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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 Court of Appeals in unpublished motion granted State’s motion and dismissed the appeal without reaching merits of Mayes’ illegal sentence claim.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 Court of Appeals dismissed the appeal in unpublished opinion, holding the expiration of Roat’s sentence meant the outcome of the appeal would have no effect on his sentence in this case.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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October 25, 2019 Digests

Posted By Administration, Monday, October 28, 2019

Kansas Supreme Court

 

Civil

DAMAGES—PRODUCTS LIABILITY
CORVIAS MILITARY LIVING, LLC V. VENTAMATIC, LTD. AND JAKEL, INC.
GEARY DISTRICT COURT—COURT OF APPEALS IS AFFIRMED IN PART AND REVERSED IN PART
DISTRICT COURT IS AFFIRMED IN PART AND REVERSED IN PART, REMANDED WITH DIRECTIONS
NO. 116,307—OCTOBER 25, 2019

FACTS: Corvias is a construction firm specializing in military housing. Corvias built thousands of units near Fort Riley. In these homes, it installed bathroom ceiling fans manufactured by Ventamatic, Ltd. and Jakel Motors, Inc. After installation, several fans caught fire and damaged homes. Corvias not only incurred damage with fire remediation, it also needed to replace all of the fans in other units, so it filed suit. The district court granted summary judgment to both defendants, finding that the suit was unquestionably a products liability claim governed by the Kansas Product Liability Act. The court ruled that all of Corvias' claims for damages was barred by the economic loss doctrine. The Court of Appeals reversed the grant of summary judgment on the issue of fire damage, finding that the fans were not an integral part of the house as a whole. But the panel did not address whether Corvias had an implied warranty claim covering whether the fans were inherently dangerous. Both defendants filed a petition for review, which was granted.

ISSUE:  (1) Recovery under the KPLA

HELD: The KPLA covers all product liability causes of action. That Act included liability for "damage to property", which shows that the Legislature intended to allow recovery for damage to any property, even the product itself. The Kansas economic loss doctrine does not preclude recovery for property damage within a product liability cause of action. Corvias' costs for fan replacement are undisputedly economic losses, and therefore not compensable under the KPLA. But the KPLA does not subsume all other legally viable causes of action for loss recovery. Corvias brought an action for unjust enrichment. The record is insufficient to show whether that claim can succeed, so the case is remanded.

STATUTE: K.S.A. 60-3302(c), -3302(d), -3302(d)(1)

 

Criminal

CRIMINAL THREAT—CONSTITUTION
STATE V. BOETTGER
DOUGLAS DISTRICT COURT—COURT OF APPEALS IS REVERSED, DISTRICT COURT IS REVERSED
NO. 115,387—OCTOBER 25, 2019
 

FACTS: One evening, Boettger was visiting with the employees of a convenience store. He was lamenting the fact that he had found his daughter's dog in a ditch after it had been shot. Boettger was upset that the sheriff's department would not investigate. Boettger told one employee that if he found the perpetrator they "might find themselves dead in a ditch somewhere." The employee who heard the remarks knew Boettger and his speaking style and was not concerned. Another employee, who knew Boettger very well, was closely related to a detective with the sheriff's department. Boettger, who was visibly angry, approached this man and said that he would "end up finding [his] dad in a ditch." The employee was concerned and ultimately called the police to report the incident. Boettger denied any intent to threaten or cause harm, but he was still convicted of one count of reckless criminal threat. Boettger appealed, but the Court of Appeals confirmed his convictions. Boettger's petition for review was granted.

ISSUE: (1) Whether K.S.A. 2018 Supp. 21-5415(a)(1) is unconstitutionally overbroad

HELD: Some tension can arise when the government attempts to criminalize true threats. An important inquiry centers on the speaker's intent to intimidate and cause fear. In order to be constitutional, the statute must require more than a purpose to communicate just threatening words. Instead, it must also require that the speaker wants the recipient to believe that the speaker intends to act violently—an intent to intimidate or convey a threat. K.S.A. 2018 Supp. 21-5415, which allows an individual to be punished for reckless conduct, potentially criminalizes protected speech and is facially overbroad. Boettger's conviction under that statute must be reversed.

