Kansas Supreme Court
constitutional law—criminal procedure—
state v. ellis
lyon district court—reversed and remanded;
court of appeals—affirmed
No. 120,046—august 7, 2020
FACTS: Police were called to check on welfare of a person (Ellis) in convenience store bathroom. Ellis stated she was okay and having stomach trouble. Police asked for identification, held Ellis’ drivers license to run warrant check, arrested her on an outstanding probation violation warrant, and found drugs and paraphernalia in subsequent search. State charged Ellis with drug offenses. She filed motion to suppress, arguing the seizure and subsequent search exceeded the scope of the encounter. State argued the attenuation doctrine set out in Utah v. Strieff, 579 U.S. __ (2016), legitimized the search. District court denied the motion and convicted Ellis in bench trial. Ellis appealed. Court of Appeals reversed, holding the investigatory detention exceeded the scope of the welfare check and the evidence obtained as a result should have been suppressed. 57 Kan.App.2d 477 (2019). State’s petition for review granted.
ISSUES: (1) Scope of welfare check; (2) attenuation doctrine
HELD: Under facts of the case, the officer lawfully engaged with Ellis and requested her identification. But police may not lawfully extend a welfare check by running a warrant check on an individual who is the subject of the check unless some other circumstances support prolonging the check and converting it into a detention. Here, the officer had no reasonable suspicion that Ellis was committing, had committed, or was about to commit a crime. Checking if Ellis “had some pick up order” exceeded the scope of the safety check. Ths constituted an unlawful seizure and consequent search.
Application of the attenuation exception to the exclusionary rule is inappropriate on facts in this case. Factors in Strieff are applied finding all weigh against admissibility of the drug evidence under the attenuation doctrine: (1) a very short passage of time; (2) under Kansas caselaw the discovery of an outstanding warrant was not an attenuating factor in this case; and (3) the clarity of Kansas law forbidding the officer’s illegal conduct supports a finding of flagrant official misconduct. District court’s judgment is reversed and evidence seized subsequent to the initial conduct must be suppressed. Remanded for further proceedings.
CONCURRENCE (Stegall, J.)(joined by Luckert, C.J. and Wilson, J.): Concurs with the result but majority appears to back away from the more stringent requirements in Strief. Under Strief as outlined in State v. Tatro, 310 Kan. 263 (2019), when a preexisting valid warrant is discovered, the only question remaining is whether the unconstitutional conduct was purposeful or flagrant. Agrees with majority’s finding of flagrant misconduct, but would limit the analysis in these circumstances to that question only.
constitutional law—criminal procedure—evidence—
state v. timley
shawnee district court—affirmed
No. 120,414—august 7, 2020
FACTS: Timley convicted of first-degree premeditated murder. During trial, Timley’s cellphone records including the cell towers accessed were admitted into evidence without objection, and a detective using Per Call Measurement Data (PCMD) from Sprint testified about the relative position of Timley’s phone throughout the day of the shooting. On appeal Timley claimed: (1) prosecutor erred during opening and closing arguments by making statements concerning the location of Timley’s phone at the time of the shooting; (2) district court erred in admitting the detective’s cell tower maps and accompanying testimony because detective lacked necessary expertise; (3) district court committed clear error by failing to instruct jury on intentional second-degree murder as a lesser included offense; (4) district court’s failure to instruct jury on lesser included offenses violated Timley’s right to due process; and (5) cumulative error denied him a fair trial.
ISSUES: (1) Prosecutorial error; (2) admission of evidence; (3)jury instruction on lesser included offense; (4) due process; (5) cumulative error
HELD: Prosecutor’s remarks during closing argument did not stretch the PCMD distance from a cell tower to Timley’s phone into a certitude, and thereby did not exceed the wide latitude extended to prosecutors. Prosecutor’s opening statement, by postulating that Timley’s phone was “exactly” at the site of the shooting, barely avoided error, but even if error, no possibility the prosecutor’s remark contributed to the verdict.
Under facts of the case, no expert witness was needed. The detective’s exhibits and accompanying testimony did not require any specialized knowledge or expertise beyond that which he was demonstrated to possess.
District court erred in failing to sua sponte instruct jury on lesser included offense of intentional second-degree murder, but under facts of the case, no clear error is found.
In noncapital case, a district court’s failure to sua sponte instruct on lesser included offense does not violate a defendant’s constitutional right to due process. Based on State v. Becker, 311 Kan. 176 (2020), and State v. Love, 305 Kan. 716 (2017), no due process violation found in district court’s failure to issue a lesser included offense instruction sua sponte.
Cumulative error claim is rejected. Only one harmless error found in district court’s failure to sua sponte instruct jury on a lesser included offense. Even if prosecutor’s opening statement was harmless error, it bore no relation to the instructional error.
CONCURRENCE (Biles, J.)(joined by Rosen, J. and Ward, S.J.): Disagrees that prosecutor’s opening statement was fair comment. Would hold it was error for prosecutor in opening statement to tell jury the cell tower data would reflect Timley’s exact location, but agrees the error is harmless for reasons stated by majority.
Kansas Court of Appeals
state v. rozell
wyandotte district court—affirmed
No. 121,094—August 7, 2020
FACTS: Rozell (Missouri resident) and Lopez (Wyandotte County, Kansas, resident) were in a car accident in Missouri. Rozell submitted bodily injury claim on Lopez’ State Farm insurance to a claims representative in Tennessee who discovered the Missouri hospital bill Lopez submitted had been altered to show a post-accident date. State charged Rozell in Wyandotte County with one count of making false information and one count of fraudulent insurance act, listing State Farm as the victim of Rozell’s crimes. District court granted Rozell’s motion to dismiss the charges for lack of jurisdiction. State appealed, arguing proximate result jurisdiction existed under K.S.A. 2017 Supp. 21-5106(b)(3) for a person who attempts to defraud a Kansas insurance policy issued to a Kansas resident, and Wyandotte County was the proper venue.
ISSUE: Proximate result jurisdiction
HELD: District court’s dismissal of the charges for lack of jurisdiction is affirmed. Kansas does not have proximate result jurisdiction to prosecute Rozell for making false information, K.S.A. 2019 Supp. 21-5824(a), or committing a fraudulent insurance act, K.S.A. 2019 Supp. 40-2,118(a), just because he allegedly intended to defraud a Kansas insurance policy. The law related to proximate result jurisdiction is reviewed. When determining proximate result jurisdiction, Kansas courts may consider the negative consequences of a person’s out-of-state criminal acts within Kansas only if the statutory language of that person’s charged crime considered such negative consequences. Here, the State failed to analyze the elements of the charged crimes. Neither the making false information statute, nor the fraudulent insurance act statute consider the negative consequences of a person’s out-of-state criminal acts in the language of the statute.
STATUTES: K.S.A. 2019 Supp. 21-40-2,118(a), -5106, -5106(b), -5106(b)(3), -5824(a), -5830(a)(2); K.S.A. 2017 Supp. 40-2,118(a), -2,118(e), -5106(b),-5106(b)(3), -5824(a) ; K.S.A. 1994 Supp. 21-3734(a)(2)