Posted By Administration,
Monday, July 1, 2019
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Kansas Supreme Court
ORDER OF SUSPENSION
IN RE GREGORY V. BLUME
NO. 119,027—JUNE 28, 2019
FACTS: A hearing panel determined that Blume violated KRPC 3.1 (meritorious claims and contentions); 3.3(a)(1) (candor toward tribunal); 3.4(d) (compliance with discovery request); 4.4(a) (respect for rights of third persons); 8.4(c) (conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation); and 8.4(d) (conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice). One incident involved an allegedly inadequate response to a discovery request, two involved rude words and gestures directed at a deposition witness, and one arose out of a motion to set aside an earlier agreed judgment. Blume's actions regarding discovery resulted in the dismissal of his client's case, after the district court found that Blume's conduct was calculated and intentional.
HEARING PANEL: The hearing panel found adequate evidence to support all of the complaints levied against Blume. When considering aggravating factors, the panel noted that Blume's conduct was motivated by dishonesty and was part of a pattern of failing to show respect for other people. The disciplinary administrator recommended a one-year suspension. Blume asked for a one-year suspension but asked that it be suspended while he served a probationary term. However, the panel found that Blume's probation plan was wholly inadequate and that his misconduct could not be corrected by probation. The hearing panel agreed with the disciplinary administrator and recommended discipline of a one-year suspension.
HELD: Blume filed numerous exceptions to the hearing panel's report. Most of the exceptions were not supported by evidence that was considered by the hearing panel. At the hearing before the court, Blume explained that he planned to retire within six months. He asked that discipline be limited to a requirement that he apologize to the deposition witness. The court found Blume's objections to the findings of fact incoherent and inconsistent, and all of the hearing panel's findings of fact and conclusions of law were adopted. The court found that Blume failed to understand the nature of his mistakes and did not acknowledge the seriousness of his misconduct. Because of the serious nature of his misconduct and his failure to take responsibility, the court determined that a severe sanction was warranted. It imposed an indefinite suspension from the practice of law.
CITY ORDINANCE—HOME RULE
DWAGFYS MANUFACTURING, INC. V. CITY OF TOPEKA
SHAWNEE DISTRICT COURT—REVERSED
NO. 119,269—JUNE 28, 2019
FACTS: The City of Topeka passed Ordinance 20099, which made it unlawful to sell cigarettes to persons under age 21, and persons under age 21 were forbidden to buy tobacco. Prior to the ordinance taking effect, a store sued the City of Topeka seeking to prevent enforcement of the ordinance as unconstitutional under the Kansas Constitution. The district court agreed, finding conflicts between the ordinance and state law. The district court both temporarily and permanently enjoined enforcement of the ordinance. The City appealed, and the case was transferred to the Supreme Court.
ISSUE: (1) Statutory preemption
HELD: There is overlap between the ordinance and state statute regarding the subject matter, and the state statute is a uniform law applicable to all cities. But the Kansas Cigarette and Tobacco Products Act does not contain an express statement of preemption, and the act's "comprehensive scheme" of regulation is inadequate to show an intent to preempt city action. There is also no conflict between the language of the act and the ordinance. The act does not expressly authorize the sale or purchase of tobacco products to those ages 18-20. The ordinance is a constitutional exercise of the city's home rule power, and the district court is reversed.
STATUTE: Kansas Constitution, Article 12, §5(b), §5(d)
attorney and client—criminal procedure—motions
state v. bacon
sedgwick district court—affirmed; court of appeals—affirmed
no. 114,951—june 28, 2019
FACTS: Bacon was charged with aggravated human trafficking. After appointed public defender continued the preliminary hearing seven times, Bacon filed pro se “Motion for Diligence” with copy of KRPC 1.3. No action taken on this and subsequent similar motions. Appointed counsel continued the preliminary hearing three more times, and continued trial three times. Bacon then retained private counsel. State amended the complaint and jury found Bacon guilty of commercial sexual exploitation of a child. Motion for new trial filed, based in part on district court’s failure to inquire into Bacon’s pro se motions voicing dissatisfaction with appointed counsel. Bacon appealed the district court’s denial of that motion. Court of appeals affirmed the conviction, finding in part the pro se motions did not allege dissatisfaction with appointed counsel. Review granted on this issue.
