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May 1, 2020 Digests

Posted By Administration, Monday, May 4, 2020

Kansas Supreme Court

criminal

constitutional law—criminal law—criminal procedure—due process—jury instructions
state v. craig
geary district court—affirmed
No. 119,660—may 1, 2020

FACTS: Craig was charged with first-degree murder under theories of premeditated murder and felony murder, conspiracy to commit first-degree premeditated murder, aggravated robbery, conspiracy to commit aggravated robbery, and criminal possession of firearm by a convicted felon. After district court instructed jury on felony murder, premeditated murder, and intentional second-degree murder as a lesser included offense of premeditated murder, jury found Craig guilty of both first-degree felony murder and second-degree intentional murder. Craig filed motion for new trial because jury convicted him of two murder offenses for the same killing. District court denied the motion and instead sentenced Craig on the more serious felony murder. Craig appealed claiming the two murder convictions for the same killing violated his due process rights, and after jury was discharged the two guilty findings were legally irreconcilable. He also claimed the district court should have instructed jury on voluntary intoxication given evidence of Craig’s use of alcohol and marijuana and unclear communication shortly before the shooting;

ISSUES: (1) Two murder convictions for the same killing; (2) voluntary intoxication instruction

HELD: District court’s jury instructions in this case are examined, finding them to be legally correct. Craig failed to show that his first-degree murder sentence was imposed in violation of due process right to have jury find each element of the offense beyond a reasonable doubt, or that jury’ first- and second-degree murder verdicts were so irreconcilable as to require a new trial. Irreconcilable verdicts in State v. Hernandez, 294 Kan. 200 (2012), are distinguished. District court properly sentenced Craig on the first-degree felony-murder conviction.

            Question of whether conspiracy to commit a robbery is a specific intent crime, making a voluntary intoxication instruction legally appropriate, remains unresolved in this case because such an instruction was not factually appropriate. Evidence about Craig’s state of mind does not establish any impairment that deprived him of the ability to form the requisite mens rea; no evidence of any memory loss or inability to recall events before or during commission of the crimes; and Craig never relied on voluntary intoxication in defending himself.

STATUTES: K.S.A. 2019 Supp. 21-5109(b)(1), -5402(a)(2), -5402(d), -5403(a)(1), 22-3414(3), -3601(b), -5205(b); K.S.A. 22-3421, 60-2101(b)

constitutional law—criminal procedure—evidence—Fifth Amendment—motions
state v. lemmie
Saline district court—affirmed
No. 119,439—may 1, 2020

FACTS: For shooting and killing a victim during a robbery, jury convicted Lemmie of first-degree felony murder, aggravated robbery, conspiracy to commit aggravated robbery, criminal possession of a firearm, fleeing and eluding, and interference with law enforcement. In pretrial motion to suppress evidence obtained and derived from his phones, Lemmie alleged a detective obtained the phone passcodes in violation of his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. District court denied that motion, finding disclosure of the passcodes was not compelled and the codes were not testimonial. Lemmie appealed, claiming: (1) the detective’s testimony about Lemmie giving her the phone passcodes violated his constitutional right against self-incrimination; (2) district court erred by admitting two statements made by a coconspirator after Lemmie shot the victim, and by asking State if the contemporaneous statement hearsay exception applied; (3) insufficient evidence supported his first-degree murder conviction; (4) district court erred by admitting K.S.A. 60-455 testimony that Lemmie was upset over a missing methamphetamine pipe.

ISSUES: (1) Fifth Amendment—testimonial status of passcodes and passwords; (2) hearsay evidence; (3) sufficiency of the evidence, (4) K.S.A. 60-455 evidence, (5) cumulative error

HELD: Kansas Supreme Court has not yet addressed the “rich and rapidly developing area of the law” of the testimonial status of passcodes and passwords, and does not do so in this case. Any possible constitutional error arising from district court’s refusal to suppress evidence that a detective obtained phone passcodes from Lemmie was harmless. No incriminating evidence from the phones was introduced at trial.:

            District court did not err in admitting the coconspirator’s two statements. Even assuming the statements qualified as hearsay, they were admissible as statements of a coconspirator, K.S.A. 60-460(i)(2), one of the grounds on which the district court judge relied. A district judge admitting evidence on two grounds, including one originating with the court, when the one already advanced by a party would suffice is not judicial misconduct.

