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Criminal Law: Contempt-Impact on Judicial Function

Petitioner sought a writ to terminate contempt proceedings initiated by respondent, the circuit presiding judge. Respondent ordered petitioner, the elected county clerk, to prepare a spreadsheet of criminal cases disposed of in the county to facilitate reimbursement of incarceration costs to local sheriffs who housed certain criminal defendants. When respondent found petitioner’s responses unsatisfactory, he issued an order to show cause. Respondent denied petitioner’s motion for recusal and to dismiss the case.

Where certification of bills for incarceration costs did not affect the court’s ability to try cases or the court’s budget, respondent exceeded his authority to impose contempt, which was limited to enforcing the court’s power to perform its judicial function.

Preliminary writ made permanent.

State ex rel. Grooms v. Privette (MLW No. 79918/Case No. SC99794 – 14 pages) (Supreme Court of Missouri, Powell, J.) Original proceeding in prohibition. (David M. Duree, O’Fallon, IL for petitioner) (Heath Hardman, West Plains, for respondent)

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