ISSUE: District court’s duty to Inquire
HELD: It is assumed without deciding that Bacon’s pro se motions were sufficient to trigger the district court’s duty to inquire into a potential conflict with his trial attorney, but on facts in case, remand to district court is unnecessary because Bacon retained a new attorney for trial; he does not claim his trial attorney was ineffective; and he does not otherwise identify any prejudice flowing from district court’s failure to inquire.
STATUTE: K.S.A. 2014 Supp. 21-5426(b)(4), -6422(a)(4)
state v. dubry
shawnee district court—affirmed
court of appeals—affirmed
no. 114,050—june 28, 2019
FACTS: Dubry was convicted of kidnapping. Years later he moved to correct his 2011 sentence, arguing the sentencing court improperly scored a prior Wyoming conviction as a person crime. District court denied the motion. Dubry appealed, arguing the Wyoming statute is broader than the counterpart Kansas offense. Court of appeals affirmed in unpublished opinion. Dubry’s petition for review granted, and parties were ordered to explain whether panel’s decision should be summarily vacated and case remanded to district court in light of State v. Wetrich, 307 Kan. 552 (2018). Dubry argues Wetrich should apply.
ISSUE: Classification of out-of-state crime
HELD: Affirmed based on State v. Murdock, 309 Kan. 585 (2019)(Murdock II). Legality of a sentence under K.S.A. 2018 Supp. 22-3504 is controlled by the law in effect at the time the sentence was pronounced. Thus a sentence that was legal when pronounced does not become illegal if the law subsequently changes. Since Wetrich announced a change in the law and Dubry was sentenced before Wetrich was decided, application of Wetrich to Dubry’s motion to correct his sentence is barred by Murdock II.
STATUTES: K.S.A. 2018 Supp. 22-3504; K.S.A. 20-3018(b), 21-3503, -4701 et seq., -4711, 60-2101
CONSTITUTIONAL LAW—EVIDENCE—FIFTH AMENDMENT
STATE V. GUEIN
JOHNSON DISTRICT COURT—REVERSED AND REMANDED
COURT OF APPEALS—AFFIRMED IN PART AND REVERSED IN PART
NO. 115,426—JUNE 28, 2019
FACTS: Police observed a suspected drug deal involving car parked in a closed Burger King lot. Officers approached the car, patted down occupants and retrieved a bag of marijuana Guein admitted was in his underwear. After arrest, Guein admitted to additional marijuana in the car. Search of the car disclosed handgun, loose marijuana, and drug paraphernalia. Guein filed a motion to suppress his statements and the evidence obtained as a result of search of his person and his car. District court: refused to suppress Guein’s statement of having marijuana in his underwear because Guein was not in custody until handcuffed; suppressed Guein’s statement of additional drugs in car, made after handcuffed and before Miranda warning; admitted post-Miranda statements, finding Guein had voluntarily waived his rights; and denied suppression of the physical evidence. Guein was convicted of felony distribution of marijuana and misdemeanor possession of paraphernalia. A divided court of appeals reversed in part and affirmed in part the district court’s decision on the motion to suppress and remanded to district court. State v. Guein, 53 Kan. App.2d 394 (2017). Entire panel upheld the admission of Guein’s statement about marijuana in underwear and the marijuana found there, finding Miranda warnings were not necessary. Majority concluded officer’s statements to Guein were sufficiently threatening to negate the Miranda warning, and State’s failure to provide the trial transcript prevented a harmless error analysis. Conviction was set aside and a new trial ordered. Guein and State both petitioned for review.
ISSUES: (1) Admission of pre-Miranda statement; (2) admission of post-Miranda statement
HELD: Factors cited in State v. Lewis, 299 Kan. 828 (2014), are examined on facts in case, finding officer’s pre-Miranda interrogation was custodial rather than investigative. District court’s denial of motion to suppress pre-Miranda statement about marijuana in underwear is reversed.
