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March 1, 2019 Digests

Posted By Administration, Monday, March 4, 2019

Kansas Supreme Court

criminal

appeals—constitutional law—criminal procedure—sentencing
state v. brown
brown district court—judgment vacated and case remanded:
court of appeals—reversed
no. 113,751—march 1, 2019

FACTS: Brown entered a guilty plea to aggravated sodomy. A 360 month prison term was imposed. In an unpublished opinion, court of appeals found district judge stated reasons for departure from Jessica’s Law mandatory life sentence to the sentencing grid, but failed to state reasons for departure from grid range of 554-618 months to the 360-month sentence. Sentence vacated and remanded for resentencing. District judge then imposed 372-month sentence, stating same reasons for departure and noting impact on victim and her family by Brown appealing the sentence. A divided court of appeals panel affirmed in unpublished opinion. Brown filed petition for review, claiming the longer sentence denied him due process and conflicted with U.S. caselaw and Kansas Supreme Court precedent.

ISSUE: (1) Due process—vindictive resentencing

HELD: Brown’s constitutional claim, raised for first time on appeal, is considered. Presumption of vindictiveness, articulated in North Carolina v. Pearce, 395 U.S. 711 (1969), and applied in subsequent cases, is discussed. Under those U.S. Supreme Court decisions and State v. Rinck, 206 Kan. 634 (1996), Brown’s due process rights were violated. His successful appeal was the only reason articulated for the increased prison term, distinguishing State v. Spencer, 291 Kan. 796 (2011). Sentence is vacated and case is remanded for resentencing.

STATUTE: K.S.A. 2017 Supp. 21-5504(b)(1), -6815(a)

 

criminal procedure—motions
state v. Woodring
saline district court—affirmed
no. 117,347—March 1, 2019

FACTS: In exchange for all other charges being dismissed, Woodring entered plea of no contest to felony murder based on his involvement in a vehicular shooting. Prior to sentencing months later, he filed pro se motion to withdraw plea, arguing he was innocent because he did not pull trigger, and claiming State’s deadline for accepting the plea agreement was coercive. District court denied the motion, finding none of the factors in State v. Edgar, 281 Kan. 30 (2006), supported withdrawal of the plea. Hard-25 life sentence imposed. Woodring appealed the denial of his motion.

ISSUE: (1) Motion to withdraw plea

HELD: Under facts in this case, Woodring failed to show the good cause required by K.S.A. 2017 Supp. 22-3210 for withdrawing his plea prior to sentencing. Theory of aiding and abetting defeats his claim of innocence, and the 10-day deadline for accepting the plea agreement was not unduly coercive. District court’s ruling is affirmed.

STATUTES: K.S.A. 2018 Supp. 22-3601(b)(2): K.S.A. 2017 Supp. 21-5210, 22-3210, -3210(a), -3210(b)

Tags:  8804  Brown District  Saline District  Weekly20190305 

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October 3 and October 5, 2018 Digests

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Kansas Supreme Court

Attorney Discipline

ORDER OF DISBARMENT
IN THE MATTER OF JEAN MARIE BOBRINK
NO. 14,366—OCTOBER 3, 2018

FACTS: Jean Marie Bobrink, an attorney licensed to practice law in Kansas, voluntarily surrendered her license. At the time of surrender, there were two disciplinary complaints pending and she was operating under an active diversion agreement. Ms. Bobrink was disbarred in Missouri in January 2018.

HELD: The Court accepted the surrender and Ms. Bobrink is disbarred.

ORDER OF DISBARMENT
IN THE MATTER OF ROBERT E. ARNOLD, III
NO. 22,544—OCTOBER 3, 2018

FACTS: Robert E. Arnold voluntarily surrendered his license to practice law in Kansas. At the time of surrender, a complaint was being investigated by the Disciplinary Administrator. The conduct which prompted the investigation in Kansas served as the basis for Mr. Arnold's disbarment in Missouri in June 2018.

HELD: The court accepted the surrender, and Mr. Arnold is disbarred.

