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June 26, 2020 Digests

Posted By Administration, Monday, June 29, 2020

Kansas Supreme Court

Civil

PUBLIC DUTY—TORTS
MONTGOMERY V. SALEH
SHAWNEE DISTRICT COURT—COURT OF APPEALS IS AFFIRMED, DISTRICT COURT IS AFFIRMED IN PART, REVERSED IN PART
NO. 117,518—JUNE 26, 2020

FACTS: Trooper Saleh initiated a traffic stop when he was informed that a passenger in the vehicle had a knife and was acting erratically. The driver rapidly accelerated and drove recklessly, running stop signs and red lights while his speed reached near 100 miles per hour. Saleh decided to stop pursuit, but not before the driver ran a red light and hit a pickup truck, injuring Montgomery and another individual named Bennett. The plaintiffs filed separate petitions alleging that Saleh was negligent and that the State was liable for his actions. The State moved for summary judgment, arguing that even if the plaintiffs could prove negligence there was no duty owed by Saleh under the public duty doctrine. The district court granted the motion, rejecting application of both the public duty doctrine and Kansas Tort Claims Act immunity. But the district court ruled the plaintiffs failed to proffer evidence sufficient to support a finding of causation in fact. The Court of Appeals affirmed the district court's findings on immunity and the public duty doctrine but remanded the case for further action on proof of causation. The Supreme Court granted Trooper Saleh and the State's petition for review.

ISSUES: (1) Application of the public duty doctrine; (2) breach; (3) causation; (4) immunity

HELD: The plain language of K.S.A. 8-1506 required emergency vehicle drivers to "drive with due regard for the safety of all persons." This language shows that the legislature did not intend to exempt emergency vehicle drivers from the consequences of reckless conduct. This statute imposes a specific duty on law enforcement and individuals may sue if they believe this duty has been breached. In order to prevail, the plaintiffs must prove that Saleh acted with reckless disregard for the safety of others. The evidence presented to the district court showed there is a material issue of fact as to whether Saleh exhibited reckless disregard when continuing to pursue the fleeing driver. Law enforcement's conduct during a pursuit can be the legal cause of a third party's injuries. Given the evidence presented to the district court, a jury could have found that the driver knew he was being pursued by Saleh. Because there is a statutory duty created by K.S.A. 8-1506(d), the discretionary function exception does not apply to Saleh's pursuit of the fleeing driver.

DISSENT: (Rosen, J., joined by Stegall, J., and Green, J., assigned) Justice Rosen would reverse the Court of Appeals and affirm the district court's grant of summary judgment, holding that the plaintiffs failed to establish a prima facie case that Saleh breached his duty of care under K.S.A. 8-1506.

STATUTE: K.S.A. 8-1506, -1506(d), 75-6101(b), -6103(a), -6104, -6104(e), -6104(n)

CONTRACTS
RUSSELL V. TREANOR INVESTMENTS
DOUGLAS DISTRICT COURT—COURT OF APPEALS IS AFFIRMED, DISTRICT COURT IS AFFIRMED
NO. 117,973—JUNE 26, 2020

FACTS: In 1997, the owner of two adjacent properties executed and recorded an Operation and Easement Agreement. The OEA restricted the building size and prohibited either property from being used as a regular grocery store. The OEA allowed for amendment if all of the current owners agreed in writing, and the OEA was amended to alter the original site plan. The amendment allowed for the creation of a multi-unit buildings with condominiums and retail space; Russell purchased a unit in the building in 2010. Treanor Investments purchased part of the property covered by the OEA in 2015, with hopes to amend the OEA and enlarge the property footprint to encompass a grocery store. Russell filed suit, claiming the OEA could not be amended without condominium owner consent. The parties filed competing motions for summary judgment and the district court agreed with Treanor, finding that it had been designated as the responsible owner, who had authority to act on behalf of other owners. The Court of Appeals affirmed, finding that the OEA and its amendments were clear and unambiguous in allowing the responsible owner to act on others' behalf. Russell's petition for review was granted.

