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May 15, 2020 Digests

Posted By Administration, Monday, May 18, 2020

Kansas Supreme Court

 

CRIMINAL 

 

CRIMINAL PROCEDURE—EVIDENCE—JURY INSTRUCTIONS

STATE V. MORRIS

SEDGWICK DISTRICT COURT—AFFIRMED

NO. 119,911—MAY 15, 2020

 

FACTS: Jury convicted Morris of charges including both first-degree premeditated murder and alternative charge of first-degree felony murder, aggravated kidnapping, and aggravated battery. On appeal, he claimed district court erred in refusing to give a requested instruction on  voluntary intoxication, and in admitting gruesome photographs of victim’s partially decomposed body that had been exposed to damage from animals. Morris also claimed cumulative error denied him a fair trial.

 

ISSUES: (1) Jury instructions—voluntary intoxication; (2) gruesome photographs; (3) cumulative error

 

HELD: District court did not err in denying Morris’ request for a voluntary intoxication instruction. While the requested instruction would have been a legally available defense to Morris’ first-degree murder charge and conviction, such an instruction was factually inappropriate because insufficient evidence supported that defense in this case.

            District court did not abuse its discretion in admitting photographs of victim’s body. Because Morrisargument clearly fails on the merits, no need to determine State’s argument that Morris failed to properly preserve this issue by failing to lodge a specific objection to the 12 photographs admitted. A few of the admitted photographs may have been repetitive, and many may have been gruesome, but they were relevant and admissible to show the manner and violent nature of victim’s death and to corroborate testimonies of witnesses having credibility issues.   

            No error supports Morris’ claim of cumulative error, and evidence against Morris was overwhelming.

 

STATUTES: K.S.A. 2016 Supp. 21-5205(b), -5408, -5413; K.S.A. 60-401(b), -404, -445

 

 

Kansas Court of Appeals

 

CIVIL

 

ATTORNEY FEES—JURY TRIAL—REMEDY
HARDER V. ESTATE OF FOSTER
LEAVENWORTH DISTRICT COURT—AFFIRMED AND REMANDED
NO. 118,845—MAY 15, 2020

 

FACTS: The case arises out of a real estate dispute between Evelyn Harder and Ronald Foster. In 2013, a jury found Foster guilty of negligent misrepresentation, intentional misrepresentation, and breach of contract. The real estate contract included a provision which required a party who breached the contract to pay attorney fees that the nonbreaching party incurred in connection with the default. The district court awarded Harder fees for the initial litigation but denied her motion for fees incurred while attempting to finalize the decision and journal entry. After this trial, Harder filed a second suit against Foster and his children, claiming that Foster fraudulently transferred all proceeds from the property sale to his family members, leaving him unable to pay Harder's judgment. Foster died during this litigation. His estate paid the judgment in full and the district court dismissed the action on summary judgment, finding that the payment extinguished any of Harder's claims. Harder's motion for attorney fees and costs was denied. These decisions were upheld on appeal except the panel determined the district court erred by denying Harder's motions for attorney fees and expenses in the 2013 case. The panel remanded the 2015 case to allow the district court to determine whether Harder could prove an exception to the American rule which requires parties to bear their own litigation costs unless a statute or contract expressly authorizes such an award. The district court's factfinding was limited to Harder's third-party claims. On remand, Harder claimed that she had a right to have a jury decide attorney fees and expenses for both the 2013 and 2015 cases. The district court disagreed, and the Court of Appeals granted Harder's application for an interlocutory appeal.

 

ISSUES: (1) Jury trial for attorney fees; (2) fees for 2013 case; (3) fees for 2015 case

 

HELD: The right to a jury trial in a civil action is not absolute. It is only guaranteed if such a right existed at common law at the time the Kansas constitution was adopted in 1859. There was no right to recover attorney fees at common law, and Kansas follows the American rule where fees are not awarded unless there is a statute or contractual provision so requiring. Kansas does recognize the third-party litigation exception to the American rule, but that exception did not exist in 1859. Accordingly, there is no right under the Kansas constitution to have a jury determine attorney fees and expenses. The 2013 judgment has been satisfied in full. Harder voluntarily chose not to present her attorney fees claim to the jury; her attorney expressly asked the trial court to resolve the matter, arguing in a pleading that the question of fees and expenses arising out of the real estate contract was not a jury decision. The error Harder now claims was invited by her counsel before the district court, and she is not entitled to relief. The prior decision on the 2015 case is upheld. Harder is not entitled to have a jury decide whether an exception to the American rule exists which would allow her to recover attorney fees for third-party conduct.

