Kansas Supreme Court
ORDER OF SUSPENSION
IN RE GREGORY V. BLUME
NO. 119,027—JUNE 28, 2019
FACTS: A hearing panel determined that Blume violated KRPC 3.1 (meritorious claims and contentions); 3.3(a)(1) (candor toward tribunal); 3.4(d) (compliance with discovery request); 4.4(a) (respect for rights of third persons); 8.4(c) (conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation); and 8.4(d) (conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice). One incident involved an allegedly inadequate response to a discovery request, two involved rude words and gestures directed at a deposition witness, and one arose out of a motion to set aside an earlier agreed judgment. Blume's actions regarding discovery resulted in the dismissal of his client's case, after the district court found that Blume's conduct was calculated and intentional.
HEARING PANEL: The hearing panel found adequate evidence to support all of the complaints levied against Blume. When considering aggravating factors, the panel noted that Blume's conduct was motivated by dishonesty and was part of a pattern of failing to show respect for other people. The disciplinary administrator recommended a one-year suspension. Blume asked for a one-year suspension but asked that it be suspended while he served a probationary term. However, the panel found that Blume's probation plan was wholly inadequate and that his misconduct could not be corrected by probation. The hearing panel agreed with the disciplinary administrator and recommended discipline of a one-year suspension.
HELD: Blume filed numerous exceptions to the hearing panel's report. Most of the exceptions were not supported by evidence that was considered by the hearing panel. At the hearing before the court, Blume explained that he planned to retire within six months. He asked that discipline be limited to a requirement that he apologize to the deposition witness. The court found Blume's objections to the findings of fact incoherent and inconsistent, and all of the hearing panel's findings of fact and conclusions of law were adopted. The court found that Blume failed to understand the nature of his mistakes and did not acknowledge the seriousness of his misconduct. Because of the serious nature of his misconduct and his failure to take responsibility, the court determined that a severe sanction was warranted. It imposed an indefinite suspension from the practice of law.
CITY ORDINANCE—HOME RULE
DWAGFYS MANUFACTURING, INC. V. CITY OF TOPEKA
SHAWNEE DISTRICT COURT—REVERSED
NO. 119,269—JUNE 28, 2019
FACTS: The City of Topeka passed Ordinance 20099, which made it unlawful to sell cigarettes to persons under age 21, and persons under age 21 were forbidden to buy tobacco. Prior to the ordinance taking effect, a store sued the City of Topeka seeking to prevent enforcement of the ordinance as unconstitutional under the Kansas Constitution. The district court agreed, finding conflicts between the ordinance and state law. The district court both temporarily and permanently enjoined enforcement of the ordinance. The City appealed, and the case was transferred to the Supreme Court.
ISSUE: (1) Statutory preemption
HELD: There is overlap between the ordinance and state statute regarding the subject matter, and the state statute is a uniform law applicable to all cities. But the Kansas Cigarette and Tobacco Products Act does not contain an express statement of preemption, and the act's "comprehensive scheme" of regulation is inadequate to show an intent to preempt city action. There is also no conflict between the language of the act and the ordinance. The act does not expressly authorize the sale or purchase of tobacco products to those ages 18-20. The ordinance is a constitutional exercise of the city's home rule power, and the district court is reversed.
STATUTE: Kansas Constitution, Article 12, §5(b), §5(d)
attorney and client—criminal procedure—motions
state v. bacon
sedgwick district court—affirmed; court of appeals—affirmed
no. 114,951—june 28, 2019
FACTS: Bacon was charged with aggravated human trafficking. After appointed public defender continued the preliminary hearing seven times, Bacon filed pro se “Motion for Diligence” with copy of KRPC 1.3. No action taken on this and subsequent similar motions. Appointed counsel continued the preliminary hearing three more times, and continued trial three times. Bacon then retained private counsel. State amended the complaint and jury found Bacon guilty of commercial sexual exploitation of a child. Motion for new trial filed, based in part on district court’s failure to inquire into Bacon’s pro se motions voicing dissatisfaction with appointed counsel. Bacon appealed the district court’s denial of that motion. Court of appeals affirmed the conviction, finding in part the pro se motions did not allege dissatisfaction with appointed counsel. Review granted on this issue.
