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June 19, 2020 Digests

Posted By Administration, Monday, June 22, 2020

Kansas Supreme Court

criminal

appeals—appellate procedure—criminal procedure—motions—sentencing
state v. mayes
johnson district court
court of appeals—dismissal of appeal is affirmed
no. 115,006—june 19, 2020

FACTS: Mayes appealed from district court’s denial of Mayes’ motion to correct an illegal sentence. State moved to dismiss the appeal as moot because Mayes had been released from prison. Court of Appeals in unpublished motion granted State’s motion and dismissed the appeal without reaching merits of Mayes’ illegal sentence claim. Mayes’s petition for review granted. In his petition, he argued in part his appeal was not moot because a corrected criminal history score will affect when he can legally possess a firearm.

ISSUE: (1) Mootness Doctrineexpiration of sentence

HELD: Court of appeals erroneously applied sweeping bright-line rule rejected in State v. Roat, 311 Kan. __ (this day decided), but dismissal of the appeal is affirmed. Mayes failed to preserve below his argument that his appeal was not moot because a decision regarding whether his sentence was illegal will affect when he can legally possess a firearm.

STATUTE: K.S.A. 2010 Supp. 21-3701, -3716

appeals—attorneys and clients—constitutional law—
criminal procedure—jurisdiction—motions—sentencing
state v. roat
sedgwick district court
court of appeals—dismissal of appeal is affirmed
no. 113,531—june 19, 2020

FACTS: Roat was sentenced in 2009 and 2012 using criminal history that classified his 1984 Kansas burglary conviction as a person felony. Alleging classification error in light of State v. Murdock, 299 Kan. 312 (2014), and State v. Dickey, 301 Kan. 1018 (2015), Roat filed motion to correct an illegal sentence, and appealed the district court’s denial of relief. While appeal was pending, State filed notice that Roat had satisfied both the prison and post-release supervision provisions of his sentences. Court of Appeals then ordered Roat to show cause why the appeal should not be dismissed as moot. Roat argued his sentence could impact future sentences, and he might want to pursue a legal malpractice claim against trial attorney for not raising Murdock and Dickey issues at sentencing. Court of Appeals dismissed the appeal in unpublished opinion, holding the expiration of Roat’s sentence meant the outcome of the appeal would have no effect on his sentence in this case. Roat’s petition for review granted.

ISSUE: (1) Mootness Doctrineexpiration of sentence

HELD: Historical basis and application of the mootness doctrine is examined, including Kansas cases approaching mootness as jurisdictional or as discretional policy-based, and the constitutional, jurisdictional concept of mootness in federal cases. Consideration of mootness as a prudential doctrine is held to be the better approach. Bright line rule that renders a sentencing appeal necessarily moot if the sentence is completed is rejected. Instead, a determination of mootness must include an analysis of whether an appellate judgment on the merits would have meaningful consequences for any purpose, including future implications. In this case, State established a prima facie showing of mootness by demonstrating that Roat had fully completed the terms and conditions of his sentence, but Roat failed to demonstrate a vital or substantial right requiring a judgment in this appeal. A legal malpractice claim cannot be grounded on an attorney’s failure to make arguments for a change in the law, even if such a change later takes place, and mere stigma or “rightness” is insufficient to justify continuing to exercise jurisdiction over an appeal. Panel’s summary dismissal of the appeal without application of well-established principle in State v. Montgomery, 295 Kan. 837 (2012), and no reference to Roat’s asserted collateral rights, was erroneous but it arrived at the correct conclusion. Judgment of court of appeals is affirmed, subject to identified reservations. Court notes the 2019 amendment of K.S.A. 22-3504 does not directly invoke or demonstrate mootness of motions, such as Roat’s, that were filed before the amendment.

CONCURRENCE (Biles, J.): Concurs in the result based on rationale stated in State v. Tracy, 311 Kan. __ (this day decided).

