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September 11, 2020

Posted By Administration, Monday, September 14, 2020

Kansas Supreme Court

 

CIVIL

 

HABEAS CORPUS—INEFFECTIVE ASSISTANCE OF COUNSEL
KHALIL-ALSALAAMI V. STATE
RILEY DISTRICT COURT—COURT OF APPEALS IS AFFIRMED,

DISTRICT COURT IS REVERSED—CASE REMANDED
NO. 115,184—SEPTEMBER 11, 2020

 

FACTS: Khalil-Alsalaami was convicted of two counts of aggravated criminal sodomy. At trial, a primary issue was the voluntariness of custodial statements made by Khalil-Alsalaami to law enforcement. Issues included the accuracy of the Miranda warning, the fact that Khalil-Alsalaami's primary language is Arabic, and a question about whether Khalil-Alsalaami knew he was confessing to an actual crime. Trial counsel stipulated that Khalil-Alsalaami's partial confession was knowing and voluntary and did not object when that stipulation was introduced at trial. After an unsuccessful direct appeal, Khalil-Alsalaami filed a K.S.A. 60-1507 motion challenging the effectiveness of his trial counsel. The district court denied the motion, finding that the stipulation and the failure to object to introduction of the agreement was a strategic decision. Khalil-Alsalaami appealed, and the Court of Appeals unanimously reversed and remanded, finding that trial counsel was constitutionally ineffective. The ruling gave particular mention to the failure of law enforcement to provide an interpreter for Khalil-Alsalaami. The State's petition for review was granted.

 

ISSUES: (1) Deficient performance of trial counsel; (2) prejudice resulting from deficient performance

 

HELD: The Court does not believe it is necessary to decide whether the lack of an interpreter renders Khalil-Alsalaami's confession involuntary. Instead, given the plain testimony from trial counsel, it is easy to see that counsel's performance was ineffective. The admissibility of Khalil-Alsalaami's confession was the paramount issue in the case, and counsel's failure to even attempt to keep it from the jury cannot be attributed to trial strategy. It is easy to see that prejudice occurred. This case must be returned to district court for a new trial.

 

CONCURRENCE: (Beier, J., joined by McAnany, S.J.) The majority reached the right decision. But it should also have found that Khalil-Alsalaami's confession was per se involuntary due to the lack of an interpreter, which was required by the plain language of K.S.A. 75-4351.

 

DISSENT: (Biles, J., joined by Stegall, J.) Counsel's motion to suppress would not have succeeded at trial, so a failure to file it could not have amounted to prejudicial ineffective assistance of counsel.

 

STATUTES: K.S.A. 60-1507, 75-4351

 

MORTGAGES
FAIRFAX PORTFOLIO LLC V. CAROJOTO LLC
WYANDOTTE DISTRICT COURT—COURT OF APPEALS IS AFFIRMED

DISTRICT COURT IS REVERSED—CASE REMANDED
NO. 118,712—SEPTEMBER 11, 2020

 

FACTS: Fairfax owned commercial real estate which was secured by a promissory note and mortgage held by Carojoto. Fairfax was in default on the note at the time Carojoto acquired the debt. Without warning, Carojoto took possession of the property and filed a mortgage foreclosure action. Carojoto eventually purchased the property at a sheriff's sale. Fairfax filed this action, claiming Carojoto improperly took possession of the property prior to the foreclosure action, causing damages. Carojoto sought dismissal, claiming it was allowed to take possession of the property under the terms of the mortgage. The district court agreed. The Court of Appeals reversed, holding that Carojoto was not allowed to rely on provisions of executory agreements. A petition for review was granted.

 

ISSUE: (1) Ability to take property

 

HELD: It has long been established that in the absence of stipulations to the contrary, a mortgagor of real property may retain possession of that property. The mortgage instrument alone cannot provide a sufficient stipulation for possession. Even if Carojoto included such language in its mortgage instrument, it cannot be enforced.

 

CONCURRENCE: (Stegall, J.) Justice Stegall concurs in the judgment solely on the grounds of stare decisis, which should be followed especially closely in instances where there is economic reliance.

 

DISSENT: (Biles, J.) The mortgage provision allowing possession is a "stipulation to the contrary" which overrides the general rule that a mortgagor is allowed to hold property.

 

STATUTES: K.S.A. 2019 Supp. 60-212(d); K.S.A. 58-2301

 

Criminal

 

CONSTITUTIONAL LAW—CRIMINAL PROCEDURE—MOTIONS—SENTENCING—STATUTES

STATE V. COLEMAN

WYANDOTTE DISTRICT COURT—AFFIRMED

NO. 120,246—SEPTEMBER 11, 2020

 

FACTS: Coleman’s 1999 conviction for first-degree premeditated murder and aggravated assault convictions were affirmed but case was remanded for resentencing because district court considered two aggravating factors not found in the statute to impose a hard-40 life prison term. 271 Kan. 733 (2001). Coleman again sentenced in 2001 to a hard-40 life term which was then affirmed in 2003 (unpublished). Coleman filed 2018 motion to modify his sentence to require no mandatory prison term, citing Alleyne v. United States, 570 U.S. 99 (2013), and State v. Soto, 299 Kan. 102 (2014). District judge summarily denied the motion, noting in part Coleman’s earlier K.S.A. 60-1507 motion. Coleman appealed.

 

ISSUE: (1) Motion to modify sentence

 

HELD: Appeal involves constitutional issues and questions of statutory interpretation.  Developing caselaw regarding sentence enhancement based on judicial fact finding is summarized. Coleman’s motion is not proper under K.S.A. 22-3504 (to correct an illegal sentence) or under K.S.A. 60-1507 (a collateral attack on an unconstitutional sentence), and Alleyene and Soto do not operate retroactively to provide a remedy in this case. Coleman cites K.S.A. 2019 Supp. 21-6628(c), but under analysis in State v. Thurber, 308 Kan. 140 (2018), that statute does not apply. District court judgment is affirmed.  

 

STATUTES: K.S.A. 2019 Supp. 21-6628(b), -6628(c), 60-1507(f)(1), -1507(f)(2); K.S.A. 2016 Supp. 21-6622(h); K.S.A. 21-4635, -4629, 60-1507,  22-3504

 

CONSTITUTIONAL LAW—CRIMINAL LAW—JURY INSTRUCTIONS

STATE V. KEYES

GRANT DISTRICT COURT—REVERSED AND REMANDED

NO. 118,894—SEPTEMBER 11, 2020

 

FACTS: Jury convicted Keyes of first-degree premeditated murder for fatally shooting victim in the chest and head. District court denied Keyes’ request to instruct jury on self-defense and involuntary manslaughter finding the evidence failed to support either instruction. Keyes appealed, claiming in part reversible error by the district court’s refusal to give the requested instructions. State argued a self-defense instruction was not justified where Keyes provoked the victim by taking a gun to the victim’s trailer and threatening the victim, and any error was harmless because Keyes’ testimony was implausible.

 

ISSUE: (1) Jury instruction

 

HELD: Based on evidence introduced at trial, a self-defense instruction was both legally and factually appropriate. State’s theory ignores Keyes’ testimony, if believed, that it was necessary to kill the victim in order to defend himself. Viewing the evidence in light most favorable to Keyes, district court erred in not instructing jury on self-defense and the court is not convinced there is no reasonable probability this error affected the outcome of the trial. Keyes’ additional claims in the appeal are not reached. Reversed and remanded.

 

CONCURRENCE (Leben, J.): Joins the court’s opinion in full but also comments on the standard of review. Because Keyes’ constitutional right to present a defense is at issue, the constitutional harmless-error test should apply. No need to decide which standard should apply here because State has not shown the district court’s error was harmless under either standard. This standard-of-review question can be addressed in a future case with briefing. 

