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January 10, 2020 Digests

Posted By Patti Van Slyke, Monday, January 13, 2020
Updated: Monday, January 13, 2020

Kansas Supreme Court

criminal 

appeals—constitutional law—criminal law—evidence—statutes
state v. jenkins
shawnee district court—affirmed
no. 118,120—january 10, 2020

FACTS: Jenkins led police on two car chases that resulted in a fatal crash. Jury convicted him of crimes including first-degree felony murder and fleeing and eluding police. Over Jenkins’ objection, district judge allowed State to introduce recordings of five calls Jenkins made while in jail using his personal identification number (PIN), finding the State sufficiently established Jenkins’ identity as one of the speakers. On appeal, Jenkins claimed the district court erred by admitting the recordings of the jail calls, arguing reliance on his PIN was insufficient to establish he was the male speaker. He also challenged the constitutionality of K.S.A. 8-1568(b)(1)(E), the option within a means of the felony fleeing and eluding statute dependent on five or more moving violations.

ISSUES: (1) Admission of jail calls, (2) constitutionality of K.S.A. 8-1568(b)(1)(E)

HELD:  Court examined cases from other jurisdictions and concluded the seven-factor test for authenticating an audio recording outlined in State v. Williams, 235 Kan. 485 (1984), is no longer controlling in Kansas. Audio recordings qualify as writings under the Kansas Rules of Evidence. On record in this case, and under current Rules and cases interpreting them, district judge did not abuse his discretion by admitting the recorded calls as evidence. State proffered evidence upon which a reasonable juror could conclude that Jenkins made the recorded calls: strong circumstantial evidence that Jenkins was the caller by use of his unique PIN, supported by the content and timing of the calls.

            Claim that the term “moving violations” in Kansas felony fleeing and eluding statute is unconstitutionally vague, which Jenkins raised first time on appeal, is considered, finding the statute is not unconstitutionally vague. Jenkins’ reliance on State v. Richardson, 290 Kan. 176 (2010), is criticized. Conduct underlying each of the moving violations used to convict Jenkins of fleeing and eluding and felony murder is clearly prohibited by Kansas law, and plain language of the defining statutory and regulatory provisions is clear. Jenkins’ argument for application of the rule of lenity is rejected.

STATUTES: K.S.A. 2015 Supp. 8-234b(d), -249(b), -1568(b)(1)(B), -1568(b)(1)(C), -1568(b)(1)(D), –1568(b)(1)(E), -1568(b)(2), 66-1,108(f); K.S.A. 8-262, -1508(c), -1519,  -1522(a), -1528(b), -1545, -1548,  60-401 et seq., 401(m), -404, -464, 66-1,108a

appeals—constitutional law—criminal procedure—jury instructions—statutes
state v. patterson
johnson district court—affirmed
no.118,180—january 10, 2020

FACTS: Patterson was convicted of crimes arising from an armed robbery in which a victim was killed by an accomplice. On appeal he claimed: (1) his felony-murder conviction violated due process because a jury was not required to determine he possessed a particular criminal mental state; (2) district court’s instructions and prosecutor’s voir dire comments improperly prevented jury from exercising its nullification power; (3) his hard 25 life sentence for felony murder is disproportionate to his crime in violation of Kansas and United States constitutions; and (4) use of prior convictions to elevate his sentence violated Sixth Amendment rights under Apprendi.

ISSUES: (1) Felony-murder conviction, (2) instructing jury to apply the law, (3) prosecutor’s voir dire, (4) hard 25 life sentence, (5) Apprendi challenge

HELD: Constitutional challenge to felony-murder statute, raised by Patterson for first time on appeal, is considered. Felony-murder statute, K.S.A. 2018 Supp. 21-5402(a)(2), does not operate as an unconstitutional conclusive presumption that invades the jury’s province. Intent to kill is not an element of felony murder. The statute expressly requires proof the defendant engaged in dangerous, felonious conduct and that a death occurred as a result of that conduct. By codifying participation in the felony as a statutory alternative for the intent and premeditation otherwise required for a first-degree murder conviction, the statute imposes a rule of law. It does not remove from jury’s consideration an intent element required by a criminal statute.

            No merit to Patterson’s claim that district court’s instruction undermined the jury’s nullification power. District court’s instruction that jury had a “duty” to follow the law as set out in the instructions and that it “should find the defendant guilty” if State proved all elements of the charged offenses, was legally correct.

            No merit to Patterson’s claim of error in prosecutor’s voir dire comment. It is not a misstatement of law to tell the jury to follow the law as given in the instructions.

            Patterson did not show why his case is an exception to the general rule that case-specific challenges to § 9 of Kansas Constitution may not be raised for first time appeal. And his claim that a hard 25 life sentence is unconstitutional for a class of offenders (19-year olds) given the nature of his offense (those convicted of felony murder for a killing committed by another), fails to frame a valid categorical challenge to Eighth Amendment. The hard 25 life sentence is not categorically disproportionate as applied to young adults convicted of felony murder. Patterson’s reliance on Graham v. Florida, 560 U.S. 48 (2010), is misplaced.

            Patterson’s Apprendi claim has been repeatedly rejected and is summarily dismissed.

STATUTES: K.S.A. 2018 Supp. 21-5202, -5202(a), -5202(d), -5402, -5402(a), -5402(a)(1), -5402(a)(2), -5402(b), 22- 3601(b)(3), -3601(b)(4) K.S.A. 21-3201 (Ensley)

criminal procedure—evidence—judges—statutes—witnesses
state v. lyman
geary district court—affirmed
no. 114,312 —january 10, 2020

FACTS: Lyman was convicted of felony murder based on abuse of a child, abuse of a child by shaking, and aggravated battery. After Lyman filed his appeal, defense counsel was served with disclosure of potentially exculpatory evidence that prosecutor recalled seeing a family resembling Lyman and victim with his family in a store, and that the woman had acted aggressively toward one of the children. Lyman filed motion for new trial on this newly discovered evidence. He also requested a change of judge for post trial matters, alleging the judge had been sleeping during trial. District court held hearing and concluded the prosecutor’s recollection was not corroborated and too speculative to warrant a new trial. On appeal Lyman claimed district court erred by: (1) denying the motion for new trial; (2) excluding Lyman’s proposed expert witness (Young) for failing to satisfy test under Daubert, (3) allowing State to admit photos as evidence of Lyman’s prior bad acts; (4) sleeping during the trial; and (5) prohibiting Lyman from introducing medical records that were subject to a written stipulation. He also claimed cumulative error denied him a fair trial.

