667 S.W.2d 409 (Mo. banc 1984). There, the Court reasoned that the ordinary presumption of constitutional validity when the attacker claims a law is an inva......
  • Harris v. Missouri Gaming Com'n, No. 76123
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Missouri
    • January 25, 1994
    ...law is presumed. City of Blue Springs, 853 S.W.2d at 921; State ex rel. Public Defender Commission v. County Court of Greene County, 667 S.W.2d 409, 413 (Mo. banc 1984). The party defending the facially special statute must demonstrate a "substantial justification" for the special treatment......
  • Curchin v. Missouri Indus. Development Bd., No. 68784
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Missouri
    • January 8, 1987
    ...Inc. v. City of Jennings, 700 S.W.2d 809, 810-11 (Mo. banc 1985); State ex rel. Pub. Defender Comm'n v. County Court of Greene County, 667 S.W.2d 409, 412 (Mo. banc 1984). Lastly, § 100.297 does not violate Mo. Const. art. X, §§ 16-24 because the authorized tax credit does not constitute an......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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