            State provided more than ample evidence to convict Lemmie of first-degree murder.

            No abuse of district court’s discretion arising from admission of K.S.A. 2019 Supp. 60-455 evidence of Lemmie being upset over a missing methamphetamine pipe. No error in district court’s conclusion that the missing methamphetamine pipe was relevant to motive.

            Cumulative error doctrine does not apply where there is only one assumed nonreversible error with respect to passcode testimony.          

STATUTES: K.S.A. 2019 Supp. 60-455, -455(a), -455(b); K.S.A. 60-404, -455, -460)d), -460(d)(1), -460(d)(2), -460(i)(2)

criminal law—criminal procedure—evidence—jury instructions—sentencing
state v randle
sedgwick district court—affirmed
no. 119,720—may 1, 2020

FACTS: Randle and two others fired shots into apartment, killing a victim inside. Randle was convicted of first-degree murder and criminal discharge of firearm. He requested a dispositional/durational departure sentence, listing four mitigating factors; sentencing court denied the request, finding no substantial and compelling bases for departure. On appeal Randle claimed district court erred by: (1) refusing Randle’s request for jury instruction on unintentional but reckless second-degree murder as a lesser included offense of first-degree murder; (2) allowing hearsay statements into evidence; (3) admitting gruesome and unnecessary photographs and crime scene video into evidence; and (4) refusing to grant Randle’s motion for a departure sentence.

ISSUES: (1) Jury instruction—lesser included offense; (2) alleged hearsay evidence; (3) photographic and video evidence; (4) sentencing—mitigating factors

HELD: Misstatement in State v. Fisher, 304 Kan. 242 (2016), for analyzing jury instruction claims is identified and disapproved. Under Kansas caselaw, when a defendant requests a lesser included offense instruction, an appellate court reviews the evidence in the light most favorable to the defendant. Randle’s requested instruction was legally appropriate, but even assuming the instruction was factually appropriate, the error was harmless. Overwhelming evidence supports the first-degree premeditated murder conviction. And jury, provided with choice between first-degree premeditated murder and second-degree intentional murder, convicted Randle of the more severe crime that required a premeditation finding.

            District court did not err by admitting the two out-of-court statements. Alleged hearsay statements are examined, finding one was not hearsay. The other was classic hearsay, but allowed because the statement was made by a person present at trial and available for cross-examination, K.S.A. 2019 Supp. 60-460(a).

            No error in admitting eight of the 128 autopsy photos, selected to explain the nature and extent of fatal injuries, their location on the body, and coroner’s opinions based on injuries depicted. No error in admitting the six-minute crime scene video. Similar argument, that a crime scene video was irrelevant, cumulative, and more prejudicial than probative, was rejected in State v. McCaslin, 291 Kan. 697 (2011). No error in admitting two photographs of Randle while in custody, in street clothes, and without handcuffs or other restraints. Randle did not challenge relevancy, and this evidence was not unduly prejudicial.

            Randle’s reliance on previous cases holding his listed mitigating factors to be substantial and compelling reasons to support a departure sentence is rejected. Mitigating factors that may justify departure in one case may not justify a departure in another case.

STATUTES: K.S.A. 2019 Supp. 21-6620,: -6815(a), 22-3601(b), 60-459(a), -460, -460(a), -460(i)(2); K.S.A. 60-404, -2101(b)

 

Kansas Court of Appeals

Civil

SEXUALLY VIOLENT PREDATOR
IN RE CARE AND TREATMENT OF RITCHIE
BARTON DISTRICT COURT—AFFIRMED
NO. 121,627—MAY 1, 2020

FACTS: Ritchie was civilly committed to the Larned State Hospital under the Kansas Sexually Violent Predator Act. By April 2017, Ritchie earned the right to transitional release. He remained in the transitional release program until February 2019, which he was removed from the program and returned to Larned State Hospital. The removal was prompted by concerns about Ritchie's behavior and staff's belief that he was a danger to the general public; Ritchie violated the rules of transitional release in many ways, including several occasions where he contacted his victims. The State scheduled Ritchie's probable cause hearing but had to delay it because of scheduling conflicts for counsel and witnesses. Ritchie moved to dismiss the motion to revoke transitional release, arguing that the two-day timeframe for the probable cause hearing was jurisdictional.