Civil

ADOPTION
IN RE ADOPTION OF C.L.
WYANDOTTE DISTRICT COURT–REVERSED and REMANDED
COURT OF APPEALS—REVERSED
NO. 117,723—OCTOBER 5, 2018

FACTS: C.L. was born in September 2016. Mother was not aware that she was pregnant. She placed C.L. for adoption while still in the hospital, and he was placed with custodial parents who hoped to adopt him. A social worker contacted the man who mother believed was the biological father. He was told about the baby and was asked to relinquish his parental rights. Father instead obtained counsel and sought to establish paternity; genetic testing later confirmed that father is C.L.'s biological parent. The potential adoptive parents filed an adoption petition and asked the court to terminate father's rights. Father appeared in that action and opposed adoption. The district court terminated father's parental rights, finding that father abandoned C.L. after learning of his birth. The court of appeals affirmed that finding and father's petition for review was granted.

ISSUE: (1) Sufficiency of the evidence to show support of the child

HELD: The facts established in the district court show that father made adequate efforts to support and meet his child. The putative adoptive parents made untrue allegations in their adoption petition, and the adoption petition prevented father from making efforts to support his child. This case must be remanded so that C.L. can begin to be integrated in to father's home.

STATUTE: K.S.A. 2016 Supp. 59-2921(a), -2136(h)(1), -2136(h)(1)(A), -2136(h)(1)(C), -2136(h)(2)(A), -2136(h)(2)(B)

criminal

appeals—criminal procedure—jurisdiction—statutes
state v. weekes
saline district court—Case Remanded
court of appeals—reversed
No. 115,739—october 5, 2018

FACTS: Weekes was convicted of unlawful possession of hydrocodone and sentenced to 12 months’ probation with underlying 30-month prison term. State later filed motion to revoke probation. Weeks filed motion pursuant to State v. McGill, 271 Kan. 150 (2001), seeking a reduced underlying prison term or to be allowed to serve sentences concurrently. District court revoked probation, denied the motion to modify the sentence, and imposed the original underlying sentence. Weekes appealed. In an unpublished opinion, court of appeals dismissed the appeal for lack of jurisdiction, relying on State v. Everett, No. 111168, 2015 WL 4366445 (Kan.App.2015)(unpublished), rev. denied 305 Kan. 1254 (2016), and citing K.S.A. 2016 Supp. 2016 Supp. 21-6801(c)(1). Weekes’ petition for review granted.

ISSUE: Appellate jurisdiction

HELD: Review was limited to issue of appellate jurisdiction. Logical fallacies in Everett rationale are identified. Panel had jurisdiction to review whether the district court abused its discretion in denying Weekes’ motion for a post-probation-revocation sentence modification, pursuant to K.S.A. 2017 Supp. 22-3716(c)(1)(E), even if the denial results in the imposition of an original sentence that was a presumptive sentence for the crime of conviction. The panel’s dismissal for lack of jurisdiction is reversed. Appeal was reinstated and remanded to court of appeals for consideration on the merits.

STATUTES: K.S.A. 2017 Supp. 21-6803(q), 22-3716(c)(1)(E); K.S.A. 2016 Supp. 21-6820(c)(1)

appeals—constitutional law—criminal law—criminal procedure—evidence  fourth amendment—prosecutors
state v. lowery
shawnee district court—affirmed
No. 115,377—october 5, 2018

FACTS: Related to a shooting between two vehicles on victims’ wedding night, Lowery was convicted of charges including premeditated first-degree murder of Davenport-Ray, attempted premeditated first-degree murder of Ray, and unlawful discharge of a firearm at an occupied building. On appeal, Lowery claimed: (1) prosecutorial error during trial and in closing argument; (2) he was denied his right to be present when district court held hearing on Lowery’s motion in limine and compelled a State witness to testify pursuant to grant of immunity; (3) district court erred by instructing jury on law of aiding and abetting without modifying the standard instruction; (4) his post-arrest statements to law enforcement officers were involuntary and should have been suppressed; (5) the partially redacted video recording of his interview with law enforcement officers contained inadmissible evidence; (6) prosecutor’s questions to witness went beyond the scope of defense counsel’s direct examination and elicited hearsay testimony; (7) insufficient evidence supported his convictions; and (8) cumulative error denied him a fair trial.

