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Missouri Court Backs $20|Summons & Subpoena Fee

(CN) - A fee to serve summons and subpoenas does not violate the Missouri Constitution, the state Supreme Court ruled. St. Louis County and St. Charles County challenged House Bill 2224, which created a "Deputy Sheriff Supplemental Fund" from a $10 increase in the $20 fee for serving summons and subpoenas.

They claimed that the money was a state tax on counties for a county purpose, therefore violating the state constitution.

The trial court ruled that the money belonged to the state and was merely passing through the counties.

The state high court agreed with the lower court and noted that the fee is different from a tax and does not violate the constitution.

"The $10 charge is classified as state money from the time it is collected," Judge Richard Teitelman wrote. He said the fee is collected by the sheriff and paid into the county treasury, and the county treasurer "has no discretion with respect to the money received."

"Second, the $10 charge is not consistent with the characteristics of a tax," the judge wrote. "Taxes are 'proportional contributions imposed by the state ... for the support of government and for all public needs.' Taxes are not payments for a special privilege or a special service rendered."

The Missouri Supreme Court upheld the trial court's ruling that HB 2224 does not violate the state constitution.

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