ISSUE: District court’s duty to Inquire
HELD: It is assumed without deciding that Bacon’s pro se motions were sufficient to trigger the district court’s duty to inquire into a potential conflict with his trial attorney, but on facts in case, remand to district court is unnecessary because Bacon retained a new attorney for trial; he does not claim his trial attorney was ineffective; and he does not otherwise identify any prejudice flowing from district court’s failure to inquire.
STATUTE: K.S.A. 2014 Supp. 21-5426(b)(4), -6422(a)(4)
state v. dubry
shawnee district court—affirmed
court of appeals—affirmed
no. 114,050—june 28, 2019
FACTS: Dubry was convicted of kidnapping. Years later he moved to correct his 2011 sentence, arguing the sentencing court improperly scored a prior Wyoming conviction as a person crime. District court denied the motion. Dubry appealed, arguing the Wyoming statute is broader than the counterpart Kansas offense. Court of appeals affirmed in unpublished opinion. Dubry’s petition for review granted, and parties were ordered to explain whether panel’s decision should be summarily vacated and case remanded to district court in light of State v. Wetrich, 307 Kan. 552 (2018). Dubry argues Wetrich should apply.
ISSUE: Classification of out-of-state crime
HELD: Affirmed based on State v. Murdock, 309 Kan. 585 (2019)(Murdock II). Legality of a sentence under K.S.A. 2018 Supp. 22-3504 is controlled by the law in effect at the time the sentence was pronounced. Thus a sentence that was legal when pronounced does not become illegal if the law subsequently changes. Since Wetrich announced a change in the law and Dubry was sentenced before Wetrich was decided, application of Wetrich to Dubry’s motion to correct his sentence is barred by Murdock II.
STATUTES: K.S.A. 2018 Supp. 22-3504; K.S.A. 20-3018(b), 21-3503, -4701 et seq., -4711, 60-2101
CONSTITUTIONAL LAW—EVIDENCE—FIFTH AMENDMENT
STATE V. GUEIN
JOHNSON DISTRICT COURT—REVERSED AND REMANDED
COURT OF APPEALS—AFFIRMED IN PART AND REVERSED IN PART
NO. 115,426—JUNE 28, 2019
FACTS: Police observed a suspected drug deal involving car parked in a closed Burger King lot. Officers approached the car, patted down occupants and retrieved a bag of marijuana Guein admitted was in his underwear. After arrest, Guein admitted to additional marijuana in the car. Search of the car disclosed handgun, loose marijuana, and drug paraphernalia. Guein filed a motion to suppress his statements and the evidence obtained as a result of search of his person and his car. District court: refused to suppress Guein’s statement of having marijuana in his underwear because Guein was not in custody until handcuffed; suppressed Guein’s statement of additional drugs in car, made after handcuffed and before Miranda warning; admitted post-Miranda statements, finding Guein had voluntarily waived his rights; and denied suppression of the physical evidence. Guein was convicted of felony distribution of marijuana and misdemeanor possession of paraphernalia. A divided court of appeals reversed in part and affirmed in part the district court’s decision on the motion to suppress and remanded to district court. State v. Guein, 53 Kan. App.2d 394 (2017). Entire panel upheld the admission of Guein’s statement about marijuana in underwear and the marijuana found there, finding Miranda warnings were not necessary. Majority concluded officer’s statements to Guein were sufficiently threatening to negate the Miranda warning, and State’s failure to provide the trial transcript prevented a harmless error analysis. Conviction was set aside and a new trial ordered. Guein and State both petitioned for review.