 

STATUTE: K.S.A. 2019 Supp. 21-5108(c), -5222, -5226

 

 

 

Court of Appeals

 

CIVIL

 

FORECLOSURE—REAL ESTATE
BUCKLIN NATIONAL BANK V. HAYSE RANCH
KIOWA DISTRICT COURT—REVERSED AND REMANDED
NO. 121,690—SEPTEMBER 11, 2020

 

FACTS: In 2002, L.P.P. Mortgage Ltd. obtained a default judgment of foreclosure against Helen Hayse and her son, Paul. The district court confirmed the sheriff's sale and ordered a statutory redemption period of three months. The day before the redemption period ended, Helen assigned her rights of redemption to Celia Pruitt for $100. Pruitt then filed notice of her exercise of the right of redemption and deposited the total amount of Helen's debt to redeem the property. Pruitt followed up by filing an affidavit with the Register of Deeds in which she declared herself to be the owner of the property by virtue of her acquisition and subsequent exercise of redemption rights. Helen and Paul had previously used the property to secure a series of loans from Bucklin National Bank. Helen died intestate in January 2017, and after these loans went unpaid the Bank initiated foreclosure proceedings. Pruitt intervened in the action seeking a declaratory judgment that she was the rightful owner of the property. The Bank moved for summary judgment and the district court granted it, finding that exercising an assigned right of redemption was ineffective to pass title absent a document of conveyance. After her motion for new trial was denied, Pruitt appeals.

 

ISSUES: (1) Action to quiet title; (2) whether a deed is necessary to convey title

 

HELD: A statutory right of redemption is different than the common law equitable right of redemption, the latter of which arises before the foreclosure sale. Under the statutory scheme in Kansas, an assignee of a property owner's redemption rights obtains all property rights of the owner upon exercise of those redemption rights. Pruitt obtained equitable title to the property when she exercised the redemption rights that she purchased from Helen. It is not necessary to have a deed of conveyance to prove ownership of property. Pruitt took many official steps to register her equitable title, and that was enough to secure her primary right to the property. But the case must be remanded to determine whether Pruitt has a colorable claim of adverse possession.

 

STATUTE: K.S.A. 2019 Supp. 60-2414, -2414(h), -2414(i)

 

DIVORCE—MAINTENANCE
IN RE MARRIAGE OF WELTER
MIAMI DISTRICT COURT—REVERSED AND REMANDED
NO. 121,605—SEPTEMBER 11, 2020

 

FACTS: Steven and Keira Welter divorced in 2016. The decree ordered Steven to pay monthly maintenance of $781 for 73 months. One of the conditions on maintenance is that payments would stop if Keira remarried or was cohabitating, which was defined as living with a non-relative adult for substantially consecutive periods of time in excess of 30 days, even if the relationship was not marriage-like. Steven's maintenance payments were often suspended in the years after the divorce, primarily because Keira refused to comply with certain requirements of the divorce decree. In December 2018, Steven moved to terminate maintenance on grounds that Keira was cohabitating with her boyfriend. Keira objected, claiming she lived with her boyfriend only because she could not afford to live independently due to the lack of maintenance payments. After hearing arguments, the district court denied Steven's motion to terminate and instead modified the maintenance agreement to shorten Steven's obligation by nine months – the length of time Keira was cohabitating. Steven appealed.

 

ISSUE: (1) District court's authority to modify maintenance

 

HELD: It is undisputed that Keira violated the cohabitation termination condition of the divorce decree. The automatic termination clause of the decree means that Steven's maintenance obligation automatically terminated after June 2018. It does not matter that, at the time Keira was cohabitating, Steven's maintenance obligation has been temporarily suspended by the district court. Once the terminating event of cohabitation occurred, the district court lost the authority to modify Steven's maintenance obligation and equity does not require a different result.

 

DISSENT: (Atcheson, J.) All of the decisions made by the district court were within its discretion and authority, and the majority opinion places too many restrictions on district court action.

 

STATUTE: K.S.A. 2019 Supp. 23-2711(a)(3), -2902, -2903, -2904

 

CRIMINAL

 

CRIMINAL PROCEDURE—SENTENCING—STATUTES

STATE V. PATTON

RENO DISTRICT COURT—AFFIRMED

NO. 120,434—SEPTEMBER 11, 2020

 

FACTS: State charged Patton in November 2016 with DUI. In 2018, jury convicted him on that charge and district court imposed a 12 month sentence upon finding this was Patton’s fourth or subsequent DUI conviction. On appeal Patton claimed the prosecutor erred in closing argument by misstating the evidence. He also claimed district court erred under rule outlined in State v. Wetrich, 307 Kan. 552 (2018), by using Patton’s 2003 Oklahoma and 2007 Missouri DUI convictions to enhance the sentence.

 

ISSUES: (1) Prosecutorial error; (2) classification of prior out-of-state convictions to enhance sentence

 

HELD: Given the entire context of prosecutor’s closing arguments, prosecutor’s statements that Patton had been drinking on New Year’s Day 2016, and that the standard field sobriety tests showed Patton was under the influence, were not inconsistent with evidence presented at trial.

            Patton and the State agreed the rule Weitrich controls because K.S.A. 2015 Supp. 8-1567(i) was the rule in effect at the time Patton committed the DUI offense. But under State v. Reese, 300 Kan. 650 (2014), when a court enhances a current DUI sentence under K.S.A. 8-1567(i) it must apply the sentencing rule in effect at the time of sentencing. Applying the 2018 amendment to K.S.A. 8-1567(i) and (j), district court did not err in sentencing Patton as a fourth or subsequent DUI offender.

           

STATUTES: K.S.A. 2019 Supp. 8-1567(a), 22-3504(a); K.S.A. 2018 Supp. 8-1567, -1567(i), -1567(i)(1); K.S.A. 2017 Supp. 21-6811(e)(2)(A), -6811(e)(3); K.S.A. 2015 Supp. 8-1567, -1567(a), -1567(a)(3), -1567(b)(1)(D), -1567(i), -1567(j)

 

 

 

Tags:  constitutional law  criminal law  criminal procedure  divorce  foreclosure  habeas corpus  ineffective assistance of counsel  jury instructions  Kiowa District Court  maintenance  mortgages  motions  real estate  Reno District Cou  Riley District Court  sentencing  statutes  Wyandotte District Court 

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July 24, 2020 Digests

Posted By Administration, Monday, July 27, 2020

Kansas Supreme Court

Civil

HABEAS CORPUS, RIGHT TO COUNSEL
BALBIRNIE V. STATE
FRANKLIN DISTRICT COURT—COURT OF APPEALS IS REVERSED
DISTRICT COURT IS REVERSED—CASE REMANDED
NO. 115,650—JULY 24, 2020

FACTS: Balbirnie was convicted of second-degree murder, and his conviction was affirmed on direct appeal. Throughout that process, Balbirnie consistently proclaimed his innocence and blamed the murder on one of the other people present at the scene of the crime. Within one year of his conviction being affirmed, Balbirnie filed a K.S.A. 60-1507 motion in which he claimed trial counsel was ineffective for failing to investigate and then introduce at trial a recording of a 911 call at which an eyewitness named another person as the murderer. After an evidentiary hearing, the district court found that trial counsel did not perform deficiently and even if he had, Balbirnie failed to establish prejudice. The Court of Appeals disagreed with the district court on the question of trial counsel's performance, finding that the failure to introduce the 911 call fell below an objective standard for reasonably effective representation. But the panel ultimately affirmed the district court, holding that this deficient performance did not prejudice Balbirnie. The Supreme Court granted Balbirnie's petition for review.

ISSUES: (1) Performance; (2) prejudice

HELD: Balbirnie prevailed in the Court of Appeals on the issue of deficient performance and did not seek review of that decision. The State did not file a cross-petition for review either, although case law existing at the time the petition was filed suggests such a filing was not necessary. A cursory glance at the Court of Appeals' decision shows that it correctly ruled that trial counsel's failure to introduce the 911 call was not a strategic decision was, in fact, objectively unreasonable. A review of the evidence in its totality shows that if the call had been introduced there was a reasonable probability the jury would have made a different decision. This is true even though there was evidence of Balbirnie's guilt.

STATUTE: K.S.A. 60-420, -1507

criminal

criminal procedure—evidence—prosecutors
state v. martinez
shawnee district court—affirmed
no. 119,739—july 24, 2020

FACTS: Martinez convicted of first-degree premeditated murder and other crimes arising from a drive-by shooting. On appeal he claimed the prosecutor erred in closing arguments by saying “The defense has speculated about other peoples [sic] motives, but the State has actually presented evidence.” Martinez argues this impermissibly shifted the burden of proof and infringed on his constitutional protection against compulsory self-incrimination.

