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January 10, 2020 Digests

Posted By Administration, Monday, January 13, 2020
Updated: Monday, January 13, 2020

Kansas Supreme Court

criminal 

appeals—constitutional law—criminal law—evidence—statutes
state v. jenkins
shawnee district court—affirmed
no. 118,120—january 10, 2020

FACTS: Jenkins led police on two car chases that resulted in a fatal crash. Jury convicted him of crimes including first-degree felony murder and fleeing and eluding police. Over Jenkins’ objection, district judge allowed State to introduce recordings of five calls Jenkins made while in jail using his personal identification number (PIN), finding the State sufficiently established Jenkins’ identity as one of the speakers. On appeal, Jenkins claimed the district court erred by admitting the recordings of the jail calls, arguing reliance on his PIN was insufficient to establish he was the male speaker. He also challenged the constitutionality of K.S.A. 8-1568(b)(1)(E), the option within a means of the felony fleeing and eluding statute dependent on five or more moving violations.

ISSUES: (1) Admission of jail calls; (2) constitutionality of K.S.A. 8-1568(b)(1)(E)

HELD:  Court examined cases from other jurisdictions and concluded the seven-factor test for authenticating an audio recording outlined in State v. Williams, 235 Kan. 485 (1984), is no longer controlling in Kansas. Audio recordings qualify as writings under the Kansas Rules of Evidence. On record in this case, and under current Rules and cases interpreting them, district judge did not abuse his discretion by admitting the recorded calls as evidence. State proffered evidence upon which a reasonable juror could conclude that Jenkins made the recorded calls: strong circumstantial evidence that Jenkins was the caller by use of his unique PIN, supported by the content and timing of the calls.

Claim that the term “moving violations” in Kansas felony fleeing and eluding statute is unconstitutionally vague, which Jenkins raised first time on appeal, is considered, finding the statute is not unconstitutionally vague. Jenkins’ reliance on State v. Richardson, 290 Kan. 176 (2010), is criticized. Conduct underlying each of the moving violations used to convict Jenkins of fleeing and eluding and felony murder is clearly prohibited by Kansas law, and plain language of the defining statutory and regulatory provisions is clear. Jenkins’ argument for application of the rule of lenity is rejected.

STATUTES: K.S.A. 2015 Supp. 8-234b(d), -249(b), -1568(b)(1)(B), -1568(b)(1)(C), -1568(b)(1)(D), –1568(b)(1)(E), -1568(b)(2), 66-1,108(f); K.S.A. 8-262, -1508(c), -1519,  -1522(a), -1528(b), -1545, -1548,  60-401 et seq., 401(m), -404, -464, 66-1,108a

appeals—constitutional law—criminal procedure—jury instructions—statutes
state v. patterson
johnson district court—affirmed
no.118,180—january 10, 2020

FACTS: Patterson was convicted of crimes arising from an armed robbery in which a victim was killed by an accomplice. On appeal he claimed: (1) his felony-murder conviction violated due process because a jury was not required to determine he possessed a particular criminal mental state; (2) district court’s instructions and prosecutor’s voir dire comments improperly prevented jury from exercising its nullification power; (3) his hard 25 life sentence for felony murder is disproportionate to his crime in violation of Kansas and United States constitutions; and (4) use of prior convictions to elevate his sentence violated Sixth Amendment rights under Apprendi.

ISSUES: (1) Felony-murder conviction; (2) instructing jury to apply the law; (3) prosecutor’s voir dire; (4) hard 25 life sentence; (5) Apprendi challenge

HELD: Constitutional challenge to felony-murder statute, raised by Patterson for first time on appeal, is considered. Felony-murder statute, K.S.A. 2018 Supp. 21-5402(a)(2), does not operate as an unconstitutional conclusive presumption that invades the jury’s province. Intent to kill is not an element of felony murder. The statute expressly requires proof the defendant engaged in dangerous, felonious conduct and that a death occurred as a result of that conduct. By codifying participation in the felony as a statutory alternative for the intent and premeditation otherwise required for a first-degree murder conviction, the statute imposes a rule of law. It does not remove from jury’s consideration an intent element required by a criminal statute.