STATUTES: U.S. Const. amend. I; K.S.A. 2018 Supp. 21-5415(a)(1)

 

FIRST-DEGREE MURDER—JURY INSTRUCTIONS
STATE V. DEAN
SEDGWICK DISTRICT COURT—AFFIRMED
NO. 116,568—OCTOBER 25, 2019

FACTS: Dean was accused of firing his weapon while at a crowded party in revenge for the death of his fellow gang member. After the shooting was over, Dean was charged with one count of premeditated murder, four counts of aggravated battery and one count of criminal possession of a firearm. During deliberations, the presiding juror brought in a personal notebook which contained notes that were taken outside of the trial. The district court dismissed this juror and questioned the rest of the panel, all of whom denied taking notes or seeing notes from another juror. As he was leaving, the removed panel member gave a partially completed verdict form to the bailiff. It is unknown what the form said, but after seeing it defense counsel moved for a mistrial, which was denied. Dean was convicted as charged. He appeals.

ISSUES: (1) Necessity of a mistrial, (2) cautionary instruction, (3) motion for new trial, (4) evidence of premeditation, (5) admissibility of evidence of gang affiliation

HELD: Because the partially completed verdict form is not in the record on appeal, there is no way to know its impact on the jury. Dean had the burden to designate a record adequate to show error. In that absence, he is not entitled to relief. A district court is not legally required to instruct the jury to view with caution the testimony of a noninformant witness who is potentially benefitting from the testimony. Defendant's cross-examination showed the witness' potential bias to the jury. The district court did not err by finding that evidence regarding the cooperating witness' arrangement was neither newly discovered nor material. And Dean's failure to provide the new evidence in the record on appeal precludes review. Premeditation involves forming the intent to kill beforehand. In this case, the State presented sufficient evidence of premeditation. The gang affiliation evidence presented at trial was relevant and not unduly prejudicial, especially in light of the mitigating instruction given by the district court.

STATUTES: K.S.A. 2018 Supp. 22-3412(c), -3501(l); K.S.A. 22-3423(1)(c), 60-401(b)

 

CRIMINAL THREAT—CONSTITUTION
STATE V. JOHNSON
MONTGOMERY DISTRICT COURT—COURT OF APPEALS IS REVERSED DISTRICT
COURT IS REVERSED, CASE REMANDED
NO. 116,453—OCTOBER 25, 2019

FACTS: Johnson's mother contacted law enforcement with claims that Johnson was abusing her. A deputy responded to her home and noticed signs of a struggle, but Johnson was not at the residence. A return visit occurred the next day after Johnson's mother claimed that he made statements in which he threatened to either harm or kill her. Johnson was charged with one count of criminal threat—for allegedly tearing a telephone off of the wall and threatening to burn down his mother's home and kill her. At trial, both Johnson's mother and wife testified that within their family it was common to threaten to kill each other, but that they never actually meant it. Johnson was also injured and in pain, causing frequent angry outbursts. A jury convicted Johnson of criminal threat. He appealed, and the Court of Appeals affirmed his conviction and Johnson's petition for review was granted.

ISSUES: (1) Sufficiency of the evidence, (2) constitutionality of K.S.A. 2018 Supp. 21-5415(a)(1)

HELD: The State charged Johnson with either intentionally or recklessly making a criminal threat. The jury was instructed on both mental states but was not asked to specify under which state Johnson was convicted. But the State presented sufficient evidence to convict Johnson under either theory. The government can only regulate "true threats." The "reckless disregard" provision of K.S.A. 2018 Supp. 21-5415(a)(1) encompasses more than true threats and thus potentially punishes constitutionally protected speech. It is unconstitutionally overbroad. Even though Johnson was potentially convicted for intentional behavior, the unconstitutionality of the reckless disregard provision is prejudicial enough that Johnson's conviction must be reversed.

DISSENT: (Stegall, J.) The majority is correct that K.S.A. 2018 Supp. 21-5415(a)(1) is unconstitutionally overbroad. But the error is not prejudicial under a modified harmlessness analysis, and his conviction should be affirmed.