ISSUES: (1) Authority to amend the OEA; (2) can amendment materially change the character of the real estate

HELD: The language of the OEA is plain and unambiguous, and it allows for the designation of a responsible owner to act on others' behalf. This language existed before Russell purchased his condominium. Nothing in the language prevents the responsible owner from further amending the OEA to alter size and use restrictions. Russell failed to raise a genuine issue of material fact about whether the proposed changes to the property would cause a material change in circumstances.

STATUTES: No statutes cited.

criminal

appeals—constitutional law—criminal law—criminal procedure—evidence 
state v. George
finney district court—affirmed
no. 120,190—june 26, 2020

FACTS: George convicted of first-degree murder, attempted distribution of a controlled substance, attempted aggravated robbery, aggravated assault, and criminal possession of a firearm. He appealed claiming: (1) his convictions were multiplicitous, arguing three of his convictions “folded” into one another and became a single offense; (2) prosecutorial error during cross-examination of a witness by commenting on the witness’ credibility; (3) trial court erred by allowing a witness to invoke Fifth Amendment and refuse to testify where the witness had been convicted and sentenced but his appeal was still pending; and (4) cumulative error denied him a fair trial.

ISSUES: (1) Multiplicity; (2) prosecutorial error; (3) invocation of Fifth Amendment; (4) cumulative error

HELD: George’s convictions are not multiplicitous. Elements of each of three crimes arising from the same conduct but grounded in three different statutes are examined, finding: attempted aggravated robbery and aggravated assault are not multiplicitous; attempted distribution or possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance and attempted aggravated robbery are not multiplicitous; and attempted distribution or possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance is not multiplicitous with aggravated assault.

            George failed to preserve his evidentiary claim and cannot evade the contemporaneous objection requirement demanded by K.S.A. 60-404 by reframing the issue as one of prosecutorial error. Defense counsel objected to the State’s cross-examination question as going “beyond the scope” of direct examination, but did not argue any grounds relating to impeachment or character evidence. This was insufficient for appellate review of the issue now claimed.

            Error resulting from district court’s exclusion of a witness’ testimony, if any, was harmless. Court declines to decide whether a plea of nolo contendere waives the privilege against self-incrimination after sentencing but before the conclusion of direct appeals. Even if error is assumed in this case, the error is harmless because the substance of this witness’ proffered testimony was entirely presented at trial through the testimony of a detective.

            Cumulative error doctrine does not apply in case having only one assumed error.

STATUTES: K.S.A. 2019 Supp. 21-5301, -5301(a), -5412(a), -5412(b)(1), -5420, -5420(a), -5420(b), -5705(a)(1), -5705(d)(3)(C), 22-3601(b)(4), 60-261; K.S.A. 60-404, -422(c)

criminal procedure—evidence—sentencing—statutes
state v. satchell
sedgwick district court—affirmed in part and vacated in part
court of appeals—affirmed in part and reversed in part
no. 116,151—june 26, 2020

FACTS: Satchell charged with 2014 sexual offenses involving two children. To show his propensity to sexually abuse children, State was allowed to present evidence under K.S.A. 2019 Supp. 60-455(d) about Satchell’s 2010 abuse of three other children under similar circumstances. Jury convicted Satchell on all counts. Sentencing court ordered consecutive “hard 25” sentences for the eight off-grid offenses, followed by 100 months in prison for criminal sodomy. Court also ordered lifetime parole for the off-grid offenses and lifetime postrelease supervision for the on-grid offense. On appeal, Satchell claimed in part the district should not have allowed the 60-455 evidence because it was unduly prejudicial, and argued he should not have been given lifetime postrelease supervision. In unpublished opinion, Court of Appeals rejected both claims. Review granted

ISSUES: (1) K.S.A. 60-455 evidence; (2) sentencing

HELD: District court did not abuse its discretion by admitting evidence of the 2010 allegations. The 2010 evidence, if true, would be relevant. At issue is whether the probative value of this evidence was substantially outweighed by the risk of unfair prejudice. Factors in State v. Boysaw, 309 Kan. 526 (2019), to be considered in determining probative value and undue prejudice are analyzed on facts in this case. In balancing those factors, the district court can exclude otherwise admissible relevant evidence if its probative value is “substantially outweighed” by the risk of undue prejudice. Court acknowledges criticism of past decisions that have left out the term “substantially,” but finds the proper test has been applied despite the occasional shorthand references. Here, the risks of undue prejudice did not substantially outweigh the high probative value of the 2010 evidence.