Under facts in case, officer’s aggressive and profane language implied physical violence toward Guein, prompting Guein’s later incriminating statement. Panel’s majority on this issue is affirmed. Remanded to district court for further proceedings.
CONCURRENCE AND DISSENT (Stegall, J.)(joined by Biles, J.): Disagrees with majority’s order to suppress Guein’s pre-Miranda statements, and would support panel’s assessment that this was an ordinary investigatory detention not requiring Miranda warnings. Agrees that Guein’s post-Miranda statements were not voluntary and must be suppressed, but does not find officer’s use of profanity as significant as the majority does. Guein was coerced because of a real and actionable threat. Law enforcement’s use of the word “fuck” does not make the circumstances more or less coercive, and majority’s reasoning suggests a politely worded threat is less coercive than a vulgar one.
STATUTUES: K.S.A. 2018 Supp. 60-460(f); K.S.A. 20-3018(b), 22-2402(1), -3215(4), -3216(2), 60-2101(b)
constitutional law—criminal law—criminal procedure—evidence
state v. james
sedgwick district court—affirmed
no. 117,945—june 28, 2019
FACTS: James was convicted of first-degree premeditated murder and criminal possession of a firearm. On appeal, he claimed district court erred by: refusing defense requests for instructions on lesser included offenses of reckless second-degree murder and reckless involuntary manslaughter; refusing to instruct jury on imperfect self-defense involuntary manslaughter; failing to instruct jury to consider verdicts of premeditated murder and imperfect self-defense voluntary manslaughter simultaneously; and admitting gruesome autopsy photos. He also claimed prosecutorial error during closing argument, claimed he was deprived his constitutional right to be present at all critical stages of the trial—namely requests for continuances, and argued cumulative error required reversal.
ISSUES: (1) Jury instructions on reckless based homicides; (2) jury instruction on imperfect self-defense of involuntary manslaughter; (3) jury instruction on simultaneous consideration of lesser included crimes; (4) admission of autopsy photos; (5) prosecutorial error; (6) constitutional right to presence; (7) cumulative error
HELD: Challenge to district court’s refusal to instruct on lesser included reckless homicides was properly preserved, and the requested instructions were both legally and factually appropriate under facts in case. District judge’s refusal to instruct jury on reckless second-degree murder and reckless involuntary manslaughter was error, but not reversible error under the statutory harmless error standard.
Likewise, James preserved his challenge to district court’s refusal to instruct on imperfect self-defense of involuntary manslaughter. This instruction was legally appropriate, and under facts in case, also factually appropriate. Applying statutory harmlessness test, district judge’s failure to give the requested instruction was not reversible error.
Under controlling precedent in State v. Sims, 308 Kan. 1488 (2018), pet. for cert. filed April 29, 2019, a district court is not required to instruct a jury to consider a lesser included homicide offense simultaneously with any greater homicide offense.
No abuse of district judge’s discretion by admitting autopsy photos which were not repetitious and which allowed pathologist to explain path of bullet that killed the victim and show skull fractures that resulted.
Prosecutor erred by stating James left the scene in a stolen car because no evidence supported a description of the car as “stolen.” Also, referencing an uncharged crime is problematic because it encourages jurors to draw inference of a defendant’s propensity to commit crimes. In light of entire record, however, this error does not require reversal.
Because record contains no evidence that James knowingly and voluntarily waived his right to be present when first attorney requested two continuances, error is assumed. Under constitutional standard the error was harmless under facts in this case. State v. Wright, 305 Kan. 1176 (2017), is distinguished.
The combination of instructional errors, prosecutorial error, and assumed violation of James’ right to be present at all critical stages did not deprive James of a fair trial.