STATUTE: K.S.A. 2018 Supp. 21-5202(c), -5415(a)(1)

Tags:  constitution  criminal threat  damages  Douglas District Court  first degree murder  Geary District Court  jury instructions  Montgomery District Court  product liability  Sedgwick District Court 

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September 27, 2019 Digests

Posted By Administrator, Monday, September 30, 2019

Kansas Supreme Court

Attorney Discipline

PUBLISHED CENSURE
IN RE JOSHUA T. MATTHEWS
NO. 120,924—SEPTEMBER 27, 2019

FACTS: After a stipulation was made, a hearing panel found that Matthews violated KRPC 8.4(c) (conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation), 8.4(g) (conduct adversely reflecting on lawyer's fitness to practice law), and Supreme Court Rule 211(b) (failure to file answer in a disciplinary proceeding). Matthews failed to satisfy the CLE requirements for the 2017 reporting year. In an attempt to come in to compliance, Matthews enrolled in a day-long program in Missouri. While attending the live programming, Matthews watched on-demand CLE programs over the course of five hours. The affidavits submitted showed that Matthews attended more than eight hours of CLE in one day, which is not permitted by Kansas rules. When questioned, Matthews initially denied watching video on-demand programs while also attending in-person programming. After his inaccuracies were questioned, Matthews self-reported his conduct to the disciplinary administrator.

HEARING PANEL: Matthews stipulated to the rule violations. Matthews had prior rule violations and the panel found dishonest actions after lying about his attendance. Based on the nature of the misconduct, the disciplinary administrator recommended that Matthews receive a public censure. Matthews asked that he be informally admonished.

HELD: The hearing panel's findings of fact and conclusions were accepted. In light of his prior discipline, the court rejected Matthews' request for an informal admonition. The court accepted the disciplinary administrator's recommendation for published censure.

 

ORDER OF SUSPENSION
IN RE KEVIN P. SHEPHERD
NO. 120,875—SEPTEMBER 27, 2019

FACTS: A hearing panel determined that Shepherd violated KRPC 1.1 (competence), 1.3 (diligence), 1.4(a) (communication), 1.15(a) (safekeeping property), 1.15(d)(1) (preserving client funds), 1.16(a)(1) (withdrawing from representation), 8.1(a) (false statement in connection with disciplinary matter), 8.4(c) (engaging in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation), and 8.4(d) (engaging in conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice). Complaints arose regarding Shepherd's conduct after he failed to file an appellate brief, causing the appeal to be dismissed. Despite repeated promises that he would seek to have the appeal reinstated, Shepherd failed to act. Shepherd also had business checks returned for insufficient funds in diversion cases. This prompted an audit of his bank accounts, which revealed irregularities.

HEARING PANEL: The hearing panel found evidence sufficient enough to sustain violations of the KRPC. When considering the appropriate discipline, the panel noted that Shepherd had a history of prior offenses, including one from 2009 which resulted in a three-year suspension of Shepherd's license. There were also substantial mitigating factors present, including mental health struggles which contributed to the misconduct. Shepherd made restitution to his clients and enjoys the support of his local bench and bar. The disciplinary administrator recommended that Shepherd be indefinitely suspended. Shepherd asked that he be placed on probation, and he began working on some of his proposed probationary terms prior to the hearing. The hearing panel determined that Shepherd's dishonest conduct could not be cured by probation. Rather, the hearing panel recommended that Shepherd be suspended for two years, and that he be allowed to apply for reinstatement after one year.

HELD: The hearing panel's findings of fact and conclusions were deemed admitted. At the hearing, citing Shepherd's notable progress, the disciplinary administrator asked that Shepherd be indefinitely suspended but that the suspension be stayed to allow Shepherd to serve a five-year term of probation. The court found that Shepherd's misconduct was too serious to be cured by probation. A majority of the court imposed a two-year suspension, but stipulated that Shepherd should be allowed to seek reinstatement after one year. Other members of the court would impose either a more or less severe punishment.

 

Kansas Court of Appeals

 

Civil

CONSTRUCTION CONTRACTS—LEASES
DRYWALL SYSTEMS, INC V. A. ARNOLD OF KANSAS CITY
JOHNSON DISTRICT COURT—AFFIRMED
NO. 119,091—SEPTEMBER 27, 2019

FACTS: A. Arnold entered a five-year lease for part of a building which was owned by BMJ. There were other tenants using part of the building, so before A. Arnold could use the space, it needed to have a partition wall built. Drywall Systems, Inc. submitted the winning bid for the project. Drywall completed the work, but A. Arnold did not pay and Drywall sued both A. Arnold and BMJ for breach of contract, unjust enrichment, and a mechanic's lien foreclosure. The district court found for Drywall on the breach of contract action. But it refused to award prejudgment interest and attorney fees because BMJ, the property owner, was not a party to the contract and A. Arnold, who was a party, was not an "owner" as defined by the Kansas Fairness in Private Construction Contract Act. Drywall appealed.