ISSUE: (1) Prosecutorial error

HELD: Prosecutor’s statements were within the wide latitude allowed in closing arguments. The comments, when read in context, appropriately explained how the evidence supported the State’s theory of the case, and did not offend Martinez’ constitutional right to a fair trial. Prosecutor did not comment on Martinez’ failure to testify or argue Martinez had to prove that he lacked a motive or that witnesses had a motive to lie. Prosecutor did not suggest the defense had any burden to do something in response to the State’s evidence or that 000Martinez needed to testify and explain his action. Nor did the prosecutor shift the burden or comment on Martinez’ failure to testify by pointing out the defense’s argument rested on an inference.

STATUTE: K.S.A. 60-439

criminal law—criminal procedure—jury instructions—
prosecutors—sentencing—statutes
state v. thomas
chautauqua district court—affirmed in part, reversed in part,
vacated in part, remanded
court of appeals—affirmed in part, reversed in part, vacated in part
no. 115,990—july 24, 2020

FACTS: Thomas convicted of aggravated battery, abuse of a child, and aggravated endangering of a child. On appeal he argued:  (1) district court erred by giving jury instructions that allowed the jury to convict him of aggravated battery if it found he intended the conduct but not the harm; (2) prosecutor improperly inflamed the passions and prejudices of jurors during closing argument by showing them photos of the child’s injuries and repeatedly telling them to acquit only if the jurors thought it was acceptable to inflict such injuries on “your child;” (3) cumulative effect of these two errors denied him a fair trial; and (4) district court erroneously scored Thomas’ 2001 out-of-state Virginia conviction for domestic assault and battery as a person crime. Court of Appeals affirmed in unpublished opinion, finding in part the aggravated battery jury instruction was erroneous but the error was harmless, and prosecutor’s if-you-think-it’s-okay statements did not encourage jurors to consider factors outside the evidence and law. Review granted.

ISSUES: (1) Jury instructions—aggravated battery; (2) prosecutorial error; (3) cumulative error; (4) sentencing

HELD: District court’s aggravated battery instructions were erroneous. Under State v. Hobbs, 301 Kan. 203 (2015), “knowingly” in elements of aggravated battery means more than just proving the defendant intended to engage in the underlying conduct, and requires State to prove the defendant acted when he or she was aware the conduct was reasonably certain to cause the result.

            Prosecutor’s If-you-think-it’s-okay statements were error. Panel’s reasons for finding that prosecutor’s statement did not encourage jurors to consider factors outside the evidence and law are examined and criticized as conflating the analysis of error with whether error was harmless. As to the child abuse charge the prosecutor’s error was harmless. Thomas’ conviction on this charge is affirmed. As to the aggravated battery charge for which instructional error was found, the combined impact of these errors must be considered.

            Cumulative error denied Thomas a fair trial on the aggravated battery charge. The erroneous jury instruction allowed the jury to find guilt based on a less culpable intent than required by the statute, and State’s repeated comments urged jury to convict based on emotional consideration rather than a reasoned and deliberate consideration of facts and law. The aggravated battery conviction is reversed and case is remanded for a new trial on this charge.   

              Assault and battery, as defined by Virginia common law, is broader than Kansas battery and could encompass behavior that is not a crime in Kansas. Under State v. Wetrich, 307 Kan. 552 (2018), district court incorrectly calculated Thomas’ criminal history score and should have scored the 2001 Virginia conviction as a nonperson crime. Remanded for resentencing.

STATUTES: K.S.A. 2017 Supp. 21-6811(e); K.S.A. 2015 Supp. 21-5413, -5413(b), -5413(b)(1)(A), -5413(g), -5602, -6811(e), 22-3414(3)

 

Kansas Court of Appeals

Civil

DIVORCE—PARENTING TIME
IN RE MARRIAGE OF DAVIS AND GARCIA-BEBEK
SEDGWICK DISTRICT COURT—AFFIRMED
NO. 121,110—JULY 24, 2020

FACTS: Davis and Garcia-Bebek divorced in 2014. They shared joint legal custody of two minor children and Garcia-Bebek had permission to take the children to visit family in his native country of Peru every other year. In 2018, Davis sought to be awarded sole legal custody of the children after Garcia-Bebek was charged with three federal crimes. Perhaps because of his legal issues, Garcia-Bebek moved back to Peru. But he asked for reasonable parenting time which would include having the children visit him in Peru for up to 30 days at a time. The district court initially ruled in Garcia-Bebek's favor but was swayed to reconsider by Davis's argument that Garcia-Bebek's crimes showed that he was untrustworthy, making international parental kidnapping a realistic possibility. Garcia-Bebek appealed.

ISSUE: (1) Parenting time outside of the United States

HELD: The district court did not prevent Garcia-Bebek from exercising his parenting time. It just prevented him from doing so in Peru. There was nothing to prevent Garcia-Bebek from visiting the children in their home country. It is undisputed that there is an outstanding indictment in a federal criminal case and a warrant for his arrest in Kansas. This evidence is sufficient to support the district court's decision preventing the children from visiting Garcia-Bebek in Peru.

STATUTE: K.S.A. 2019 Supp. 23-3203(a), -3208(a)

Criminal

constitutional law—criminal procedure—probation—sentencing—statutes
state v. lyon
sedgwick district court—affirmed
no. 120,993—july 24, 2020

FACTS: Lyon convicted on his pleas to charges of aggravated battery, criminal possession of a firearm, and endangerment of a person. Pursuant to the plea agreement, district court imposed dispositional departure sentence of probation with underlying prison term. District court’s calculation of criminal history included Lyon’s 2010 Kansas aggravated burglary conviction as a person felony. Probation violation warrant issued four months later, alleging in part that Lyon committed the felony offense of aggravated battery/domestic violence. Trial judge revoked probation, finding Lyon had committed misdemeanor domestic battery. On appeal, Lyon claimed the trial court’s revocation of probation denied Lyon due process because the State failed to allege he committed a domestic battery in the probation violation. He also claimed his 2010 Kansas conviction should have been classified as a nonperson felony because the elements of the 2010 version of aggravated burglary are broader than the elements of the 2017 version of the crime.

ISSUES: (1) Due process—revocation of probation; (2) sentencingcriminal history

HELD: District court did not err in revoking Lyon’s probation. The warrant’s allegation that Lyon committed aggravated battery/domestic violence sufficiently notified him of what the State intended to prove, and it is uncontested that substantial competent evidence supports the trial court’s finding of domestic battery.

            The identical-or-narrower test in State v. Wetrich, 307 Kan. 552 (2018), which applies to out-of-state offenses and to Kansas offenses committed prior to the1993 implementation of the Kansas Sentencing Guidelines Act (KSGA), does not apply to the scoring of Lyon’s post-KSGA Kansas conviction. A post-KSGA Kansas crime is properly scored as a person offense if the crime was classified as a person offense when it was committed and when the current crime of conviction was committed and when the current crime of conviction was committed even if the prior version of the earlier crime’s elements are broader than the elements of the current version. Lyon’s alternative constitutional argument under Apprendi is not properly before the court and is not considered. Whether recodification and/or statutory amendments to aggravated burglary amounted to a repeal for purposes of K.S.A. 2017 Supp. 21-6810(d)(8) is examined, finding no such determination is required in this case. Regardless of the statutory amendments to aggravated burglary, district court properly scored Lyon’s prior conviction for aggravated burglary as a person offense.