Tags:  attorney fees  criminal procedure  evidence  jury instructions  jury trial  Leavenworth District Court  remedy  Sedgwick District Court 

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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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April 24, 2015 Digests

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, April 28, 2015
Updated: Monday, February 10, 2020

Kansas Supreme Court

Civil

ANNEXATION
STUECKEMANN ET AL. V. CITY OF BASEHOR
LEAVENWORTH DISTRICT COURT – AFFIRMED
COURT OF APPEALS – AFFIRMED
NO. 105,457 – APRIL 24, 2015

FACTS: In 2008, the City of Basehor adopted resolutions to initiate unilateral annexation of the Cedar Lake Estates, a platted residential subdivision of approximately 115 acres that adjoins the city's boundary and is accessible from the city streets. The city published annexation resolutions and proper notice of the public hearings regarding the proposed annexation. The Stueckemanns, and more than 50 people, attended the hearing and opposed annexation. The Stueckemanns attorney notified the city council of the discrepancies in the sketches, GIS map, and legal description of the Estates. The city's engineer corrected the mistakes and the city council ultimately officially annexed the Estates. The Stueckmanns and the association sued the city to invalidate the annexation. The district court granted summary judgment to the city by rejecting all of the Stueckemann's contentions. The Court of Appeals affirmed and held the city's land descriptions and plan for the extension of municipal services both substantially complied with the statutory requirements. The Court of Appeals also rejected a de novo review and instead found statutes expressly permitting landowners to challenge the reasonableness of an annexation merely codified preexisting case law, which severely limits judicial review and is quite deferential to the city.

ISSUES: (1) Annexation

HELD: Court held the district court and Court of Appeals did not err by concluding the city's plan adequately described the land subject to the annexation. Court stated the city substantially complied with the relevant statutes requiring identification and that even with the initial identification errors and inconsistencies acknowledged by the City, the Stueckemanns seemed to be able to determine what area the city sought to annex as they actually notified the city council of the specific discrepancies at the February 9 public hearing. Next, Court held the district court and Court of Appeals did not err by concluding the city's service plan for police protection and for street and infrastructure maintenance was adequate. Last, Court held the district court and Court of Appeals did not err by concluding the city's annexation was reasonable.

STATUTES: K.S.A. 12-520, -520a, -520b, -521, -538, -712, -760; and K.S.A. 60-2101, -3018

WRONGFUL DEATH
SIRUTA V. SIRUTA
THOMAS DISTRICT COURT – REVERSED AND REMANDED
COURT OF APPEALS – REVERSED
NO. 105,698 – APRIL 24, 2015

FACTS: In this wrongful death action, an heir sues an alleged tortfeasor for the death of a decedent pursuant to the Kansas Wrongful Death Act. The unusual facts were a bereaved father sues his wife, the bereaved mother; the two parties are the sole heirs at law of a decedent child; and, to add one more wrinkle, both parties are potential tortfeasors. The jury found both parties 50% at fault. The mother contends the father is not legally entitled to bring a wrongful death action against her because the suit is brought on behalf of all the decedent's heirs at law, including the mother, and she cannot be permitted to benefit from her own negligence. The mother also contends she was entitled to either pretrial summary judgment or midtrial judgment as a matter of law on the issue of negligence because there was a lack of evidence supporting her liability. The father argues the district court erred in allowing the jury to compare his negligence, as a mere passenger in a car, to that of the mother, who was the driver of the car at the time it crashed and their son was killed. In the remaining issues, the mother argues the district court erred in not giving jury instructions on common enterprise, in allowing questions about unsigned interrogatory answers during witness examination at trial is not unconstitutional as applied to this case, and by not allowing her to raise the common-law defenses of parental and interspousal immunity. The Court of Appeals panel unanimously affirmed the district court's rulings denying the pretrial motion for summary judgment and the midtrial motion for judgment as a matter of law. A majority of the panel also affirmed the district court on the jury instruction issues presented by the father and concluded all of the mother's issues were moot because of the jury's determination that the mother and father were equally at fault, which effectively resulted in judgment in her favor. One member of the panel dissented, concluding it was error to compare the fault of the father because, as a passenger, the father owed no duty to his son unless the mother's negligence was imputed to him under the joint enterprise doctrine—an option the jury had not been allowed to consider.