            District court erred by ordering lifetime postrelease supervision. Under K.S.A. 2016 Supp. 21-6819, in effect at the time of Satchell’s offenses, the proper post release supervision term is lifetime parole when the district court imposed consecutive on-grid and off-grid sentences. The lifetime postrelease supervision portion of Satchell’s sentence is vacated. 

STATUTES: K.S.A. 2019 Supp. 60-455(d); K.S.A. 2016 Supp. 21-6627, -6819, -6819(b)(2), 22-3717, -3717(d)(1)(G), -3717(u); K.S.A. 60-406, -407(f), -445

 

Kansas Court of Appeals

Civil

AGENCY ACTION—MEDICAL EXPENSES
UNIVERSITY OF KANSAS HOSPITAL AUTHORITY V. BOARD OF COUNTY COMMISSIONERS OF FRANKLIN COUNTY, KANSAS
WYANDOTTE DISTRICT COURT—AFFIRMED IN PART, REVERSED IN PART, REMANDED
NO. 120,472—JUNE 26, 2020

FACTS: After seeing a man driving without headlights and with a suspended license, Ottawa police engaged in a high-speed chase. Officers lost track of the vehicle, and by the time they found it, the driver had crashed and the vehicle was fully engulfed in flames. Rescue personnel found the driver on the ground, suffering from severe injuries. Officers did not search the driver, and he was not placed under arrest, although a hold was placed while the man was in the hospital. After his release, the driver was taken to jail based on outstanding warrants that were unrelated to the police chase. After an investigation, the driver was charged with felony fleeing and eluding. The University of Kansas Hospital Authority filed suit against the City of Ottawa and the Franklin County Board of County Commissioners in an attempt to recoup some of the man's considerable medical bills. All parties filed motions for summary judgment. After considering arguments, the district court found that the driver was in the City's custody when medical treatment was initiated. But for the driver's injuries, he would have been arrested when the chase ended. The district court granted summary judgment in the Hospital's favor against the City but found that the County was not involved enough to be responsible for bills. The City appealed and the Hospital cross-appealed.

ISSUES: (1) Whether the driver was in custody; (2) existence of disputed material facts

HELD:  "Custody" has a broad definition. A formal arrest is not always necessary to show that a person is in custody. It is undisputed that County deputies did not witness any crimes being committed and did not participate in the chase. This means it is also undisputed that the driver was not in County custody when medical care was sought, and the County has no obligation to contribute to the driver's medical bills. There are lingering fact questions, though, about whether the driver was in the City's custody. Specifically, there was no stipulation that the driver was stopped by law enforcement, triggering the statutory obligation to take him into custody. Because there is a lingering fact question, summary judgment was not appropriate. The case must be remanded to clear up these issues.

STATUTE: K.S.A. 2019 Supp. 8-1568(b), -1568(c), 22-2202(d), -2202(i), -4612, -4612(a)

CONTRACTS—OIL AND GAS
THOROUGHBRED ASSOCIATES V. KANSAS CITY ROYALTY COMPANY
COMANCHE DISTRICT COURT—AFFIRMED IN PART, REVERSED IN PART, REMANDED
NO. 120,068—JUNE 26, 2020

