State v. Vermillion

Decision Date13 November 1972
Docket NumberNo. 1,No. 55618,55618,1
Citation486 S.W.2d 437
PartiesSTATE of Missouri, Respondent, v. Charles Wayne VERMILLION, Appellant
CourtMissouri Supreme Court

John C. Danforth, Atty. Gen., G. Michael O'Neal, Asst. Atty. Gen., Jefferson City, for respondent.

Robert G. Duncan, Pierce, Duncan, Hill & Russell, Kansas City, for appellant.


On a prior appeal this cause was 'reversed and remanded for the conduct of a hearing on the question of the applicability of the Second Offender Act and for a resentencing of the defendant or the granting of a new trial on all issues, depending upon the court's finding on such hearing.' See State v. Vermillion, Mo., 446 S.W.2d 788.

The occasion for the remand was the failure of the trial court to enter its finding that would make the Second Offender Act, § 556.280, V.A.M.S., applicable. The reason that the sentence was set aside was because, in this case, the circuit judge did not have the power to assess punishment unless the Second Offender Act was applicable. If the Act is not applicable then the defendant is entitled to have the issue of punishment submitted to the jury.

On remand the hearing ordered by this court was conducted and the same judge who presided over the trial found that the Second Offender Act was applicable and sentenced appellant to fifty years--the same sentence as was originally imposed. This court has jurisdiction of this appeal from a felony conviction under Art. V, § 3, Mo.Const., V.A.M.S., where the notice of appeal was filed prior to January 1, 1972.

Immediately after the first witness was sworn, the appellant, through his attorney, stated that he was applying to the court to have the court disqualify himself as being prejudiced in this case. The court observed that the hearing was part of the same trial and that he was required to make a specific finding as to the alleged prior conviction. The judge said that if he thought he could disqualify himself he would do so, but he did not believe he could do so because the hearing was part of the same trial. Defendant asked the judge if the judge thought he was prejudiced and the judge replied that he thought not.

The hearing proceeded with the court again hearing evidence as to the alleged prior conviction. The court specifically found that appellant had been convicted of robbery first degree on January 25, 1965; that appellant was sentenced to five years imprisonment; that appellant was received and imprisoned in the Missouri Department of Corrections; that appellant's sentence was thereafter commuted and he was released on December 21, 1967, and concluded that the Second Offender Act was applicable. The judge then resentenced appellant to the same term he had previously imposed, to wit, fifty years imprisonment. The instant offense of robbery first degree was committed January 4, 1968, about two weeks after appellant was released from the penitentiary on December 21, 1967.

Point one on this appeal challenged the sufficiency of the evidence as to the prior conviction on the ground that the certified transcript of Serial Record from the Department of Corrections, state's exhibit 4, which was utilized in part to support the applicability of the Second Offender Act, contained names other than appellant's and it could not be determined whether the exhibit referred to appellant or someone else. Subsequently it came to the attention of appellant's attorney on this appeal, who did not represent appellant in the trial court, that exhibit 4 referred only to Charles Wayne Vermillion. Exhibit 4 has been filed in this court and it refers only to Charles Wayne Vermillion. Appellant has abandoned this point.

Appellant's second point is that the trial court erred in failing to disqualify himself and in holding that appellant's disqualification request was untimely.

Criminal Rule 30.12, V.A.M.R., provides in part that a judge shall be deemed incompetent and disqualified to try a criminal case when he is interested or prejudiced; that he may disqualify of his own initiative; and he shall be disqualified if an affidavit be filed stating that a party cannot have a fair and impartial trial by reason of interest or prejudice of the judge. Such affidavit must be filed at a prescribed time prior to swearing a jury, and only one such affidavit may be filed by the same party in the same case and shall be made as to only one of the judges of the court involved.

A number of criminal causes have been remanded where the trial court did not make the specific findings necessary to support the applicability of the Second Offender Act. Sec. 556.280, RSMo 1969, V.A.M.S. Cf. State v. Hill, Mo., 371 S.W.2d 278; State v. Garrett, Mo., 416 S.W.2d 116; State v. Dixon, Mo., 434 S.W.2d 564; State v. Holmes, Mo., 434 S.W.2d 555.

Subsequently the court en banc reconsidered the procedure employed in the above-cited cases and concluded that where the evidence clearly establishes the elements of the Second Offender Act's applicability and where the court's order recites a finding of a previous felony conviction and that under the evidence the Second Offender Act is applicable, this court will not remand for the entry of other specific findings. State v. Blackwell, Mo.Banc, 459 S.W.2d 268.

Thus, whether or not State v. Vermillion, Mo., 446 S.W.2d 788, would have been remanded had it been decided after State v. Blackwell,supra, is problematical at best. In any event, State v. Blackwell makes it clear that the determination of the applicability of the Second Offender Act is not a proceeding separate from the trial of the case itself but constitutes an integral part of the original trial. Therefore, the findings entered by the court on remand in this case constituted a part of the original trial.