No merit to Patterson’s claim that district court’s instruction undermined the jury’s nullification power. District court’s instruction that jury had a “duty” to follow the law as set out in the instructions and that it “should find the defendant guilty” if State proved all elements of the charged offenses, was legally correct.

No merit to Patterson’s claim of error in prosecutor’s voir dire comment. It is not a misstatement of law to tell the jury to follow the law as given in the instructions.

Patterson did not show why his case is an exception to the general rule that case-specific challenges to § 9 of Kansas Constitution may not be raised for first time appeal. And his claim that a hard 25 life sentence is unconstitutional for a class of offenders (19-year olds) given the nature of his offense (those convicted of felony murder for a killing committed by another), fails to frame a valid categorical challenge to Eighth Amendment. The hard 25 life sentence is not categorically disproportionate as applied to young adults convicted of felony murder. Patterson’s reliance on Graham v. Florida, 560 U.S. 48 (2010), is misplaced.

Patterson’s Apprendi claim has been repeatedly rejected and is summarily dismissed.

STATUTES: K.S.A. 2018 Supp. 21-5202, -5202(a), -5202(d), -5402, -5402(a), -5402(a)(1), -5402(a)(2), -5402(b), 22- 3601(b)(3), -3601(b)(4) K.S.A. 21-3201 (Ensley)

criminal procedure—evidence—judges—statutes—witnesses
state v. lyman
geary district court—affirmed
no. 114,312 —january 10, 2020

FACTS: Lyman was convicted of felony murder based on abuse of a child, abuse of a child by shaking, and aggravated battery. After Lyman filed his appeal, defense counsel was served with disclosure of potentially exculpatory evidence that prosecutor recalled seeing a family resembling Lyman and victim with his family in a store, and that the woman had acted aggressively toward one of the children. Lyman filed motion for new trial on this newly discovered evidence. He also requested a change of judge for post trial matters, alleging the judge had been sleeping during trial. District court held hearing and concluded the prosecutor’s recollection was not corroborated and too speculative to warrant a new trial. On appeal Lyman claimed district court erred by: (1) denying the motion for new trial; (2) excluding Lyman’s proposed expert witness (Young) for failing to satisfy test under Daubert, (3) allowing State to admit photos as evidence of Lyman’s prior bad acts; (4) sleeping during the trial; and (5) prohibiting Lyman from introducing medical records that were subject to a written stipulation. He also claimed cumulative error denied him a fair trial.

ISSUES: (1) Motion for new trial; (2) expert witness; (3) evidence of prior bad acts; (4) judicial misconduct; (5) stipulated medical records; (6) cumulative error

HELD: District court did not abuse its discretion by finding the newly discovered evidence was not of such materiality that it would likely produce a different result upon retrial. Lyman’s further argument for a Brady violation fails because the evidence was not credibly exculpatory or impeaching.

Extended discussion of “Young’s postulate,” an inferential test Young had developed and used to base all his testimony and opinions in this case. District court did not abuse its discretion by excluding Young’s testimony for failure to satisfy test in Daubert, finding Young’s inferential test was contrary to fundamental tenets of Kansas evidence law, Young’s opinions were developed for purposes of testifying for defendants charged with child abuse, and that another Kansas trial court had found Young was not credible and his medical testimony was not worthy of any belief. Court rejects Lyman’s invitation to separate Young’s opinions reached from using the inferential test from those that were not.

Under facts in case, evidence documenting prior assault of a child sufficient to visibly distress him and leave bruises constitutes other crime evidence under K.S.A. 2018 Supp. 60-455. For evidence so similar to medical observations and conclusions at issue it is reasonable to conclude the same individual committed both the prior acts and those claimed in this case. It is relevant to show the defendant's modus operandi, a disputed material fact, and is probative because it contradicts the defendant's claim that previous health issues and not the defendant caused the child's death. District court did not abuse its discretion in finding the probative value of this evidence outweighed its prejudicial effect.