FACTS: Beginning in 1997, Thoroughbred acquired oil and gas leases. After it struck a big well, Thoroughbred acquired leases on nearby property to prevent competition. However, there was a 1/3 mineral interest in one of these tracts which remained unleased. In an attempt to acquire that lease, Thoroughbred contacted the owner, Oxy USA Inc., about selling. The parties signed a lease in 1998 which allowed Thoroughbred to unitize the lease. The lease would continue for as long as Thoroughbred produced oil or gas in paying quantities, either from the tract or from the unit as a whole. Oxy had a 3/16 royalty on production from the tract. In 1999, Oxy sold its interest in the lease to KC Royalty. Tensions arose when KC Royalty believed that gas from the unit was being drained into another unit that was not covered by KC Royalty's lease and that KC Royalty believed that Thoroughbred owed it unpaid royalties. After extensive litigation and another appeal which was heard by the Kansas Supreme Court, the parties ended up back in district court. That court ruled in favor of KC Royalty, finding that the parties agreed to unitize the Lease, that KC Royalty had waived certain conditions, and that Thoroughbred was equitably estopped from enforcing the conditions. After ruling that all liquids produced in the unit were incidental byproducts of the gas, the court concluded that KC Royalty's interest included all unit production. Both parties appealed.

ISSUES: (1) Whether the parties included the lease in the unit by modification, waiver, or estoppel; (2) award of interest in oil production arising from gas lease; (3) attorney fees

HELD: Substantial evidence supported the district court's finding that the parties modified their lease to include the parcel in the larger unit. This is proven by both Oxy and KC Royalty accepting royalty payments. KC Royalty had the unilateral power to waive conditions and allow Thoroughbred to include the lease in the larger unit. All evidence shows that KC Royalty intended to modify the agreement. Because Thoroughbred represented that KC Royalty's lease was in the unit for over three years, it is estopped from changing its mind now. A portion of the unit included a parcel which was a separate, oil-producing formation where oil production far exceeded gas production. There was no evidence that the oil and gas in this particular parcel was condensate. The district court improperly included this parcel in its royalty calculations, and the case must be remanded for accurate calculations. The district court did not abuse its discretion by denying KC Royalty's motion for attorney fees.

STATUTE: K.S.A. 55-205, -1617

CLASS ACTIONS—OIL AND GAS
COOPER CLARK FOUNDATION V. OXY USA, INC.
GRANT DISTRICT COURT—AFFIRMED
NO. 120,371—JUNE 26, 2020

FACTS: This appeal involves a class-action lawsuit over natural gas leases. After extracting gas, Oxy sent most of it for processing. Cooper, representing the wells included within the class action, disputes the method Oxy was using to calculate royalties for all Class Leases. The class action petition was filed in 2017, alleging that Oxy underpaid royalties from July 2007 through April 2014. Cooper's specific grievances included Oxy passing through processing fees, improperly calculating volume, using the wrong price structure, and not paying interest on conservation fees. The district court certified Cooper's class, and Oxy appealed that certification.

ISSUE: (1) Whether class was properly certified

HELD: Gas produced from Class wells wasn't marketable until it was in a condition suitable for its intended market. This didn't occur until after it was processed. The district court did not abuse its discretion when it found that the class petition raised questions of law and fact that were common to all class members. All of the claims can be litigated classwide without individualized evidence; this includes a dispute over whether Oxy owes interest for conservation fees that were repaid to class members. There are similarly no individualized issues regarding Oxy's statute of limitations defense. The district court rigorously analyzed the requirements for class certification and correctly concluded that the class was appropriate.

STATUTES: K.S.A. 2019 Supp. 60-223, -223(a), -223(b); K.S.A. 16-201, 55-1614, -1615

criminal 

appeals—appellate procedure—constitutional law—criminal procedure— damages—insurance—restitution—sentencing
state v. robinson
lyon district court—affirmed
no. 120,903—june 26, 2020

FACTS: Robinson pled no contest to battery of law enforcement officer. Sentencing included requirement that Robinson pay $2,648.56 in restitution to reimburse workers compensation insurance carrier that paid medical expenses of officer injured as a result of the battery. Robinson appealed claiming the statutes authorizing the district court to order restitution violate Section 5 of Kansas Constitution Bill of Rights by depriving him of right to have a civil jury determine the amount of damages, and violate the Sixth Amendment of U. S. Constitution by allowing a judge to determine the amount of restitution to be awarded the victim. He also claimed district court erred in awarding restitution to be paid to an insurance carrier. State contends the constitutional issues, raised for first time on appeal, were not properly preserved.