STATUTES: K.S.A. 2019 Supp. 21-5109(b), -5111(i), -6801 et seq., -6804(c), -6804(p), -6809, -6810, -6811(e)(1); K.S.A. 2018 Supp. 21-5414(a), 22-3716, -3716(b)(1), -3716(c)(8)(A), -3716(c)(9)(B); K.S.A. 2017 Supp. 21-5807(b), -5807(b)(1), 5807(e), -6810(d), -6810(d)(8), -6810(d)(9), -6811(e)(3); K.S.A. 2011 Supp. 21-3715(a), -5103(d), -5413, -5427(3), -6811(d)(1); K.S.A. 21-3412, -3701, -3715, -3716, -4843, 22-3716

 

 

Tags:  constitutional law  criminal law  criminal procedure  divorce  evidence  habeas corpus  jury instructions  parenting time  probation  prosecutors  right to counsel  sentencing  statutes 

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February 28, 2020 Digests

Posted By Administration, Monday, March 2, 2020
Updated: Monday, March 2, 2020

Kansas Supreme Court

Attorney Discipline

TWO-YEAR SUSPENSION
IN RE LAUREL R. KUPKA
NO. 122,053—FEBRUARY 28, 2020

FACTS: A hearing panel determined that Kupka violated KRPC 1.1 (competence); 1.3 (diligence); 1.4(a) and (b) (communication); 4.1(a) (truthfulness in statements to others); 8.4(c) (engaging in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation); 8.4(d) (engaging in conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice); and 8.4(g) (engaging in conduct adversely reflecting on lawyer's fitness to practice law). The charges arose after Kupka expanded her law practice to include domestic cases while also taking on extra duties after other attorneys at the firm resigned. Kupka's workload grew even heavier around the time her first child was born, and she lost administrative support. The heavy workload, combined with a lack of any support, resulted in Kupka feeling anxious and depressed. As those conditions worsened, Kupka failed to adequately represent clients. She did not file things despite saying that she did, she altered documents in an attempt to make them look file-stamped, and she falsified judge's signatures. Kupka also failed to communicate with clients, and when she did speak with them, she lied about the status of their cases.

HEARING PANEL: Kupka self-reported her misconduct, in addition to another complaint being filed. She fully cooperated and admitted to the misconduct. The hearing panel acknowledged that Kupka engaged in dishonest conduct by cutting and pasting file stamps onto documents and forging clerk and judge signatures. But her actions were driven by an overwhelming workload, a lack of supervision or assistance, and depression. She fully admitted her misconduct and cooperated with the disciplinary process. The disciplinary administrator asked for a two-year suspension, and that the suspension be suspended after one year so that Kupka could complete a one-year term of probation. Kupka asked that she be allowed to continue practicing under the terms of a probation plan. The hearing panel, however, reiterated its position that dishonesty cannot be corrected by probation alone. The hearing panel recommended that Kupka be suspended for two years, but that she be returned to active practice after serving six months of the suspension, with a two-year term of probation to follow.

HELD: The panel's factual findings and conclusions of law were deemed admitted. The court agreed that a two-year suspension was the appropriate discipline. Kupka will be allowed to apply for reinstatement after completing nine months of the suspension. A minority of the court would have required a longer period of suspension before applying for reinstatement.

 

criminal 

constitutional lawcriminal lawcriminal procedurejury instructionsprosecutorssentences
state v. becker
ford district court—affirmed in part, vacated in part
NO. 118,235—february 28, 2020

FACTS: On evidence—including Becker’s confession, jury found him guilty of first-degree premeditated murder. Sentence included a Hard 25 life prison term and lifetime postrelease supervision. On appeal, he claimed prosecutor’s comments during closing argument regarding plea deals taken by codefendants was error. Becker also claimed the district court erred in failing to instruct jury on lesser included crimes, and on voluntary intoxication. He also claimed for first time that failure to instruct on lesser included crimes violated his constitutional rights to due process and jury trial. He claimed cumulative error denied him a fair trial, and claimed the district court erred in ordering lifetime postrelease supervision.

ISSUES: (1) Prosecutorial error; (2) jury instructionslesser included offenses; (3) Constitutional claims; (4) jury instructionvoluntary intoxication; (5) cumulative error; (6) sentencing

HELD: Prosecutor’s comments did not fall outside wide latitude afforded prosecutors, and was not an attempt to obtain a conviction in a manner that offended Becker’s right to a fair trial. Taken in context, prosecutor’s comments did not direct jury to ignore the plea agreements or to give them no weight in determining witness credibility. Instead, prosecutor was rebutting attacks in defense counsel’s closing argument regarding a codefendant’s favorable plea agreement.

District court did not commit reversible error under K.S.A. 2018 Supp. 22-3414 by failing to instruct jury on lesser included offenses of second-degree murder and voluntary manslaughter. Both instructions would have been legally appropriate. Even if error is assumed without decidingthat a second-degree intentional murder instruction was factually appropriate, the error was harmless under facts in this case. And no sudden quarrel factually supported an instruction for voluntary manslaughter.

Court considers Becker’s newly raised constitutional claims. Consistent with Beck v. Alabama, 447 U.S. 625 (1980), and State v. Love, 305 Kan. 716 (2017), no merit to Becker’s  claim that the lack of a lesser included alternative required jury to render an all-or-nothing verdict in violation of Becker’s due process rights. Also, based on Love and a 6th Circuit Court of Appeals case, district court did not preempt function of jury in violation of Becker’s right to a jury trial.

Under facts in this case, district court did not err in failing to instruct jury on voluntary intoxication. Evidence viewed in light most favorable to Becker establishes methamphetamine consumption but not intoxication to impair his ability to form the requisite intent. Nor did parents’ unsworn statements at sentencing hearing establish a level of impairment at time of the crime that would have warranted a voluntary intoxication instruction.

No cumulative error in trial having only one assumed harmless error.

Sentencing court’s order of lifetime postrelease supervision is vacated. District court has no authority to order a term of postrelase supervision in conjunction with an off-grid, indeterminate life sentence.

STATUTES: K.S.A. 2018 Supp. 21-5202(h), 5402(a), -6620(c)(2)(A), 22-3414, -3414(3), -3504, 3504(1), -3601(b)(3), -3601(b)(4); K.S.A. 2015 Supp. 21-5109(b)(1); K.S.A. 2014 Supp. 21-5205(b); K.S.A. 60-2106(c)

appeals—criminal law—criminal procedure—evidence—jury instructions
state v. gray
sedgwick district court—affirmed
NO. 117,747—february 28, 2020

FACTS: Jury convicted Gray of first-degree premeditated murder, rape, and aggravated burglary. During trial, he unsuccessfully challenged district court’s admission under K.S.A. 60-455 of evidence of a previous rape. On appeal, argued for first time that under the identical offense doctrine, the district court should have sentenced him for intentional second-degree murder. Gray next argued the district court abused its discretion in finding evidence of the prior rape was more probative than prejudicial because no juror would have been able to follow the limiting instruction. Gray further claimed the district erred in failing to instruct jury on intentional second-degree murder as a lesser included offense of first-degree murder.

ISSUES: (1) Newly raised claim; (2) K.S.A. 60-455 evidence; (3) jury instructionlesser included offense

HELD: Gray’s identical offense doctrine claim is not considered. K.S.A. 2019 Supp. 21-6820(e)(3) does not support review because Gray does not challenge the classification of his crime or conviction, and no exception to the preservation rule is utilized.

Jury members are presumed to follow instructions, including limiting instructions regarding the admission and use of prior crimes evidence. Gray failed to offer any facts or legal authority to suggest otherwise.

Absence of an instruction on second-degree intentional murder as a lesser included offense of premeditated first-degree murder was not clear error. The instruction would have been legally appropriate, but even if factual appropriateness is assumed, the error was harmless in light of overwhelming evidence of premeditation.

STATUTES: K.S.A. 2019 Supp. 21-6820(e)(3), 60-455(a), -455(b), -455(d); K.S.A. 2015 Supp. 21- 5402(a)(1), -5403(a)(1); K.S.A. 60-455

 

Kansas Court of Appeals

Civil

MECHANIC'S LIENS
IN RE LIEN AGAINST THE DISTRICT AT CITY CENTER, LLC
JOHNSON DISTRICT COURT—REVERSED AND REMANDED
NO. 
121,184—FEBRUARY 28, 2020

FACTS: The District at City Center, LLC, hired a construction company to build a mixed-use development. The construction company hired Kansas City Steel Werx, Inc. as a steel and labor subcontractor. Change orders from KC Steel to the general contractor added approximately $25,000 to the cost of the contract. To ensure complete payment, KC Steel filed a mechanic's lien against the development citing unpaid labor and materials of approximately $400,000. The itemizations filed with the lien included documentation but was incomplete. Instead of challenging the lien as a whole or specific items, the contractor filed a motion claiming the lien was "fraudulent" and asking the court to set it aside. Without waiting for a response, the district court granted the motion and removed the lien. KC Steel appealed.