ISSUES: (1) Prosecutorial error, (2) right to be present at every critical trial stage, (3) aiding and abetting instruction, (4) voluntariness of a defendant’s statements to law enforcement, (5) failure to redact evidence from defendant’s video-recorded statement, (6) hearsay evidence beyond the scope of direct examination, (7) sufficiency of the evidence, (8) cumulative error

HELD: Defendant cannot circumvent contemporaneous objection requirements of K.S.A. 60-404 by characterizing an appellate issue as prosecutorial error rather than evidentiary error. No review of evidentiary claims that were not preserved for appeal. No abuse of district court’s discretion in denying Lowery’s motion for a new trial based on prosecutor’s comments and gestures. No error in prosecutor’s use of puzzle and picture analogies in this case which is factually distinguished from State v. Crawford, 300 Kan. 740 (2014), and State v. Sherman, 305 Kan. 88 (2016). Lowery’s claim of prosecutorial error for violating trial court’s orders in limine is unavailing. While a close call, prosecutor did not comment on witness credibility. Prosecutor improperly used “golden rule” argument in closing argument, and egregiously misstated the DNA evidence and testimony of the DNA analyst, but on facts in this case these were not reversible errors.

Kansas Supreme Court has not addressed whether an immunity hearing is a critical stage of the proceedings at which the defendant must be present, but other courts have found the defendant has no such right. However, district court violated Lowery’s statutory rights by conducting a hearing on Lowery’s motion in limine without Lowery or defense counsel present. Under facts in this case, the error was harmless.

Lowery’s instructional error claim is not reviewed because Lowery invited the error.

There is no express requirement in Miranda that a defendant be informed of the right to stop answering questions at any time and terminate the interview. Instead, this is part of the totality of the circumstances to be reviewed in the voluntariness calculus. Here, Lowery’s statements to law enforcement were freely and voluntarily made. District court’s Jackson v. Denno ruling is affirmed.

New allegations of material that should have been redacted were not preserved for appellate review. On claims properly before the court, the jury should not have heard officer comments on the possible sentence imposed if Lowery were to be found guilty, officer explanations on the law of felony murder, or statements implying that Lowery had a criminal history. But it is presumed the jury followed the instruction to not consider the ultimate disposition in this case.

Prosecutor’s questions were not outside the scope of direct examination. Officer’s testimony did not constitute inadmissible hearsay evidence, and no reasonable probability that evidence from this testimony affected the outcome of trial.

Evidence viewed in light most favorable to the State was sufficient to support Lowery’s convictions.

The three prosecutorial errors found in this case were harmless beyond a reasonable doubt, and the fairness of Lowery’s trial was not impacted by his absence at the motion hearing. Evidence against Lowery was not overwhelming, but circumstantially strong enough that cumulative effect of the errors did not deprive Lowery a fair trial.

STATUTES: K.S.A. 2017 Supp. 21-5210(b), 22-3208(7), -3501, -3601(b)(3)-(4), 60-261, 455, -455(a), -460; K.S.A. 22-3403(3), 60-404, -421, -455, -446, -447

attorneys—criminal law—criminal procedure—ethics—evidence  judges—juries—
jury instructions—prosecutors—statutes—venue
state v. miller
douglas district court—affirmed
No. 114,373—october 5, 2018