ISSUES: (1) Unpreserved claims; (2) restitution—Section 5 of Kansas Constitution Bill of Rights; (3) restitution—Sixth Amendment of U.S. Constitution; (4) payment to insurance carrier

HELD: The issues not raised below are considered because they potentially implicate a claim to the fundamental right to a trial by jury under the Kansas and United States constitutions, and a decision on the merits would serve the ends of justice.

            Robinson failed to establish that Section 5 of the Kansas Constitution Bill of Rights requires that a jury impose criminal restitution under K.S.A. 2017 Supp. 21-6604(b)(1) and K.S.A. 2017 Supp. 21-6607(c)(2). Criminal restitution is not a civil remedy and no provision in the Kansas territorial statutes mentions criminal restitution.

            District court’s restitution order did not violate the Sixth Amendment. Court of Appeals panels have addressed whether Sixth Amendment applies to criminal restitution, and review of one unpublished opinion is currently pending. Under State v. Huff, 50 Kan.App.2d 1094 (2014), rev. denied 302 Kan. 1015 (2015), restitution is not punishment, but even if punishment is assumed, the Kansas statutes do not violate the Sixth Amendment. Huff is consistent with cited  federal and state court opinions, and courts have concluded that Southern Union Co. v. United States, 567 U.S. 343 (2012), does not extend Apprendi and its progeny to restitution. Kansas statutes governing restitution impose neither mandatory minimum amounts nor mandatory maximum amounts, so they do not trigger concerns in Apprendi or Alleyne.

            Neither K.S.A. 2017 Supp. 21-6604(b)(1) nor K.S.A. 2017 Supp. 21-6607(c)(2) prohibit a district court from awarding restitution to an insurance carrier that has suffered damage or injury as a result of the defendant’s crime.

DISSENT (Leben, J.): Would vacate the restitution award because Robinson had a right to have a jury determine the amount of damage or loss he caused any victim of his crime. Text of Sixth Amendment, history, and precedent support a holding that Sixth Amendment applies to restitution. Cases cited by the majority as rejecting the claim that Apprendi applies to restitution are criticized. The two Kansas restitution statutes violate Apprendi by allowing judges to increase the statutory maximum punishment for an offense beyond that authorized by the jury’s verdict or the plea agreement. Even if Robison had no jury-trial right under Sixth Amendment, he had one under Section 5 of Kansas Constitution Bill of Rights.

STATUTES: K.S.A. 2017 Supp. 21-5413(c)(3)(D), -6604, -6604(b)(1), -6604(b)(2), -6607(c)(2), -6608(c)(7), -6613(a), -6613(b), 60-238, -2401, -4304(b); K.S.A. 1991 Supp. 21-6607(c)(2); K.S.A. 60-4301

Tags:  Agency Action  Appeals  Appellate Procedure  Class Actions  Constitutional Law  Contracts  Criminal Procedure  Damages  Evidence  Insurance  Lyon  Medical Expenses  Oil and Gas  Public Duty  Restitution  Sentencing  Statutes  Torts 

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June 12, 2020 Digests

Posted By Administration, Monday, June 15, 2020

Kansas Supreme Court

 

criminal 

attorneys and clients—criminal procedure—motions—sentencing
state v. adams
sedgwick district court—affirmed
no. 120,475—june 12, 2020

FACTS: District court allowed Adams to dismiss his appointed attorney and to proceed pro se at trial, resulting in plea agreement for guilty plea to criminal charges including premeditated first-degree murder. His request for reappointment of attorney for sentencing was granted. Sentence was imposed, which included a hard 50 sentence, following the plea agreement. Adams later filed motion to withdraw plea stating he was prepared to offer evidence from Iowa and Kansas departments of corrections of his unmedicated schizophrenia to show his plea was involuntary. He also filed K.S.A. 60-1507 motion alleging appointed counsel was ineffective because he did not address at sentencing whether Adams had an unmedicated mental health diagnosis, or have Adams undergo a mental health evaluation. District court held preliminary hearing with new appointed counsel and denied both motions. Adams appealed.