ISSUE: (1) Wrongful death

HELD: Upon review of the Court of Appeals decision, Court agreed with the unanimous panel rulings that the mother was not entitled to summary judgment or judgment as a matter of law on her claims the father could not bring the suit in the first place or that mother's negligence was a question of fact for the jury. However, Court concluded it was not appropriate to issue instructions allowing the jury to compare the father's fault based on duties he owed to protect himself—rather than his son—from injury. Court stated the instructions only apply to instances where the passenger is alleged to have breached his or her duty to himself or herself. Court held this error undoubtedly affected the jury's verdict and reversed the district court and the Court of Appeals and remanded this case for further proceedings. Court also commented on remaining issues only to the extent of providing guidance on remand. Court held unless different evidence was presented at retrial, there was not sufficient evidence, viewed in the light most favorable to the mother, that would support the giving of a joint enterprise instruction. Court held that if unsigned interrogatory answers are to be used, the parties should develop a more complete record regarding whether the use of the answers would be appropriate as a discovery sanction or develop some other foundation for their use. Court held prohibiting the mother from admitting evidence that the child was not in a car seat under K.S.A. 8-1345 did not unconstitutionally deprive the mother of her due process rights under the 14th Amendment. Court held neither parental nor interspousal immunity doctrines are available as a defense.

STATUTES: K.S.A. 8-1345; K.S.A. 20-3018; and K.S.A. 60-219, -237, -250, -256, -258a, -1901, -1902, -1904, -1905, -2101

Criminal

STATE V. ALCALA
SHAWNEE DISTRICT COURT – AFFIRMED IN PART AND VACATED IN PART
NO. 111,006 – APRIL 24, 2015

FACTS: This is a consolidated appeal from two aspects of Alcala's criminal sentence after he pleaded guilty to first-degree premeditated murder for killing his estranged wife. He challenges: (1) a no-contact order prohibiting communication with the victim's family; and (2) a restitution order requiring him to pay attorney fees incurred by the victim's mother in child in need of care (CINC) proceedings involving the couple's children and a separate legal action for her to adopt the children.

ISSUES: (1) No-contact order; and (2) restitution

HELD: Court vacated the no-contact order and affirmed the restitution order. Court stated that it had previously held that no-contact orders such as the one in this case constitute an illegal sentence because they are probation conditions that cannot be imposed in conjunction with prison sentences. The State conceded the error and agreed the no-contact order must be vacated. As to the restitution order, Court held that a sufficient causal link exists between Alcala's unlawful conduct and the attorney fees in the CINC proceedings and the adoption case. Court held the district court properly rejected the claim that any restitution plan was unworkable because Alcala failed to meet his burden of proof on that issue by presenting evidence regarding his inability to pay upon release.