FACTS: Miller was convicted of premeditated first-degree murder of his wife. State v. Miller, 284 Kan. 682 (2007)(Miller I). In 2012 unpublished opinion, court of appeals granted Miller post-conviction relief and ordered a new trial. Kansas Supreme Court affirmed that decision. Miller v. State, 298 Kan. 921 (2014)(Miller II). On retrial, Miller again convicted of premeditated first-degree murder. Miller appealed. As structured by the court, Miller claims trial court erred by: (1) denying motion for change of venue given extensive publicity surrounding first trial and corresponding pretrial publicity on retrial; (2) denying Miller’s for-cause challenges to 10 prospective jurors who knew of Miller’s prior conviction and/or had a preconceived opinion he was guilty; (3) denying Miller’s motion to first have jury determine if victim’s death was homicide, and then have same jury determine the degree of homicide; (4) denying portion of proposed instruction that limited jury’s consideration of dating site evidence as evidence of homicide; (5) denying motion to disqualify the district attorney’s (DA’s) office based on conflict of interest with witness and because office in possession of information from Miller’s first trial that was protected by attorney-client privilege; and (6) three times advancing an interpretation of the evidence that was not supported by the record. Miller also claimed (7) that medical evidence from State’s forensic pathologist was insufficient to establish the victim had been killed by another. Miller further claimed the trial court erred by: (8) denying motions for mistrial after prosecutor mentioned pornography in violation of in limine order, and after State’s rebuttal witness testified outside the scope of permissible rebuttal; (9) admitting evidence Miller sought to exclude through motion in limine of Miller’s extramarital affair, Miller accessing dating websites, Miller being the beneficiary of wife’s life insurance policy, and graphic photographs; and (10) granting State’s motion on first day of retrial to admit Miller’s testimony in Miller I without giving timely notice of intent to introduce this prior testimony. Finally, Miller claimed cumulative error denied him a fair trial.

ISSUES: (1) Change of venue, (2) trial court’s denial of for-cause juror challenges, (3) Denial of bifurcation request, (4) denial of complete requested limiting instruction, (5) disqualification of district attorney’s office, (6) judicial misconduct, (7) state’s failure to prove a homicide, (8) denial of mistrial motions, (9) motions in limine and admissibility of evidence, (10) admission of defendant’s prior trial testimony, (11) cumulative error

HELD: Millers’ constitutional challenge to venue fails Factors identified by United States and Kansas supreme courts are reviewed and applied, finding no presumed or actual prejudice from pretrial publicity in this case. Circumstances in State v. Carr, 300 Kan. 1 (2007), are compared.

Defense arguments regarding use of peremptory challenges, and trial court’s refusal to grant for-cause challenges, are examined. Even if district court erred in refusing to strike one prospective juror (A.S.) for cause, under facts in this case there was no showing of prejudice, and no violation of Miller’s constitutional or statutory rights.

Miller’s bifurcation claim is evidentiary rather than constitutional. District court did not err in refusing to bifurcate trial by separate elements.

No showing of error in district court’s modification of the proposed limiting instruction.

Under facts in this case, which included defendant’s son living rent free with an Assistant District Attorney (ADA), and DA’s office acquiring but not disclosing possession of a day planner of Miller’s attorney in first trial, district court did not abuse its discretion in refusing to disqualify the DA’s office based on conflict of interest or DA’s unprofessional handling of the planner. Kansas Rules of Professional Conduct discussed.

Judicial misconduct claim fails. Taken in context, trial judge’s response was not erroneous, much less misconduct.

Miller did not object to State forensic pathologist’s cause-of-death opinion until basis for that opinion had been thoroughly parsed and interminably repeated through multiple examinations by both parties. Failure to make timely contemporaneous objection defeats review of the merits of this evidentiary claim.

Prosecutor’s mention of pornography was error, but error was harmless in this case. Likewise, if any error in rebuttal witness testimony, the error was harmless.

In following precedent set in Miller I, district court did not err by admitting evidence of extramarital affair for purpose of motive. Under facts in this case, probative value of detective’s testimony about Miller accessing dating websites is tenuous but any error was harmless, and no error in admitting evidence of life insurance. District court’s admission of graphic photographs is affirmed based on law of the case established in Miller I.

Trial court’s decision to allow Miller’s retrial counsel to inspect Miller I testimony and respond with arguments was a reasonable remedy of the discovery violation. Under circumstances in this case, district court did not abuse its discretion in refusing to continue or suspend the retrial for a separate hearing on State’s motion to admit the Miller I testimony.

Viewed in context of the entire record, Miller was not so prejudiced by cumulative effect of errors declared in this case as to deny him a fair trial.