ISSUES: (1) Post-sentence motion to withdraw plea; (2) ineffective assistance of counsel at sentencing

HELD: District court properly concluded there was no manifest injustice because even if Adams had been allowed to present evidence regarding his previous mental health status, that diagnosis was not dispositive and the overall record would still conclusively show he was entitled to no relief.

            Under totality of circumstances, appointed counsel’s decision to forego a mental health evaluation of Adams does not constitute deficient representation when record shows Adams was sufficiently engaged in a rational, thoughtful, knowing way throughout the proceeding. There were no red flags in the record to suggest appointed counsel should have investigated Adams’s mental health. Adams’s reliance on “duty to investigate” in State v. Orr, 262 Kan. 312 (1997), is misplaced.

STATUTES: K.S.A. 2019 Supp. 22-3210(d)(2); K.S.A. 22-3301(1), 60-1507

criminal law—criminal procedure—evidence—statutes
state v. dinkel
saline district court—remanded with directions; court of appeals—reversed
no. 113,705—june 12, 2020

FACTS: Jury convicted a school counselor of two counts of rape of 13-yr-old boy (K.H.). Dinkel appealed on claims related to her defense that the K.H. had raped and then blackmailed her into continuing sexual encounters. Dinkel argued the district court’s exclusion of this evidence violated evidentiary rules and her constitutional right to present a defense. Court of appeals affirmed in unpublished opinion, concluding the rape of a child has no mental culpability requirement thus Dinkel’s intent was irrelevant. Review granted.

ISSUE: K.S.A. 2012 Supp. 21-5503(a)(3) - Evidence relevant to voluntary act requirement

HELD: Court of Appeals erred in concluding that whether K.H. forced the sexual encounter was irrelevant. As defined in K.S.A. 2012 Supp. 21-5503(a)(3), rape of a child under age 14 requires a voluntary act on the part of the defendant. Dinkel’s claim that she was forcibly raped is relevant since the rape of Dinkel negates the voluntary act requirement of rape of a child under 14. Jurisdiction retained while case is remanded to district court for Van Cleave hearing to determine whether defense trial counsel was ineffective for failing to argue the State never established the voluntary act requirement.  

STATUTE: K.S.A. 2012 Supp. 21-5201, -5202, -5202(a), -5202(b), -5202(h), -5202(d), -5203(b), -5501(a), -5503(a)(3)

constitutional law—criminal procedure—preemption—statutes
state v. Garcia
johnson district court—affirmed; court of appeals—affirmed
no. 112,502—june 12, 2020

FACTS: Kansas Supreme Court reversed Garcia’s jury conviction for identity theft, holding prosecution based on the use of his W-4 form was preempted by the Immigration and Reform and Control Act (IRCA). State v. Garcia, 306 Kan. 1113 (2017). State filed writ of certiorari in this and companion cases. United States Supreme Court reversed and remanded the state supreme court’s judgment, holding state law prosecutions were not preempted by the IRCA.

ISSUE: PreemptionImmigration Reform and Control Act of 1986

HELD: Consistent with Kansas v. Garcia, 589 U.S. __ (2020), a Kansas prosecution for identity theft or making false information based on information a defendant provides on employment forms, with the exception of the I-9 form, is not preempted by the IRCA. Review of whether there was sufficient evidence of intent to defraud, and whether district court’s failure to give unanimity instruction was clearly erroneous, was improvidently granted. These issues are not addressed on the merits.

STATUTES: 8 U.S.C. § 1324a(b)(5); K.S.A. 2012 Supp. 21-6107

constitutional law—evidence—motions
state v. Glover
douglas district court—reversed; court of appeals—affirmed
no. 116,446—june 12, 2020

FACTS: District court granted Glover’s motion to suppress evidence obtained during a traffic stop, finding the officer lacked reasonable suspicion of illegal activity when he stopped the truck in violation of Fourth Amendment. Court of Appeals reversed. State v. Glover,  54 Kan. App. 2d 377 (2017). Kansas Supreme Court reversed and affirmed the district court’s suppression ruling. 308 Kan. 590 (2018). State’s writ of certiorari granted.