ISSUES: (1) Admission of pre-Miranda statement; (2) admission of post-Miranda statement
HELD: Factors cited in State v. Lewis, 299 Kan. 828 (2014), are examined on facts in case, finding officer’s pre-Miranda interrogation was custodial rather than investigative. District court’s denial of motion to suppress pre-Miranda statement about marijuana in underwear is reversed.
Under facts in case, officer’s aggressive and profane language implied physical violence toward Guein, prompting Guein’s later incriminating statement. Panel’s majority on this issue is affirmed. Remanded to district court for further proceedings.
CONCURRENCE AND DISSENT (Stegall, J.)(joined by Biles, J.): Disagrees with majority’s order to suppress Guein’s pre-Miranda statements, and would support panel’s assessment that this was an ordinary investigatory detention not requiring Miranda warnings. Agrees that Guein’s post-Miranda statements were not voluntary and must be suppressed, but does not find officer’s use of profanity as significant as the majority does. Guein was coerced because of a real and actionable threat. Law enforcement’s use of the word “fuck” does not make the circumstances more or less coercive, and majority’s reasoning suggests a politely worded threat is less coercive than a vulgar one.
STATUTUES: K.S.A. 2018 Supp. 60-460(f); K.S.A. 20-3018(b), 22-2402(1), -3215(4), -3216(2), 60-2101(b)
constitutional law—criminal law—criminal procedure—evidence
state v. james
sedgwick district court—affirmed
no. 117,945—june 28, 2019
FACTS: James was convicted of first-degree premeditated murder and criminal possession of a firearm. On appeal, he claimed district court erred by: refusing defense requests for instructions on lesser included offenses of reckless second-degree murder and reckless involuntary manslaughter; refusing to instruct jury on imperfect self-defense involuntary manslaughter; failing to instruct jury to consider verdicts of premeditated murder and imperfect self-defense voluntary manslaughter simultaneously; and admitting gruesome autopsy photos. He also claimed prosecutorial error during closing argument, claimed he was deprived his constitutional right to be present at all critical stages of the trial—namely requests for continuances, and argued cumulative error required reversal.
ISSUES: (1) Jury instructions on reckless based homicides; (2) jury instruction on imperfect self-defense of involuntary manslaughter; (3) jury instruction on simultaneous consideration of lesser included crimes; (4) admission of autopsy photos; (5) prosecutorial error; (6) constitutional right to presence; (7) cumulative error
HELD: Challenge to district court’s refusal to instruct on lesser included reckless homicides was properly preserved, and the requested instructions were both legally and factually appropriate under facts in case. District judge’s refusal to instruct jury on reckless second-degree murder and reckless involuntary manslaughter was error, but not reversible error under the statutory harmless error standard.
Likewise, James preserved his challenge to district court’s refusal to instruct on imperfect self-defense of involuntary manslaughter. This instruction was legally appropriate, and under facts in case, also factually appropriate. Applying statutory harmlessness test, district judge’s failure to give the requested instruction was not reversible error.
Under controlling precedent in State v. Sims, 308 Kan. 1488 (2018), pet. for cert. filed April 29, 2019, a district court is not required to instruct a jury to consider a lesser included homicide offense simultaneously with any greater homicide offense.
No abuse of district judge’s discretion by admitting autopsy photos which were not repetitious and which allowed pathologist to explain path of bullet that killed the victim and show skull fractures that resulted.
Prosecutor erred by stating James left the scene in a stolen car because no evidence supported a description of the car as “stolen.” Also, referencing an uncharged crime is problematic because it encourages jurors to draw inference of a defendant’s propensity to commit crimes. In light of entire record, however, this error does not require reversal.
Because record contains no evidence that James knowingly and voluntarily waived his right to be present when first attorney requested two continuances, error is assumed. Under constitutional standard the error was harmless under facts in this case. State v. Wright, 305 Kan. 1176 (2017), is distinguished.