STATUTES: K.S.A. 2018 Supp. 21-5202(j), -5202(h), -5226, -5402(a)(1), -5403(a)(1), -5403(a)(2), -5801, -5803, 60-455(a); K.S.A. 2015 Supp. 21-5405(a)(4); K.S.A. 22-3402
constitutional law—criminal procedure
state v. obregon
geary district court—reversed, sentences vacated and remanded
court of appeals—affirmed in part and reversed in part
NO. 117,422—june 28, 2019
FACTS: Obregon entered no contest pleas to possession of drugs with intent to distribute. District court accepted the pleas, and in sentencing, applied the statutory firearm enhancement. Obregon appealed, challenging whether district court should have classified a prior Florida battery conviction as a person felony without knowing which version of the Florida crime he committed. He also claimed his no contest pleas to the base drug offenses did not include any facts upon which the enhancement could be grounded. Court of appeals concluded the district court properly calculated Obregon’s criminal history score, but held Obregon’s waiver of his right to jury trial on the firearm enhancement was invalid. Panel vacated the enhancement and remanded case to district court for proper waiver or for jury to make factual findings required by K.S.A. 2015 Supp. 21-6805(g)(1) regarding the firearm. Obregon’s petition for review granted.
ISSUES: (1) Florida battery conviction; (2) firearm enhancement
HELD: Pursuant to State v. Murdock, 309 Kan. 585 (2019)(Murdock II), Obregon is entitled to application of State v. Wetrich, 307 Kan. 552 (2018), but variation to the Wetrich analysis is presented because the Kansas and out-of-state offenses are both what Kansas law refers to as “alternative means crimes.” When the crime in question is an out-of-state offense with alternative means—some of which would not be comparable to Kansas person crimes—the State bears the burden of establishing the defendant committed a version of the offense supporting the person classification. On record in this case, district court’s finding that Obregon committed a Florida offense with a comparable Kansas person crime is not supported by substantial competent evidence. Because the Florida offense on its face is broader than the Kansas comparator, it should not have been classified as a person offense under Wetrich. Sentence is vacated and case is remanded for district court to reconsider the Florida conviction’s person-crime classification.
Panel erred by remanding his case for a jury to determine if firearm enhancement should apply. As a general rule, special questions may not be submitted to a jury for answer in a criminal prosecution, and the legislature has not created a statutory exception to the general rule against special verdicts for a firearm enhancement to be determined separately after the verdict. Obregon’s resentencing is to proceed without the firearm enhancement.
CONCURRENCE AND DISSENT (Johnson, J.): Agrees the district court must resentence Obregon without the enhancement. Also agrees the State failed to present sufficient evidence to support classification of the Florida battery conviction as a person felony, but that insufficiency of the evidence should result in vacating the sentence and remanding for resentencing of criminal history score with the Florida conviction classified as nonperson.
STATUTES: K.S.A. 2018 Supp. 21-5413(a), -5413(a)(1), -5413(a)(2), -5413(g), -6801 et seq., -6805(g)(1), -6805(g)(2), -6809, -6814, -6814(b), -6814(c); K.S.A. 2015 Supp. 21-6805(g)(1), -6811(e); K.S.A. 2013 Supp. 21-6817(b)(2); K.S.A. 20-3018(b), 21-3715, -3715(a), 60-2101(b)
state v. russ
sedgwick district court—affirmed;
court of appeals—affirmed
no. 115,111—june 28, 2019
FACTS: Russ was found guilty of attempted second-degree murder. His prior convictions included six Wichita municipal violations classified as person misdemeanors, five of which were eligible for conversion to a felony. Russ appealed sentencing court’s classification of prior municipal ordinance convictions as person offenses to calculate Russ’ criminal history score, arguing in part the domestic battery municipal ordinances were broader than the counterpart Kansas domestic battery statute. Court of appeals affirmed in unpublished opinion. Russ petitioned for review claiming the panel erred by: (1) looking beyond the most comparable Kansas offense of domestic battery to analyze his municipal ordinance domestic battery convictions, and (2) declining to address as moot an issue concerning his prior conviction of failure to comply with bond restrictions.