ISSUES: (1) Motion for new trial, (2) expert witness, (3) evidence of prior bad acts, (4) judicial misconduct, (5) stipulated medical records, (6) cumulative error

HELD: District court did not abuse its discretion by finding the newly discovered evidence was not of such materiality that it would likely produce a different result upon retrial. Lyman’s further argument for a Brady violation fails because the evidence was not credibly exculpatory or impeaching.

            Extended discussion of “Young’s postulate,” an inferential test Young had developed and used to base all his testimony and opinions in this case. District court did not abuse its discretion by excluding Young’s testimony for failure to satisfy test in Daubert, finding Young’s inferential test was contrary to fundamental tenets of Kansas evidence law, Young’s opinions were developed for purposes of testifying for defendants charged with child abuse, and that another Kansas trial court had found Young was not credible and his medical testimony was not worthy of any belief. Court rejects Lyman’s invitation to separate Young’s opinions reached from using the inferential test from those that were not.

            Under facts in case, evidence documenting prior assault of a child sufficient to visibly distress him and leave bruises constitutes other crime evidence under K.S.A. 2018 Supp. 60-455. For evidence so similar to medical observations and conclusions at issue it is reasonable to conclude the same individual committed both the prior acts and those claimed in this case. It is relevant to show the defendant's modus operandi, a disputed material fact, and is probative because it contradicts the defendant's claim that previous health issues and not the defendant caused the child's death. District court did not abuse its discretion in finding the probative value of this evidence outweighed its prejudicial effect.

            Lyman’s motion for change of judge did not satisfy affidavit requirement in K.S.A. 20-4111d, and motion also fails on the merits.

            Parties stipulated to the admissibility of medical records that form the basis of opinion of people for purposes of their direct and cross-examination. District court did not abuse its discretion by refusing to admit the medical records because the expert witness would not be testifying.

            No errors support Lyman’s cumulative error claim.

STATUTES: K.S.A. 2018 Supp. 22-3501(1), 60-455, -455(a), -455(b), -456(b); K.S.A. 20-311d, -311d(b), 22-3501, 60-401(b), -455, -456(b)

 

Kansas Court of Appeals

CIVIL

EMPLOYMENT—LEGISLATORS—VICARIOUS LIABILITY
LONG V. HOUSER
CHEROKEE DISTRICT COURT—AFFIRMED
NO. 120,866—JANUARY 10, 2020

FACTS: In 2017, Houser was a state representative for the State of Kansas. His job duties required that he be in Topeka during the legislative session. The state provided Houser with a per diem for lodging and meals, plus travel expenses. After the Legislature recessed for a break, Houser spent the night in Topeka and then got in his personal vehicle to return home. During the trip, Houser crossed the center line and hit Long's car, injuring him. Long sued both Houser and the State. The State sought summary judgment, arguing that it was not liable for Long's injuries because Houser was not acting within the scope of his employment while he was traveling home from Topeka. The district court agreed, and Long appealed.

ISSUE: (1) Whether Houser was acting within the scope of his employment at the time of the accident

HELD: Vicarious liability is the idea that the losses caused by an employee's tortious conduct are passed on to the employer as a cost of doing business. Vicarious liability only exists if the employee was acting within the scope of their employment at the time the tortious activity occurred. Although it has not been used in a tort context, the "going and coming rule" applies to third-party tort liability claims as a gauge to determine whether vicarious liability exists. The facts of the case make it clear that Houser was not acting within the scope of his employment at the time of the accident. This is true even though the State reimbursed Houser for travel costs.

STATUTE: K.S.A. 2018 Supp. 75-3203(a), -3202(b), -3203(e), -6103(a)

 

criminal 

appeals—constitutional law—criminal law—evidence—fourth amendment—motions 
state v. daino
johnson district court—reversed and remanded
no. 120,824—january 10, 2020

FACTS: Uniformed officers responded to report of marijuana odor coming from unit in apartment complex. Daino opened door 8-10 inches and officer asked if it was OK to step in to write ticket for marijuana. Daino did not verbally respond, but opened the door further and stood out of the way. Once officers discovered evidence of significant drug activity, Daino signed consent form for search of apartment but for roommate’s room. Drug charges filed. Daino filed motion to suppress, alleging illegal search in violation of Fourth Amendment. District court granted the motion, finding any reasonable person would have construed Daino’s response to indicate consent for officers to enter the apartment, but under Kansas law implied consent was not valid. State filed interlocutory appeal. On appeal Daino challenged sufficiency of the evidence of district court’s credibility finding regarding officer’s testimony.

ISSUES: (1) Cross-appeal, (2) consent to search

HELD: Sole issue on appeal is whether Daino’s consent for officers to enter apartment and investigate was invalid because it was implied. Daino filed no cross-appeal from district court’s adverse ruling, thus cannot challenge the sufficiency of the evidence or the district court’s credibility finding.

            District court’s factual findings are supported by substantial competent evidence, but its legal conclusion that Kansas law requires express, verbal consent is erroneous. While it is well established law that mere acquiescence to a claim of lawful authority is inadequate to show voluntary consent, no Kansas Supreme Court case holds that consent must be verbal to be valid. Application of “mere acquiescence” rule by Court of Appeals panels, and subsequent Kansas Supreme Court cases, are examined and factually distinguished. Federal court cases upholding implied consent to enter a residence also are cited. Here, uncontested facts show that Daino yielded right of way to officers by his nonverbal, affirmative communication. Totality of circumstances shows that he unequivocally, specifically, freely, and intelligently consented to officers entering his residence to investigate smell of marijuana.