ISSUE: (1) Liability under the Act

HELD: Drywall did prevail on a contract claim under the Act. But the clear and unambiguous language in the Act shows that only an "owner" can be liable for prejudgment interest and attorney fees. It is undisputed that A. Arnold is not the owner because it only holds a leasehold interest in the property. Without status as an owner, Drywall cannot recover from A. Arnold.

STATUTE: K.S.A. 2018 Supp. 16-1802(e), -1803, -1803(d), -1803(e), -1804, -1805, -1806

 

VEHICLE LICENSURE
CENTRAL RV V. KANSAS DEPARTMENT OF REVENUE
FRANKLIN DISTRICT COURT—AFFIRMED
NO. 119,744—SEPTEMBER 27, 2019

FACTS: A travel trailer insured by Safeco Insurance was damaged in an accident in Oregon. Safeco obtained a salvage title from the State of Oregon which carried a "TOTALED" designation. Central RV bought the trailer from Safeco. When Central RV titled the vehicle with the State of Kansas it received a rebuilt salvage title. Central RV asked the Department of Revenue to reconsider and give it a clean title. The Department of Revenue refused, so Central RV filed suit hoping to force a title change. The district court sided with the Department of Revenue, and Central RV appealed.

ISSUE: (1) The type of title required

HELD: The trailer met the Kansas statutory definition for a rebuilt salvage vehicle that should receive a rebuilt salvage title. The fact that the salvage status was issued by another state does not keep the trailer from being a rebuilt salvage vehicle. In fact, the statute exists to prevent people from title washing vehicles which were totaled in other states.

STATUTE: K.S.A. 2018 Supp. 8-127, -135, -126(ll), -126(mm), -126(qq), -126(rr), -197, -197(b)(2), -197(b)(5)

 

DIVORCE—MILITARY RETIREMENT
IN RE MARRIAGE OF THRAILKILL
GRAHAM DISTRICT COURT—AFFIRMED IN PART AND DISMISSED IN PART
NO. 118,246—SEPTEMBER 27, 2019

FACTS: Doug and Denise Thrailkill were both in the military, although Doug continued his career until he retired as a commissioned officer. Because of the length of his service, Doug began receiving retirement pay as soon as he retired. Doug worked a civilian job for a bit, but ultimately quit and received military disability. Denise filed for divorce in 2016. The proceedings were bifurcated and the decree was handed down before the property settlement was complete. After a hearing on property settlement issues, the district court equally divided the parties' retirement pay. The court awarded maintenance to Denise and ordered Doug to pay half of the balance on a loan that was taken out to help finance their son's education. The district court also had to address Doug's Survivor Benefit Plan, which involved a survivor benefit for a spouse after a military member's death. Doug appealed.

ISSUES: (1) Authority to rule on Survivor Benefit Plan, (2) calculation of maintenance and child support, (3) Doug's obligation on the student loan, (4) postjudgment issues

HELD: After a 1986 statutory amendment, a divorce court can order a service member to retain his or her former spouse as the Survivor Benefit Plan beneficiary, even after divorce. Because Doug was married to Denise when he began receiving retirement pay, Denise was included in spouse coverage. And now, because of the divorce, Doug can elect former-spouse coverage for Denise. There is no statutory limitation to a state divorce court's ability to make orders regarding former-spouse coverage. The district court must consider all income when making maintenance and child support decisions. A portion of each party's retirement pay must be considered as income. In addition, the maintenance award served to equalize the parties' income for the next eight years. Denise borrowed $22,000 towards her son's educational expenses. At the time of the hearing on financial matters, the balance was $11,000. The student loan was correctly treated as a marital debt. The district court correctly ordered each party to pay half of the remaining balance. Doug cannot appeal issues involving postjudgment orders because they were not mentioned in the notice of appeal, and the court does not have jurisdiction to consider them.

