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March 13, 2020 Digests

Posted By Administration, Monday, March 16, 2020
Updated: Monday, March 16, 2020

Kansas Supreme Court

criminal

criminal procedure—evidence—jury instructions—statutes—venue
state v. galloway
cherokee district court—affirmed in part, vacated in part, remanded
no. 117,941—march 13, 2020

FACTS: Galloway sentenced to hard 50 life sentence for conviction on charges of: premeditated first-degree murder, arson, and interference with law enforcement. Prior to trial she moved for change of venue, arguing she could not receive a fair trial due to extensive pretrial publicity and the relatively small pool of jurors. She also filed motion to suppress statements she made during interrogation, arguing her lack of sleep, low blood sugar, hunger, and pregnancy accompanied by gestational diabetes deprived her of the mental capacity to make voluntary statements. District court denied both motions. On appeal, she claimed district court erred by: (1) denying motion for change of venue without addressing and applying all nine caselaw factors set forth in State v. Longeria, 301 Kan. 489 (2015), for assessing prejudice under the venue statute; (2) denying motion to suppress; (3) discussing with counsel and Galloway the answer to a jury question in a closed rather than open court; (4) instructing jury it should find her guilty if the facts supported such a finding; and (5) announcing it would not consider the absence of a criminal history as a mitigating factor because Legislature had rejected that as grounds for mitigation.

ISSUES: (1) Change of venue; (2) suppression of interrogation; (3) jury question; (4) jury’s duty instruction; (5) mitigating sentencing factors

HELD: District court’s omission of findings with regard to some of the caselaw factors was not error. Galloway did not argue all factors to the district court, or for their application. Nor did she make a sufficient showing of prejudice for a change of venue.

            Substantial competent evidence supports district court’s finding that Galloway’s statements were voluntary and made without coercion, and Galloway makes no showing warranting reversal of the denial of her motion to suppress.

            No error found on Galloway’s unsubstantiated speculation that discussion of the jury question was not conducted in open court.

            Galloway’s claim of impermissible interference with jury’s power of nullification is rejected. Same instruction was upheld in State v. Patterson, 311 Kan. __ (2020).

            District court’s statement incorrectly stated the law, and his open refusal to consider a mitigating factor listed in K.S.A. 2019 Supp. 21-6625(a) was not harmless error. Sentence vacated and case remanded for resentencing.           

STATUTES: K.S.A. 2019 Supp. 21-6625(a); 22-3420(d); 60-460(f); K.S.A. 22-2616, -2616(1)

criminal law—evidence—Fifth Amendment—jury instructions
State v. parker
wyandotte district court—affirmed
no. 118,349—march 13, 2020

FACTS: Parker convicted of premeditated first-degree murder. On appeal, he claimed the district court should have granted motion to suppress self-incriminating statements made during interrogation because investigators failed to take sufficient steps to ensure that Parker understood his Miranda rights. He also claimed district court erred by denying Parker’s request for an instruction on voluntary manslaughter committed upon a sudden quarrel or in the heat of passion.

ISSUES: (1) Motion to suppress; (2) jury instruction

HELD: Substantial competent evidence supported district court’s factual findings which showed Parker’s voluntary waiver of Miranda rights. Better practice for interrogators to read Miranda summary of rights out loud and make follow-up inquiries about whether the person being questioned understands those rights, but that protocol was not possible in this case because Parker refused to allow detectives to explain his rights out loud. Overall tenor of the interrogation showed that Parker knew what crime he had committed and how he had done it; understood the police were trying to obtain incriminating statements from him; played a cat-and-mouse game with interrogators; and understood his rights and how the interrogation process worked. District court did not err when it admitted the interrogation statements.

            In line with State v. Campbell, 308 Kan. 763 (2019), and State v. Wade, 295 Kan. 916 (20120, a voluntary manslaughter instruction would not have been factually appropriate in this case with so little evidence of heat of passion at the time of the shooting and so much evidence of calculated decision-making.

STATUTE: K.S.A. 2018 Supp. 21-5404(a)

constitutional law—criminal procedure—evidence
state v. sesmas
sedgwick district court—affirmed
no. 119,862—march 13, 2020

FACTS: Sesmas convicted of first-degree murder, kidnapping, and aggravated interference with parental custody for the killing of her friend and the kidnapping of her friend’s newborn daughter. A police certified interpreter assisted Sesmas during her interrogation. On the Miranda form Sesmas indicated “no” to talking to the police, but after asking questions about her children and husband, marked “yes” on a second Miranda form and confessed to the crimes charged. At a pretrial hearing under Jackson v. Denno, 378 U.S 368 (1964), district court found Sesmas voluntarily waived her Miranda rights and concluded the confession was voluntary, notwithstanding court’s concern with the interpreter’s dual role and statement that “it could take quite a while for a lawyer to arrive from Wichita.”: On appeal Sesma argued her post-arrest confession was involuntary because law enforcement was unfair in conducting the interview, and Sesmas was handicapped by her lack of English fluency,: She also claimed the State violated her due process rights at trial by mentioning her invocation on the first Miranda form of her right to remain silent.

ISSUES: (1) Voluntary confession; (2) reference to invocation of rights

HELD: Under totality of circumstances, Sesmas voluntarily confessed to detectives, and her incriminating statements were admissible at trial. Use of an interpreter who was not also an interrogator would have been better practice, but in this case the interpreter’s dual role and statement was not a factor in forcing a confession.

            The state is not permitted to impeach a defendant’s version of events at trial with the defendant’s post-Miranda silence. The fleeting violation of Doyle v. Ohio, 426 U.S. 610 (1976), this case was harmless error because Sesmas’ credibility was already throughly impeached by State’s evidence.

STATUTES: None

Kansas Court of Appeals

Civil

DRIVERS LICENSE—SEARCH AND SEIZURE
STRICKERT V. KANSAS DEPARTMENT OF REVENUE
FINNEY DISTRICT COURT—AFFIRMED
NO. 120,544—MARCH 13, 2020

FACTS: Officer Meinzer stopped Strickert after he left a bar late at night. While obtaining Strickert's personal information, Officer Meinzer noticed the smell of alcohol and that Strickert's eyes were bloodshot and his speech slow. After completing field sobriety tests, Strickert refused to take a preliminary breath test. Based on clues of impairment and Strickert's refusal, Officer Meinzer arrested Strickert. He later received his notice of driver's license suspension and timely requested an administrative hearing. Both the hearing officer and the district court affirmed the suspension of Strickert's driver's license, and he appealed.

ISSUES: (1) Standard of review; (2) reasonable suspicion; (3) reasonable grounds

HELD: The appropriate standard is to review the district court's order looking for substantial competent evidence that the findings were legally correct. It is not appropriate to use the "negative finding" standard of review. Strickert technically violated a traffic statute by not activating his turn signal 100 feet before turning, and the Supreme Court has already held that such failure provides reasonable suspicion to initiate a traffic stop. Strickert's bloodshot eyes and the smell of alcohol warranted an extension of the stop. Substantial competent evidence supports the district court's findings that reasonable grounds existed for Officer Meinzer to arrest Strickert.

STATUTES: K.S.A. 2019 Supp. 8-259(a), -1002(a)(1); K.S.A. 8-1548, 22-2402(1), 77-621(c)

Tags:  Constitutional law  criminal law  criminal procedure  drivers license  evidence  fifth amendment  jury instructions  search and seizure  statutes  venue 

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