Lyman’s motion for change of judge did not satisfy affidavit requirement in K.S.A. 20-4111d, and motion also fails on the merits.

Parties stipulated to the admissibility of medical records that form the basis of opinion of people for purposes of their direct and cross-examination. District court did not abuse its discretion by refusing to admit the medical records because the expert witness would not be testifying.

No errors support Lyman’s cumulative error claim.

STATUTES: K.S.A. 2018 Supp. 22-3501(1), 60-455, -455(a), -455(b), -456(b); K.S.A. 20-311d, -311d(b), 22-3501, 60-401(b), -455, -456(b)

Kansas Court of Appeals

CIVIL

EMPLOYMENT—LEGISLATORS—VICARIOUS LIABILITY
LONG V. HOUSER
CHEROKEE DISTRICT COURT—AFFIRMED
NO. 120,866—JANUARY 10, 2020

FACTS: In 2017, Houser was a state representative for the State of Kansas. His job duties required that he be in Topeka during the legislative session. The state provided Houser with a per diem for lodging and meals, plus travel expenses. After the Legislature recessed for a break, Houser spent the night in Topeka and then got in his personal vehicle to return home. During the trip, Houser crossed the center line and hit Long's car, injuring him. Long sued both Houser and the State. The State sought summary judgment, arguing that it was not liable for Long's injuries because Houser was not acting within the scope of his employment while he was traveling home from Topeka. The district court agreed, and Long appealed.

ISSUE: (1) Whether Houser was acting within the scope of his employment at the time of the accident

HELD: Vicarious liability is the idea that the losses caused by an employee's tortious conduct are passed on to the employer as a cost of doing business. Vicarious liability only exists if the employee was acting within the scope of their employment at the time the tortious activity occurred. Although it has not been used in a tort context, the "going and coming rule" applies to third-party tort liability claims as a gauge to determine whether vicarious liability exists. The facts of the case make it clear that Houser was not acting within the scope of his employment at the time of the accident. This is true even though the State reimbursed Houser for travel costs.

STATUTE: K.S.A. 2018 Supp. 75-3203(a), -3202(b), -3203(e), -6103(a)

criminal 

appeals—constitutional law—criminal law—evidence—fourth amendment—motions 
state v. daino
johnson district court—reversed and remanded
no. 120,824—january 10, 2020

FACTS: Uniformed officers responded to report of marijuana odor coming from unit in apartment complex. Daino opened door 8-10 inches and officer asked if it was OK to step in to write ticket for marijuana. Daino did not verbally respond, but opened the door further and stood out of the way. Once officers discovered evidence of significant drug activity, Daino signed consent form for search of apartment but for roommate’s room. Drug charges filed. Daino filed motion to suppress, alleging illegal search in violation of Fourth Amendment. District court granted the motion, finding any reasonable person would have construed Daino’s response to indicate consent for officers to enter the apartment, but under Kansas law implied consent was not valid. State filed interlocutory appeal. On appeal Daino challenged sufficiency of the evidence of district court’s credibility finding regarding officer’s testimony.

ISSUES: (1) Cross-appeal; (2) consent to search

HELD: Sole issue on appeal is whether Daino’s consent for officers to enter apartment and investigate was invalid because it was implied. Daino filed no cross-appeal from district court’s adverse ruling, thus cannot challenge the sufficiency of the evidence or the district court’s credibility finding.

District court’s factual findings are supported by substantial competent evidence, but its legal conclusion that Kansas law requires express, verbal consent is erroneous. While it is well established law that mere acquiescence to a claim of lawful authority is inadequate to show voluntary consent, no Kansas Supreme Court case holds that consent must be verbal to be valid. Application of “mere acquiescence” rule by Court of Appeals panels, and subsequent Kansas Supreme Court cases, are examined and factually distinguished. Federal court cases upholding implied consent to enter a residence also are cited. Here, uncontested facts show that Daino yielded right of way to officers by his nonverbal, affirmative communication. Totality of circumstances shows that he unequivocally, specifically, freely, and intelligently consented to officers entering his residence to investigate smell of marijuana.

