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Collateral Attack of Judgments, Direct Appeal

In Missouri, Judgments generally become final and un-appealable forty-five (45) days after the Judgment is entered. The typical way a judgment may be impeached or attacked is by a formal appeal to the court of appeals. This involves filing a notice of appeal in the trial court, compiling the record on appeal, and briefing points of reversible error which occurred in the trial court with the appellate court. A subsequent review may occur in the Missouri Supreme Court; this is usually done with an application for transfer.

Collateral attacks are attempts to impeach a judgment in a proceeding not instituted for the express purpose of annulling the judgment. These are ordinarily prohibited. Errors of law do not provide grounds for collaterally attacking a final judgment. State ex rel. Robinson v. Crouch, 616 S.W.2d 587, 291 (Mo. Ct. App. 1981). In other words, if a Judgment get the law or facts wrong, and the time for appeal has passed, it will be binding.

Collateral attacks are appropriate, however, when the judgment is void. A judgment which is void on the face of the record is entitled to no respect and may be impeached at any time in any proceeding in which it is sought to be enforced or in which its validity is questioned by anyone with whose rights or interests it conflicts. La Presto v. La Presto, 285 S.W.2d 568, 570 (Mo. 1955). To save a judgment from being void, the issuing court must have subject matter jurisdiction and personal jurisdiction over the parties. Schneider v. Sunset Pools of St. Louis, Inc., 700 S.W.2d 137, 138 (Mo. Ct. App. 1985). This is a difficult hill to climb, and, as a practical matter, is rare because jurisdiction is a often a threshold issue a Court will confront before evaluating the merits of a case.

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