DISSENT (Buser, J.): Under totality of circumstances, would find Daino did not unequivocally, specifically, and freely and intelligently consent to officer’s entry into the apartment. Officer’s statements to Daino were misleading, and insufficiently informed Daino of officer’s purpose in seeking entry into the apartment or of Daino’s constitutional right to refuse entry. A reasonable person would understand that Daino was silently acquiescing to officer’s claim of lawful authority to enter the apartment because officer knew there was marijuana inside and was required to issue a citation. Would affirm district court’s suppression of evidence due to Fourth Amendment violation.  

STATUTE: K.S.A. 2018 Supp. 60- 2103(h); K.S.A. 21-5709(b)(1), 65-4105(d)(17), -4107(d)(1)

appeals—contempt—criminal procedure—evidence—witnesses
state v. lamb (towner)
shawnee district court—affirmed
No. 117,861—january 10, 2020

FACTS: Lamb charged with murder of victim in car Towner was driving, and with attempted murder of Towner. For Lamb’s preliminary hearing, Lamb and Towner had been transported to courthouse together and placed in same holding cell. When called to testify and identify Lamb as the shooter, Towner refused to testify. District court held Towner in contempt and ordered confinement. Charges against Lamb were dismissed. Towner appealed the court’s order of  direct criminal contempt, arguing he was threatened into not testifying and district court erred by not holding an in camera hearing, without Lamb present, so Towner could explain why he was not testifying. State asserted the appeal was moot because Towner had completed his six-month sentence for contempt, and failed to preserve his issue for appeal.

ISSUES: (1) Mootness of the appeal, (2) preservation of issue on appeal, (3) contempt

HELD: State v. Flanagan, 19 Kan. App. 2d 528 (1994), is distinguished as a contempt citation is not a criminal conviction and does not appear on a defendant’s criminal history. But mootness doctrine does not prevent the appeal because issue may be subject to repetition.

            Panel proceeds on the merits notwithstanding close call whether Towner properly preserved his claim that there was insufficient evidence to find him in contempt because judge disregarded information from prosecutor that Towner was under duress and did not provide Towner a safe environment to set forth his defense.

            District court’s decision finding Towner in direct criminal contempt is affirmed. A judge has no duty to sua sponte hold an in camera hearing to determine if a witness is fearful to testify when the witness makes no such request. Towner failed to make a proffer of the evidence he wanted the court to consider, and the three federal cases he cited do not support his position. A judge has no independent responsibility to seek out evidence of duress from a recalcitrant witness.

STATUTES: K.S.A. 2018 Supp. 21-5107(a), -5206; K.S.A. 60-405

appeals—criminal procedure—jurisdiction—motions—sentences—statutes
state v. mccroy
reno district court—appeal dismissed
No. 120,783—january 10, 2020

FACTS: District court sanctioned McCroy with second 180-day prison term after he violated terms of probation. State did not file motion to correct the order and instead appealed, arguing the second sanction was an illegal sentence because Kansas law only contemplates one 180-day sanction. McCroy contends there is no jurisdiction to consider State’s appeal which was not authorized by K.S.A. 22-3602 or any other appellate jurisdiction statute.

ISSUE: Appellate jurisdiction

HELD: K.S.A. 22-3504, governing post trial motions including motion to correct an illegal sentence, is not an appellate jurisdiction statute and does not vest an appellate court with jurisdiction to consider an appeal by the State solely on the claim that a sentence is illegal. Instead, an appellate court’s jurisdiction in a criminal case must arise from one of the limited procedural postures set forth in K.S.A. 22-3602. Different conclusion summarily reached in State v. Scherzer, 254 Kan. 926 (1994), but the sweeping jurisdictional statement in Scherzer no longer reflects the state of Kansas law. Appellate court’s jurisdiction is limited to those situations authorized by statute. State did not present its argument as a question reserved under K.S.A. 22-3602(b)(3), and panel makes no finding as to whether State’s general concerns regarding a second 180-day sanction could be raised in that context.

STATUTES: K.S.A. 2018 Supp. 21-6820, 22-3501(1), -3502, -3504(1), -3602(a), -3602(b), -3602(f), -3716; K.S.A. 22-3504, -3504(a), -3601, -3602, -3602(b), -3602(b)(3), -3603, 60-1507, -2101, -2101(a), -2101(b)

Tags:  Appeals  Cherokee District Court  Constitutional Law  Contempt  Criminal Law  Criminal Procedure  Employment  Evidence  Fourth Amendment  Geary District Court  Johnson District Court  Judges  Jury Instructions  Legislators  Motions  Shawnee District Court  Statutes  Vicarious Liability  Witnesses 

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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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December 6, 2019 Digests

Posted By Patti Van Slyke, Monday, December 9, 2019

Kansas Supreme Court

 

Attorney Discipline

ONE-YEAR SUSPENSION, STAYED DURING AN EXTENDED PROBATION
IN RE ANDREW M. DELANEY
NO. 121,208
DECEMBER 6, 2019

FACTS: A hearing panel determined that Delaney violated KRPC 1.1 (competence); 1.3 (diligence); 1.4(a) (communication); and 1.7(a) (conflict of interest). Delaney was placed on probation in November 2014 and remained on probation at the time these matters arose. The allegations of new discipline involved Delaney's representation of a client in a divorce action and his failure to free his client from debt on a vehicle retained by the ex-spouse. In addition, Delaney failed to properly negotiate a plea agreement on behalf of three other clients, none of whom were aware of the potential conflict of interest.