The combination of instructional errors, prosecutorial error, and assumed violation of James’ right to be present at all critical stages did not deprive James of a fair trial.
STATUTES: K.S.A. 2018 Supp. 21-5202(j), -5202(h), -5226, -5402(a)(1), -5403(a)(1), -5403(a)(2), -5801, -5803, 60-455(a); K.S.A. 2015 Supp. 21-5405(a)(4); K.S.A. 22-3402
constitutional law—criminal procedure
state v. obregon
geary district court—reversed, sentences vacated and remanded
court of appeals—affirmed in part and reversed in part
NO. 117,422—june 28, 2019
FACTS: Obregon entered no contest pleas to possession of drugs with intent to distribute. District court accepted the pleas, and in sentencing, applied the statutory firearm enhancement. Obregon appealed, challenging whether district court should have classified a prior Florida battery conviction as a person felony without knowing which version of the Florida crime he committed. He also claimed his no contest pleas to the base drug offenses did not include any facts upon which the enhancement could be grounded. Court of appeals concluded the district court properly calculated Obregon’s criminal history score, but held Obregon’s waiver of his right to jury trial on the firearm enhancement was invalid. Panel vacated the enhancement and remanded case to district court for proper waiver or for jury to make factual findings required by K.S.A. 2015 Supp. 21-6805(g)(1) regarding the firearm. Obregon’s petition for review granted.
ISSUES: (1) Florida battery conviction; (2) firearm enhancement
HELD: Pursuant to State v. Murdock, 309 Kan. 585 (2019)(Murdock II), Obregon is entitled to application of State v. Wetrich, 307 Kan. 552 (2018), but variation to the Wetrich analysis is presented because the Kansas and out-of-state offenses are both what Kansas law refers to as “alternative means crimes.” When the crime in question is an out-of-state offense with alternative means—some of which would not be comparable to Kansas person crimes—the State bears the burden of establishing the defendant committed a version of the offense supporting the person classification. On record in this case, district court’s finding that Obregon committed a Florida offense with a comparable Kansas person crime is not supported by substantial competent evidence. Because the Florida offense on its face is broader than the Kansas comparator, it should not have been classified as a person offense under Wetrich. Sentence is vacated and case is remanded for district court to reconsider the Florida conviction’s person-crime classification.
Panel erred by remanding his case for a jury to determine if firearm enhancement should apply. As a general rule, special questions may not be submitted to a jury for answer in a criminal prosecution, and the legislature has not created a statutory exception to the general rule against special verdicts for a firearm enhancement to be determined separately after the verdict. Obregon’s resentencing is to proceed without the firearm enhancement.
CONCURRENCE AND DISSENT (Johnson, J.): Agrees the district court must resentence Obregon without the enhancement. Also agrees the State failed to present sufficient evidence to support classification of the Florida battery conviction as a person felony, but that insufficiency of the evidence should result in vacating the sentence and remanding for resentencing of criminal history score with the Florida conviction classified as nonperson.
STATUTES: K.S.A. 2018 Supp. 21-5413(a), -5413(a)(1), -5413(a)(2), -5413(g), -6801 et seq., -6805(g)(1), -6805(g)(2), -6809, -6814, -6814(b), -6814(c); K.S.A. 2015 Supp. 21-6805(g)(1), -6811(e); K.S.A. 2013 Supp. 21-6817(b)(2); K.S.A. 20-3018(b), 21-3715, -3715(a), 60-2101(b)
state v. russ
sedgwick district court—affirmed;
court of appeals—affirmed
no. 115,111—june 28, 2019
FACTS: Russ was found guilty of attempted second-degree murder. His prior convictions included six Wichita municipal violations classified as person misdemeanors, five of which were eligible for conversion to a felony. Russ appealed sentencing court’s classification of prior municipal ordinance convictions as person offenses to calculate Russ’ criminal history score, arguing in part the domestic battery municipal ordinances were broader than the counterpart Kansas domestic battery statute. Court of appeals affirmed in unpublished opinion. Russ petitioned for review claiming the panel erred by: (1) looking beyond the most comparable Kansas offense of domestic battery to analyze his municipal ordinance domestic battery convictions, and (2) declining to address as moot an issue concerning his prior conviction of failure to comply with bond restrictions.