STATUTES: K.S.A. 21-6604; K.S.A. 22-3601; and K.S.A. 38-2202, -2205, -2241

IN RE E.J.D.
LEAVENWORTH DISTRICT COURT – AFFIRMED
COURT OF APPEALS – AFFIRMED
NO. 108,876 – APRIL 24, 2015

FACTS: On December 3, 2008, the State filed a complaint alleging that E.J.D. had committed one count of aggravated robbery and two counts of criminal threat. The district court eventually denied the motion for adult certification and sentenced E.J.D. to a term of 51 months in a juvenile facility and an extended-jurisdiction adult sentence of 94 months. On January 28, 2009, the State filed a complaint alleging that E.J.D., while confined in the juvenile facility, committed two counts of battery on juvenile detention officers. The court denied the State's motion to prosecute E.J.D. as an adult but determined that a preponderance of evidence demonstrated that the proceedings should be designated as an extended-jurisdiction juvenile prosecution under K.S.A. 2008 Supp. 38-2347. The court sentenced him to a term of 36 months in a juvenile correctional facility, with 24 months' aftercare. The court also sentenced him to an adult criminal sentence of 32 months with 36 months' postrelease supervision, with the sentence to run concurrent with the adult sentence. The court stayed the adult criminal sentence on the condition that he not violate the provisions of the juvenile sentence and on the condition that he not commit a new offense. On August 4, 2011, the State filed a motion to revoke the stay of execution of the adult sentence. The State based its motion on 86 disciplinary violations committed by E.J.D. while in custody and specified one particular act of alleged battery on another resident. On September 12, 2011, the State amended its motion to include a second incident of battery on another resident. E.J.D. then filed a motion for a lesser sentence and a durational departure from his sentence in his 2009 case. The district court denied the motion and determined that he had committed an act that would constitute a criminal act if perpetrated by an adult and ordered him committed to the custody of the Department of Corrections for 32 months, less time already served in juvenile custody. The Court of Appeals affirmed the district court.

ISSUES: (1) Extended jurisdiction juvenile prosecution; and (2) modification of adult sentence

HELD: Court agreed with the analysis set forth by the Court of Appeals and affirmed its holding that the statutory scheme does not allow modification of an adult sentence after a determination that a juvenile has violated the terms and conditions of an extended jurisdiction juvenile prosecution. Court also held it was not contested that E.J.D. engaged in misconduct that can be characterized as battery. Consequently, the district court had before it sufficient evidence to conclude that E.J.D. had committed new offenses, even if those offenses were not formally charged. Court found the Court of Appeals applied the proper standard of review and correctly determined that the evidence supported the district court's decision to revoke the stay of execution of the adult sentence.

STATUTES: K.S.A. 21-6817; and K.S.A. 38-2347, -2364, -2371

STATE V. MCCLELLAND
SHAWNEE DISTRICT COURT – AFFIRMED IN PART, SENTENCE VACATED IN PART, AND REMANDED
NO. 109,044 – APRIL 24, 2015

FACTS: McClelland convicted of felony murder (of Stone), three counts of attempted aggravated robbery (of Stone, Penry, and Laeli), and one count of aggravated burglary. (Laeli’s home). On appeal McClelland claimed: (1) insufficient evidence supported felony murder conviction because victim’s death did not result from all three underlying felonies where one of the attempted aggravated robberies (of Laeli) was complete before McClelland shot Stone; (2) district court’s jury instruction on felony murder was broader than the charged crime because instruction identified three alternate felonies (attempted aggravated robberies of Stone, Penry, and/or Laeli); and (3) district court violated "double-rule” of K.S.A. 2011 Supp. 21-6819(b)(4) because sentence exceeded twice the base sentence for primary crime of attempted aggravated robbery.

ISSUES: (1) Sufficiency of the evidence; (2) jury instruction on felony murder; and (3) violation of double rule

HELD: McClelland set off chain of violent events when planned robbing Laeli’s house and brought gun in furtherance of that plan. Elements of time, distance, and causal relationship were met. Evidence viewed in light most favorable to prosecution was sufficient to establish beyond a reasonable doubt that the murder occurred during res gestae of principal occurrence - the attempted aggravated robbery of Laeli.

No error in district court’s jury instruction on felony murder. Felony-murder charge did not identify or imply that Stone was victim of the underlying felony, thus State not limited to pursuing that sole theory at trial. Based on evidence showing Stone’s death occurred during course of McClelland’s attempt to rob Stone, Penry, and Laeli, it was factually appropriate to instruct jury that any one of the attempted aggravated robberies could satisfy the inherently-dangerous-felony element.

State concedes district court’s violation of "double-rule” of K.S.. 2011 Supp. 21-6819(b).(4). Hard 20 life sentence for felony murder is affirmed. Sentence on remaining counts are vacated. Case remanded for resentencing.