ISSUE: (1) Ability of the district court to find that the lien was "fraudulent"

HELD: A party asserting a mechanic's lien must strictly comply with our mechanic's lien statutes before that lien becomes enforceable. K.S.A. 2019 Supp. 58-4301 allows a district court to quickly review a lien's status to determine whether it is fraudulent. Legislative history shows this statute was enacted to prevent abuses by militias and common-law groups. The quick review is intended to allow an efficient way to remove an obviously bogus lien that is being used as a tool of harassment. The district court improperly equated an invalid lien with a fraudulent one. The document filed by KC Steel is recognized by Kansas law, and the district court erred by ruling that the lien was fraudulent. The real question is whether KC Steel strictly complied with the mechanic's lien procedures enough to create a valid lien; that is the issue that must be decided on remand.

STATUTES: K.S.A. 2019 Supp. 58-4301, -4301(a), -4301(b), -4301(c), -4301(e), -4302; K.S.A. 60-1102, -1102(a), -1103(a), -1105, -1106, -1108

WORKERS COMPENSATION
AIKINS V. GATES CORPORATION
WORKERS COMPENSATION APPEALS BOARD—AFFIRMED
NO. 120,905—FEBRUARY 28, 2020

FACTS: Aikins was injured in a car accident while leaving work. In May 2018, an ALJ awarded Aikins compensation for her injuries. One week later, she served Gates with a demand for compensation based on that award. The next day, Gates filed for review with the Workers Compensation Board of Appeals. Before the Board could decide the appeal, Aikins filed a motion for penalties with the ALJ because Gates had not yet paid out her award. The ALJ held a hearing and ruled that Aikins was entitled to a penalty payment because Gates had not yet paid as required by K.S.A. 44-512a and had not obtained a stay of the judgment. Gates appealed the imposition of the penalty, arguing that compensation was not yet due so no penalty could accrue. The Board agreed, and Aikins appealed.

ISSUE: (1) Whether payment is due such that penalties could attach

HELD: K.S.A. 44-512a allows claimants to apply for a civil penalty if payments are overdue. In this case, the only issue to determine is whether Aikins's award was due. Statutes clarify that payment of an award is not due until at least 30 days after the Board hears the parties' arguments. There is no statute which requires the employer to seek and receive a stay of judgment; a stay is only required after payment obligations have accrued. Aikins was not due any payment until after the Board ruled on Gates's appeal, and the Board properly reversed the ALJ's award of penalties.

STATUTES: K.S.A. 2019 Supp. 44-551, -551(l)(1), -551(l)(2)(A), -551(l)(2)(B), -551(l)(2)(C), -551(p); K.S.A. 44-512a, -512a(a)

HABEAS CORPUS—MOOTNESS
BURCH V. HOWARD
PAWNEE DISTRICT COURT—AFFIRMED
NO. 120,704—FEBRUARY 28, 2020

FACTS: Burch was committed to the Sexual Predator Treatment Program in 2002. After more than a decade in the program, Burch filed a K.S.A. 60-1501 petition which raised several concerns. Relevant to this case was his claim that the SPTP does not provide adequate treatment for securing an eventual release from the Program. The SPTP operated on a leveled system where treatment was provided in phases, and participants gained independence by completing levels. At a hearing before the district court, the evidence showed that Burch has not participated in any meaningful treatment since July 2009. Based on this lack of participation, the district court ruled that Burch failed to meet his burden to prove shocking or intolerable conduct and denied the petition. Burch appeals.

ISSUES: (1) Mootness; (2) adequacy of treatment provided in the SPTP

HELD: Although the treatment system is different now from when Burch filed his petition, the changes are more style than substance and do not render this appeal moot. Because he declined treatment, Burch does not have standing to challenge the adequacy of the SPTP. The SPTP is consistent with the statutory criteria of the Sexually Violent Predator Act and does not shock the conscience.

STATUTES: K.S.A. 2019 Supp. 59-29a06, -29a07(a), -29a08(a), -29a08(d), -29a08(f); K.S.A. 60-1501

 

criminal

criminal law—criminal procedure—restitution—sentences—statutes
state v. henry
sedgwick district court—affirmed
no. 119,895—february 28, 2020

FACTS: Henry was charged and convicted on one count of felony theft for stealing money from store deposits on 12 different occasions while employed as armored truck driver. District court imposed 60 months’ probation and ordered payment of $78,315 in restitution. On appeal, Henry claimed insufficient evidence supported his conviction because the single larceny doctrine did not apply to thefts that occurred on 12 separate occasions, and each of the individual takings failed to meet the $25,000 threshold of the felony theft charged. He also argued the restitution plan was unworkable because it would take over 43 years to complete, making a multi-decade term of probation per se unreasonable.

ISSUES: (1) Single larceny doctrine; (2) restitution

HELD: Henry’s theft conviction is affirmed. The single larceny doctrine is a rule of evidence and may be invoked whenever the facts warrant it. Disagreement stated with legal conclusion in State v. Ameen, 27 Kan.App.2d 181, rev. denied 269 Kan. 934 (2000). The doctrine is not only limited to instances where multiple misdemeanor takings are charged as a single felony but also permits multiple instances of felony takings to be charged as a single higher severity level felony.  On evidence in this case, Henry should have been charged in the alternative with a lower severity level theft for each separate taking, and the jury should have been instructed in the alternative on the single larceny doctrine and the elements of each lesser theft for each taking separately, but Henry waived or abandoned any claims of error concerning the charging document or instructions. Sufficient evidence supported the key factual determination that Henry’s acts arose out of a single incriminating impulse or plan.

District court imposed a workable restitution plan. Henry admitted the monthly payments are workable, and K.S.A. 2019 Supp. 21-6608(c)(7) explicitly allows for a term of probation to be extended indefinitely to secure payment of restitution.

STATUTES: K.S.A. 2019 Supp. 21-6604(b)(1), -6608(c)(7); K.S.A. 2016 Supp. 21-5801(a)(1), -5801(b)(2), -5801(b)(3), -5801(b)(4)

Tags:  appeals  attorney discipline  Constitutional law  criminal law  criminal procedure  evidence  habeas corpus  jury instructions  mechanic's liens  mootness  prosecutors  restitution  sentences  statutes  workers comp 

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December 20 and December 27, 2019 Digests

Posted By Administrator, Friday, January 3, 2020

Kansas Supreme Court

criminal

constitutional law—criminal procedure—motions—search and seizure
State v. Chavez-Majors
butler district court—affirmed on issue subject to review and remanded
court of appeals—affirmed in part
No. 115,286—december 20, 2019

FACTS: Chavez-Majors convicted of aggravated battery while driving under the influence, based on motorcycle accident that caused injury to another person. Park Ranger first at scene requested EMS to draw blood from unconscious Chavez-Majors. District court denied motion to suppress the blood test results, finding the warrantless search was reasonable under probable cause plus exigent circumstances exception which satisfied the  three-prong test in Schmerber v. California, 384 U.S. 757 (1966). Court of appeals affirmed the denial of motion to suppress, but reversed the conviction because Chavez-Majors had not knowingly and voluntarily waived his right to jury trial. 54 Kan. App. 2d 543 (2017). Review granted on Chavez-Majors petition for review of panel’s decision affirming the denial of motion to suppress. State’s cross-petition for review of the jury trial issue was denied.

ISSUES: (1) Warrantless search—probable cause; (2) warrantless search—exigent circumstances

HELD: Court of Appeals decision regarding probable cause is affirmed. Probable cause determination is supported by Chavez-Majors driving at high rate of speed around curve and into parking lot he knew held parked cars and congregating people, and by strong odor of alcohol on Chavez-Majors’s breath.

As to whether exigent circumstances supported the warrantless blood draw, lower courts did not have benefit of Mitchell v. Wisconsin, 588 U.S. __ (2019). Because Chavez-Majors has not had a chance to fully litigate his claim under the change of law created by Mitchell, case is remanded to district court for an evidentiary hearing and district court ruling on exigency in light of Mitchell.