STATUTES: 10 U.S.C. § 1447, § 1448, § 1450, § 1450(f)(3); K.S.A. 2018 Supp. 23-2801(a), -2802(b), -2902(a), -3001

 

MEDICAL MALPRACTICE
BROWN V. TROBOUGH
SHAWNEE DISTRICT COURT—AFFIRMED
NO. 119,501—SEPTEMBER 27, 2019

FACTS: Katy Brown went into labor in September 2015. Her labor was managed by Dr. Schuchmann, a resident. Dr. Trobough was the on-call physician; as such, he was also Dr. Schuchmann's faculty advisor and supervisor. During Katy's labor process, even though he was informed that Katy had a high risk pregnancy, Dr. Trobough left the hospital and was updated by Dr. Schuchmann via text message. Dr. Trobough eventually arrived at the hospital 10 minutes before Katy's son, Carter, was born. Unfortunately, Carter was critically ill when born and suffered from lack of oxygen. Dr. Trobough later texted another physician that during labor, nurses were only monitoring Katy's heart rate and not Carter's, missing the fact that he was in distress. Katy and her husband sued Drs. Schuchmann and Trobough and the hospital for negligence. The hospital and Dr. Schuchmann settled. After that was done, the Browns were given permission to amend their petition to include as defendants Dr. Teply, Lincoln Center, the medical practice, and the Kansas University Medical Education Foundation. Dr. Teply was the training site director for KU Medical School at Lincoln Center. The district court granted Lincoln Center's motion to dismiss, finding that it was barred as derivative by K.S.A. 40-3403(h). Dr. Teply's motion for dismissal was similarly granted after the district court found that Dr. Teply had no independent duty to Carter.

ISSUE: (1) Whether claim is barred by K.S.A. 40-3403(h)

HELD: The plain language of K.S.A. 40-3403(h) bars Brown's claim against Dr. Teply. The statute applies regardless of whether the plaintiffs seek to apply a corporate negligence theory. Any claim against Dr. Teply, even if it seeks to hold him liable for his failure to enforce the resident supervision rule, is derivative of the other doctors' alleged negligence. Had Drs. Schuchmann and Trobough not allegedly injured Carter there would be no claim against Dr. Teply. As a result, K.S.A. 40-3403(h) prevents Brown from bringing suit against Dr. Teply.

STATUTE: K.S.A. 40-3401(f), -3403(a), -3403(h)

 

criminal

constitutional law—criminal law—JUveniles—sentences—statutes
state v. N.R.
reno district court—affirmed
NO. 119,796—september 27, 2019

FACTS: 14-yr.-old N.R. was adjudicated a juvenile offender in 2006. Magistrate granted probation and ordered registration under Kansas Offender Registration Act (KORA) as a sex offender. Prior to the 5-year registration period expiring, the legislature amended KORA to require lifetime registration for N.R.’s age and offense. N.R. was charged in 2017 of failing to register. He moved to dismiss, arguing lifetime registration violated ex post facto and cruel and unusual constitutional protections. District court denied the motion based on controlling Kansas Supreme Court precedent regarding lifetime registration requirements. N.R. appealed, arguing KORA’s lifetime registration requirement as a sex offender is unconstitutional as applied to juveniles. He also argued his sentence was illegal because the magistrate judge lacked authority to order him to register.

ISSUES: (1) Constitutionality of registration requirement—juveniles, (2) KORA registration ordered by magistrate

HELD: District court did not err in finding the registration requirement constitutional as applied to juveniles. Kansas courts have repeatedly held that KORA offender registration is not punishment, and that a registration requirement is not part of a defendant’s criminal sentence. State v. Dull, 302 Kan. 32 (2015), is distinguished by the mandatory postrelase supervision ordered in that case being part of the juvenile’s sentence. N.R. showed no reason why registration should be considered punishment for juveniles. Test in State v. Petersen-Beard, 304 Kan. 192 (2016), is summarized and applied finding no showing the outcome would have been different had it involved a juvenile instead of an adult.

            KORA itself, rather than a court order, imposes the duty to register upon sex offenders. Any lack of magistrate judge’s authority is immaterial because the duty to register arises by statute, falls on N.R., and is not part of N.R.’s sentence.

