Kansas Supreme Court
ATTORNEYS—CONSTITUTIONAL LAW—CRIMINAL PROCEDURE—MENTAL COMPETENCY
STATE V. BURDEN
SUMNER DISTRICT COURT—AFFIRMED; COURT OF APPEALS—AFFIRMED
NO. 116,819 - JULY 17, 2020
FACTS: Burden was charged with possession of drugs and drug paraphernalia. District court found she was competent to stand trial pursuant to a court-ordered competency exam and evaluation that found, in part, that Burden had “no significant impairment that is psychiatric in nature.” District court also allowed Burden to represent herself, and appointed standby counsel. Jury convicted her on drug possession charges, and acquitted on the paraphernalia charge. Burden appealed, arguing district court used an incorrect standard to determine whether she was competent to represent herself. Court of appeals affirmed in unpublished opinion. Review granted.
ISSUE: (1) Standard for determining mental competency
HELD: Three distinct but related concepts are examined—mental competency to stand trial, the capacity to waive the right to counsel, and mental competency to self-represent. Indiana v. Edwards, 554 U.S. 164 (2008), allows a district court judge to deny a request to waive counsel if a defendant has a severe mental illness. But there is no error when a court does not appoint counsel for a defendant who wishes to exercise the right of self-representation if there is no evidence of the defendant's severe mental illness. Here, the district court did not err in allowing Burden to exercise her constitutional right of self-representation when the record does not establish that she suffers from a severe mental illness.
STATUTE: K.S.A. 22-3301, -3301(1)
STATE V. EDWARDS
SHAWNEE DISTRICT COURT—AFFIRMED
NO. 120,600—JULY 17, 2020
FACTS: Jury convicted Edwards in 1996 of first-degree murder, conspiracy to possess with intent to sell hallucinogenic drugs, and aggravated robbery. In 2011, he filed motion for DNA testing of items found at crime scene. District court granted the motion in 2013, and for additional, independent DNA analysis of the evidence. District court held a 2017 hearing and found the DNA results were favorable to Edwards, but denied Edwards’ motion for a new trial because the DNA evidence was “not reasonably probable to lead to a jury reaching a different result.” Edwards appealed.
ISSUE: (1) DNA testing statute
HELD: Even when additional DNA testing ordered under K.S.A. 2019 Supp. 21-5212 leads to results favorable to the defense, a district judge does not necessarily abuse his or her discretion by denying a motion for new trial. As in State v. LaPointe, 309 Kan. 299 (2019), the non-DNA evidence against Edwards is strong. District judge did not abuse her discretion by concluding there was no reasonable probability the DNA results would have changed the original trial’s outcome. District judge’s denial of Edwards’ motion for a new trial is affirmed.
STATUTE: K.S.A. 2019 Supp. 21-2512, -2512(f)(2)
CONSTITUTIONAL LAW—CRIMINAL LAW—EVIDENCE—STATUTES
STATE V. HARRIS
SEDGWICK DISTRICT COURT—REVERSED AND REMANDED; COURT OF APPEALS—REVERSED
NO. 116,515—JULY 17, 2020
FACTS: Harris, a convicted felon on parole, was in an altercation when he opened a pocketknife with a 3.5 inch serrated blade for protection, then dropped it when police arrived. State charged him with aggravated assault, criminal possession of a weapon by a convicted felon, and criminal use of a weapon. Harris filed motion to dismiss the possession charge, claiming the statutory definition in K.S.A. 2019 Supp. 21-6304 of a “knife” was unconstitutionally vague on its face and as applied. District court denied the motion. Harris also sought to introduce evidence of parole officer who advised him he could carry a knife less than 4 inches long, and similar info in Kansas Department of Corrections (KDOC) orientation and handbook. Adopting State’s position that parole officers and KDOC staff are not legally authorized to interpret statutes, district court excluded all evidence in support of Harris’ mistake-of-law defense. Harris appealed, claiming district court erred by rejecting his vagueness challenge to the statute and by excluding all evidence supporting his mistake-of -fact defense. In unpublished opinion Court of Appeals rejected the constitutional challenge, but reversed the trial court’s evidentiary ruling on the mistake-of-fact evidence and remanded for a new trial. Review granted.