STATUTES: K.S.A. 2013 Supp. 8-1567; K.S.A. 22-3216

Kansas Court of Appeals

Civil

ATTORNEY PERFORMANCE—HABEAS CORPUS
BAKER V. STATE
LABETTE DISTRICT COURT—AFFIRMED
NO. 118,695—DECEMBER 20, 2019

FACTS: Baker pled guilty to felony murder, child abuse, possession of marijuana, and obstruction of official duty. Baker had originally been charged with aggravated criminal sodomy, a charge which could have resulted in a death penalty when combined with the murder charge, but it was dismissed under the plea agreement. At the sentencing hearing, defense counsel did not present any evidence regarding Baker's mental health. Baker received a hard 20 sentence for the felony murder, plus an additional 147 months for the other convictions. All of these sentences were presumptive for Baker's convictions, but Baker received the aggravated sentence rather than the standard sentence. Baker's convictions were affirmed on direct appeal. He timely filed a K.S.A. 60-1507 motion, plus three amended motions, in which he claimed that trial counsel was ineffective for failing to ensure that his grid sentences were ordered to run concurrently and for failing to investigate his mental health issues and present mitigating evidence. The district court denied the motion after an evidentiary hearing, and Baker appeals.

ISSUES: (1) Timeliness of the K.S.A. 60-1507 motion; (2) merits of Baker's motion

HELD: The State did not raise the timeliness issue before the district court. They waived any appellate argument by not arguing timeliness in district court. The panel assumes without deciding that trial counsel's performance was deficient under the totality of the circumstances. The only issue to decide is whether trial counsel's deficient performance was so prejudicial that Baker was harmed. The district court did not correctly apply the Strickland test and did not properly evaluate the evidence. But even when the correct test is used, the district court correctly determined that no prejudice resulted from trial counsel's deficient performance.

DISSENT: (Leben, J.) Trial counsel made no argument for anything less than the maximum possible sentence. There was a great deal of evidence regarding Baker's life experiences and mental health conditions, and that could have made a difference at sentencing. Trial counsel was prejudicially ineffective for not presenting that evidence at sentencing. He would remand this case for resentencing before a different judge.

STATUTE: K.S.A. 2018 Supp. 60-1507(f)(1); K.S.A. 60-1507

criminal 

criminal procedure—sentences—statutes
state v. gibson
geary district court—sentence vacated and case remanded
No. 120,657—december 20, 2019

FACTS: When Gibson was arrested on drug charges, he misidentified himself as his brother. The brother was then arrested for failure to show up for a hearing. Relevant to this appeal, Gibson was convicted of identity theft and perjury. Presumptive sentence was probation, but district  court granted State’s motion for a dispositional-departure sentence of prison, finding the harm from Gibson’s crimes was greater than usual. Gibson appealed.

ISSUE: (1) Dispositional departure sentence

HELD: Statutory-counterpart rule discussed. K.S.A. 2018 Supp. 21-6815 provides lists of mitigating and aggravating circumstances the sentencing court may consider in deciding whether to depart. Although each list is nonexclusive, if something is listed as a factor on one of the two lists, the absence of that factor on the counterpart list means that it may not be the basis for departure in that departure direction. Because less-than-typical harm is in list of mitigating factors but greater-than-typical harm is not included in list of aggravating factors, greater-than-typical harm may not be the basis for an upward-departure sentence. Sentence vacated and case remanded for resentencing.   

STATUTES: K.S.A. 2018 Supp. 21-6815, -6815(c)(1)(E); K.S.A. 2005 Supp. 21-4716(c)(2)(D); K.S.A. 2003 Supp. 21-4716(c)(1)(B); K.S.A. 1997 Supp. 21-4716(b)(1)(E); K.S.A. 1994 Supp. 21-4716(b)(2)(A)

constitutional law—due process—criminal procedure—probation—statutes
state v. gonzalez
sedgwick district court—remanded with directions
No. 120,179—december 27, 2019

FACTS: Following a hearing and determination of competency, Gonzalez convicted and sentenced to 52 month prison term with dispositional departure to probation for 36 months. Some seven months later he was arrested for violating probation. Noting the statutory processes for competency evaluations do not explicitly apply to probation revocation proceedings, district court revoked probation without addressing competency concerns raised by appointed counsel. Gonzalez appealed, claiming a constitutionally protected right to be mentally competent at his probation hearing.

ISSUE: (1) Probation revocation—constitutional due process

HELD: Gonzalez’ Fourteenth Amendment claim was not waived by counsel’s assertion of rights notwithstanding her failure to mention “constitution” or “due process.” Competency for due process purposes in revoking probation, an issue not yet addressed by U.S. Supreme Court or Kansas Supreme Court, is examined. The State may not revoke probation of a convicted felon who is not mentally competent at the time of the revocation hearing. In this case, district court acknowledged there were legitimate reasons to believe Gonzalez may not have been competent. The absence of a statutory procedure for competency evaluations in criminal cases after defendants have been sentenced is not a barrier to district court’s inherent authority to order a competency evaluation as a means of extending constitutional due process to a probationer facing revocation. District court erred in revoking Gonzalez’ probation without determining he was mentally competent. On remand, district court should determine if a retrospective competency evaluation can be done. If State agrees to forgo that accommodation, or district court determines such an evaluation is not feasible, then the revocation must be set aside with a new revocation proceeding and competency evaluations ordered if genuine competency issues remain. Due process requirements for statutory sanctions short of revocation are distinguished and not addressed.  

STATUTES: K.S.A. 2018 Supp. 22-3303, -3716(b)(2), -3716(c)(1)(B), - 3716(c)(11), K.S.A. 22-3202, -3301 et seq., -3302(1)

criminal procedure—probation—statutes
state v. tearney
wyandotte district court—affirmed
No. 120,340—december 20, 2019

FACTS: In 2014, district court imposed prison term but granted dispositional departure for 36 months’ probation. Probation revoked in 2016. In unpublished opinion, court of appeals reversed the revocation and remanded because district court erroneously believed Tearney had served two intermediate sanctions. While that appeal was pending, Legislature enacted the dispositional departure exception, K.S.A. 2017 Supp. 22-3716(c)(9)(B), on July 1, 2017. On remand, district court applied the new exception and again revoked probation. Tearney appealed, claiming the exception does not apply retroactively.

ISSUE: (1) Probation revocation—retroactive application of dispositional departure exception

HELD: K.S.A. 2017 Supp. 22-3716(c)(9)(B) permits a district court to revoke a defendant’s probation without having imposed a graduated sanction if probation was originally granted as the result of a dispositional departure. This exception applies to probation violations which occur after July 1, 2013, even when those violations occurred before the dispositional departure exception took effect. Retroactive application of the exception does not result in manifest injustice. Accordingly, the exception applies to Tearney’s 2016 probation violations even though her violations occurred before the exception took effect.

STATUTES: K.S.A. 2017 Supp. 22-3716(c)(9)(A), -3716(c)(9)(B), -3716(c)(12); K.S.A. 2014 Supp. 22-3716(c)

Tags:  Butler District Court  Constitutional law  criminal procedure  due process  Geary District Court  habeas corpus  Labette District Court  motions  probation  search and seizure  Sedgwick District Court  sentences  statutes 

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November 15, 2019 Digests

Posted By Administration, Monday, November 18, 2019

Kansas Supreme Court

Civil

DUTY OF AN EMPLOYER
REARDON V. KING
LEAVENWORTH DISTRICT COURT—COURT OF APPEALS IS REVERSED,
DISTRICT COURT IS REVERSED, CASE REMANDED
NO. 114,937—NOVEMBER 15, 2019

FACTS: King, who was a licensed attorney, was employed by Trust Company of Kansas. TCK had a policy prohibiting employees from practicing law during employment. Despite that policy, and without TCK's knowledge, King represented Marilyn Parsons, a TCK client, during his tenure with TCK. Once TCK learned of this work, TCK filed a complaint of suspected elder abuse and a disciplinary complaint. An investigation revealed that Parsons had paid King over $250,000 in fees during his TCK employment. King voluntarily surrendered his law license and Parsons filed suit against both King and TCK. A jury found TCK liable for "negligent training" and King liable for breach of fiduciary duty. TCK appealed and the court of appeals reversed, finding the evidence insufficient. The Supreme Court granted review.

ISSUE: (1) Adequacy of jury instructions

HELD: A crucial instruction must be the district court's articulation of the duty owed by the defendant to the plaintiff. Kansas law imparts a duty to employers whose employees injure a third party. The employer owes a duty of reasonable care under the circumstances to prevent harm by employees acting within the scope of their employment. Determining whether that duty has been breached is a fact question for the jury. It was clearly erroneous to instruct the jury that TCK had definable duties to "train" and "supervise" its employees. Because the duty was misstated, both the jury instructions and verdict form were erroneous and the case must be reversed.