CONCURRENCE (Stegall, J.): Joins Justice Biles’ concurrence, but states disagreement with portion of majority opinion that appear to abandon or weaken the constitutional requirement that Kansas courts decide only cases and controversies. Suggests standing (rather than mootness) is the better legal doctrine for future courts to focus on.

STATUTES: K.S.A. 2019 Supp. 22-3504(a), -3504(d), 60-2102(a); K.S.A. 2018 Supp. 21-6813, -6814; K.S.A. 22-3504

appeals—appellate procedure—attorneys and clients—motions
state v. sykes
sedgwick district court
court of appeals—dismissal of appeal is affirmed
no. 113,903—june 19, 2020

FACTS: Sykes appealed the district court’s denial of his motion to correct an illegal sentence based on calculation of Sykes’s criminal history. State moved to dismiss the appeal as moot because Sykes had completed his sentence. Sykes filed no response. Court of appeals granted State’s motion and dismissed the appeal. Sykes petitioned for review, arguing his appeal was not moot because a hypothetical future sentencing court might take judicial notice of Sykes’s criminal history score, and a successful appeal might preserve a legal malpractice claim against his trial counsel.

ISSUE: Mootness doctrineexpiration of sentence

HELD: Panel erred to the extent it considered Sykes’ claim moot based solely on the completion of his sentence, but dismissal of the appeal is affirmed because Sykes failed to challenge the State’s motion for involuntary dismissal of the case as moot.

STATUTES: None

appeals—attorneys and clients—criminal procedure—motions—sentencing
state v. tracy
sedgwick district court
COURT OF APPEALS—dismissal of appeal is affirmed
no. 113,763—june 19, 2020

FACTS: District court revoked Tracy’s probation and denied motion to correct an illegal sentence in which Tracy challenged the classification of his 1974 Colorado burglary conviction as a person offense. In unpublished opinion Court of Appeals held the Colorado conviction was properly classified. Tracy’s petition for review granted but held in abeyance pending resolution of other appeals with related issues. After Tracy fully served his prison sentence and applicable period of postrelease supervision, State argued Tracy’s appeal was moot.

ISSUE: Mootness doctrineexpiration of sentence

HELD: The appeal is moot. No merit to Tracy’s speculative claim that a future sentencing court will feel obligated to follow the panel’s uncorrected ruling and again classify the 1974 Colorado conviction as a person felony. By failing to provide any detail about what he might assert as a basis for the alleged legal malpractice he might want to file, Tracy waived this argument. And under current Kansas caselaw, no merit to Tracy’s claim that the uncorrected panel’s decision could have an impact on other defendants in other cases.

CONCURRENCE (Rosen, J.)(joined by Nuss, C.J. and Malone, J.): Concurs in the result based on rationale expressed in State v. Roat, 311 Kan. __ (this day decided).

STATUTE: K.S.A. 2019 Supp. 21-6813, -6814(c)

appeals—criminal procedure—motions—postconviction relief—sentencing
state v. ward
franklin district court
court of appeals—dismissal of appeal is reversed, case remanded
no. 116,545—june 19, 2020

FACTS: Ward filed motion to correct an illegal sentence, and under K.S.A. 60-1507 to allege district court erred when it revoked Ward’s probation and imposed the underlying sentence. District court summarily denied the motion. Noting that Ward had completed his sentence, Court of Appeals ordered Ward to show cause why the case should not be dismissed as moot under State v. Montgomery, 295 Kan. 837 (2012). In response Ward argued in part that a finding he violated the terms of his probation could be used to deny him probation or subject him to a future upward departure sentence. Panel dismissed the appeal as moot in an unpublished opinion. Ward’s petition for review of panel’s dismissal granted.

ISSUE: (1) Mootness Doctrine—expiration of sentence

HELD: Ward correctly distinguishes Montgomery because he challenges the probation revocation, not just the sanction. Case is remanded to Court of Appeals to reconsider under guidance provided in State v. Roat, 311 Kan. __ (this day decided), the arguments Ward presented in his response to the show cause order.