ISSUES: (1) Constitutionality of K.S.A. 2019 Supp. 21-6304; (2) evidence—mistake of law defense
HELD: Case is resolved on a facial challenge to the statute. The residual clause "or any other dangerous or deadly cutting instrument of like character" in K.S.A. 2019 Supp. 21-6304 is unconstitutionally vague because it fails to provide an explicit and objective standard of enforcement. Similar problem in City of Lincoln Center v. Farmway Co-Op, Inc., 298 Kan. 540 (2013)(noise ordinance is unconstitutionally vague). This constitutional failure began with legislative enactment that impermissibly delegated legislative power to the executive and judicial branches.
Because case is resolved in Harris’ favor on constitutional grounds, the evidentiary issue raised in State’s petition is not reached.
DISSENT (Biles, J.)(joined by Rosen, J. and Green, J.): K.S.A. 2019 Supp. 21-6304 is not unconstitutionally vague on its face or as applied to Harris. Majority imposes too strict a standard on Legislature’s ability to formulate criminal laws. Analyzing K.S.A. 2019 Supp. 21-6304(c)(1) in light of the facts, the statute is sufficiently clear to have informed Harris it was unlawful to possess his knife, and the statute is sufficiently clear to stave off any contention that authorities arbitrarily prosecuted him for having it. Photo of Harris’ knife is attached. Majority’s reading of Farmway is criticized.
Would reverse Harris’ conviction because he is entitled to pursue a mistake-of-law defense. KDOC is legally authorized to interpret the criminal-possession statute, and the KDOC handbook could be read by Harris as containing the agency’s official interpretation of the statute. Trial court’s error in not allowing Harris to pursue a mistake-of-law defense was not harmless in this case.
STATUTES: K.S.A. 2019 Supp. 21-5207(b)(4), -6304, -6304(c)(1), -6304(c)(2); K.S.A. 2018 Supp. 21-5207(b)(4); K.S.A. 2016 Supp. 21-5111(aa)(5), -5111(p)(2), 75-5217, -5217(a), -5217(b), -5217(c), -5217(d); K.S.A. 2012 Supp. 21-630; K.S.A. 21-6301, -6304, 75-5201, -5216
CONSTITUTIONAL LAW—CRIMINAL PROCEDURE—JURIES—STATUTES
STATE V. HARRISON
JOHNSON DISTRICT COURT—AFFIRMED; COURT OF APPEALS—AFFIRMED
NO. 116,670—JULY 17, 2020
FACTS: Jury convicted Harrison of various crimes committed in 2015. During deliberation, judge discussed jury question with Harrison, counsel and prosecutor all present. All agreed to send jury a written response. Harrison appealed on four claims of trial error, including his challenge at not being present when written response was passed to the jury by court staff. In unpublished opinion court of appeals affirmed the convictions, holding in part the district court violated Harrison’s constitutional right to be present at a critical stage in the proceedings by responding to the jury in writing rather than giving the answer in open court with Harrison present, but the error was harmless. Review granted limited to the district court’s failure to have Harrison present when jury received the answer.
ISSUE: (1) Response to jury’s question
HELD: District court complied with both statutory and constitutional requirements. 2014 revision of K.S.A. 22-3420 allows judges to answer jury questions in open court or in writing. K.S.A. 2019 Supp. 22-3405(a) is analyzed in light of that revision. If a criminal trial judge responds to a jury question in writing by having court personnel deliver the response to the jury in the jury room: the delivery is not a stage of the trial at which a defendant must be present under K.S.A. 2019 Supp. 22-3405(a); K.S.A. 2019 Supp. 22-3420(d) does not require a defendant’s presence when the jury receives that response; and the defendant’s right to be present during critical stages of the proceedings is not a violation under the Sixth Amendment Confrontation Clause or the Due Process Clause of Fourteenth Amendment. Nothing in the record reasonably suggests Harrison’s presence was essential or critical to a fair and just determination of a substantial issue. Review of panel’s harmless error analysis is unnecessary.