That part of Criminal Rule 30.12, V.A.M.R., which requires a judge to disqualify himself upon an affidavit being filed in which it is alleged that a party cannot have a fair and impartial trial by reason of the interest or prejudice of the judge has no application to the hearing involved in this case. The mere filing of the affidavit in proper time before trial requires that the judge disqualify himself even though the judge is, in fact, neither interested nor prejudiced in any way at all. State ex rel. McNary v. Jones, Mo.App., 472 S.W.2d 637. That procedure was available to the appellant prior to the beginning of his trial but not after the trial began and is not available with respect to hearings occurring after the trial begins which hearings constitute part of the trial itself, such as the instant hearing.

Smith v. Smith, Mo.App., 435 S.W.2d 684, and State v. Tyler, Mo., 440 S.W.2d 470, are not applicable. Smith was a motion to modify a divorce decree, and Tyler was a motion under S.Ct. Rule 27.26. A motion to modify a divorce decree and a proceeding under Rule 27.26 are original proceedings and are independent of the original divorce action and of the original criminal cause and are not integral parts of the divorce trial nor the criminal trial.

In this case the 'trial' began June 24, 1968, when the jury panel was sworn for voir dire examination. It was at that point in time that both parties lost the right to require the automatic disqualification of the judge merely upon the affidavit of interest or prejudice. Criminal Rule 30.12, V.A.M.R.

When appellant requested the court to disqualify, the court said, inter alia, 'I don't think that I can disqualify myself. It's during the same trial. I think that I have to make a finding, a specific finding as to the prior convictions or conviction, and once having done that, to make a resentencing. That is what it was sent back for. I don't know how anybody else could do it. If I thought I could do it, I would disqualify myself. I don't think I can. This is part of the same trial. It is merely on an evidentiary point. Yes, if I found the evidence insufficient of prior convictions I certainly could give a new trial. If I found it sufficient I would not give a new trial, because the trial in this case has already been had. It's merely a matter of the resentencing.'

At another point appellant asked the judge if he, the judge, thought he was prejudiced against appellant, and the judge said that he did not think so. The judge's remark that he would disqualify himself if he thought he could do so had reference to appellant's position that the judge must disqualify himself upon the mere allegation of prejudice and did not indicate in any way that the judge was, in fact, prejudiced. The trial judge was correct in his ruling. After the trial begins the trial judge should not disqualify himself in the absence of actual prejudice. In this case there was no showing of actual prejudice. Of course the defendant is entitled to a fair and impartial judge and jury, and his right thereto was not violated in this case.

Appellant's third point is that the sentence of fifty years subjected him to cruel and unusual punishment and, therefore, violated his rights under Amend. 8, U.S.Const., and Art. I, § 21, Mo.Const. 1945. The new sentence imposed, following remand and after this court's direction relating to findings concerning the Second Offender Act had been complied with, was the same sentence imposed originally. Full credit for all time served under the original sentencing was allowed. The sentence was within the statutory range of punishment for robbery in the first degree. Sec. 560.135, RSMo 1969, V.A.M.S.

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  • Helton Const. Co., Inc. v. Thrift
    • United States
    • Missouri Court of Appeals
    • November 16, 1993
    ...After the trial begins, the trial judge should not disqualify himself in the absence of actual prejudice. State v. Vermillion, 486 S.W.2d 437, 441 (Mo.1972). A disqualified judge has no further power to act in a case except to transfer it to another judge. State v. Van Horn, 625 S.W.2d 874,......
  • State v. Williams
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    • Missouri Supreme Court
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    ...Dulles, 356 U.S. 86, 78 S.Ct. 590, 2 L.Ed.2d 630 (1958). As noted in State v. Johnson, 457 S.W.2d 795 (Mo. 1970), and in State v. Vermillion, 486 S.W.2d 437 (Mo.1972), the fault found in the Weems case was in the law itself and not in the punishment assessed by the court within the law. Thi......
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    • Missouri Court of Appeals
    • December 7, 1976
    ...and accordingly, the concurrent ten year sentences here imposed withstand the charge of constitutional infirmity. See State v. Vermillion, 486 S.W.2d 437, 441(9) (Mo.1972). Having found that the case involves application of established constitutional principles and not the construction of e......
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    • Missouri Court of Appeals
    • July 7, 1992
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1 books & journal articles
  • Section 8.38 Disqualification With or Without Cause
    • United States
    • The Missouri Bar Criminal Practice Deskbook Chapter 8 Jurisdiction, Venue, and Disqualification of Judges
    • Invalid date
    ...requires that the judge be disqualified even if the judge is neither interested nor prejudiced. Rules 32.06, 32.07; State v. Vermillion, 486 S.W.2d 437 (Mo. 1972). Judges may be disqualified on their own initiative, Rule 32.10, or by application of the defendant or prosecutor, Rules 32.06(a......

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