DISSENT (Johnson, J.): Notwithstanding practical and emotional costs of yet another retrial that likely again would result in a conviction, Constitutions require that result to maintain integrity of our criminal justice system. Cannot condone the conviction in this case because the retrial was fundamentally unfair. Unfairness starts with retrial’s venue, citing his dissent in Carr. Allowing juror A.S. to sit on retrial jury was fundamental error. Testimony about Miller accessing dating websites had no logical connection to a relevant fact that would make it more likely that Miller killed his wife. Imprudent to apply law of the case doctrine to uphold admission of graphic photographs. And testimony of State’s forensic pathologist should have been considered in assessing impact of cumulative error.

DISSENT (Wurtz, J., appointed to hear case vice Justice Stegall): Agrees that if an erroneous expert opinion on cause of death is added to the cumulative error analysis in this case, prejudice caused by cumulative effect of all errors denied Miller a fair trial. Also agrees that expert opinion on the cause of death was not based on medical evidence but rather on the doctor’s factual determination that Miller had lied about being in the room when his wife died. Would find Miller’s objection to expert opinion on the cause of death was sufficient to preserve the question for appellate review on the merits.

STATUTES: K.S.A. 2017 Supp. 22-3212(a)(1), -3212(i), -3601(b)(3), 60-242(b), -426, -426(b); K.S.A. 2014 Supp. 60-226(b)(6)(C), -226(b)(6)(C)(ii); K.S.A. 22-2101 et seq., -2616(1), -3423(1)(c), 60-101 et seq., -404, -407(f), -445, -456, -1507

criminal law—criminal procedure—evidence—jury instructions—prosecutors
state v. anderson
bourbon district court—affirmed
No. 116,710—october 5, 2018

FACTS: Anderson was convicted of child abuse and felony murder in shaken-baby case. On appeal he claimed: (1) district court failed to give multiple acts instruction to ensure jury unanimity as to whether Anderson injured victim by throwing down on the couch or by shaking; (2) district court erroneously admitted testimony under K.S.A. 60-455 of Bodinea person who had previously lived with Anderson and wifeabout Anderson’s prior aggressive behavior toward the child victim; and (3) during closing argument the prosecutor engaged in speculation not fairly based on the evidence by suggesting Anderson believed the State’s doctors were out to get him for the fun of it, by saying Anderson was trying to manipulate jury by calling the victim his son, and by saying Anderson lost his temper which resulted in a child with massive brain injury. Anderson also claimed cumulative error denied him a fair trial.

ISSUES: (1) Refusal to give a requested unanimity instruction, (2) admission of K.S.A. 60-455 evidence, (3) prosecutorial error in closing argument, (4) cumulative error

HELD: Court reviews distinction between multiple acts and alternative means. Here, jury did not have to choose between multiple acts. District court did not err in declining to give jury a unanimity instruction.

Under facts in this case, any error district court may have made in allowing K.S.A. 60-455 testimony of Bodine about Anderson’s prior treatment of the child victim was harmless.

Prosecutor’s comments about doctors’ motives constitute error. Prosecutor arguing that jury should attribute a bad motive to Anderson referencing the victim as his son was error. And prosecutor’s remarks about Anderson losing his temper were not supported by the record, and argued facts that were contrary to the evidence. Nonetheless, under facts in this case, no reasonable possibility that the absence of prosecutor’s erroneous comments would have changed outcome of the credibility and expert battles that Anderson lost.

Cumulative error claim fails.

STATUTE: K.S.A. 2017 Supp. 22-3601(b)(3), 60-261, -455, -455(b)

Tags:  Attorney Discipline  Bourbon District  disbarment  Douglas District  Saline District  Shawnee District  Wyandotte District 

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May 25, 2018 Digest

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, May 29, 2018
Updated: Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Kansas Supreme Court

criminal:


criminal procedure—statutes
state v. gross
saline district court—affirmed; court of appeals—affirmed
no.113,275—may 25, 2018

FACTS: Gross was convicted in a bench trial on charges of criminal threat, criminal damage to property, and battery against a county corrections officer. Pretrial mental health evaluations were conducted on the judge’s own motion and on the State’s request, each finding Gross competent to stand trial. During the trial, defense counsel and prosecutor conferenced in chambers about Gross’ outbursts, off-topic comments, and general conduct. Trial judge noted Gross’ demeanor but remained convinced that no further evaluation was needed. Gross appealed in part on claim that he should have been present during the in-chambers discussion of his mental state. Court of Appeals affirmed in unpublished opinion, citing controlling precedent in State v. Perkins, 248 Kan. 760 (1991), that K.S.A. 2017 Supp. 22-3302 does not mandate that the defendant be present when the discussion concerns whether to hold a competency hearing. Review granted on Gross’s claim that Perkins was not applicable to his case, and that Perkins should be overturned as inconsistent with K.S.A. 22-3302(7).