STATUTES: K.S.A. 2011 Supp. 21-5402(a)(2), -5402(c)(1)(D); and K.S.A. 22-3414(3), -3504

STATE V. VRABEL
JOHNSON DISTRICT COURT – REVERSED AND REMANDED
COURT OF APPEALS – AFFIRMED
NO. 108,930 – APRIL 24, 2015

FACTS: City of Prairie Village officers set up controlled buy of drugs from Vrabel to occur in neighboring city, Leawood. Eight months later, felony drug charges filed against Vrabel. District court suppressed evidence of drugs and conversation between Vrabel and confidential informant because Prairie Village obtained this evidence while exercising police powers outside their jurisdiction as authorized by K.S.A. 2014 Supp. 22-2401a(2). State filed interlocutory appeal. Court of Appeals reversed, finding the cities’ normal protocol for conducting a controlled drug buy in a neighboring city constituted an oral agreement of mutual assistance that satisfied the "request for assistance” exception in K.S.A. 2014 Supp. 22-2401a(2)(b). 49 Kan.App.2d 61 (2013). Supreme Court granted Vrabel’s petition for review, and State’s cross-petition to review whether K.S.A. 2014 Supp. 22-2401a applied to facts of this case and whether excluding evidence was appropriate remedy for jurisdictional violation under that statute.

ISSUES: (1) Extraterritorial jurisdiction to conduct controlled drug buys; and (2) suppression of evidence

HELD: District court correctly found Prairie Village officers lacked jurisdiction to conduct the controlled buy in Leawood. Mere acquiescence or acceptance of assistance by officers of invaded jurisdiction after notification by invading officers does not satisfy the "request for assistance” exception in K.S.A. 2014 Supp. 22-2401a(2)(b). Johnson County bordering municipalities exception in K.S.A. 2014 Supp. 22-2401a(7) applies when crime has been or is being committed in view of the intruding officer, but does not apply when intruding officer anticipates a future viewing of a crime for which the officer has arranged, such as a controlled buy.

District court’s suppression of the evidence is reversed; Court of Appeals decision is affirmed on different grounds. Legislative purpose for imposing territorial jurisdiction limitations on exercise of police powers by city law enforcement officers is to maintain and protect local autonomy of neighboring cities and counties, allowing each governmental unit to control the exercise of police powers within its respective jurisdiction. K.S.A. 2014 Supp. 22-2401a was not intended to create additional individual rights for criminal defendants. Suppression of evidence is not the appropriate remedy when city law enforcement officers have exercised their police powers to arrange and fund a controlled drug buy in another jurisdiction in violation of the jurisdictional constraints of K.S.A. 2014 Supp. 22-2401a(2) and where the aggrieved person has made no illegal search or seizure claim and has not alleged a willful and recurrent violation of the law by city law enforcement officers involved in the drug buy.

STATUTES: K.S.A. 2014 Supp. 22-2401a, 2401a(2), 2401a(2)(b), -2401a(7); K.S.A. 22-2202(13), -2403, -3216, -3216(1); and K.S.A. 74-2108

Kansas Court of Appeals

Criminal

STATE V. HUCKEY
ELLSWORTH DISTRICT COURT – AFFIRMED IN PART, REVERSED IN PART, AND REMANDED WITH DIRECTIONS
NO. 112,273 – APRIL 24, 2015

FACTS: After hearing that probationer Huckey had not reported to his supervisor for more than two months, the district court ruled Huckey was an absconder and declined to impose any intermediate sanctions as required by law when it revoked his probation.

ISSUES: (1) Probation revocation

HELD: Court stated that by legislative directive, intermediate sanctions are now the norm and the district court must impose them unless the probationer has committed a new crime or absconded from supervision. The district court may bypass the sanctions altogether if the court makes specific findings that public safety or the probationer's own needs compel their avoidance. Here, the record does not indicate that Huckey committed a new crime, and the court made no specific findings concerning public safety or Huckey's welfare. Because there is an absence of evidence in the record that Huckey had fled or hidden himself from the jurisdiction of the court in order to avoid arrest, prosecution, or service of process, Court held the district court's finding that Huckey was an absconder from supervision is not supported by substantial competent evidence.