DISSENT (Buser, J.): Under totality of circumstances, would find Daino did not unequivocally, specifically, and freely and intelligently consent to officer’s entry into the apartment. Officer’s statements to Daino were misleading, and insufficiently informed Daino of officer’s purpose in seeking entry into the apartment or of Daino’s constitutional right to refuse entry. A reasonable person would understand that Daino was silently acquiescing to officer’s claim of lawful authority to enter the apartment because officer knew there was marijuana inside and was required to issue a citation. Would affirm district court’s suppression of evidence due to Fourth Amendment violation.  

STATUTE: K.S.A. 2018 Supp. 60- 2103(h); K.S.A. 21-5709(b)(1), 65-4105(d)(17), -4107(d)(1)

appeals—contempt—criminal procedure—evidence—witnesses
state v. lamb (towner)
shawnee district court—affirmed
No. 117,861—january 10, 2020

FACTS: Lamb charged with murder of victim in car Towner was driving, and with attempted murder of Towner. For Lamb’s preliminary hearing, Lamb and Towner had been transported to courthouse together and placed in same holding cell. When called to testify and identify Lamb as the shooter, Towner refused to testify. District court held Towner in contempt and ordered confinement. Charges against Lamb were dismissed. Towner appealed the court’s order of  direct criminal contempt, arguing he was threatened into not testifying and district court erred by not holding an in camera hearing, without Lamb present, so Towner could explain why he was not testifying. State asserted the appeal was moot because Towner had completed his six-month sentence for contempt, and failed to preserve his issue for appeal.

ISSUES: (1) Mootness of the appeal; (2) preservation of issue on appeal; (3) contempt

HELD: State v. Flanagan, 19 Kan. App. 2d 528 (1994), is distinguished as a contempt citation is not a criminal conviction and does not appear on a defendant’s criminal history. But mootness doctrine does not prevent the appeal because issue may be subject to repetition.

Panel proceeds on the merits notwithstanding close call whether Towner properly preserved his claim that there was insufficient evidence to find him in contempt because judge disregarded information from prosecutor that Towner was under duress and did not provide Towner a safe environment to set forth his defense.

District court’s decision finding Towner in direct criminal contempt is affirmed. A judge has no duty to sua sponte hold an in camera hearing to determine if a witness is fearful to testify when the witness makes no such request. Towner failed to make a proffer of the evidence he wanted the court to consider, and the three federal cases he cited do not support his position. A judge has no independent responsibility to seek out evidence of duress from a recalcitrant witness.

STATUTES: K.S.A. 2018 Supp. 21-5107(a), -5206; K.S.A. 60-405

appeals—criminal procedure—jurisdiction—motions—sentences—statutes
state v. mccroy
reno district court—appeal dismissed
No. 120,783—january 10, 2020

FACTS: District court sanctioned McCroy with second 180-day prison term after he violated terms of probation. State did not file motion to correct the order and instead appealed, arguing the second sanction was an illegal sentence because Kansas law only contemplates one 180-day sanction. McCroy contends there is no jurisdiction to consider State’s appeal which was not authorized by K.S.A. 22-3602 or any other appellate jurisdiction statute.

ISSUE: Appellate jurisdiction

HELD: K.S.A. 22-3504, governing post trial motions including motion to correct an illegal sentence, is not an appellate jurisdiction statute and does not vest an appellate court with jurisdiction to consider an appeal by the State solely on the claim that a sentence is illegal. Instead, an appellate court’s jurisdiction in a criminal case must arise from one of the limited procedural postures set forth in K.S.A. 22-3602. Different conclusion summarily reached in State v. Scherzer, 254 Kan. 926 (1994), but the sweeping jurisdictional statement in Scherzer no longer reflects the state of Kansas law. Appellate court’s jurisdiction is limited to those situations authorized by statute. State did not present its argument as a question reserved under K.S.A. 22-3602(b)(3), and panel makes no finding as to whether State’s general concerns regarding a second 180-day sanction could be raised in that context.