ISSUE: Right to be present

HELD: Court considers issue raised for first time on appeal. Gross asserted no constitutional claim, so review limited to statutory analysis. No meaningful way to distinguish the hearing in Perkins from the hearing at issue in this case, thus Perkins applies. The in-chamber conference without Gross being present did not violate K.S.A. 2017 Supp. 22-3302(7). K.S.A. 2017 Supp. 22-3302(7) is ambiguous given the multiple uses of the term “proceedings” in other portions of the statute, and the statute’s language does not clearly support Gross’ reading of its meaning. The holding in Perkins is reaffirmed, based on doctrine of stare decisis and 27 years of legislative acquiescence thereafter to the court’s interpretation of the statute.

STATUTES: K.S.A. 2017 Supp. 22-3302, -3302(a), -3302(3), -3302(4), -3302(6), -3302(7); K.S.A. 22-3301, -3302

Tags:  Perkins  Saline District  State v. Perkins 

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December 5, 2017 Digests

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Kansas Supreme Court

Attorney Discipline

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Civil

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

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

ISSUE: Standard for proving tort of civil battery

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

STATUTE: K.S.A. 60-3703

criminal

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

ISSUE: Prosecutorial Error – Harmless Error

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

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

 

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

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

ISSUE: Motion to Correct Illegal Sentence

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

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

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

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January 8, 2016, Appellate Court Digests

Posted By Administration, Friday, January 8, 2016
Updated: Monday, September 10, 2018

Kansas Supreme Court

Criminal

State v. Hurley
Saline district court – reversed and remanded; court of appeals – reversed
No. 108,735 – January 8, 2016

FACTS: At revocation hearing, Hurley stipulated to allegations he violated terms of probation in three cases. District court reinstated probation on same terms and conditions, and ordered 90-day jail sanction (30 days in each case). When Hurley responded with query about going to prison instead, district court denied Hurley’s request to serve 90-day sanction on weekends, and requests for a different intension supervision officer (ISO). During prosecutor’s attempt to clarify start date of jail sanction and probation extension, ISO interrupted to tell court that Hurley had just made a disparaging comment to him. District court entered a finding of contempt, reopened the matter of whether probation should be reinstated with 90-day jail sanction, and remanded Hurley to prison. On appeal Hurley claimed district court (1) lacked jurisdiction to reopen the probation revocation hearing after pronouncing its disposition, and (2) violated his due process rights by summarily revoking newly imposed probation without hearing based upon newly alleged probation violation of contempt. Court of Appeals affirmed in unpublished opinion. Review granted.

ISSUE: Revocation of Probation

HELD: District court revoked Hurley’s probation based upon a ground for which Hurley was not provided sufficient notice and opportunity to be heard. Reversed and remanded to district court for new probation revocation hearing that comports with statutory and constitutional requirements.

STATUTES: K.S.A. 2011 Supp. 22-3716, -3716(b); K.S.A. 20-1203

State v. Michael R. Williams
Sedgwick District Court – Affirmed
No. 109,353 – January 8, 2016

FACTS: In 2010, Michael R. Williams lived in the same house with Deborah Weiss—whom Williams described as his common-law wife—and with Sean Putnam. On the evening of December 21, Williams called the police in an attempt to have Putnam evicted from the home, but the police refused. Later that evening, Williams shot Putnam in the head, killing him. A few days after that, Williams buried Putnam's body in a shallow grave. A jury convicted Williams of first-degree premeditated murder. The district court imposed a hard 25 sentence.