ISSUES: (1) Classifying the domestic battery municipal ordinance violations; (2) mootness
HELD: Applying State v. Wetrich, 307 Kan. 552 (2018), the panel correctly held Russ’ domestic battery ordinance violations were person offenses. Only difference between the ordinances and the Kansas domestic battery statue is the specific requirement of the relationship between the batterer and the battered, which makes the scope of the ordinance’s proscribed acts narrower, not broader.
Panel correctly declined to address the classification of Russ’ prior conviction for failure to comply with bond restrictions. Regardless of classification of this prior conviction, Russ’ criminal history score is unchanged since three prior domestic battery municipal ordinance violations were properly scored as person misdemeanors.
STATUTES: K.S.A. 2018 Supp. 21-5413(a), -5413(g)(1), -6801 et seq., -6810(a), -5811(a); K.S.A. 2017 Supp. 21-6811(e)(3); K.S.A. 2016 Supp. 21-6804(a), -6809, -6811(a); K.S.A. 2014 Supp. 21-5414(a); K.S.A. 20-3018(a), 60-2101(b)
Kansas Court of Appeals
FLAHERTY V. CNH INDUSTRIAL AMERICA
SALINE DISTRICT COURT – AFFIRMED
NO. 119,704 – JUNE 28, 2019
FACTS: Flaherty purchased a sprayer manufactured by CNH in early 2014. Later that year, Flaherty took it back to the dealer for maintenance and a hose adjustment. The dealer knew that there were also potential issues with one of the drive hoses at the engine starter. While the sprayer was at the dealer, it caught on fire and was completely destroyed. During the investigation, a fire investigator with the fire department accompanied law enforcement on the scene. It was his opinion that the fire was caused by an electrical issue. Neither of Flaherty's experts could definitively determine the fire's cause. Robert Hawken, a product safety specialist at CNH, investigated the sprayer in anticipation of litigation. Flaherty sued both CNH and the dealer. During discovery, Flaherty provided notice of his intent to depose Hawken. CNH filed a motion to quash and asked the court to quash the subpoena. The district court granted that motion and Hawken was not deposed. After hearing more evidence, the district court granted CNH's motion for summary judgment on all claims and Flaherty appealed.
ISSUES: (1) Denial of discovery request; (2) express warranty claims; (3) implied warranty claims
HELD: Hawken examined the sprayer over a month after the fire, and he only gave his findings to CNH's legal department and outside counsel. The dealer told Flaherty that Hawken believed the fire started in the sprayer's starter area. Hawken's opinions were protected by work-product privilege as far as the subpoena duces tecum was concerned. Hawken was also protected by non-testifying expert privilege as an in-house expert. Flaherty failed to prove that Hawken waived his privilege, and much of the privilege belonged to CNH, and Hawken has no power to waive it on the company's behalf. The warranty agreement between Flaherty and CNH disclaimed any express warranty created by descriptions of the sprayer on its website or by statements made by salespeople. And Flaherty failed to identify any specific descriptions of the sprayer on which he relied. In addition, the warranty agreement required Flaherty to prove that the sprayer had a defect in material or workmanship, which he failed to do. Any implied warranty claim had a similar requirement that Flaherty prove the existence of a defect. In addition, Flaherty failed to prove that the sprayer was defective when it left CNH's control.
STATUTES: K.S.A. 2018 Supp. 60-226(b)(4)(A), -226(b)(5), -226(b)(5)(D), -233(b)(1)(B), -256(c)(2), -456; K.S.A. 60-437, 84-2-313(1)(b), -313(2), -314(1), -314(2)(c)
Posted By Administration,
Monday, June 10, 2019
Updated: Friday, June 7, 2019
| Comments (0)
Kansas Supreme Court
IN RE THOMAS CALEB BOONE
NO. 120,744—JUNE 7, 2019
FACTS: A hearing panel determined that Boone violated KRPC 1.1 (competence); 1.3 (diligence); 8.4(c) (engaging in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation); and 8.4(d) (engaging in conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice). Boone also stipulated to a violation of 3.4(d) (failure to comply with a discovery request). The allegations arose after Boone twice failed to prosecute a civil action, missing multiple deadlines and failing to comply with district court orders. Boone appealed the dismissal of one action but the court of appeals affirmed the district court, finding that Boone's appellate brief failed to comply with court rules.