STATUTES: K.S.A. 2018 Supp. 21-6820, 22-3501(1), -3502, -3504(1), -3602(a), -3602(b), -3602(f), -3716; K.S.A. 22-3504, -3504(a), -3601, -3602, -3602(b), -3602(b)(3), -3603, 60-1507, -2101, -2101(a), -2101(b)

Tags:  Appeals  Cherokee District Court  Constitutional Law  Contempt  Criminal Law  Criminal Procedure  Employment  Evidence  Fourth Amendment  Geary District Court  Johnson District Court  Judges  Jury Instructions  Legislators  Motions  Shawnee District Court  Statutes  Vicarious Liability  Witnesses 

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December 6, 2019 Digests

Posted By Administration, Monday, December 9, 2019

Kansas Supreme Court

 

Attorney Discipline

ONE-YEAR SUSPENSION, STAYED DURING AN EXTENDED PROBATION
IN RE ANDREW M. DELANEY
NO. 121,208
DECEMBER 6, 2019

FACTS: A hearing panel determined that Delaney violated KRPC 1.1 (competence); 1.3 (diligence); 1.4(a) (communication); and 1.7(a) (conflict of interest). Delaney was placed on probation in November 2014 and remained on probation at the time these matters arose. The allegations of new discipline involved Delaney's representation of a client in a divorce action and his failure to free his client from debt on a vehicle retained by the ex-spouse. In addition, Delaney failed to properly negotiate a plea agreement on behalf of three other clients, none of whom were aware of the potential conflict of interest.

HEARING PANEL: The hearing panel found facts sufficient to sustain all alleged rule violations. The panel found several aggravating factors, including prior discipline. But there were also mitigating circumstances such as the absence of a dishonest motive and some mental health issues. The disciplinary administrator recommended a one-year suspension, with that suspension suspended so that Delaney's probation could be extended for two years. This recommendation was joined by Delaney and his counsel, and the panel determined that the probation plan proposed by Delaney was workable and appropriate.

HELD: In the absence of any exceptions, the hearing panel's findings of fact and conclusions were accepted. After hearing arguments, a majority of the court agreed that the probation plan proposed by the disciplinary administrator and Delaney was appropriate. Delaney's license to practice law in Kansas was suspended for one year, with that suspension stayed in favor of a two-year term of probation. A minority of the court would have imposed a less severe sanction.

ORDER OF DISBARMENT
IN RE JOAN M. HAWKINS
NO. 121,064—DECEMBER 6, 2019

FACTS: After Hawkins failed to participate or appear, a hearing panel found that Hawkins violated KRPC 1.3 (diligence); 1.15(a) and (b) (safekeeping property); 1.16(d) (termination of representation); 8.1(b) (failure to respond to disciplinary authority); Rule 207(b) (failure to cooperate in disciplinary investigation); Rule 211(b) (failure to answer in disciplinary proceeding); and Rule 218(a) (failure to file motion to withdraw upon suspension). The allegations arose after Hawkins failed to file pleadings on behalf of clients. In addition, Hawkins was suspended but failed to withdraw or take the steps required of her during the suspension. In addition, Hawkins made deposits into her attorney trust account even after she was suspended, and she paid personal bills directly out of her trust account.

HEARING PANEL: Hawkins failed to appear or participate in the hearing panel process. This failure, combined with the evidence presented to the hearing panel, resulted in the disciplinary administrator seeking discipline of either indefinite suspension or disbarment. The hearing panel recommended that Hawkins be disbarred.

HELD: The Clerk of the Supreme Court made repeated efforts to serve Hawkins with the notice of hearing. All certified mail was returned unclaimed and an attempt to make personal service was similarly unsuccessful. The court found that adequate notice was given of both the formal complaint and the hearing. Because Hawkins did not participate, panel's findings of fact and conclusions of law were deemed admitted. And in the absence of an appearance at the disciplinary hearing, the court adopted the disciplinary administrator's recommendation that Hawkins be disbarred.

