State v. A.S., WD84641

CourtCourt of Appeal of Missouri (US)
Writing for the CourtW. DOUGLAS THOMSON, JUDGE
PartiesSTATE OF MISSOURI, Appellant, v. A.S., Respondent.
Decision Date07 June 2022
Docket NumberWD84641

STATE OF MISSOURI, Appellant,
v.

A.S., Respondent.

No. WD84641

Court of Appeals of Missouri, Western District, Third Division

June 7, 2022


APPEAL FROM THE CIRCUIT COURT OF PLATTE COUNTY, MISSOURI THE HONORABLE DENNIS C. ECKOLD, JUDGE

Gary D. Witt, Presiding Judge, Anthony Rex Gabbert, Judge and W. Douglas Thomson, Judge

W. DOUGLAS THOMSON, JUDGE

The State appeals the trial court's order dismissing the criminal complaint against A.S. with prejudice due to the State's violation of Rule 25.03(b)(2), [1] in failing to disclose a witness list to defense counsel prior to the preliminary hearing.[2] On appeal, the State claims the trial court plainly erred in entering its order of dismissal because the trial court erroneously relied on Rule 25.03(b)(2), which applies only to

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disclosures after indictment or the filing of an information. The State claims Rule 25.03(a) applies to disclosures upon the filing of a felony complaint, which does not require the State disclose a witness list. The State claims the trial court's error resulted in prejudice and manifest injustice in precluding the State from prosecuting A.S. for the crime alleged in the complaint. We reverse and remand for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.

Factual and Procedural History

On July 6, 2020, A.S. was charged by complaint with the class D felony of abuse of a person receiving health care in the Platte County Circuit Court.[3] A preliminary hearing was held on June 25, 2021. When the State called its first witness, defense counsel objected arguing the State failed to disclose a witness list for the preliminary hearing in violation of Rule 25.03. The State responded that they disclosed approximately 1, 400 pages of discovery which contained the names of witnesses but conceded a witness list was not provided. The trial court sustained defense counsel's objection for the first witness and every witness thereafter on the same grounds. The trial court stated, "[T]he Court finds that the State has failed to comply with 25.03[(b)](2), and that's my ruling." The State requested a continuance so that they could provide a witness list to which defense counsel objected. The trial court

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concluded, "So having found that the State failed to comply with Rule 25.03 of the Supreme Court, specifically 25.03 subparagraph B, subparagraph 2, this matter is dismissed." The trial court ordered the dismissal with prejudice at defense counsel's request.

The State appeals.

Standard of Review

The State concedes that it did not present its appellate claim to the trial court. "'An issue that was never presented to or decided by the trial court is not preserved for appellate review.'" State v. Davis, 348 S.W.3d 768, 770 (Mo. banc 2011) (citation omitted). Accordingly, we review for plain error. Id.

Rule 30.20 authorizes this Court to review, in its discretion, "plain errors affecting substantial rights . . when the court finds that manifest injustice or miscarriage of justice has resulted therefrom." Our Supreme Court has established a threshold review to determine if a court should exercise its discretion to entertain a Rule 30.20 review of a claimed plain error. First, we determine whether or not the claimed error "facially establishes substantial grounds for believing that 'manifest injustice or miscarriage of justice has resulted[.]'" State v. Brown, 902 S.W.2d 278, 284 (Mo. banc 1995) (quoting Rule 30.20). If not, we should not exercise our discretion to conduct a Rule 30.20 plain error review. If, however, we conclude that we have passed this threshold, we may proceed to review the claim under a two-step process pursuant to Rule 30.20. In the first step, we decide whether plain error has, in fact, occurred. [State v. Baumruk, 280 S.W.3d 600, 607 (Mo. banc 2009)]. "All prejudicial error, however, is not plain error, and plain errors are those which are evident, obvious and clear." Id. (citations and internal quotation marks omitted). In the absence of evident, obvious, and clear error, we should not proceed further with our plain error review. If, however, we find plain error, we must continue to the second step to consider whether or not a miscarriage of justice or manifest injustice will occur if the error is left uncorrected. Id. at 607-08.

State v. Elliott, 502 S.W.3d 59, 63 (Mo. App. W.D. 2016) (citation and quotation marks omitted).

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Analysis

"No general right of discovery exists for criminal cases in Missouri. Absent some express statutory provision or rule of court, discovery is not permitted."[4] State v. Clark, 711 S.W.2d 885, 888 (Mo. App. E.D. 1986); State ex rel. George v. Jones, 929 S.W.2d 256, 257 (Mo. App. S.D. 1996). Rule 25.03 provides, in pertinent part:

(a) Disclosure upon filing of felony complaint. Except as otherwise provided in these Rules, the state shall, upon written request of
...

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