HEARING PANEL: The hearing panel found evidence to support the allegations made in the complaint. When considering discipline, the panel noted Boone's prior history of discipline, the pattern of misconduct, and the number of rule violations. In mitigation, the panel acknowledged the illness and death of Boone's father and Boone's genuine remorse for his actions. The disciplinary administrator recommended that Boone's license be indefinitely suspended. Boone asked that he be placed on probation, but because some of his conduct involved dishonesty, the panel determined that probation was not appropriate. The hearing panel agreed with the disciplinary administrator that indefinite suspension was the appropriate discipline.
HELD: There were no exceptions filed to the hearing panel's report, so it was deemed admitted. The court denied Boone's request for probation, finding that the misconduct was not amenable to probation. The court adopted the recommendation of the hearing panel and ordered that Boone's license be indefinitely suspended.
ORDER OF DISBARMENT
IN RE MATTHEW EDGAR HULT
NO. 24,854—JUNE 6, 2019
FACTS: Hult's law license was indefinitely suspended in February 2018. Since that time, four additional complaints have been filed alleging additional violations of the KRPC. In a letter, Hult voluntarily surrendered his license to practice law in Kansas.
HELD: The court accepts the surrender of Hult's license, and he is disbarred.
IN RE GUARDIANSHIP AND CONSERVATORSHIP OF B.H.
WILSON DISTRICT COURT—COURT OF APPEALS IS REVERSED
NO. 118,188—JUNE 7, 2019
FACTS: Biological mother and father relinquished custody of their children to relatives through a legal guardianship. Once that placement was made, the state terminated child- in-need-of-care proceedings that were pending against the parents. Both parents spent time in prison, neither paid the child support that was ordered, and father left the state after he completed his prison term. After some time passed, mother and father sought to terminate the guardianship, citing a constitutional right to parent. After hearing evidence, the district court denied the motion, citing clear and convincing evidence that the guardianship was in the children's best interests. The parents appealed and the court of appeals reversed, finding that the district court erred by considering the best interests of the children. That court believed that the district court should have applied the parental preference doctrine because there had never been a finding of parental unfitness. The guardians' petition for review was granted.
ISSUE: (1) Termination of guardianship
HELD: The purposes of the Code for Care of Children were circumvented by the shift from a CINC proceeding to a guardianship action. Normally, voluntary guardianships are voluntary and may be terminated at any time for any reason. Under ordinary circumstances, parental preference rights would require termination of the guardianship. In this case, though, the voluntary guardianship stopped a final CINC determination and put the CINC action in limbo. There have never been parental fitness findings made in this case, and it is unclear whether the district court attempted to make those findings when refusing to terminate the guardianship. Because the record is unclear, this case is remanded to the district court for additional findings of fact and conclusions of law. If extraordinary circumstances exist to justify the continuation of the guardianship, those findings must be clearly made.
STATUTES: K.S.A. 2018 Supp. 38-2201(a), -2203(a), -2203(c), -2255, -2255(e), -2255(f), -2264, -2272, -2272(a)(1), -2272(b), -2272(h); K.S.A. 59-3091, -3091(h)
ADVERSE POSSESSION—MINERAL RIGHTS
OXY USA V. RED WING OIL
HASKELL DISTRICT COURT—COURT OF APPEALS IS AFFIRMED
DISTRICT COURT IS REVERSED—CASE REMANDED
NO. 111,973—JUNE 7, 2019
FACTS: Oxy USA, Inc. developed a productive oil and gas well on a unitized production unit of land. The unitized area included a quarter section of land which is the subject of this dispute. The well is not located on the property in question, but the owner of the minerals under that property can receive royalties from the production under the unitization agreement. However, Oxy was unable to determine which party owned a disputed one-half interest in the minerals under the property. To resolve that question, Oxy filed this interpleader and quiet title action to determine the rightful owner of the minerals under the property. Alice La Velle King owns the surface rights and an undisputed half interest in the minerals rights, and she claims the other half interest also belongs to her. Opposing her are 41 different people or groups all claiming ownership. The district court granted summary judgment to the other property owners, finding that King's claim to the royalties was barred by the statute of limitations. The court of appeals reversed on adverse possession grounds. The petition for review was granted.