Court Reporter Discipline

PUBLIC REPRIMAND
IN RE APRIL C. SHEPARD
CCR NO. 1318 – DECEMBER 6, 2019

FACTS: April Shepard works as a court reporter in Wyandotte County. She previously served in that capacity in Shawnee County. In June 2018, the State Board of Examiners of Court Reporters filed a formal complaint against Shepard alleging a violation of Board Rule No. 9.F.9. The facts showed that Shepard worked as a court reporter on a high-profile murder trial. After the defendant's conviction was overturned on appeal, a newspaper article quoted from Facebook posts made by Shepard in which she opined that the defendant was guilty and would be convicted again. Shepard admitted that she made the posts but defended herself by claiming that she behaved in an impartial manner during the trial and noted that she no longer worked for Shawnee County.

BOARD: The Board's disciplinary counsel asked that Shepard be subjected to public discipline, in order to provide transparency and increase public confidence in the profession. Shepard asked that any discipline be private, noting that she stipulated to the rule violation and arguing that her conduct was not severe enough to warrant public discipline. After considering arguments, the Board recommended that Shepard receive a public reprimand.

HELD: In the absence of objections, the Board's findings and conclusions were adopted. The court found that Shepard's conduct was egregious and damaging to the profession, but also noted that she cooperated with the investigation and admitted to wrongdoing. The court agreed that a public reprimand was the appropriate discipline.

Civil

EMINENT DOMAIN—INVERSE CONDEMNATION—JURISDICTION
GFTLENEXA, LLC V. CITY OF LENEXA
JOHNSON DISTRICT COURT—AFFIRMED
NO. 119,278—DECEMBER 6, 2019

FACTS: Through a series of leases and subleases, GFTLenexa ended up as the landlord of a Bridgestone tire dealer. In October 2013, the City of Lenexa filed a condemnation action with the goal of making street improvements and creating a permanent public utility easement. The district court granted the condemnation request and paid appropriate compensation to affected parties; neither GFTLenexa nor Bridgestone participated and neither was awarded compensation. A year later, Bridgestone sought declaratory judgment against GFTLenexa claiming it was entitled to reduced rent because the property had been partially condemned. The district court dismissed the action on GFTLenexa's motion for summary judgment on the theory that GFTLenexa did not receive any proceeds from the condemnation. The Court of Appeals reversed and remanded and on remand, the district court ordered GFTLenexa to both reduce Bridgestone's monthly rent and refund past overpayments. This decision prompted GFTLenexa to file an inverse condemnation action against the City for a loss of its intangible property rights. The district court granted the City's motion for summary judgment. GFTLenexa filed a notice of appeal to the Kansas Supreme Court.

ISSUES: (1) Jurisdiction; (2) need for inverse condemnation

HELD: Inverse condemnation actions are not creatures of statute. K.S.A. 2018 Supp. 26-504 requires that appeals in eminent domain cases go directly to the Kansas Supreme Court. Inverse condemnation actions are not eminent domain actions, and cases involving an inverse condemnation must be filed in the court of appeals. Even though the case was filed in the wrong court, the court exercises its power of concurrent jurisdiction to rule on the controversy before it rather than transfer it to the court of appeals. The eminent domain petition did not name GFTLenexa as a party and GFTLenexa chose not to participate in the process. The City's failure to name GFTLenexa is not determinative; GFTLenexa could have—and should have—sought to intervene in the condemnation. Requiring the City to pay again in an inverse condemnation action violates the undivided fee rule.