ISSUES: (1) Is the statutory requirement that a hearing be held within two working days jurisdictional; (2) whether Ritchie was entitled to return to transitional release

HELD: As with most time standards of the KSVPA, the "two working days" requirement of K.S.A. 59-29a08(k) is directory, not mandatory. Any delay beyond the two days did not violate Ritchie's constitutional rights. He was still heard in a meaningful time and manner. There was sufficient evidence that Ritchie violated the terms of his conditional release placement, justifying his return to confinement at Larned.

STATUTE: K.S.A. 2019 Supp. 59-29a01, -29a01(b), -29a08(j), -29a08(k), -29a10

Tags:  Constitutional law  criminal law  criminal procedure  due process  evidence  Fifth Amendment  jury instructions  motions  sentencing 

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March 13, 2020 Digests

Posted By Administration, Monday, March 16, 2020
Updated: Monday, March 16, 2020

Kansas Supreme Court

criminal

criminal procedure—evidence—jury instructions—statutes—venue
state v. galloway
cherokee district court—affirmed in part, vacated in part, remanded
no. 117,941—march 13, 2020

FACTS: Galloway sentenced to hard 50 life sentence for conviction on charges of: premeditated first-degree murder, arson, and interference with law enforcement. Prior to trial she moved for change of venue, arguing she could not receive a fair trial due to extensive pretrial publicity and the relatively small pool of jurors. She also filed motion to suppress statements she made during interrogation, arguing her lack of sleep, low blood sugar, hunger, and pregnancy accompanied by gestational diabetes deprived her of the mental capacity to make voluntary statements. District court denied both motions. On appeal, she claimed district court erred by: (1) denying motion for change of venue without addressing and applying all nine caselaw factors set forth in State v. Longeria, 301 Kan. 489 (2015), for assessing prejudice under the venue statute; (2) denying motion to suppress; (3) discussing with counsel and Galloway the answer to a jury question in a closed rather than open court; (4) instructing jury it should find her guilty if the facts supported such a finding; and (5) announcing it would not consider the absence of a criminal history as a mitigating factor because Legislature had rejected that as grounds for mitigation.

ISSUES: (1) Change of venue; (2) suppression of interrogation; (3) jury question; (4) jury’s duty instruction; (5) mitigating sentencing factors

HELD: District court’s omission of findings with regard to some of the caselaw factors was not error. Galloway did not argue all factors to the district court, or for their application. Nor did she make a sufficient showing of prejudice for a change of venue.

            Substantial competent evidence supports district court’s finding that Galloway’s statements were voluntary and made without coercion, and Galloway makes no showing warranting reversal of the denial of her motion to suppress.

            No error found on Galloway’s unsubstantiated speculation that discussion of the jury question was not conducted in open court.

            Galloway’s claim of impermissible interference with jury’s power of nullification is rejected. Same instruction was upheld in State v. Patterson, 311 Kan. __ (2020).

            District court’s statement incorrectly stated the law, and his open refusal to consider a mitigating factor listed in K.S.A. 2019 Supp. 21-6625(a) was not harmless error. Sentence vacated and case remanded for resentencing.           

STATUTES: K.S.A. 2019 Supp. 21-6625(a); 22-3420(d); 60-460(f); K.S.A. 22-2616, -2616(1)

criminal law—evidence—Fifth Amendment—jury instructions
State v. parker
wyandotte district court—affirmed
no. 118,349—march 13, 2020

FACTS: Parker convicted of premeditated first-degree murder. On appeal, he claimed the district court should have granted motion to suppress self-incriminating statements made during interrogation because investigators failed to take sufficient steps to ensure that Parker understood his Miranda rights. He also claimed district court erred by denying Parker’s request for an instruction on voluntary manslaughter committed upon a sudden quarrel or in the heat of passion.