STATUTES: K.S.A. 2018 Supp. 20-302b(a)(6), 22-4902(b), -4906(h), 38-2356(b); K.S.A. 2006 Supp. 22-4906(h)(1); K.S.A. 2005 Supp. 21-3502(a)(2), -3502(c); K.S.A. 22-4901 et seq.,

 

appeals—constitutional law—criminal law—first amendment—statutes—torts
state v. smith
douglas district court—reversed and sentence vacated
no. 119,919—september 27, 2019

FACTS: Perez lived across the street from Smith who accused Perez of sexual misconduct with Smith’s child. District court denied Smith a final protection from stalking (PFS) order against Perez, but granted Perez a final PFS order against Smith that included a special prohibition against Smith making any direct or indirect disparaging statements in public regarding Perez being a child molester. While entering her residence, Smith told her husband who was standing in their driveway to come inside away from the pedophile. Perez and family heard and recorded that statement. Smith charged with violating the PFS order. She moved to dismiss, arguing the PFS order was an unconstitutional, content-based restriction on her free-speech rights, and that criminal prosecution under K.S.A. 2017 Supp.21-5924 for violating the order was unconstitutional as applied to her. She appealed on the same constitutional claims, and also argued insufficient evidence showed that her statement was made in public. State asserts the constitutional claim is an impermissible collateral attack on the earlier PFS order, and State questions whether the PFS order is a content-based restriction.

ISSUES: (1) Sufficiency of the evidence, (2) procedural bar to constitutional question, (3) First Amendment, (4) content-based restriction

HELD: Sufficient evidence shows that Smith made the statement in public. Her Fourth Amendment argument concerning privacy of curtilage of her home is not applicable. Even with a curtilage analysis, her words carried beyond that curtilage and invaded curtilage of Perez’ house.

            Smith’s appeal is not procedurally barred. She is appealing a criminal judgment with a statutory right to appeal, and her free speech issue is now ripe. Even if she could have raised her First Amendment objections when the district court issued the PFS order, there is no bar to her raising them now.

            Smith’s speech warrants First Amendment protection. State’s invocation of the defamation category of speech that may be restricted fails. Cases involving libel are distinguished from isolated slander in this case. Even if slanderous statement could be assumed as defamatory speech, no evidence that Smith’s statement was in fact defamatory. No showing that Smith’s statement was knowingly false, and that Smith’s statement caused any harm to Perez’ reputation.

            The PFS order in this case is a content-based prior restraint on speech, thus presumptively unconstitutional. State fails to show the PFS order serves a compelling state interest. Purpose of Kansas stalking statute is to protect innocent citizens from threatening conduct that subjects them to a reasonable fear of physical harm. The statutes expressly excludes constitutionally protected activity from its definition and does not reflect any State interest in preventing slander. Under circumstances in this case, the PFS order, as applied solely to speech which did not subject a person to a reasonable fear of physical harm, was an improper prior restraint of Smith’s  constitutional right to freedom of speech. Conviction is reversed and sentence vacated.

STATUTES: K.S.A. 2018 Supp. 21-5427, 22-3602(a), 60-31a02, -31a02(d). -31a02(d)(1), -31a02(d)(2), -31a05(a); K.S.A. 2017 Supp. 21-5924

Tags:  1st Amendment  attorney discipline  Douglas District Court  Franklin District Court  Graham District Court  Johnson District Court  KORA Lifetime Registration for Juvenile Offender  medical malpractice  military retirement in divorce  Reno District Court  Shawnee District Court 

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January 30, 2015, Digests

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, February 3, 2015
Updated: Thursday, February 13, 2020

Kansas Supreme Court

Civil

BREACH OF FIDUCIARY DUTY AND CLEAR AND CONVINCING EVIDENCE
BECKER V. KNOLL
FINNEY DISTRICT COURT – AFFIRMED
COURT OF APPEALS – REVERSED
NO. 105,643 – JANUARY 30, 2015

FACTS: This case involves an action by shareholders in a Kansas irrigation corporation against the president of the corporation (Knoll), alleging breach of a fiduciary duty and seeking removal of the president as an officer and director. The Kansas Supreme Court affirmed the Court of Appeals determination that the plaintiffs had made a prima facie case but reversed on the question of whether the facts supported judgment for the defendant. Holding that the courts below had applied incorrect legal standards, this court remanded the case to the district court so that it could reapply the law to the facts before it on the record. On remand, the district court again ruled for the defendant. The court held that Knoll engaged in no self-dealing, no misfeasance, and no malfeasance to the detriment of the corporation. The plaintiffs again appealed to the Court of Appeals. The Court of Appeals reversed, holding that Knoll's failure to maintain employment records undermined his position to such an extent that, as a matter of law, he acted in bad faith. The Court of Appeals remanded the case to the district court for determination of damages.