HEARING PANEL: The hearing panel found facts sufficient to sustain all alleged rule violations. The panel found several aggravating factors, including prior discipline. But there were also mitigating circumstances such as the absence of a dishonest motive and some mental health issues. The disciplinary administrator recommended a one-year suspension, with that suspension suspended so that Delaney's probation could be extended for two years. This recommendation was joined by Delaney and his counsel, and the panel determined that the probation plan proposed by Delaney was workable and appropriate.

HELD: In the absence of any exceptions, the hearing panel's findings of fact and conclusions were accepted. After hearing arguments, a majority of the court agreed that the probation plan proposed by the disciplinary administrator and Delaney was appropriate. Delaney's license to practice law in Kansas was suspended for one year, with that suspension stayed in favor of a two-year term of probation. A minority of the court would have imposed a less severe sanction.

ORDER OF DISBARMENT
IN RE JOAN M. HAWKINS
NO. 121,064—DECEMBER 6, 2019

FACTS: After Hawkins failed to participate or appear, a hearing panel found that Hawkins violated KRPC 1.3 (diligence); 1.15(a) and (b) (safekeeping property); 1.16(d) (termination of representation); 8.1(b) (failure to respond to disciplinary authority); Rule 207(b) (failure to cooperate in disciplinary investigation); Rule 211(b) (failure to answer in disciplinary proceeding); and Rule 218(a) (failure to file motion to withdraw upon suspension). The allegations arose after Hawkins failed to file pleadings on behalf of clients. In addition, Hawkins was suspended but failed to withdraw or take the steps required of her during the suspension. In addition, Hawkins made deposits into her attorney trust account even after she was suspended, and she paid personal bills directly out of her trust account.

HEARING PANEL: Hawkins failed to appear or participate in the hearing panel process. This failure, combined with the evidence presented to the hearing panel, resulted in the disciplinary administrator seeking discipline of either indefinite suspension or disbarment. The hearing panel recommended that Hawkins be disbarred.

HELD: The Clerk of the Supreme Court made repeated efforts to serve Hawkins with the notice of hearing. All certified mail was returned unclaimed and an attempt to make personal service was similarly unsuccessful. The court found that adequate notice was given of both the formal complaint and the hearing. Because Hawkins did not participate, panel's findings of fact and conclusions of law were deemed admitted. And in the absence of an appearance at the disciplinary hearing, the court adopted the disciplinary administrator's recommendation that Hawkins be disbarred.

 

Court Reporter Discipline

PUBLIC REPRIMAND
IN RE APRIL C. SHEPARD
CCR NO. 1318 – DECEMBER 6, 2019

FACTS: April Shepard works as a court reporter in Wyandotte County. She previously served in that capacity in Shawnee County. In June 2018, the State Board of Examiners of Court Reporters filed a formal complaint against Shepard alleging a violation of Board Rule No. 9.F.9. The facts showed that Shepard worked as a court reporter on a high-profile murder trial. After the defendant's conviction was overturned on appeal, a newspaper article quoted from Facebook posts made by Shepard in which she opined that the defendant was guilty and would be convicted again. Shepard admitted that she made the posts but defended herself by claiming that she behaved in an impartial manner during the trial and noted that she no longer worked for Shawnee County.

BOARD: The Board's disciplinary counsel asked that Shepard be subjected to public discipline, in order to provide transparency and increase public confidence in the profession. Shepard asked that any discipline be private, noting that she stipulated to the rule violation and arguing that her conduct was not severe enough to warrant public discipline. After considering arguments, the Board recommended that Shepard receive a public reprimand.

HELD: In the absence of objections, the Board's findings and conclusions were adopted. The court found that Shepard's conduct was egregious and damaging to the profession, but also noted that she cooperated with the investigation and admitted to wrongdoing. The court agreed that a public reprimand was the appropriate discipline.

 

Civil

EMINENT DOMAIN—INVERSE CONDEMNATION—JURISDICTION
GFTLENEXA, LLC V. CITY OF LENEXA
JOHNSON DISTRICT COURT—AFFIRMED
NO. 119,278—DECEMBER 6, 2019

FACTS: Through a series of leases and subleases, GFTLenexa ended up as the landlord of a Bridgestone tire dealer. In October 2013, the City of Lenexa filed a condemnation action with the goal of making street improvements and creating a permanent public utility easement. The district court granted the condemnation request and paid appropriate compensation to affected parties; neither GFTLenexa nor Bridgestone participated and neither was awarded compensation. A year later, Bridgestone sought declaratory judgment against GFTLenexa claiming it was entitled to reduced rent because the property had been partially condemned. The district court dismissed the action on GFTLenexa's motion for summary judgment on the theory that GFTLenexa did not receive any proceeds from the condemnation. The Court of Appeals reversed and remanded and on remand, the district court ordered GFTLenexa to both reduce Bridgestone's monthly rent and refund past overpayments. This decision prompted GFTLenexa to file an inverse condemnation action against the City for a loss of its intangible property rights. The district court granted the City's motion for summary judgment. GFTLenexa filed a notice of appeal to the Kansas Supreme Court.

ISSUES: (1) Jurisdiction; (2) need for inverse condemnation

HELD: Inverse condemnation actions are not creatures of statute. K.S.A. 2018 Supp. 26-504 requires that appeals in eminent domain cases go directly to the Kansas Supreme Court. Inverse condemnation actions are not eminent domain actions, and cases involving an inverse condemnation must be filed in the court of appeals. Even though the case was filed in the wrong court, the court exercises its power of concurrent jurisdiction to rule on the controversy before it rather than transfer it to the court of appeals. The eminent domain petition did not name GFTLenexa as a party and GFTLenexa chose not to participate in the process. The City's failure to name GFTLenexa is not determinative; GFTLenexa could have—and should have—sought to intervene in the condemnation. Requiring the City to pay again in an inverse condemnation action violates the undivided fee rule.

