Fowler v. Missouri Sheriffs' Retirement SystemAnnotate this Case
The Supreme Court vacated and remanded the judgment of the circuit court dismissing Appellants' lawsuit against the Missouri Sheriffs' Retirement System (MSRS), holding that the statute authorizing a $3 surcharge violates Mo. Const. art. I, 14.
At issue was Mo. Rev. Stat. 57.955, which provides that a $3 surcharge shall be assessed and collected in all state civil actions and in all criminal cases including violation of criminal or traffic laws, including infractions. Appellants received speeding tickets and pled guilty and paid court costs. Unbeknownst to Appellants was that three dollars of the total costs was the surcharge authorized by section 57.955. Appellants, on behalf of a putative class, sued MSRS, alleging that the purchase violated article I, section 14 of the Missouri Constitution. The circuit court dismissed the case, concluding (1) Appellants failed to join the clerks responsible for assessing, collecting, and remitting the surcharge as necessary and indispensable parties; and (2) the statute was not unconstitutional. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the municipal court clerks were not necessary and indispensable parties; and (2) section 57.955 is not "reasonably related to the expense of the administration of justice" and therefore violates article I, section 14 of the Missouri Constitution.