DISSENT (Biles, J.)(joined by Luckert, C.J. and Stegall, J.): Dissents from remand order based on rationale expressed in State v. Tracy, 311 Kan. __ (this day decided). Case should be dismissed.

STATUTE: K.S.A. 60-1507

appeals—criminal procedure—evidence—sentencing
state v. Yazell
johnson district court
court of appeals—dismissal of appeal is reversed, case is remanded
no. 116,761—june 19, 2020

FACTS: Yazell appealed from revocation of probation following his out-of-state arrest. When State submitted evidence from Kansas Adult Supervised Population Electronic Repository (KASPER) showing Yazell had been released from custody, court of appeals ordered Yazell to show cause why the appeal should not be dismissed as moot. In response Yazell challenged the evidence the State submitted to the appellate courts to show Yazell had competed his sentence, and argued his case was not moot because a finding he violated probation could be used as evidence he is not amenable to probation in future cases. Court of appeals summarily dismissed the appeal as moot. Yazell’s petition for review granted.

ISSUES: (1) Appellate factual findings; (2) mootness doctrineexpiration of sentence

HELD: The reasoned approach by Kansas appellate courts to date has been to reject basing appellate decisions on KASPER and similar documentation. Because KASPER is unreliable evidence, courts may not rely on it to make factual findings. Court of appeals erred to the extent it relied on KASPER and State’s hearsay assertions about a Corrections employee confirming the accuracy of the KASPER report. Panel’s decision is reversed and case is remanded to court of appeals.

            If panel on remand should again find that Yazell has completed his sentence, it should reconsider whether his case is moot under guidance provided in State v. Roat, 311 Kan. __ (this day decided).

STATUTE: K.S.A. 60-409(a)

 

Kansas Court of Appeals

Civil

FAMILY SETTLEMENT AGREEMENT
SCHMITENDORF V. TAYLOR
DOUGLAS DISTRICT COURT—AFFIRMED
NO. 120,123—JUNE 19, 2020

FACTS: Schmitendorf and Taylor were both cousins of Vera Park. In 1993, Park created a revocable trust, designating Park as the trustee. In the event of Park's death, Schmitendorf was to receive 20 percent of the trust estate unless the primary beneficiary predeceased Park, in which case Schmitendorf would receive all the trust estate. After the primary beneficiary died, Park amended the trust so that Schmitendorf and Taylor would evenly split the trust assets. Schmitendorf remained the sole trustee; in that capacity, she used trust assets to purchase a home and made a substantial gift to a community group to establish an endowment in Park's name. Taylor was concerned about Schmitendorf's use of trust assets, and a protracted dispute arose over the trust, a guardian for Park, and alleged financial misappropriation. Ultimately, Schmitendorf and Taylor agreed on terms for a Family Settlement Agreement. The district court approved the Family Settlement Agreement and appointed Schmitendorf and Taylor as co-guardians for Park. Park died in 2016 and Schmitendorf filed a petition contesting the amendment to the trust which established Taylor as a co-equal beneficiary. Taylor sought summary judgment, claiming that all Schmitendorf's claims were controlled by the Family Settlement Agreement. The district court agreed, and Schmitendorf appealed.

ISSUE: (1) Whether dispute is controlled by Family Settlement Agreement

HELD: Kansas law favors the settlement of disputes and family settlement agreements are liberally construed and should not be disturbed without good reason. The plain language of this Family Settlement Agreement clearly determines the parties' interests and their intent to settle all disputes relating to the distribution of trust assets. Under the plain language of the Family Settlement Agreement, Schmitendorf is barred from asserting any claims for relief.

STATUTES: K.S.A. 2019 Supp. 60-256(c)(2); K.S.A. 59-102(8)

Tags:  appeals  appellate procedure  attorneys and clients  constitutional law  criminal procedure  Douglas District Court  Family Settlement Agreement  Franklin District Court  Johnson District Court  jurisdiction  motions  post-conviction relief  Sedgwick District Court  sentencing 

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