STATUTES: Kansas Constitution, Article 3, § 3; K.S.A. 2018 Supp. 26-504; K.S.A. 20-3018(a), 26-517, 60-2101(a), -2101(b)

 

criminal 

criminal procedure—motions—sentences—statutes
state v. carpenter
sedgwick district court—affirmed; court of appeals—affirmed
no. 115,713—december 6, 2019

FACTS: Complaint charged Carpenter of burglary, theft, and criminal damage to property. A separate complaint charged February 2008 offenses of aggravated indecent liberties with a child and criminal sodomy. Carpenter convicted on all charges. District court’s pronouncement stated a 55 month underlying sentence and 36 months of post-release supervision, but journal entry reflected lifetime postrelease supervision in case involving sexually violent offenses. Probation revoked two years later, with imposition of underlying sentence and lifetime postrelease supervision. Carpenter filed motion to correct illegal sentence by confirming the orally pronounced sentence of 36 months’ postrelease supervision, distinguishing postrelease for persons sent to prison versus those granted probation. State argued the lifetime postrelease supervision was mandatory and the 36-month supervision itself was illegal. District court agreed and denied the motion. Court of Appeals affirmed in unpublished opinion. Review granted. While appeal was pending, parties ordered to show cause why sole issue on review was not controlled by State v. Brook, 309 Kan. 780 (2019).

ISSUE: Lifetime postrelease supervision under K.S.A. 22-3717(d)(1)

HELD: District court and Court of Appeals are affirmed based on Brook. Due to nature and timing of his offenses, Carpenter is subject to lifetime postrelease supervision under K.S.A. 22-3717. For determining length of postrelease supervision, Legislature clearly distinguished between categories of sexually violent offenses in K.S.A. 22-3717(d)(1)(D) and (G) based on date of their commission, not by sentences of probation versus prison. K.S.A. 22-3717(d)(1)(G) applies to persons convicted of a sexually violent crime committed on or after July 1, 2006. There are no persons convicted of a sexually violent crime on or after that date to whom both subsection K.S.A. 22-3717(d)(1)(A) and subsection (d)(1)(G) apply. Construing the statute as a whole and giving effect to all subsections, there is no conflict or ambiguity in K.S.A. 22-3717(d)(1).

STATUTES: K.S.A. 2015 Supp. 22-3717(d)(1); K.S.A. 2013 Supp. 22-3717(d)(1); K.S.A.20-3018(b), 21-4704, 22-3504, -3717, -3717(d)(1), -3717(d)(1)(A), -3717(d)(1)(G), -3717(d)(2)(C), -3717(d)(2)(D), 60-2101(b)

criminal law—criminal procedure—evidence—jury instructions
state v. claerhout
johnson district court—affirmed; court of appeals—affirmed
no. 115,227—december 6, 2019

FACTS: Claerhout was convicted of reckless driving and second-degree murder for unintentional but reckless homicide. District court allowed State to introduce Claerhout’s prior diversion agreement for purpose under K.S.A. 60-455(b); allowed an officer to evaluate the relative speeds of the two vehicles at the time of collision; and denied Claerhout’s request for voluntary intoxication instruction. On appeal Claerhout challenged:  (1) admission of the K.S.A. 60-455 evidence; (2) officer’s qualification to testify about scientific and mathematical conclusions; and (3) denial of the requested instruction. Court of appeals affirmed, 54 Kan.App. 2d 742 (2017). Review granted on all issues.

ISSUES: (1) Evidence of prior diversion agreement, (2) expert testimony, (3) voluntary intoxication instruction

HELD: Claerhout’s diversion agreement had probative value that outweighed its prejudicial effect. Statutory requirements and specific details outlined in a diversion for driving under the influence essentially serve the same purpose as a conviction in showing its relevance. In this case, any deficiency in district court’s abbreviated evaluation of possible prejudicial effect was harmless. No need at this time to decide how little or how much analysis a district count must display to satisfy due process mandates in State v. Boysaw, 309 Kan. 526 (2019), but courts are encouraged to state on the record the factors considered in weighing the admissibility of K.S.A. 60-455 evidence.

            Kansas Supreme Court has not previously ruled on the degree to which an expert must be able to demonstrate knowledge of the principles underlying the expert’s expertise. It is not necessary that an expert witness demonstrate expertise in every theory, principle or scientific discipline underlying the knowledge, skill, experience, training or education that may qualify an expert witness to give testimony. Background of officer in this case sufficed to meet the statutory requirements for qualification as an expert witness.

            The requested voluntary intoxication instruction was not factually appropriate. Voluntary intoxication is not a defense to reckless second-degree murder. Claerhout’s theory, that evidence of his intoxication tends to show he could not attain a reckless state of mind because of impaired mental function, is rejected. Instead, cited cases show common thread of courts treating intoxication as evidence of recklessness.

STATUTES: K.S.A. 2018 Supp. 8-1567(i)(1), -1567(i)(6), 21-5403(a)(2), -5403(b)(2), 60-455(a), -455(b), -456(b); K.S.A. 2016 Supp. 60-455(b); K.S.A. 60-455

criminal procedure—motions—postconviction remedies—statutes
state v. fox
cherokee district court—affirmed
No. 115,247—december 6, 2019

FACTS: In 2013, Fox filed a K.S.A. 22-3210 motion to withdraw his 1982 guilty plea, arguing in part for equitable tolling of the limitation period. District court denied the motion as untimely filed with no showing of excusable neglect. Fox appealed, further arguing he had been imprisoned in Florida for several years without access to a phone or library materials about Kansas law. He also claimed manifest injustice, citing ineffective assistance of counsel, duplicitous charges, and jurisdictional claims.

ISSUE: Statue of limitations—excusable neglect

HELD: Grace period in 2009 amendment to K.S.A. 22-3210 allowed Fox until April 2010 to file his motion. District court did not abuse its discretion in finding Fox did not establish excusable neglect to permit his untimely filing. No facts support equitable tolling of the limitation period where Fox was held in a Kansas prison about seven years before the statute of limitations ran.  No need to address whether Fox established manifest injustice.