STATUTES: K.S.A. 2019 Supp. 22-3405(a), -3420(d); K.S.A. 22-2102, -3405(1), -3420(3)
CRIMINAL PROCEDURE—MOTIONS—POSTCONVICTION RELIEF—STATUTES
STATE V. HILL
OSAGE DISTRICT COURT—AFFIRMED
NO. 119,359—JULY 17, 2020
FACTS: Pursuant to amended plea agreement, Hill entered no a contest plea in 2000 to various charges including premeditated first-degree murder. No direct appeal taken. Hill then pursued various post-conviction motions: 2004 motion under K.S.A. 60-1507; 2008 motion to withdraw his no contest pleas; 2014 and 2015 motions including new motion to withdraw pleas and motion to correct illegal sentence. District court denied each motion, and when appealed, the court of appeals affirmed. Present appeal is from district court’s denial of Hill’s 2017 pro se “Motion to Set Aside a Void Judgment Under Due Process of Law and K.S.A. 22-3210.” The district court construed the motion as one to withdraw pleas under K.S.A. 22-3210, and denied the motion as untimely. District court further found no manifest injustice supported withdrawal of the pleas, found Hill was represented by competent counsel, there was no coercion or unfair advantage taken of Hill, and his pleas were knowingly and understandingly made. Hill appealed, arguing trial court errors, including incorrectly analyzing the motion as one to withdraw plea instead of a motion to void convictions and sentence, denied Hill due process.
ISSUE: (1) Due process—motion to correct illegal sentence
HELD: Trial judge correctly construed Hill’s various arguments as another effort to withdraw his pleas. Hill’s 2017 motion was filed outside the one year time limitation added to K.S.A. 22-3210 in 2009, and no grounds of excusable neglect for his untimely filing are asserted by Hill or otherwise demonstrated. Hill’s motion is procedurally barred. Trial court’s decision is affirmed.
STATUTES: K.S.A. 2019 Supp. 22-3210, -3210(a), -3210(b), -3210(d), -3210(d)(1), -3210(d)(2), -3210(e)(1), -3210(e)(2); K.S.A. 2017 Supp. 22-3210, -3210(e)(1); K.S.A. 60-1507
Kansas Court of Appeals
DUI—SEARCH AND SEIZURE
CITY OF COLBY V. FOSTER
THOMAS DISTRICT COURT—REVERSED AND REMANDED
NO. 121,373—JULY 17, 2020
FACTS: A municipal court convicted Foster of DUI, and Foster appealed to district court. Prior to trial, Foster filed a motion to suppress evidence, including the breathalyzer results. During a hearing on that motion, Foster discovered that law enforcement administered the breath test before providing the implied consent advisories. The district court denied the motion, holding that at the time Foster was arrested, there was no requirement to provide the advisories because Foster was given the breath test incident to arrest. Foster was convicted after a bench trial, and he appealed.
ISSUE: (1) Whether the district court erred by denying the motion to suppress
HELD: The law in effect at the time of the criminal act controls. Foster was arrested on May 6, 2018, and on that date the amendments to K.S.A. 8-1001 had not yet been enacted. K.S.A. 2017 Supp. 8-1001(k) required that Foster receive notice of his statutory rights. There is not substantial evidence that Foster consented to the search and because he never received the statutory advisory, his consent could not have been knowing or voluntary. Similarly, Kansas law required that Foster be given the consent advisory even if the search of the breath test was done incidental to an arrest. It was not enough for the officer to deliver the implied consent advisories after the breath test had been conducted. That was not substantial compliance. The evidence should have been suppressed.
STATUTE: K.S.A. 2017 Supp. 8-1001(a), -1001(b), -1001(k)
FISHER V. KANSAS DEPARTMENT OF REVENUE
DOUGLAS DISTRICT COURT—AFFIRMED
NO. 118,830—JULY 17, 2020
FACTS: Officer Russell saw Fisher speeding through town. Russell caught up with Fisher, who showed signs of impairment including bloodshot eyes, slurred speech and an unsteady gait. Russell arrested Fisher and gave him the implied consent advisories from the DC-70 form. Fisher refused to take a blood or breath test without an attorney present, so Russell obtained a warrant to draw blood. The test confirmed that Fisher was under the influence, and his driver's license was subsequently suspended. The suspension was affirmed by both the Kansas Department of Revenue and the district court, which found that reasonable grounds existed to require testing. Fisher appealed.
ISSUES: (1) Probable cause to arrest; (2) adequacy of implied consent advisory
HELD: Russell observed Fisher speeding and running a red light. Russell also had slurred speech and bloodshot eyes, and he smelled strongly of alcohol. Under the totality of the circumstances, there was substantial competent evidence to support the district court's conclusion that Russell had reasonable grounds to believe that Fisher was driving under the influence. The DC-70 form given to Fisher did not tell him that he had a constitutional right to refuse to submit to the test. An arresting officer must substantially comply with statutory notice provisions. In this case, Russell substantially complied by providing the implied consent notices from the revised DC-70 form. Fisher is correct that a driver is not required to consent to a requested test. But the use of the word "requires" in the statute is not by itself unduly coercive. The text, when read in its entirety, clearly informs drivers that they have the right to refuse testing.
