The Missouri Supreme Court has allowed the release of a special master's report about Moniteau County Prosecuting Attorney Shayne Healea's October 2014 arrest in Columbia — but has blocked the release of one paragraph in that report.
"Paragraph 10 of the master's report, which described the substance of questions Healea posed to his attorney, shall be sealed," Judge Mary R. Russell wrote for the unanimous, seven-member court in an 11-page opinion. "The remainder of the master's report, however, shall remain unsealed as it contains no confidential statements by Healea."
The ruling means Healea's trial on five charges can go forward in Shelby County, where it was moved on a change of venue from Boone County.
Healea's attorney, Shane Farrow of Jefferson City, also had asked the Supreme Court to order the attorney general's office removed as the special prosecutor in the case — because it had access to a recording of Healea's nearly 20-minute phone call with his attorney on the night of his arrest — but the court said it didn't need to decide that request "because the trial court did not refuse to rule on" that issue.
Mary Compton, Attorney General Josh Hawley's spokeswoman, told the News Tribune: "We agree with court's ruling and we will continue to prosecute this case vigorously."
Healea faces five criminal charges filed by a Boone County grand jury after an October 2014 accident in the parking lot behind Addison's Restaurant in Columbia.
He's accused of backing his pickup truck, with the tailgate down, into the restaurant's rear wall, knocking a portion of the wall into the restaurant and injuring several people.
Healea was charged with leaving the scene of an accident where there was an injury or property damage, and four counts of second-degree assault for operating a vehicle while intoxicated, resulting in injury.
His trial in Shelby County has been on hold while the Supreme Court considered issues in the case — and now may be able to be rescheduled.
That recording has been the focus of a number of court actions over the last couple of years.
In October 2016, Farrow argued Healea's trial should be blocked and the charges dropped because the Columbia Police Department violated Healea's federal 6th Amendment constitutional rights and state laws after they arrested him in October 2014 — because they placed him in a room where they could make audio and video recordings of both sides of his private conversation with his attorney.
Circuit Judge Frederick "Rick" Tucker assigned his predecessor, retired Circuit Judge Hadley Grimm, to be a special master and review Farrow's arguments of constitutional violations.
Grimm agreed Healea's right to have a private conversation with his attorney had been violated, but he said there still could be a trial.
Russell's ruling noted both sides had agreed on the constitutional violations, and they weren't part of the Supreme Court's case.
But Tucker had ordered that Grimm's complete report be made available to the public and press, and Farrow argued that still violated Healea's rights, because the report included part of Healea's private conversation.
Russell wrote: "Despite the master finding portions of the recording to be unintelligible or completely inaudible, paragraph 10 described the substance of questions Healea posed to his attorney. This confidential conversation, as referred to in paragraph 10, should be sealed. The trial court will have a continuing duty to not allow anything containing privileged communications to be filed unless it is filed under seal."
Farrow asked the Supreme Court to order Tucker to hold a hearing on objections Farrow has with Grimm's report.
But, the high court ruled, Tucker already held two hearings last year where those complaints were discussed.
Farrow wanted blood evidence taken after the accident to be excluded because the original, signed search warrant wasn't available at a hearing, but the court ruled: "The trial court found the search warrant authorizing the State to obtain samples of Healea's blood the night of his arrest was properly signed by a judge (and) Healea has a remedy (for his complaint) on (any) appeal" after the trial.
Farrow declined to comment for this article.
Healea is running for re-election as Moniteau County's prosecutor.