STATUTES: K.S.A. 2018 Supp. 22-3210, -3210(d)(2), -3210(e)(1), -3210(e)(2), -3601(b); K.S.A. 60-1507

criminal procedure—juries—jury instructions—motions—trials
state v. pruitt
Butler District Court—affirmed
NO. 118,448—december 6, 2019

FACTS: Pruitt was convicted of first-degree premeditated murder. On appeal he claimed: (1) prosecutor error during closing argument; (2) judge should have instructed jury on lesser included offenses of reckless second-degree murder and reckless voluntary manslaughter, (3) erroneous instructions foreclosed jury’s power of nullification; (4) a new trial should have been granted because one juror slept during part of the proceedings; and (5) cumulative error denied him a fair trial.  

ISSUES: (1) Prosecutorial error, (2) instructions on lesser included offenses, (3) instructions regarding jury nullification, (4) motion for new trial—juror misconduct, (5) cumulative error

HELD: Prosecutor’s statement in summing up testimony about the alleged murder weapon, “This seems to be the shotgun, folks. I don’t think there’s a lot of question about that at this point,” was an impermissible personal opinion; but no reversible error in this case. Prosecutor’s statement that victim deserved jurors’ “consideration” was not error where statement’s context demonstrates that prosecutor was not attempting to invoke jury’s sympathy. Prosecutor’s statement, “Folks, if you’re convinced beyond a reasonable doubt that those three elements exist, you must find the defendant guilty of murder in the first degree, as he has been charged,” was not an impermissible misstatement of the law because it forbade jury nullification. A prosecutor’s closing argument is distinguished from court instructions.  

            Even if error is assumed in district judge’s failure to give sua sponte two reckless homicide instructions, no reversible clear error on facts in this case.

            District judge’s instructions to jury did not direct a verdict of conviction or prevent jury nullification, and were correct statements of the law and not erroneous under State v. Boothby, 310 Kan. 619 (2019).

            Under facts in this case, district judge did not abuse his discretion in finding no fundamental failure due to jury misconduct occurred in defendant’s trial.

            Errors found or assumed in this case did not cumulatively prejudice Pruitt and deprive him of a fair trial.   

STATUTE: K.S.A. 2018 Supp. 21-5109(b)(1), -5202(c)

Tags:  attorney discipline  Author: Patti Van Slyke  Butler District  Cherokee District Court  court reporter discipline  criminal law  criminal procedure  eminent domain  evidence  inverse condemnation  Johnson District Court  juries  jurisdiction  jury instructions  motions  postconviction remedies  sentences  statutes  trials 

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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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November 8, 2019 Digests

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Kansas Court of Appeals

 

criminal

constitutional law—criminal procedure—motions—trials —statutes
state v. HAMMERSCHMIDT
Ellis District Court—reversed and remanded
no. 120,016—november 8, 2019

FACTS: Hammerschmidt was charged with a misdemeanor DUI. He filed motion to suppress evidence from the stop, arguing he was not given proper notices before the breath test. He also referenced two pending decisions awaiting rehearing in Kansas Supreme Court. District court granted continuances on its own initiative, citing the pending rehearing decisions. 607 days after a motion to suppress was filed, and 360 days after State v. Nece, 306 Kan. 679 (2017) (Nece II), and State v. Ryce, 306 Kan. 682 (2017) (Ryce II), the district court denied the motion to suppress. Hammerschmidt filed motion to dismiss, alleging violation of speedy trial statute. District court granted that motion and dismissed the complaint. State appealed, arguing in part that K.S.A. 2018 Supp. 22-3402(g) bars dismissal.

ISSUE: Speedy trial statute

HELD: District court erred by dismissing the case on statutory speedy trial grounds. Hammerschmidt first requested delay in the case by filing motion to suppress, and that delay was originally attributable to him. Because the matter was taken under advisement for an unreasonable amount of time and because it was unclear if Hammerschmidt consented to the delay, district court later attributed the delay to the State. Although the delay here was several hundred days, the legislature removed the remedy of dismissal when a district court later attributes delays to the State that were originally attributable to a defendant. K.S.A. 2018 Supp. 22-3402(g). Hammerschmidt did not argue that prosecutorial misconduct precipitated the lengthy delay or that application of K.S.A. 2018 Supp. 22-3402(g) violated his constitutional speedy trial rights, and his statutory speedy trial claim is based on circumstances which expressly forbid dismissal on statutory speedy trial grounds.

STATUTE: K.S.A. 2018 Supp. 22-3402, -3402(b), -3402(g)

constitutional law - criminal procedure - evidence - fourth amendment - motions
state v. fisher
Sedgwick District Court—affirmed
no. 120,031—november 8, 2019

FACTS: Officers entered the house in response to a 911 call report that someone in the house had been shot. No injured person was found, but officers discovered Fisher with drugs in plain view. Fisher was charged with drug offenses. He filed a motion to suppress, claiming the officers lacked a lawful justification to enter the house because they failed to first ask the two women standing outside the house any clarifying questions or whether they were injured. District court denied the motion, finding the clearing of the house to find if someone was hurt or dying was not unreasonable under the circumstances. Fisher was convicted in bench trial on stipulated facts. He filed timely appeal.

ISSUE: Emergency aid exception to warrantless search

HELD: District court did not err in denying the motion to suppress. The emergency aid exception test stated in State v. Neighbors, 299 Kan. 234 (2014), is applied, but an Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals case is identified as more factually similar to the present case. Officers had authority under the emergency aid exception to act until assured that no one needed assistance. The mere presence of people outside the house where gunshots were reported did not remove the officer’s reasonable basis to search the house for victims. The possibility of someone suffering from a gunshot wound inside necessitated an immediate search.