ISSUE: (1) Can the surface owner of land enforce a reversionary interest in minerals at a later date, or is she barred by the statute of limitations or adverse possession
HELD: The misappropriation of royalties, standing alone, does not establish adverse possession of a mineral interest. It doesn't matter whether King knew about royalty payments being made to the other landowners. The surface owner is the legal owner of the minerals located underground. Title to the mineral rights quiets in her favor.
STATUTE: K.S.A. 60-503, -507
constitutional law—fourth amendment—MOTIONS—search and seizure
state v. andrade-reyes
johnson district court—reversed and remanded;
court of appeals—reversed
no. 115,044—june 7, 2019
FACTS: Two officers approached both sides of a car lawfully parked in dark area of an apartment complex lot, shined flashlights on the 2 individuals in the front seat, and repeatedly asked passenger (Andrade-Reyes) to open his hands. Once he did, the baggie dropped and retrieved tested positive for cocaine. Andrade-Reyes charged with possession of cocaine and drug paraphernalia. He filed motion to suppress evidence obtained through an unlawful seizure. District court denied the motion, finding the encounter was voluntary, or in the alternative, the detention was justified for officer safety.
ISSUE: (1) Unlawful seizure
HELD: Andrade-Reyes was unlawfully seized. The encounter was not voluntary. Under totality of the circumstances a reasonable person would not have felt free to terminate the encounter. And prior to Andrade-Reyes dropping the white substance, the officers lacked reasonable suspicion to detain him. Officer safety concerns alone do not justify an investigatory detention. State v. Reiss, 299 Kan. 291 (2014), is distinguished. All evidence obtained as a result of the unlawful seizure must be suppressed. Reversed and remanded.
DISSENT (Luckert, J.): Agrees with majority’s synthesis of the applicable law, but disagrees with its application of the law to facts in this case. Would hold that once officers initiated the encounter, a reasonably prudent officer would have been warranted in believing, because of specific and articulable facts, that Andrade-Reyes was armed and posed an immediate danger. Because of this belief, it was reasonable for officers to demand that he open his hand. This limited intrusion was reasonable and appropriate for officer safety purposes.
STATUTE: K.S.A. 20-3018(b), 22-2402
constitutional law—criminal law—criminal procedure—
Fourth Amendment—jury instructions—motions—Sixth Amendment—Statutes
state v. Barrett
riley district court—affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded
court of appeals—affirmed in part and reversed in part
no. 113,767—june 7, 2019
FACTS: Barrett convicted of reckless second degree murder and sentenced for the killing of an exterminator who had entered Barrett’s apartment to kill bugs. Trial delayed over six years until Barrett was competent to stand trial. Key question for jury was whether Barrett’s mental condition prevented him from forming a culpable mental state. On appeal, he claimed reversible error in district court’s failure to deny a requested instruction on imperfect self-defense voluntary manslaughter. In unpublished opinion, Court of Appeals affirmed, finding instructional error but the error was harmless under the “skip rule.” Panel also rejected Barrett’s claim that his mental illness made his post-Miranda statements involuntary under Blackburn v. Alabama, 361 U.S. 199 (1960), and claim that State’s failure to force him to take his antipsychotic medication for four years violated the Kansas speedy trial statute. Review granted on all claims.