STATUTES: K.S.A. 22-3716

STATE V. KNIGHTEN
SEDGWICK DISTRICT COURT – AFFIRMED IN PART, REVERSED IN PART, DISMISSED IN PART, AND REMANDED
NO. 110,718 – APRIL 24, 2015

FACTS: Knighten convicted of second-degree intentional murder and aggravated battery. District court initially met with counsel in chambers to discuss responses to jury’s questions, and then held hearing with Knighten present to discuss written answers to be given to jury. On appeal Knighten claimed district court erred in: (1) denying Knighten’s Batson challenge to jury composition by focusing on ultimate question of discrimination without first requiring State to produce race-netural reasons for striking jurors at issue; (2) failing to require Knighten’s presence during critical stages in answering jury’s questions; (3) failing to instruct jury on lesser included offense of voluntary manslaughter as Knighten requested; and (4) sentencing without requiring aggravating factors or criminal history score to be proven to a jury beyond a reasonable doubt.

ISSUES: (1) Batson challenge; (2) defendant’s presence at all critical stages of trial; (3) instruction on lesser included offense; and (4) sentencing

HELD: District court abused its discretion in finding State did not engage in purposeful pattern of discrimination. District court erred as matter of law in not requiring State to produce race-neutral reasons, and given absence in record of any race-neutral reasons by State, court’s ruling lacks substantial competent evidence. As in State v. Bolton, 271 Kan. 538 (2000), case is remanded for proper Batson hearing.

Procedural amendment of K.S.A. 22-3420 in 2014 to allow written answers to jury applies retroactively, thus no statutory violation in district court’s written answers in this case. Court does not address whether Sixth Amendment right exists absent an underlying statutory violation, because any resulting error in giving jury written answers would have been harmless here. Although Knighten’s statutory and constitutional rights are presumed violated by lack of evidence establishing his presence during chambers conference, the error was harmless in this case.

A voluntary manslaughter instruction would not have been factually appropriate because no evidence of legally adequate provocation was presented to jury.

Knighten’s assertion that district court had to find aggravating factors in order to impose highest number in applicable sentencing grid box is dismissed as misstating the law. Claim that criminal history had to be proved to jury is defeated by Kansas Supreme Court precedent.

STATUTES: K.S.A. 2014 Supp. 21-5404(a)(1), -6804(a), -6804(e)(1), -6820(c)(1); K.S.A. 2014 Supp. 22-3405(a), -3420, -3420(d), -3420(f), -3414(3); and K.S.A. 22-3405, -3420, -3420(3)

STATE V. SPENCER GIFTS LLC
JOHNSON DISTRICT COURT – AFFIRMED
NO. 111,398 – APRIL 24, 2015

FACTS: Johnson County charged Spencer Gifts LLC with promoting obscenity harmful to minors. Spencer Gifts sought dismissal of the complaint, claiming violation of statutory right under K.S.A. 2014 Supp. 22-3402(b) to a speedy trial. State argued the speedy trial statute did not apply to a limited liability company that was not subject to an appearance bond. District court dismissed the complaint, relying on City of Elkart v. Bollacker, 24 Kan. 543 (1998), to find K.S.A. 2014 Supp. 22-3402(b) applied to Spencer Gifts regardless that it had been ordered to appear by summons. State appealed.

ISSUE: (1) Statutory right to speedy trial

HELD: Based upon Bollacker, provisions of K.S.A. 2014 Supp. 22-3402 including the 180-day time limitation apply to criminal defendants whose appearances were secured by receiving notice to appear or a summons, and apply to a corporate defendant including a limited liability company. District court’s dismissal of the case is affirmed.

DISSENT (Malone, C.J.): Would reverse and remand for further proceedings. Believes Supreme Court would no longer follow Bollacker because it ignores plain and unambiguous language of the Kansas speedy trial statute, and Supreme Court has since given mixed signals on how to interpret the statute.

STATUTES: K.S.A. 2014 Supp. 21-5211(a), -5915, -5915(c)(1), -6611(b)(2); K.S.A. 2014 Supp. 22-3402, -3402(a), -3402(b); K.S.A. 21-3813(b), -4301c; K.S.A. 22-2202(2), -2202(15), -2202(19), –2809, -3204(c), -3402, -3402(2); K.S.A. 21-3813, -3813(2); K.S.A. 22-3402(2) (Ensley 1981); and K.S.A. 1997 Supp. 22-3402

Tags:  annexation  Batson challenge  Ellsworth District Court  Johnson District Court  Leavenworth District Court  Sedgwick District Court  Shawnee District Court  Thomas District Court  wrongful death 

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