STATUTES: K.S.A. 2016 Supp. 8-1001(a), -1001(k), -1020(q); K.S.A. 2014 Supp. 8-1025
JOHNSON V. KANSAS DEPARTMENT OF REVENUE
COWLEY DISTRICT COURT—AFFIRMED
NO. 119,151—JULY 17, 2020
FACTS: Trooper LaVelle responded to reports of a one-vehicle accident. He waited on the scene while EMS treated Johnson, the driver. As EMS was walking Johnson to his car, LaVelle noticed that Johnson was swaying as he walked. EMS told LaVelle that Johnson had given the wrong birth date while in the ambulance, and they noticed that he smelled strongly of alcohol. LaVelle noticed the same thing, along with bloodshot eyes. Johnson failed the field sobriety tests that he performed. As a result. LaVelle arrested Johnson and gave him a copy of the DC-70 form before asking him to submit to an evidentiary breath test. Johnson agreed to the breath test, which revealed that his breath alcohol level was over the legal limit. Johnson received the DC-27 form and his driver's license was suspended. The Kansas Department of Revenue affirmed the suspension, so Johnson sought judicial review. The district court found that the encounter between LaVelle and Johnson was appropriate, and Johnson appealed.
ISSUES: (1) Reasonable grounds to request a breath test; (2) due process violation
HELD: In order to request an evidentiary breath test, LaVelle needed to have reasonable grounds to believe that Johnson was driving under the influence and Johnson had to be under arrest, in custody, or involved in a car accident. In this case, Johnson was in an accident which damaged property. There was also probable cause that Johnson was driving under the influence, and the district court reviewed the evidence under the correct standard. The district court's decision was supported by substantial competent evidence, and the appellate court will not reweigh the evidence. It is undisputed that some of the information contained in the implied consent advisory was later declared unconstitutional. But criminal DUI law does not apply here—specifically, the exclusionary rule has no application in an administrative license proceeding. And even if it did, the good faith exception would apply here. Johnson failed to prove that he suffered a violation of his procedural due process rights. And any substantive due process analysis must be specifically analyzed under the Fourth Amendment. Johnson could not prove that he suffered a substantive due process injury under the Fourth Amendment.
STATUTES: K.S.A. 2015 Supp. 8-1001, -1002(a); K.S.A. 77-621(a)(1), -621(c)
SANDATE V. KANSAS DEPARTMENT OF REVENUE
JOHNSON DISTRICT COURT—AFFIRMED
NO. 119,514—JULY 17, 2020
FACTS: Officer Jordan was driving behind Sandate and noticed that he was not maintaining a lane or signaling lane changes. Jordan initiated a traffic stop and arrested Sandate, who admitted to consuming alcohol, showed signs of impairment, failed field sobriety tests and refused a preliminary breath test. Jordan gave Sandate the appropriate DC-70 form when requesting the test and the appropriate DC-27 form after the refusal. The Kansas Department of Revenue affirmed the suspension, as did the district court after Sandate requested judicial review. Sandate appealed.
ISSUES: (1) Subject matter jurisdiction; (2) substantial compliance of the DC-70 form; (3) use of the word "require"
HELD: Although other panels of the court of appeals have found otherwise, the district court did have subject matter jurisdiction. Any given court of appeals panel is not bound by another panel's decision. Each panel conducts an independent analysis and comes to its own conclusion. The DC-27 form has two components: notification and certification. It acts like a charging document and charging documents do not bestow or confer subject matter jurisdiction and defects in a complaint do not deprive a court of power to hear the case. KDOR had jurisdiction to suspend Sandate's driver's license. Sandate did not properly preserve for review part of his argument. The evidence before the district court shows that Jordan substantially complied with K.S.A. 2016 Supp. 8-1001(k), and Kansas has never required strict compliance. Although the DC-70 uses the word "require", it is not coercive.
STATUTES: K.S.A. 2019 Supp. 8-259, -1001(k), -1002, -1002(a), -1020; K.S.A. 2016 Supp. 8-1001(k), -1002(a), -1002(f)