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Missouri Post-Conviction Proceedings Not Encompassed By PLRA Payment Scheme

Missouri Post-Conviction Proceedings Not
Encompassed By PLRA Payment Scheme

The Missouri court of appeals has held that because a Missouri Supreme Court Rule 29.15 motion is not a civil action encompassed by the state's Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA), Mo. Rev. Stat. § 506.360 to 506.390 (2000), a Rule 29.15 movant cannot be required to pay costs associated with the proceedings.

After being convicted of forcible rape and having his sentence upheld on appeal, James Roberson filed a pro se Rule 29.15 motion in the Circuit Court of Cole County and was granted leave to proceed in forma pauperis. The court appointed counsel to Roberson's case, who filed an amended motion. The court dismissed the amended motion without an evidentiary hearing and assessed costs of $92 against Roberson pursuant to the PLRA. Roberson appealed arguing that the PLRA does not encompass Rule 29.15 as a civil action requiring the payment of costs.

The Missouri Court Of Appeals, Western District, agreed. The appellate court noted that when a prisoner files a motion to proceed as an indigent in a civil action pursuant to § 506.366, § 506.369 provides a mechanism for the court to order partial payment of the court costs. However, § 506.366 is not implicated in a Rule 29.15 motion because Rule 29.15(a) specifically states that rule 29.15 provides the exclusive procedure by which [a person convicted of a felony after trial] may seek relief in the sentencing court...." Moreover, Rule 29.15(b) stipulates that no cost deposit shall be required.

Continuing, the appellate court examined Mo. Rev. Stat. § 514.040, which provides that when the plaintiff in a civil case is permitted to sue as a poor person, such poor person shall have all necessary process and proceedings as in other cases, without fees, tax or charge as the court determines the person cannot pay[.]'" The appellate court concluded that read in conjunction with. Rule 29.15, an indigent Rule 29.15 movant is not only not required to pay a cost deposit, but is also not required to pay costs at any other stage of the proceedings.

The decision of the trial court was reversed and the case remanded with orders to reimburse Roberson for any costs paid. See: Roberson v. State, 140 S.W.3d 634 (Mo. Ct. App. 2004).

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Related legal case

Roberson v. State

Warren v. State, 140 S.W.3d 634 (Mo.App. 08/17/2004)

[1] Missouri Court of Appeals Western District

[2] No. WD63000

[3] 140 S.W.3d 634, 2004.MO

[4] August 17, 2004



[7] Affirmed.