STATUTES: Kansas Constitution, Article 3, § 3; K.S.A. 2018 Supp. 26-504; K.S.A. 20-3018(a), 26-517, 60-2101(a), -2101(b)

criminal 

criminal procedure—motions—sentences—statutes
state v. carpenter
sedgwick district court—affirmed; court of appeals—affirmed
no. 115,713—december 6, 2019

FACTS: Complaint charged Carpenter of burglary, theft, and criminal damage to property. A separate complaint charged February 2008 offenses of aggravated indecent liberties with a child and criminal sodomy. Carpenter convicted on all charges. District court’s pronouncement stated a 55 month underlying sentence and 36 months of post-release supervision, but journal entry reflected lifetime postrelease supervision in case involving sexually violent offenses. Probation revoked two years later, with imposition of underlying sentence and lifetime postrelease supervision. Carpenter filed motion to correct illegal sentence by confirming the orally pronounced sentence of 36 months’ postrelease supervision, distinguishing postrelease for persons sent to prison versus those granted probation. State argued the lifetime postrelease supervision was mandatory and the 36-month supervision itself was illegal. District court agreed and denied the motion. Court of Appeals affirmed in unpublished opinion. Review granted. While appeal was pending, parties ordered to show cause why sole issue on review was not controlled by State v. Brook, 309 Kan. 780 (2019).

ISSUE: (1) Lifetime postrelease supervision under K.S.A. 22-3717(d)(1)

HELD: District court and Court of Appeals are affirmed based on Brook. Due to nature and timing of his offenses, Carpenter is subject to lifetime postrelease supervision under K.S.A. 22-3717. For determining length of postrelease supervision, Legislature clearly distinguished between categories of sexually violent offenses in K.S.A. 22-3717(d)(1)(D) and (G) based on date of their commission, not by sentences of probation versus prison. K.S.A. 22-3717(d)(1)(G) applies to persons convicted of a sexually violent crime committed on or after July 1, 2006. There are no persons convicted of a sexually violent crime on or after that date to whom both subsection K.S.A. 22-3717(d)(1)(A) and subsection (d)(1)(G) apply. Construing the statute as a whole and giving effect to all subsections, there is no conflict or ambiguity in K.S.A. 22-3717(d)(1).

STATUTES: K.S.A. 2015 Supp. 22-3717(d)(1); K.S.A. 2013 Supp. 22-3717(d)(1); K.S.A.20-3018(b), 21-4704, 22-3504, -3717, -3717(d)(1), -3717(d)(1)(A), -3717(d)(1)(G), -3717(d)(2)(C), -3717(d)(2)(D), 60-2101(b)

criminal law—criminal procedure—evidence—jury instructions
state v. claerhout
johnson district court—affirmed; court of appeals—affirmed
no. 115,227—december 6, 2019

FACTS: Claerhout was convicted of reckless driving and second-degree murder for unintentional but reckless homicide. District court allowed State to introduce Claerhout’s prior diversion agreement for purpose under K.S.A. 60-455(b); allowed an officer to evaluate the relative speeds of the two vehicles at the time of collision; and denied Claerhout’s request for voluntary intoxication instruction. On appeal Claerhout challenged:  (1) admission of the K.S.A. 60-455 evidence; (2) officer’s qualification to testify about scientific and mathematical conclusions; and (3) denial of the requested instruction. Court of appeals affirmed, 54 Kan.App. 2d 742 (2017). Review granted on all issues.

ISSUES: (1) Evidence of prior diversion agreement; (2) expert testimony; (3) voluntary intoxication instruction

HELD: Claerhout’s diversion agreement had probative value that outweighed its prejudicial effect. Statutory requirements and specific details outlined in a diversion for driving under the influence essentially serve the same purpose as a conviction in showing its relevance. In this case, any deficiency in district court’s abbreviated evaluation of possible prejudicial effect was harmless. No need at this time to decide how little or how much analysis a district count must display to satisfy due process mandates in State v. Boysaw, 309 Kan. 526 (2019), but courts are encouraged to state on the record the factors considered in weighing the admissibility of K.S.A. 60-455 evidence.

Kansas Supreme Court has not previously ruled on the degree to which an expert must be able to demonstrate knowledge of the principles underlying the expert’s expertise. It is not necessary that an expert witness demonstrate expertise in every theory, principle or scientific discipline underlying the knowledge, skill, experience, training or education that may qualify an expert witness to give testimony. Background of officer in this case sufficed to meet the statutory requirements for qualification as an expert witness.