STATUTES: No statutes cited.

 

HABEAS CORPUS
JAMERSON V. SCHNURR
RENO DISTRICT COURT – REVERSED AND REMANDED
NO. 120,233 – NOVEMBER 15, 2019

FACTS: Jamerson is in custody after a 2001 felony conviction. In 2016, Jamerson was resentenced after the district court recalculated his criminal history score. During the recalculation, the Kansas Department of Corrections withheld good time credits. This prompted Jamerson to file a K.S.A. 60-1501 petition challenging that good time credit decision. The district court summarily denied this petition, finding that Jamerson failed to prove error. Jamerson filed a posttrial motion in which he alleged that KDOC deprived him of dur process by failing to hold a hearing before depriving him of good time credits. Apparently in response, the district court held a hearing and amended Jamerson's good time credit award. Jamerson appealed the decision to the Secretary of Corrections. Jamerson's motion was still pending, though, and the district court considered the matter and denied it as unripe. That decision was affirmed by the court of appeals. In August 2017, Jamerson filed a second K.S.A. 60-1501 petition challenging KDOC's August 2016 good time credit calculation. This 2017 petition was dismissed as untimely and Jamerson appealed.

ISSUE: (1) Timeliness of petition

HELD: The district court's finding that Jamerson failed to exhaust administrative remedies is not supported by substantial evidence. Jamerson's grievance procedure remained pending until Jamerson received actual notice of the KDOC's final administrative decision. The evidence in the record on appeal shows that Jamerson timely filed his K.S.A. 60-1501 petition within 30 days of receiving notice of the final administrative decision, and the district court erred by summarily denying the petition.

STATUTES: K.S.A. 2018 Supp. 60-1501(b); K.S.A. 75-52,138, 60-1501

 

Kansas Court of Appeals

 

criminal

constitutional law—criminal law—fourth amendment—evidence—motions
state v. ellis
lyon district court—reversed and remanded
no. 120,046—november 15, 2019

FACTS: Welfare check requested regarding woman (Ellis) who had been in a convenience store bathroom for a long time. Ellis reported she had been dealing with stomach problems, and complied with officer’s instruction to come out of stall and to hand over driver’s license for identification purposes. Officer found no medical assistance was needed, but held Ellis’ license to run a background check which resulted in her arrest on outstanding warrant. Officers then searched Ellis’ purse, finding methamphetamine and paraphernalia. Ellis was arrested and convicted on drug charges. District court denied motion to suppress, finding Ellis had voluntarily handed over license, and even if officer’s conduct was illegal, discovery of the outstanding warrant independently justified the arrest under Utah v. Strieff, 579 U.S. __ (2016).  Ellis appealed, arguing the officer exceeded the scope of the welfare check by retaining her license and checking for warrants after concluding she did not need assistance.

ISSUE: Fourth Amendment—welfare check

HELD: Officer’s actions exceeded the scope of the authorized welfare check - the only constitutionally authorized encounter in this case. Ellis voluntarily providing identification did not relieve law enforcement of constitutional necessity of a reasonable and articulable suspicion before an investigation is permitted. Strieff is factually distinguished. No showing the attenuation doctrine applies in this case, and totality of circumstances warrant excluding evidence gained as a result of officer’s unlawful detention of Ellis.   

STATUTES: None

 

 

Tags:  Constitutional Law  Criminal Law  Duty of an Employer  Evidence  Fourth Amendment  Habeas Corpus  Leavenworth District Court  Lyon District Court  Motions  Reno District Court 

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January 19, 2018 Digests

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, January 23, 2018
Updated: Monday, January 22, 2018

Kansas Supreme Court

Attorney Discipline

ORDER OF DISBARMENT
IN THE MATTER OF THEODORE R. HOEFLE
No. 22,228—JANUARY 16, 2018

FACTS: In a letter signed December 29, 2017, Theodore R. Hoefle voluntarily surrendered his license to practice law. At the time of surrender, a disciplinary complaint was pending against Hoefle. The complaint alleged that Hoefle violated Kansas Rule of Professional Conduct 8.4 (misconduct) by failing to correct a false insurance claim and failing to correct false information in a police report.

HELD: The court found that the surrender should be accepted. Hoefle is disbarred.

civil

appeals—appellate procedure—attorney and client—habeas corpus—jurisdiction—postconviction remedies
mundy v. state
lyon district court—affirmed; court of appeals—affirmed
No. 112,131—january 19, 2018

FACTS: Mundy was found guilty of making a false claim to the Medicaid program and obstructing a Medicaid fraud investigation. Sentence imposed included a suspended prison term, probation, and payment of restitution and costs. While on probation Mundy filed a pro se 60-1507 motion, alleging, in part, ineffective assistance of trial attorney. District court appointed counsel. After reviewing the record, the district court summarily denied the 60-1507 motion, finding Mundy failed to show that trial counsel’s representation was not objectively reasonable, and that Mundy failed to plead sufficient facts for an evidentiary hearing. 60-1507 counsel filed notice of appeal. Appellate counsel appointed. Mundy argued, in part, that her release from probation did not deprive courts of jurisdiction, that 60-1507 counsel was ineffective by filing only a bare notice of appeal, and that district court’s summary denial of the 60-1507 motion denied her due process by not following procedural options in Lujan v. State, 270 Kan. 163 (2000). In an unpublished opinion, the Court of Appeals agreed that Mundy’s release from probation did not deprive courts of jurisdiction, found no jurisdiction to consider claim raised for first time on appeal that 60-1507 counsel was ineffective because issue was not included in the notice of appeal, and affirmed the district court’s summary denial of the 60-1507 motion. Mundy’s petition for review was granted.

ISSUES: (1) Jurisdiction, (2) notice of appeal, (3) ineffective assistance of 60-1507 counsel, (4) adjudication of a 60-1507 motion

HELD: Issue of first impression for Kansas Supreme Court. A Kansas court obtains jurisdiction over a 60-1507 motion if it is filed while a movant is in custody, and jurisdiction is not lost if the movant’s custody ends before judgment on the motion becomes final. Adopting the standard applied in habeas context, Mundy’s release from probation did not render her appeal moot because she still faced obligation to pay restitution and costs.

Court of Appeals erred in concluding it lacked jurisdiction to determine Mundy’s ineffective assistance of 60-1507 counsel claim. Panel’s approach effectively took away the availability of a proceeding under State v. Van Cleave, 239 Kan. 117 (1986). A notice of appeal stating the appeal is being taken from trial court’s decisions is sufficiently broad to give an appellate court jurisdiction to hear a claim that counsel appointed to handle 60-1507 proceeding was ineffective, even when the claim is raised for first time on appeal.

The claim of ineffective assistance of 60-1507 counsel is not reached or decided. Mundy was entitled to effective assistance of 60-1507 appointed counsel, but the record is insufficient to resolve that issue. Mundy never requested a Van Cleave remand and Supreme Court declines to sua sponte order a remand in this case.

K.S.A 2016 Supp. 60-1507 and Kansas Supreme Court Rule 183 are interpreted. Nothing in Lujan prevents a district court from concluding without a hearing—even after counsel has been appointed - that the motions, files, and records of a case conclusively show that the movant is entitled to no relief. In this case, Mundy’s 60-1507 motion did not merit an evidentiary hearing and the district court did not err in summarily dismissing the motion.  

STATUTES: K.S.A. 2016 Supp. 60-1507, -1507(a), -1507(b), -2103, -2103(b); and K.S.A. 21-3846(a)(1), -3849, 22-4506(b), 60-2101(b)

Tags:  appellate procedure  Attorney Discipline  disbarment  habeas corpus  Lyon  Lyon District  postconviction remedies 

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December 5, 2017 Digests

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Kansas Supreme Court

Attorney Discipline

ORDER OF INDEFINITE SUSPENSION
IN THE MATTER OF HARRY LOUIS NAJIM
NO. 116,943 – DECEMBER 1, 2017
 

FACTS: This disciplinary matter arose after Najim was caught offering to provide legal services to an undercover agent engaged in a conspiracy to commit wire fraud and contraband cigarette trafficking. Najim's retainer was paid in cash, and Najim did not notify his law firm about the payment in excess of $10,000 cash so that it could report the payment to the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network. The failure to report is a Class D federal felony, and after a conviction a hearing panel determined that Najim violated Rule 8.4(b) (commission of a criminal act reflecting adversely on the lawyer's honesty).