STATUTES: None

criminal procedure—sentences—statutes
state v. wilmore
shawnee district court—affirmed
no. 120,171—november 8, 2019

FACTS: Wilmore was convicted of two counts of indecent liberties with a child. On appeal, he claimed the district court imposed an illegal sentence in calculating criminal history by using two prior domestic battery cases that had been used in an earlier case to elevate the classification of a third domestic battering conviction to a felony.

ISSUE: Sentencing—criminal history calculation of prior domestic battery charges

HELD: Wilmore’s “double-counting” challenge is rejected for same reasons stated in numerous unpublished court of appeals decisions. District court did not violate K.S.A. 2018 Supp. 21-6810(d) in calculating Wilmore’s criminal history score. Wilmore’s alternative interpretation of the statute is unreasonable. Under court’s longstanding interpretation of K.S.A. 2018 Supp. 21-6819(d), the unambiguous statutory language does not prohibit a district court from aggregating prior domestic battery person misdemeanors to create a person felony for criminal history purposes even when those same domestic battery convictions were used in an earlier case to elevate a domestic battery charge from a misdemeanor to a felony.

STATUTES: K.S.A. 2018 Supp. 21-5414(c)(1)(C), -6810(d)(10), -6811(a), 22-3504(1)
K.S.A. 2015 Supp. 21-6810(d)(9)

Tags:  Constitutional Law  criminal procedure  Ellis District Court  evidence  Fourth Amendment  motions  Sedgwick District Court  sentences  Shawnee District Court  statutes  trials 

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March 8, 2019 Digests

Posted By Administration, Monday, March 11, 2019

Kansas Supreme Court

Criminal  

criminal law—criminal procedure—jury instructions—statutes
state v. blansett
sumner district court—affirmed
no. 115,634—march 8, 2019

FACTS: Blansett convicted of first-degree premeditated murder and aggravated assault in stabbing son to death while she was in a psychotic episode. She appealed, claiming error in the jury instructions and arguing premeditation is a culpable mental state that can be negated by mental disease or defect defense. She also alleged prosecutorial error, and claimed cumulative error denied her a fair trial. Supplemental briefing ordered to address impact of State v. McLinn, 307 Kan. 307 (2018), which rejected the crux of Blansett’s claim of instructional error. Blansett then argued the jury instructions prevented jury from considering how evidence of her mental disease or defect affected her ability to premeditate. 

ISSUES: (1) Jury Instructions—Mental Disease and Defect; (2) Prosecutorial Error; (3) Cumulative Error 

HELD: The inclusion of premeditation in the challenged jury instruction was technically a misstatement of the law set forth in McLinn, but not reversible error And contrary to Blansett’s new arguments, the jury instructions as a whole did not prevent the jury from considering how her mental disease or defect affected her ability to premeditate. 

Three claims of prosecutorial error are examined. First, applying principles in State v. Williams, 299 Kan. 911 (2014), prosecutor did not suggest Blansett bore the burden of disproving the crimes charged when prosecutor told jury that defense had power to introduce evidence that defense counsel had inferred the State was hiding. Second, viewing State’s argument as a whole, prosecutor did not misstate evidence of Blansett’s intent with the knife. And distinguishing State v. Marks, 297 Kan. 1131 (2013), no error for prosecutor to argue that the nature of the weapons used and the multiple stab wounds were circumstantial evidence of premeditation.  Third, prosecutor misstated evidence by mistakenly commenting that Blansett had testified, but this error was harmless under facts in this case. 

Cumulative error doctrine does not apply to a single instance of prosecutorial error.

CONCURRENCE (Johnson, J.): Concurs in the result.

DISSENT (Beier, J.): Reiterates her dissent in McLinn. Would hold the inclusion of “premeditation” in the challenged instruction as an element of first-degree murder whose existence could be defeated by proof of Blansett’s psychosis was a correct statement of law.

The narrow definition of culpable mental state supplied by the instructions as a whole prevented jury from considering Blansett’s undisputed contemporaneous psychosis as competition for State’s evidence of her actions from which the jury might infer the existence of premeditation. Would hold this error was significant enough to reverse the first-degree premeditated murder conviction, vacate the sentence, and remand for further proceedings.

STATUTES: K.S.A. 2018 Supp. 22-3601(b)(3); K.S.A. 2014 Supp. 5202(a), -5209

criminal law—criminal procedure—jury instructions—statutes
state v. murrin
clay district court—affirmed
court of appeals—affirmed
No. 115,110—march 8, 2019

FACTS: Murrin charged with drug offenses, criminal trespass, and interference with law enforcement. He requested a voluntary intoxication instruction for the drug-related charges, which the district court granted. Jury found Murrin guilty on all charges. Murrin appealed, claiming in part that although he had not requested it, district court should have instructed jury on voluntary intoxication as a defense to charges of criminal trespass and interference with law enforcement. Court of Appeals affirmed in unpublished opinion, finding criminal trespass and interference with law enforcement were both general intent crimes for which a voluntary intoxication instruction was not legally appropriate.  Review granted on this one issue.

ISSUE: (1) Jury Instruction—Voluntary Intoxication

HELD: Statutory and caselaw history concerning “intent” and “knowledge” is reviewed. Aggravated battery conviction in State v. Hobbs, 301 Kan. 203 (2015), is cited as illustrating both the shift in meaning of “intentionally” and the change in what it means to be a general intent crime. A voluntary intoxication defense is available under K.S.A. 2018 Supp. 21-5205(b) when a defining mental state is a stand-alone element separate and distinct from the actus reus of the crime.  In this case, the district court erred by not instructing on voluntary intoxication as a potential defense for both crimes. Criminal trespass is a classic specific intent crime because the statute requires a stand-alone particular intent or other state of mind as a necessary element—Murrin must know he was not authorized or privilege to enter or remain. The statute defining interference with law enforcement prescribes no such stand-alone particular intent or other state of mind as a necessary element, but the instruction given for this crime arguably set one up as necessary to convict—Murrin knew or should have know the officer was a law enforcement officer. Nonetheless, under facts in this case, the district judge’s failure to give a voluntary intoxication instruction did not rise to clear error. The convictions are affirmed.