ISSUE: Fourth Amendmenttraffic stop

HELD: Consistent with Kansas v. Glover, 589 U.S. __ (2020), an investigative traffic stop made after running a vehicle’s license plate and learning the registered owner’s driver’s license has been revoked is reasonable under the Fourth Amendment if the officer lacks information negating an inference that the owner is driving the vehicle. Here, the stipulated facts reveal no information known by the deputy sufficient to rebut that reasonable inference. Kansas Supreme Court’s judgment is vacated and case is remanded to district court for further proceedings.

STATUTES: None

constitutional law—criminal procedure—preemption—statutes
state v. morales
johnson district court—affirmed; court of appeals—affirmed
no. 111,904—june 12 2020

FACTS: Kansas Supreme Court reversed Morales’ convictions for identity theft and making a false information, holding prosecution based on use of a Social Security number belonging to another person for employment was preempted by the Immigration and Reform and Control Act (IRCA). State v. Morales, 306 Kan. 1100 (2017). State filed writ of certiorari in this and companion cases. United States Supreme Court reversed and remanded the state supreme court’s judgment, holding state law prosecutions were not preempted by the IRCA.

ISSUE: PreemptionImmigration Reform and Control Act of 1986

HELD: Consistent with Kansas v. Garcia, 589 U.S. __ (2020), a Kansas prosecution for identity theft or making false information based on information a defendant provides on employment forms, with the exception of the I-9 form, is not preempted by the IRCA. Review of whether there was sufficient evidence of intent to defraud was improvidently granted. This issue is not addressed on the merits.

STATUTE: 8 U.S.C. § 1324a(b)(5)

criminal procedure—restitution—sentencing
state v. tucker
wyandotte district court—reversed
no. 119,242—june 12, 2020

FACTS: Tucker pled guilty to one count of capital murder and was sentenced to prison for life without parole. District court ordered payment of $5,000 in restitution without an explicit order for payment during Tucker’s incarceration, and acknowledged that restitution will never be paid. Tucker appealed.

ISSUE: Restitutionunworkable plan

HELD: Under circumstances in this case, district court abused its discretion by ordering an indigent criminal defendant sentenced to life in prison without possibility of parole to pay restitution even while recognizing the restitution would not be paid. State v. Holt, 305 Kan. 839 (2017), State v. Shank, 304 Kan. 89 (2016), and State v. Alcala,  301 Kan. 832 (2015), are distinguished. Restitution is the rule, and unworkability is the exception. Here, Tucker met the burden of establishing that the restitution plan was unworkable. Restitution order is reversed.

STATUTE: K.S.A. 2015 Supp. 21-6604(b)(1)

 

Kansas Court of Appeals

Civil

ADMINISTRATIVE LAW—JURISDICTION
BRUNGARDT V. KANSAS DEPARTMENT OF REVENUE
FINNEY DISTRICT COURT—REVERSED AND REMANDED
NO. 120,409—JUNE 12, 2020

FACTS: Corporal Kerley arrested Brungardt for driving under the influence. Corporal Kerley administered a breath test, following the mandatory procedures for the Intoxilyzer 9000 machine. The machine allows officers to fill out the required forms—including the DC-27 certification form—electronically. Because his blood-alcohol level exceeded legal limits, Brungardt's driver's license was administratively suspended by the Kansas Department of Revenue. In requesting an administrative hearing, Brungardt claimed, among other things, that the DC-27 form was invalid because it lacked an original, non-electronic signature. Although the hearing officer affirmed his suspension, the district court reversed during judicial review. The court found no flaws in Corporal Kerley's performance but ruled that Corporal Kerley had physically signed the machine when he created his electronic signature profile, before Brungardt's test was performed. K.S.A. 8-1002(b) establishes that certification of the DC-27 form occurs upon signing, and the district court reasoned that Corporal Kerley signed a blank page when he established his signature profile. The department appealed.