ISSUES: (1) Classifying the domestic battery municipal ordinance violations; (2) mootness
HELD: Applying State v. Wetrich, 307 Kan. 552 (2018), the panel correctly held Russ’ domestic battery ordinance violations were person offenses. Only difference between the ordinances and the Kansas domestic battery statue is the specific requirement of the relationship between the batterer and the battered, which makes the scope of the ordinance’s proscribed acts narrower, not broader.
Panel correctly declined to address the classification of Russ’ prior conviction for failure to comply with bond restrictions. Regardless of classification of this prior conviction, Russ’ criminal history score is unchanged since three prior domestic battery municipal ordinance violations were properly scored as person misdemeanors.
STATUTES: K.S.A. 2018 Supp. 21-5413(a), -5413(g)(1), -6801 et seq., -6810(a), -5811(a); K.S.A. 2017 Supp. 21-6811(e)(3); K.S.A. 2016 Supp. 21-6804(a), -6809, -6811(a); K.S.A. 2014 Supp. 21-5414(a); K.S.A. 20-3018(a), 60-2101(b)
Kansas Court of Appeals
FLAHERTY V. CNH INDUSTRIAL AMERICA
SALINE DISTRICT COURT – AFFIRMED
NO. 119,704 – JUNE 28, 2019
FACTS: Flaherty purchased a sprayer manufactured by CNH in early 2014. Later that year, Flaherty took it back to the dealer for maintenance and a hose adjustment. The dealer knew that there were also potential issues with one of the drive hoses at the engine starter. While the sprayer was at the dealer, it caught on fire and was completely destroyed. During the investigation, a fire investigator with the fire department accompanied law enforcement on the scene. It was his opinion that the fire was caused by an electrical issue. Neither of Flaherty's experts could definitively determine the fire's cause. Robert Hawken, a product safety specialist at CNH, investigated the sprayer in anticipation of litigation. Flaherty sued both CNH and the dealer. During discovery, Flaherty provided notice of his intent to depose Hawken. CNH filed a motion to quash and asked the court to quash the subpoena. The district court granted that motion and Hawken was not deposed. After hearing more evidence, the district court granted CNH's motion for summary judgment on all claims and Flaherty appealed.
ISSUES: (1) Denial of discovery request; (2) express warranty claims; (3) implied warranty claims
HELD: Hawken examined the sprayer over a month after the fire, and he only gave his findings to CNH's legal department and outside counsel. The dealer told Flaherty that Hawken believed the fire started in the sprayer's starter area. Hawken's opinions were protected by work-product privilege as far as the subpoena duces tecum was concerned. Hawken was also protected by non-testifying expert privilege as an in-house expert. Flaherty failed to prove that Hawken waived his privilege, and much of the privilege belonged to CNH, and Hawken has no power to waive it on the company's behalf. The warranty agreement between Flaherty and CNH disclaimed any express warranty created by descriptions of the sprayer on its website or by statements made by salespeople. And Flaherty failed to identify any specific descriptions of the sprayer on which he relied. In addition, the warranty agreement required Flaherty to prove that the sprayer had a defect in material or workmanship, which he failed to do. Any implied warranty claim had a similar requirement that Flaherty prove the existence of a defect. In addition, Flaherty failed to prove that the sprayer was defective when it left CNH's control.
STATUTES: K.S.A. 2018 Supp. 60-226(b)(4)(A), -226(b)(5), -226(b)(5)(D), -233(b)(1)(B), -256(c)(2), -456; K.S.A. 60-437, 84-2-313(1)(b), -313(2), -314(1), -314(2)(c)