ISSUES: (1) Motion to suppress; (2) jury instruction

HELD: Substantial competent evidence supported district court’s factual findings which showed Parker’s voluntary waiver of Miranda rights. Better practice for interrogators to read Miranda summary of rights out loud and make follow-up inquiries about whether the person being questioned understands those rights, but that protocol was not possible in this case because Parker refused to allow detectives to explain his rights out loud. Overall tenor of the interrogation showed that Parker knew what crime he had committed and how he had done it; understood the police were trying to obtain incriminating statements from him; played a cat-and-mouse game with interrogators; and understood his rights and how the interrogation process worked. District court did not err when it admitted the interrogation statements.

            In line with State v. Campbell, 308 Kan. 763 (2019), and State v. Wade, 295 Kan. 916 (20120, a voluntary manslaughter instruction would not have been factually appropriate in this case with so little evidence of heat of passion at the time of the shooting and so much evidence of calculated decision-making.

STATUTE: K.S.A. 2018 Supp. 21-5404(a)

constitutional law—criminal procedure—evidence
state v. sesmas
sedgwick district court—affirmed
no. 119,862—march 13, 2020

FACTS: Sesmas convicted of first-degree murder, kidnapping, and aggravated interference with parental custody for the killing of her friend and the kidnapping of her friend’s newborn daughter. A police certified interpreter assisted Sesmas during her interrogation. On the Miranda form Sesmas indicated “no” to talking to the police, but after asking questions about her children and husband, marked “yes” on a second Miranda form and confessed to the crimes charged. At a pretrial hearing under Jackson v. Denno, 378 U.S 368 (1964), district court found Sesmas voluntarily waived her Miranda rights and concluded the confession was voluntary, notwithstanding court’s concern with the interpreter’s dual role and statement that “it could take quite a while for a lawyer to arrive from Wichita.”: On appeal Sesma argued her post-arrest confession was involuntary because law enforcement was unfair in conducting the interview, and Sesmas was handicapped by her lack of English fluency,: She also claimed the State violated her due process rights at trial by mentioning her invocation on the first Miranda form of her right to remain silent.

ISSUES: (1) Voluntary confession; (2) reference to invocation of rights

HELD: Under totality of circumstances, Sesmas voluntarily confessed to detectives, and her incriminating statements were admissible at trial. Use of an interpreter who was not also an interrogator would have been better practice, but in this case the interpreter’s dual role and statement was not a factor in forcing a confession.

            The state is not permitted to impeach a defendant’s version of events at trial with the defendant’s post-Miranda silence. The fleeting violation of Doyle v. Ohio, 426 U.S. 610 (1976), this case was harmless error because Sesmas’ credibility was already throughly impeached by State’s evidence.

STATUTES: None

Kansas Court of Appeals

Civil

DRIVERS LICENSE—SEARCH AND SEIZURE
STRICKERT V. KANSAS DEPARTMENT OF REVENUE
FINNEY DISTRICT COURT—AFFIRMED
NO. 120,544—MARCH 13, 2020

FACTS: Officer Meinzer stopped Strickert after he left a bar late at night. While obtaining Strickert's personal information, Officer Meinzer noticed the smell of alcohol and that Strickert's eyes were bloodshot and his speech slow. After completing field sobriety tests, Strickert refused to take a preliminary breath test. Based on clues of impairment and Strickert's refusal, Officer Meinzer arrested Strickert. He later received his notice of driver's license suspension and timely requested an administrative hearing. Both the hearing officer and the district court affirmed the suspension of Strickert's driver's license, and he appealed.

ISSUES: (1) Standard of review; (2) reasonable suspicion; (3) reasonable grounds

HELD: The appropriate standard is to review the district court's order looking for substantial competent evidence that the findings were legally correct. It is not appropriate to use the "negative finding" standard of review. Strickert technically violated a traffic statute by not activating his turn signal 100 feet before turning, and the Supreme Court has already held that such failure provides reasonable suspicion to initiate a traffic stop. Strickert's bloodshot eyes and the smell of alcohol warranted an extension of the stop. Substantial competent evidence supports the district court's findings that reasonable grounds existed for Officer Meinzer to arrest Strickert.

STATUTES: K.S.A. 2019 Supp. 8-259(a), -1002(a)(1); K.S.A. 8-1548, 22-2402(1), 77-621(c)

Tags:  Constitutional law  criminal law  criminal procedure  drivers license  evidence  fifth amendment  jury instructions  search and seizure  statutes  venue 

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