The Missouri Supreme Court has ordered a portion of a document in the case against a prosecutor to be sealed.
Moniteau County Prosecuting Attorney Shayne Healea is accused of driving his pickup truck partially through a window of a popular downtown Columbia restaurant while intoxicated, which resulted in injury and property damage. Healea is also accused of leaving the scene of the accident.
A special master appointed to review a secret recording Columbia police made of a conversation between Healea and his attorney authored a report in the case.
In it, he concluded Healea’s rights had been violated but found there was no infringement of privileged attorney-client communication because most of the recording was inaudible. But the master’s written report itself included one paragraph which described the substance of questions Healea posed to his attorney.
The Supreme court sealed that portion of the report but ordered the rest of it unsealed because it contains no confidential statements.
The high bench denied other requests by Healea including one to order the trial court to conduct a hearing on his objections to the master’s report. The judges determined the proceeding is unnecessary because the trial court had already conducted two hearings where Healea had presented his arguments on the matter.
The judges further denied Healea’s attempt to challenge the validity of a search warrant in the case because he can first make an appeal in a lower court. They also declined to grant his other requests because they have yet to be determined by the trial court which must first render its decision.
Complications have contributed to Healea’s closely watched case being dragged into its fourth year of litigation after the initial incident took place in 2014.
Boone County Prosecuting Attorney Dan Knight disqualified his office from Healea’s criminal case, citing a conflict because he and Healea were officers in the Missouri Association of Prosecuting Attorneys.
The case was subsequently assigned to an assistant attorney general in November 2014, and its venue was changed from Boone County to Shelby County. The attorney general’s office charged Healea with five felonies, including four counts of vehicular assault while intoxicated.
The Supreme Court’s decision means Healea’s request to disqualify the entire Attorney General’s Office from serving as special prosecutor is now in the hands of the trial court.
Healea continues to serve as the elected Moniteau County Prosecutor while his criminal court case has zig-zagged through the Missouri legal system