STATUTES: K.S.A. 2018 Supp. 21-5202, -5202(a), -5202(b), -5202(h), -5202(i), -5205(b), -5414(a)(2), -5807(a)(1), -5808(a)(1)(A), -5812, -5812(1), -5904(a)(3), 22-3414(3); K.S.A. 21-3201(a), -3208(2)

criminal procedure—motions—statutes
state v. roberts
anderson district court—affirmed
No. 117,450—march 8, 2019

FACTS: Roberts pled no contest to rape of child under age of 14. Hard 25 year prison sentence imposed. Prior to his plea, a court ordered evaluation established that Roberts was competent. Years later Roberts filed motion to correct an illegal sentence, claiming he had never admitted he was older than 18 or that the victim was under 14 at time of the crime. District court denied the motion, finding both ages were established in the record. Roberts appealed. He conceded summary denial was appropriate on the age issue, but argued he was still entitled to relief because noncompliance with the statutory procedures for determining pre-plea competency deprived the district court of jurisdiction to sentence him.  

ISSUE: (1) Motion to Correct Illegal Sentence

HELD: District court’s summary dismissal of the motion to correct an illegal sentence is affirmed. Roberts does not advance a substantive competency claim.  A merely procedural failure to comply with competency statute, K.S.A. 2017 Supp. 22-3202, is not jurisdictional, thus a motion to correct an illegal sentence is foreclosed. And on facts in this case, even the existence of a procedural flaw is far from clear. Although the judge did not make an explicit competency finding in open court, the competency issue appears to have been resolved by the district judge after the evaluation was ordered.  

STATUTES: K.S.A. 2017 Supp. 22-3302, -3504(2); K.S.A. 21-3502(a)(2), 22-3302(1), -3302(3), -3504

Tags:  Anderson District  Clay District  Mental Disease and Defect  motions  statutes  Sumner District  voluntary intoxication  Weekly20190312 

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September 14, 2018 Digests

Posted By Administration, Monday, September 17, 2018

Kansas Court of Appeals

Civil

DIVORCE — STATUTORY CONSTRUCTION
IN RE MARRIAGE OF GERLEMAN
DOUGLAS DISTRICT COURT – REVERSED AND REMANDED
NO. 118,457 – SEPTEMBER 14, 2018

FACTS: After a contentious divorce, the district court entered judgment against Robert Gerleman for back spousal maintenance owed to Jeannette, as well as judgment on Robert's previous agreement to pay Jeannette a portion of his military retirement pay. In an effort to collect past-due amounts, the district court issued orders of garnishment to Robert's employer. Robert's father was diagnosed with brain cancer in 2017, and Robert took off more than two weeks from work in order to assist his father during surgery and treatment. Citing K.S.A. 60-2310(c), Robert asked that the garnishment be released because of the illness and his inability to work. The district court refused to issue the release, and Robert appealed.

ISSUE: (1) Interpretation of K.S.A. 60-2310(c)

HELD: K.S.A. 60-2310(c) allows for a release of garnishment if the debtor is prevented from working for more than two weeks because of illness of the debtor or any family member of the debtor. Under the plain meaning of the statute, Robert's father is "any member" of Robert's family. There is no requirement in the statute that the family member be an immediate family member residing with the debtor. The affidavit submitted by Robert was sufficient to prove that he missed work for more than two weeks while caring for his father. The district court's decision is reversed, and the case is remanded for a factual determination about when the garnishment could resume.

STATUTES: K.S.A. 2017 Supp. 17-2205(a)(4)(A), 60-2310(c)

criminal

criminal procedure — motions — sentences — statutes
State v. Smith
Sedgwick District Court – sentence vacated, case remanded
No. 118,042 — September 14, 2018

FACTS: Smith convicted in 2006 of aggravated kidnapping. In 2014 he filed a K.S.A. 22-3504 motion to correct an illegal sentence, challenging the sentencing court’s criminal history scoring of a South Carolina burglary conviction as a personal felony in Smith’s criminal history. District court denied the motion and Smith appealed. In unpublished opinion the Court of Appeals vacated Smith’s sentence and remanded for resentencing. On remand, district court again found the South Carolina conviction to be a person felony, and denied Smith’s motion. Smith appealed. Issue before the panel centers on whether the holding in State v. Wetrich, 307 Kan. 552 (2018), was a change in the law that occurred after Smith was sentenced. State argued it was, and through retroactive application of the 2017 amendment to K.S.A. 22-3504, Smith’s sentence was not an illegal sentence.

ISSUE: (1) Sentencing and (2) Classification of an Out of State Conviction

HELD: Kansas Supreme Court’s decision in Wetrich was not a change in the law within the meaning of the 2017 amendment to the definition of an illegal sentence in K.S.A. 2017 Supp. 22-3504(3).  Instead, the decision reinterpreted the meaning of the term “comparable offenses” within the Kansas Sentencing Guidelines Act. No final decision on whether the 2017 amendment to K.S.A. 22-3504 can apply retroactively in Smith’s case, but panel rejects State’s claim that that 2017 amendment defining an illegal sentence is jurisdictional. Here, the South Carolina burglary statute that Smith was convicted under is not identical to or narrower than the Kansas burglary statute in effect when Smith committed his current crime of conviction, thus based on holding in Wetrich, Smith’s prior South Carolina burglary cannot be scored as person felony for criminal history purposes. Sentence is vacated and case is remanded for resentencing to classify the South Carolina burglary as a nonperson felony.

STATUTES: K.S.A. 2017 Supp. 21-6810(a), -6811(d), -6811(e), -6811(e)(3), 22-3504(1), -3504(3); K.S.A. 1993 Supp. 21-4711(e); K.S.A. 21-3110(7), -3715, -4711(e), 22-3504, 60-1507(f)

Tags:  divorce  Douglas District  motions  Sedgwick District  statutory construction 

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