ISSUES: (1) Breach of fiduciary duty; and (2) clear and convincing evidence

HELD: Court held the district court applied the correct standards, which were supported by the evidence, and the Court of Appeals erroneously reversed the district court. Court found Knoll provided evidence that a rational fact-finder could apply to overcome the inference that the missing written data would be adverse to him. The Court of Appeals rejected or ignored the explicit testimony that Morehouse, the corporation's ditch rider, worked far more than the required 40 hours a week. In so doing, the Court of Appeals may have implied that the adverse inference rule is an absolute rule: Knoll's failure to keep hourly records constituted per se proof that Morehouse did not work the required number of hours and that Knoll acted in bad faith detrimental to the corporation. Or the Court of Appeals may have reevaluated Knoll's and Morehouse's testimony and concluded that the testimony was inadequate to overcome the inference of bad faith. Either approach is incorrect. The former analysis is wrong because the adverse inference rule establishes a method of supporting a claim, not a form of strict liability. The failure to produce a record under the party's control does not establish a breach of duty in itself. Knoll introduced substantial, credible evidence tending to show that he did not breach his duty. The latter analysis—which would be based on the quality of the evidence—is also wrong because it requires the appellate court to reweigh the evidence. The testimony regarding the number of hours that Morehouse worked was quite explicit, and the district court explained why it found that evidence credible. The district court properly carried out the task assigned to it on remand, and the Court of Appeals applied an incorrect standard of review. The opinion of the Court of Appeals is reversed. The decision of the district court is affirmed.

STATUTES: No statutes cited

Criminal

CITY OF WICHITA V. MOLITOR
SEDGWICK DISTRICT COURT – REVERSED AND REMANDED
COURT OF APPEALS – REVERSED
NO. 104,940 – JANUARY 30, 2015

FACTS: Officer stopped vehicle driven Molitor and conducted DUI investigation. Molitor failed horizontal gaze nystagmus (HGN) test, passed walk-and-turn and one-leg-stand tests, and then consented to officer’s request for a preliminary breath test (PBT). PBT results led to Molitor’s arrest and conviction for DUI. In appeal to district court, Molitor filed motion to suppress HGN results as inadmissible pursuant to State v. Chastain265 Kan. 16 (1998)and State v. Witte, 251 Kan. 313 (1992). District court denied the motion, ruling HGN results could be admitted to establish officer’s reasonable suspicion of DUI even though the results were inadmissible at trial. Waggoner appealed. Court of Appeals affirmed that HGN test could be considered as part of totality of circumstances in determining whether officer had requisite reasonable suspicion to request a PBT, and held the officer had enough other evidence to form a reasonable suspicion of DUI even if HGN test results were excluded. 46 Kan. App. 2d 958 (2012). Supreme Court granted Waggoner’s petition for review in which he argued the Frye reliability test had to be met before HGN test results could be used for any purpose, and sought review of panel’s determination that reasonable suspicion existed without considering the HGN test results.

ISSUES: (1) Admissibility of horizontal gaze nystagmus test results; and (2) harmless error

HELD: The HGN test is based on scientific principles. Before HGN test results may be considered by a Kansas court for any purpose, state must establish the reliability of such a test in district court. Here, district court and Court of Appeals erred in allowing state to rely on scientifically unproved HGN test results to establish reasonable suspicion that permitted officer to request that Molitor submit to a PBT pursuant to K.S.A. 2010 Supp. 8-1012(b).

Reviewing facts other than HGN test results in this case, the consideration of HGN testing was not harmless error. An appellate court should not deviate from criteria and scoring of National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s standardized testing model to glean reasonable suspicion of driving under the influence from driver’s successful completion of standardized field sobriety tests. Determinations by district court and Court of Appeals, that officer possessed the requisite reasonable suspicion that Molitor was operating vehicle while under influence of alcohol when officer requested that Molitor submit to a PBT, are reversed.