ISSUES: (1) Evidence, (2) motion for new trial, (3) lesser included offense instruction, (4) prosecutorial misconduct, and (5) cumulative error

HELD: First, Court held the record lacked any evidence establishing a nexus between the alleged prior bad act of the victim—Putnam in this case—and the defendant's state of mind at the time the defendant claims to have acted in self-defense, or defense of another concerning the victim's attempted rape of the witness. In these circumstances, the prior bad act of the victim is not relevant to a material fact and is not admissible. Second, Court held the trial court made a similar ruling regarding evidence of another rape by the victim. Court stated that Williams became aware of the rape victim's statements at some point, but nothing in the record indicated he was aware of them at the time of the shooting. Next, Court held this is exactly the kind of case to which the skip rule for lesser-included offenses reasonably applies. The jury convicted Williams of premeditated first-degree murder when it had the option to convict of intentional second-degree murder. Such circumstances necessarily show that the jury would have rejected the still lesser culpable mental state required for a conviction of voluntary manslaughter. There was no reasonable possibility the error affected the outcome. Next, Court held the prosecutor's colloquial use of "story" to refer to a defendant's testimony does not by itself imply either truth or fiction and does not constitute prosecutorial misconduct. Last, Court found no error to cumulate.

STATUTES: K.S.A. 21-3211; K.S.A. 22-3501, -3601(b)(3); K.S.A. 60-401, -447

State v. Tarlene A. Williams
Wyandotte District Court – Affirmed
No. 112,417 – January 8, 2016

FACTS: Tarlene A. Williams has previously filed unsuccessful motions to withdraw her 2008 no contest plea to a first-degree murder charge. In this instance, she argues the district court erred in holding her latest motion failed to demonstrate excusable neglect as required by K.S.A. 22-3210(e)(2). She concedes this motion is successive to others she has filed and lost.

ISSUES: (1) Habeas, (2) successive motions, (3) excusable neglect

HELD: Court stated that under K.S.A. 22-3210(e)(1), a motion to withdraw a plea must be brought within 1 year of: (a) the final order of the last appellate court in this state to exercise jurisdiction on a direct appeal or the termination of such appellate jurisdiction; or (b) the denial of a petition for a writ of certiorari to the United States Supreme Court or issuance of such Court's final order following the grant of such petition. But these time limitations can be extended upon an additional, affirmative showing of excusable neglect by the defendant under K.S.A. 22-3210(e)(2). Court held Williams failed to demonstrate excusable neglect.

STATUTES: K.S.A. 22-3210, -3601; K.S.A. 60-1507

Kansas Court of Appeals

Criminal

State v. Gauger
Leavenworth district court – affirmed
No. 112,913 – January 8, 2016

FACTS: Gauger charged his purchase of goods from auto parts store to former employer’s store account without authorization. Prior to opening statements, district court’s instruction to jury included statement regarding cost and burden of mistrial if there was jury misconduct. During trial, district court allowed State to introduce printed copies of auto store’s electronically stored receipts and invoice. On appeal Gauger claimed: (1) admission of these exhibits violated best evidence rule, and (2) district court’s preliminary instruction denied Gauger a fair trial.

ISSUES: (1) Best Evidence Rule – Electronically Stored Documents, (2) Preliminary Jury Instruction

HELD: Best evidence rule is stated and applied to electronically stored information. Analysis of issue of first impression in State v. Robinson, 303 Kan. __ (2015), regarding admission of printed version of email communication, equally applies in this case. Under that rule, a printed version of an electronically stored document may be admitted as the original, provided there is no genuine dispute regarding authenticity. Here, copies of auto store’s electronically stored receipts and a monthly invoice were properly admitted as originals.

Clear error test applies to appellate review of instructional errors in district court’s preliminary instructions. Instruction at issue in this case, as in State v. Tahah, 302 Kan. 783 (2015), was given as warning to jurors against committing misconduct, and was legally and factually appropriate.

STATUTES: K.S.A. 2014 Supp. 22-3414(3); K.S.A. 60-467

Tags:  Leavenworth District  Saline District  Sedgwick District  Wyandotte District 

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