The requested voluntary intoxication instruction was not factually appropriate. Voluntary intoxication is not a defense to reckless second-degree murder. Claerhout’s theory, that evidence of his intoxication tends to show he could not attain a reckless state of mind because of impaired mental function, is rejected. Instead, cited cases show common thread of courts treating intoxication as evidence of recklessness.

STATUTES: K.S.A. 2018 Supp. 8-1567(i)(1), -1567(i)(6), 21-5403(a)(2), -5403(b)(2), 60-455(a), -455(b), -456(b); K.S.A. 2016 Supp. 60-455(b); K.S.A. 60-455

criminal procedure—motions—postconviction remedies—statutes
state v. fox
cherokee district court—affirmed
No. 115,247—december 6, 2019

FACTS: In 2013, Fox filed a K.S.A. 22-3210 motion to withdraw his 1982 guilty plea, arguing in part for equitable tolling of the limitation period. District court denied the motion as untimely filed with no showing of excusable neglect. Fox appealed, further arguing he had been imprisoned in Florida for several years without access to a phone or library materials about Kansas law. He also claimed manifest injustice, citing ineffective assistance of counsel, duplicitous charges, and jurisdictional claims.

ISSUE: (1) Statue of limitations—excusable neglect

HELD: Grace period in 2009 amendment to K.S.A. 22-3210 allowed Fox until April 2010 to file his motion. District court did not abuse its discretion in finding Fox did not establish excusable neglect to permit his untimely filing. No facts support equitable tolling of the limitation period where Fox was held in a Kansas prison about seven years before the statute of limitations ran.  No need to address whether Fox established manifest injustice.

STATUTES: K.S.A. 2018 Supp. 22-3210, -3210(d)(2), -3210(e)(1), -3210(e)(2), -3601(b); K.S.A. 60-1507

criminal procedure—juries—jury instructions—motions—trials
state v. pruitt
Butler District Court—affirmed
NO. 118,448—december 6, 2019

FACTS: Pruitt was convicted of first-degree premeditated murder. On appeal he claimed: (1) prosecutor error during closing argument; (2) judge should have instructed jury on lesser included offenses of reckless second-degree murder and reckless voluntary manslaughter, (3) erroneous instructions foreclosed jury’s power of nullification; (4) a new trial should have been granted because one juror slept during part of the proceedings; and (5) cumulative error denied him a fair trial.  

ISSUES: (1) Prosecutorial error; (2) instructions on lesser included offenses; (3) instructions regarding jury nullification; (4) motion for new trial—juror misconduct; (5) cumulative error

HELD: Prosecutor’s statement in summing up testimony about the alleged murder weapon, “This seems to be the shotgun, folks. I don’t think there’s a lot of question about that at this point,” was an impermissible personal opinion; but no reversible error in this case. Prosecutor’s statement that victim deserved jurors’ “consideration” was not error where statement’s context demonstrates that prosecutor was not attempting to invoke jury’s sympathy. Prosecutor’s statement, “Folks, if you’re convinced beyond a reasonable doubt that those three elements exist, you must find the defendant guilty of murder in the first degree, as he has been charged,” was not an impermissible misstatement of the law because it forbade jury nullification. A prosecutor’s closing argument is distinguished from court instructions.  

Even if error is assumed in district judge’s failure to give sua sponte two reckless homicide instructions, no reversible clear error on facts in this case.

District judge’s instructions to jury did not direct a verdict of conviction or prevent jury nullification, and were correct statements of the law and not erroneous under State v. Boothby, 310 Kan. 619 (2019).

Under facts in this case, district judge did not abuse his discretion in finding no fundamental failure due to jury misconduct occurred in defendant’s trial.

Errors found or assumed in this case did not cumulatively prejudice Pruitt and deprive him of a fair trial.   

STATUTE: K.S.A. 2018 Supp. 21-5109(b)(1), -5202(c)

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