CONCURRENCE AND DISSENT (Biles, J.) (joined by Nuss, C.J., and Rosen, J.): Agrees with majority’s holding that it was error to allow state to rely on HGN test results to establish reasonable suspicion for officer’s request for a PBT because state has not established test’s reliability as required by Witte. Disagrees with majority’s harmless error analysis, and would affirm Court of Appeals on this point and affirm the conviction. Majority is setting reasonable suspicion standard too high. Officer in this case observed evidence indicating impaired driving and intoxication, and was justified under the statute to request the PBT.

STATUTES: K.S.A. 2014 Supp. 60-456(b); K.S.A. 2010 Supp. 8-1012(b), -1567(a)(1), -1567(a)(2), -1567(a)(3); K.S.A. 8-1567(a)(1); K.S.A. 20-3018(b); K.S.A. 60-402, -456, -2101(b); and K.S.A. 8-1012 (Furse)

Kansas Court of Appeals

Civil

WORKERS COMPENSATION AND DAY-TO-DAY LIVING
MOORE V. VENTURE CORP. ET AL.
WORKERS COMPENSATION BOARD – AFFIRMED
NO. 110,883 – JANUARY 30, 2015

FACTS: Moore injured his knee at his road-construction job, either when he stepped off a backhoe or shortly thereafter when walking around the backhoe. An administrative law judge denied his request for workers compensation, finding that his injury was the result of walking, which she considered a normal activity of day-to-day living not covered by the Workers Compensation Act. The Workers Compensation Appeals Board reversed, finding that Moore's injury arose out of and in the course of his employment because stepping down and walking around the backhoe were part of a single job task—operating a backhoe—that was not a normal activity of day-to-day living.

ISSUES: (1) Workers compensation and day-to-day living

HELD: Court held the case law interpreting the pre-2011 version of the Kansas Workers Compensation Act remains applicable when determining whether a worker's injury arose out of and in the course of employment or was the result of the normal activities of day-to-day living. Under Bryant v. Midwest Staff Solutions Inc., 292 Kan. 585, 596, 257 P.3d 255 (2011), in determining whether an injury arose out of the course of employment, the primary question is whether the activity that resulted in the injury is connected to, or is inherent in, the performance of the job. Court found that substantial evidence supported the Board's finding. In this case, operating the backhoe was Moore's job duty, stepping down from and walking around the backhoe was part of the work required to operate the backhoe, and no evidence suggested that Moore's injury happened outside the time frame in which he was operating the backhoe. We therefore affirm the Board's decision that Moore's injury was covered under the Workers Compensation Act and not the result of a normal activity of day-to-day living.

STATUTES: K.S.A. 44-508, -556; and K.S.A. 77-621

Criminal

STATE V. WAGGONER
DOUGLAS DISTRICT COURT – AFFIRMED
NO. 111,548 – JANUARY 30, 2015

FACTS: Waggoner convicted of possession of methamphetamine and marijuana. On appeal he claimed district court erred in classifying an April 1993 Kansas juvenile adjudication as a person felony for criminal history purposes. Waggoner argued the holding in State v. Murdock, 299 Kan. 312 (2014), that out-of-state convictions committed prior to enactment of Kansas Sentencing Guidelines Act (KSGA) must be classified as nonperson offenses, applies to in-state pre-KSGA convictions as well.

ISSUES: (1) Criminal history score and pre-KSGA Kansas convictions

HELD: Murdock and State v. Williams, 291 Kan. 554 (2010), are discussed. As modified by Supreme Court order September 19, 2014, Murdock is limited to classification for criminal history purposes of out-of-state convictions committed prior to enactment of KSGA. Under facts in this case, district court did not err in classifying Waggoner’s prior Kansas juvenile adjudication of attempted aggravated battery as a person felony for criminal history purposes.

STATUTES: K.S.A. 2014 Supp. 21-6804(c), -6809, -6810(d)(6), -6811(e), -6811(g); K.S.A. 21-4710 et seq.-4710(d)(8), -4711(e); and K.S.A. 21-3301(c)(3), -3414 (Ensley 1988)

Tags:  breach of fiduciary duty  criminal history score  Douglas District Court  Finney District Court  HGN  horizontal gaze nystagmus  pre-KSGA  Sedgwick District Court  test results  Workers Compensation 

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