ISSUES: (1) Jurisdiction; (2) validity of electronic signature

HELD: Brungardt's petition for judicial review included his claim that the DC-27 form was invalid. Even though he didn't argue the exact grounds relied on by the district court when overturning the suspension, Brungardt gave adequate notice that the validity of the DC-27 was in question. This gave the district court jurisdiction to rule. "Signing" encompasses more activity than merely writing a name, and Kansas law recognizes electronic signatures. It is the intent of signing, not the physical form, which controls the effectiveness of the signature. Corporal Kerley followed the procedures of K.S.A. 8-1002(b) and affixed his signature when done. The district court improperly interpreted the statute and erred by reversing the suspension of Brungardt's driver's license.

STATUTES: K.S.A. 2019 Supp. 8-1001, -1002(a), -1002(b), -1002(f); K.S.A. 77-614(b)(6)

Criminal

EQUAL PROTECTION—SEX CRIMES
STATE V. LITTLE
SEDGWICK DISTRICT COURT—AFFIRMED
NO. 120,214—JUNE 12, 2020

FACTS: Little was convicted of multiple, high-level felonies, including rape and aggravated criminal sodomy. These convictions meant that on top of his prison sentence, Little was given a lifetime term of postrelease supervision. Little appealed, arguing that this lifetime term of postrelease violated his right to equal protection.

ISSUE: (1) Equal protection

HELD: Equal protection requires that similarly situated people be treated alike. Little compares his postrelease term to the shorter terms given to people who are convicted of other serious felonies, like murder. But sex offenders are not similarly situated to people convicted of murder. Individuals convicted of certain sex offenses have much higher rates of recidivism, and the lifetime term of postrelease supervision serves the dual purpose of allowing rehabilitation while also protecting the public from future offenses.

STATUTE: K.S.A. 2008 Supp. 22-3717(d)(1)(G)

Tags:  administrative law  Attorneys and Clients  Constitutional Law  criminal law  criminal procedure  equal protection  evidence  jurisdiction  motions  preemption  restitution  sentencing  sex crimes  statutes 

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February 28, 2020 Digests

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

Kansas Supreme Court

Attorney Discipline

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

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

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

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

 

criminal 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Kansas Court of Appeals

Civil

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

criminal

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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February 21, 2020 Digest

Posted By Administration, Monday, February 24, 2020

Kansas Court of Appeals

criminal 

criminal procedure—restitution—sentencing—statutes
state v. roberts
sedgwick district court—vacated and remanded
no. 120,377—february 21, 2020

FACTS: Roberts convicted of burglary and theft. Sentence included order to pay $50,407.86 in restitution, jointly and severally with co-defendant, but the order did not direct any manner of payment or establish a payment plan. Roberts appealed, claiming district court’s noncompliance with statutory requirement to establish a restitution payment plan rendered the sentence illegal.

ISSUE: (1) Restitution plan

HELD: K.S.A. 2018 Supp. 21-6604(b)(2) is interpreted, finding the statute refers to a "plan established by the court for payment of restitution." That language does not merely refer to a court's order of an amount of restitution but shows legislative intent that the court establish a payment plan when it orders restitution. Based on clear statutory language, Roberts’ sentence is illegal.  Restitution order is vacated and remanded to correct the sentence by establishing a plan for payment of restitution. State v. Garza, No. 118,840 (Kan. App.)(unpublished opinion), rev. denied 310 Kan. __ (2019), is distinguished as focusing on section (b)(1) of the statute rather than (b)(2). Legislature must address any concern that it is unreasonable to require a district court to order a total amount of restitution, establish a payment plan, tell the defendant of that payment plan, and permit a defendant to show the plan is unworkable.

STATUTE: K.S.A. 2018 Supp. 21-6604(b). -6604(b)(1), -6604(b)(2), -6604(e), -6604(i), -6608(c)(7), 22-3504(3), -3717(n), -3718

Tags:  Criminal  Criminal Procedure  Restitution  Sedgwick District Court  Sentencing  Statutes  Weekly-2020-02-25 

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