State ex rel. Washington v. Crane, WD85356

CourtCourt of Appeal of Missouri (US)
Writing for the CourtKaren King Mitchell, Presiding Judge
PartiesSTATE OF MISSOURI ex rel. RASHAD P. WASHINGTON, Relator, v. THE HONORABLE KEVIN CRANE, CIRCUIT COURT JUDGE, Respondent.
Decision Date10 June 2022
Docket NumberWD85356

STATE OF MISSOURI ex rel. RASHAD P. WASHINGTON, Relator,
v.

THE HONORABLE KEVIN CRANE, CIRCUIT COURT JUDGE, Respondent.

No. WD85356

Court of Appeals of Missouri, Western District, Writ Division

June 10, 2022


Original Proceeding in Mandamus

Before: Karen King Mitchell, Presiding Judge, and Gary D. Witt and Edward R. Ardini, Jr., Judges

Karen King Mitchell, Presiding Judge

Relator Rashad Washington seeks a writ of mandamus directing the circuit court of Boone County, Missouri, to release Washington on probation following his successful completion of a shock incarceration program under § 559.115.3.[1] Following our receipt of suggestions in support of the writ from Washington and suggestions in opposition to the writ from the circuit court, we now issue a permanent writ of mandamus and direct the circuit court to release Washington on probation as provided in § 559.115.3.[2]

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Background

On October 1, 2021, Washington pled guilty to the following charges arising from multiple cases: two counts of possession of a controlled substance under § 579.015, and one count each of second-degree kidnapping under § 565.120, second-degree domestic assault under § 565.073, third-degree domestic assault under § 565.074, second-degree trafficking under § 579.068, resisting arrest under § 575.150, and first-degree burglary under § 569.160. In each case, the circuit court sentenced Washington to concurrent terms of incarceration ranging from 4 years to 9 years and, in each case, the court ordered Washington to participate in a 120-day shock incarceration program under § 559.115.3, pursuant to the State's recommendation.

On January 4, 2022, the Department of Corrections notified the circuit court that Washington successfully completed the 120-day program and would be statutorily discharged on February 4, 2022, unless otherwise ordered by the court. The following day, the circuit court entered an order denying Washington probation and executing all sentences in each case, indicating that it would be an abuse of discretion to release Washington. The court also set a hearing for January 28, 2022.

On January 25, 2022, Washington filed a motion to set aside the January 5, 2022 order denying probation on the ground that the circuit court failed to comply with § 559.115.3 by denying probation without first holding a hearing. The court subsequently held the previously scheduled hearing on January 28, 2022, and denominated it a "559 Review Hearing." At the hearing, Washington's counsel asked the court to reconsider the January 5, 2022 order denying probation,

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noting that Washington had only one minor conduct violation during his shock incarceration. The court interrupted counsel stating, "I'll tell you right now, to save your breath, I didn't take that action to deny probation because of the minor violation." When counsel asked the court for clarification as to its reasoning, the court replied,

[A]ll these cases. I've got one here on possession another one on kidnapping and domestic violence, another one on trafficking, another one on resisting, another one on possession, and another one on domestic assault fourth and misdemeanor property damage. The last one's a misdemeanor. That was my basis.

Washington's counsel then asked the court to allow Washington to withdraw his guilty pleas as a result of counsel's advice to Washington that, if Washington successfully completed the 120-day shock incarceration, he would be released on probation. The court advised counsel that granting probation was still discretionary, and he chose not to grant probation. Counsel advised the court that, in denying probation, the court was required to have some evidence or reason apart from merely the nature of the underlying charges. The court disagreed, denied the request to allow Washington to withdraw his pleas, and continued to deny Washington release on probation. Washington subsequently filed the underlying petition for a writ of mandamus.

Analysis

"Mandamus is a discretionary writ that is appropriate when a court has exceeded its jurisdiction or authority, and where no remedy exists through appeal." State ex rel. Kizer v. Mennemeyer, 421 S.W.3d 558, 559 (Mo. App. E.D. 2014). "A litigant seeking mandamus must allege and prove a clear, unequivocal, specific right to a thing claimed." Id. "Ordinarily, mandamus is the proper remedy to compel the discharge of ministerial functions, but not to control the exercise of discretionary powers." Id. (quoting State ex rel. Valentine v. Orr, 366 S.W.3d 534, 538 (Mo. banc 2012)). "However, if the respondent's actions are wrong as a matter of law, then []he has abused any discretion []he may have had, and mandamus is appropriate." Id.

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