HEARING PANEL: Najim pled guilty to one of the 44 counts that were filed against him in federal court. But after the disciplinary administrator filed its complaint, Najim denied that his conduct violated Rule 8.4(b). The disciplinary administrator asked that Najim's license be suspended indefinitely, retroactive to a temporary suspension that was entered after criminal charged were first filed. Najim thought that a 2-year suspension was appropriate, retroactive to May 2015. A majority of the hearing panel ultimately recommended that Najim be suspended for three years, with suspension running from the date of the Supreme Court's opinion.

HELD: Although Najim disputes the idea that he committed a crime, the record of criminal judgment was admitted into evidence during the disciplinary hearing. That judgment is conclusive evidence that a crime was committed. And the crime of which Najim was convicted was one of dishonesty. The evidence before the court warrants an indefinite suspension from the practice of law.

THREE-YEAR SUSPENSION
IN THE MATTER OF BRANDY L SUTTON
NO. 117,395 – DECEMBER 1, 2017

FACTS: A hearing panel found that Brandy L. Sutton violated KRPC 8.4(c) (engaging in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation). The complaint arose after a former employee accused Sutton of failing to make promised contributions to that employee's individual retirement account. A review by the employee revealed a shortfall of almost $9,000. Sutton disputed the amount but acknowledged there were some shortfalls which were caused by the law firm's financial distress. And, Sutton claimed, that distress was caused by the employee's negligence.

HEARING PANEL: After being notified of these issues, Sutton made whole not only the complaining employee but also other employees whose IRAs were not properly funded. The disciplinary administrator asked that Sutton be indefinitely suspended, although he acknowledged that a shorter term might be appropriate. Sutton asked that she be allowed to continue practicing law, subject to a probation plan. The hearing panel agreed with Sutton that probation was a good option for Sutton.

HELD: The hearing panel's findings were adopted. The court found that Sutton's behavior was, essentially, conversion, and that conversion historically warrants a more severe sanction than probation. Accordingly, a majority of the court elected to impose a three-year suspension, subject to lifting the suspension after six months upon application. A minority of the court would have approved the probationary plan suggested by the hearing panel.

 

Civil

NEGLIGENCE – TORTS
MCELHANEY V. THOMAS
RILEY DISTRICT COURT – 
AFFIRMED IN PART, REVERSED IN PART, REMANDED
COURT OF APPEALS – AFFIRMED IN PART, REVERSED IN PART
NO. 111,590 – DECEMBER 1, 2017

FACTS: Thomas was driving a pick-up truck when he ran over McElhaney's feet in a school parking lot. It is undisputed that Thomas was driving, but there was no agreement about his state of mind at the time. Thomas claimed it was purely an accident. McElhaney testified that Thomas told her that he just meant to "bump" her with the truck. McElhaney brought claims for both negligence and intentional tort theories. She later asked to amend her petition to include a claim for punitive damages, but that request was denied. The district court also dismissed her intentional tort claim, finding there was no evidence of an intent to injure. The Court of Appeals agreed with this assessment. And a majority of the panel upheld the district court's ruling disallowing a claim for punitive damages. This appeal followed after McElhaney's petition for review was granted.

ISSUE: Standard for proving tort of civil battery

HELD: An intent to injure is a necessary element of the tort of battery in Kansas. This includes both the intent to do actual harm and the intent to cause an offensive contact. A person may be guilty of civil battery if the defendant intends to make an offensive contact and bodily harm results. In so ruling, the court does away with the concept of "horseplay" as a legal category. And because McElhaney should have been allowed to bring her battery claim, the district court also erred by not permitting McElhaney to amend her petition and claim punitive damages.

STATUTE: K.S.A. 60-3703

criminal

constitutional law – criminal procedure – sentencing – statutes
state v. simmons
saline district court – affirmed; court of appeals – affirmed
No. 108,885 – december 1, 2017

FACTS: Simmons convicted of drug offense in 2005. Prior to her release on parole, Kansas Offender Registration Act (KORA) was amended to require registration of drug offenders. When Simmons was charged with failing to register, district court found her guilty and ordered payment of $200 DNA database fee. On appeal Simmons claimed: (1) the retroactive application of the KORA registration requirement violated the Ex Post Facto Clause; (2) it was error to impose the DNA database fee because she would have provided a DNA sample before her release on parole; and (3) even if the KORA registration was not punishment, it was part of her 2005 sentence which could not be modified by the executive branch. Court of Appeals affirmed. 50 Kan.App.2d 448 (2014). Simmons’ petition for review granted.

ISSUES: (1) Ex Post Facto Challenge, (2) Modification of Sentence, (3) DNA Database Fee

HELD: Under State v. Petersen–Beard, 304 Kan. 192 (2016), lifetime sex offender registration does not constitute “punishment” for Eighth Amendment and ex post facto challenges. Record in this appeal is insufficient to demonstrate that drug offenders as a class are distinguishable from the class of sex offenders such that KORA registration becomes punitive rather than civil when applied to drug offenders.

Challenge to authority of executive branch to order Simmons to register is issue of first impression. Simmons’ 2005 criminal sentence is not illegal, and has not been “modified” by the post–sentencing registration obligation.

District court did not err by imposing the DNA database fee required by K.S.A. 2012 Supp. 75–724. Simmons failed to show that she previously paid a DNA database fee or that she did not submit a DNA sample for the current offense.

DISSENT (Beier, J., joined by Rosen and Johnson, JJ.): Consistent with dissent in Petersen–Beard, Kansas offender registration requirement is punishment for sex or violent offender, and no less so for drug offender. Simmons met burden of showing an ex post facto violation in this case.

STATUTES: K.S.A. 2012 Supp. 75–724, –724(a)–(b); K.S.A. 22–4901 et seq.

 

appeals – criminal procedure – juries
state v. mcbride
shawnee district court – reversed
court of appeals – reversed
No. 112,277 – december 1, 2017

FACTS: McBride convicted of kidnapping. On appeal he claimed he was denied a fair trial because prosecutor asserted the alleged victim deserved consideration similar to the presumption of innocence constitutionally recognized for criminal defendants. In unpublished opinion, Court of Appeals agreed that this was prosecutorial error but found the error was harmless under State v. Tosh, 278 Kan. 83 (2004). Review granted on this issue.

ISSUE: Prosecutorial Error – Harmless Error

HELD: No cross–petition of panel’s determination that the prosecutor misstated the law, so only issue on appeal is whether this prosecutorial error was harmless. Harmless error inquiry in Tosh was abandoned in State v. Sherman, 305 Kan. 88 (2016). Applying Sherman to facts in this case, where prosecutor improperly tried to bolster victim’s credibility by claiming she deserved a credibility presumption akin to McBride’s presumption of innocence, denied McBride a fair trial. Kidnapping conviction is reversed and case is remanded to district court.

STATUTES: K.S.A. 2016 Supp. 21–5408(a)(3); K.S.A. 20–3018(b), 60–261, –2101(b)

 

criminal procedure – habeas corpus – sentencing
state v. buford
wyandotte district court – affirmed
No. 114,175 – december 1, 2017

FACTS: Buford is serving a life sentence imposed for 1990 felony murder conviction. e filed 2014 motion to correct an illegal sentence, arguing the parole board instituted a new sentence each time it denied him parole, and these “sentences” were illegal because the parole board should have classified his pre–1993 crime as a nonperson felony. District court summarily denied the motion. Buford appealed.

ISSUE: Motion to Correct Illegal Sentence

HELD: The denial of parole is not a sentence, so K.S.A. 22–3504 has no application. Claim is not construed as habeas motion because it is not clear Buford has exhausted administrative remedies.

STATUTES: K.S.A. 22–3504, 60–1501; K.S.A. 21–5401(a), 22–3717(b) (Ensley 1988)

Tags:  appeals  Attorney Discipline  constitutional law  criminal procedure  habeas corpus  juries  negligence  Saline District  sentencing  statutes  torts 

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