ISSUES: (1) Jury instructions - skip rule; (2) motion to suppress; (3) speedy trial
HELD: District court committed reversible error when it failed to give an imperfect self-defense voluntary manslaughter instruction. “Skip rule” is revisited, clarified, and corrected. The “skip rule” is a logical deduction that may support a finding of harmless error when it reasonably applies, but it does not replace longstanding harmlessness tests. Instead, the logical deduction inherent in the skip rule is one factor, among many, to be considered as part of the applicable harmlessness test. In this case, failure to give the imperfect self-defense voluntary manslaughter instruction was reversible error because jury could have reasonably convicted Barrett of voluntary manslaughter. Reversed and remanded for a new trial.
Blackburn is distinguished. Colorado v. Connelly, 379 U.S. 157 (1986), is controlling, holding that coercive police activity is a necessary predicate to finding a confession is not voluntary within the meaning of the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. District court found no evidence of coercive police activity in this case, and correctly dismissed Barrett’s motion to dismiss.
Denial of Barrett’s motion to dismiss on speedy trial grounds is affirmed. Sixth Amendment did not require State to force-medicate Barrett with potentially life-threatening medication to maintain his competency to stand trial.
STATUTE: K.S.A. 21-3403(b), 22-3220, 60-261
state v. newton
saline district court—affirmed
court of appeals—affirmed
no. 116,098—june 7, 2019
FACTS: Newton was convicted of attempted rape. Years later, he filed motion to correct an illegal sentence, arguing the district court incorrectly calculated his criminal history score by classifying pre-1993 convictions as person felonies contrary to State v. Murdock, 299 Kan. 312 (2014)(Murdock I), overruled by State v. Keel, 302 Kan. 560 (2015). District court denied the motion, concluding Murdock I did not apply retroactively. Newton appealed. While appeal was pending, Keel overruled Murdock I. Court of appeals affirmed in an unpublished opinion, applying State v. Vandervort, 276 Kan. 164 (2003), to find district court properly scored Newton’s California conviction as a person felony. Review granted of Newton’s criminal history challenge, and parties were directed to address State v. Wetrich, 307 Kan. 552 (2018).
ISSUE: (1) Criminal history calculation
HELD: Resolution of this appeal does not resolve parties’ arguments regarding Wetrich. Instead, following State v. Murdock, 309 Kan. 585 (2019)(Murdock II), Newton’s 1977 California robbery conviction was properly classified as a person felony under Kansas caselaw in 2008 when his sentence in the Kansas case became final.
STATUTES: K.S.A. 2018 Supp. 22-3504, -3504(3); K.S.A. 2017 Supp. 21-6811(e)(3); K.S.A. 20-3018(b), 21-4710 et seq., -4711(e), 60-2101(b)
constitutional law—fifth amendment—motions—venue
state v. palacio
saline district court—affirmed
NO. 116,899—june 7, 2019
FACTS: Palacio fired shots into a truck, killing the passenger. Palacio filed motion for change of venue, arguing significant pretrial publicity made it impossible to receive an impartial jury. District court denied the motion. Palacio also filed motion to suppress his confession because officers continued to interrogate him after he asked for a lawyer, or alternatively, the officers used coercive tactics. District court suppressed statements Palacio made in-between time he asked for a lawyer and the time he told officers he wanted to say something. Jury convicted Palacio of first-degree murder under theories of premeditation and felony murder, attempted first-degree murder, criminal discharge of a firearm at an occupied vehicle, and conspiracy to commit aggravated battery. On appeal he claimed the district court’s refusal to change venue violated K.S.A. 22-2616. He also claimed the officers violated his Fifth Amendment rights, or alternatively, his confession was involuntary.
ISSUES: (1) Change of venue statute; (2) motion to suppress confession
HELD: District court’s weighing of factors in K.S.A. 22-2616 is reviewed and upheld, including the slight favor of prejudice attributed to the severity of Palacio’s crimes that included a homicide. Same factor compared to weight of prejudice in cases involving more severe crimes of capital murder and rape.
Kansas Supreme Court has never directly addressed whether explicit questioning is always interrogation, but cases have indicated it is not. Court now confirms that an officer’s words or actions, including explicit questions, is interrogation only if the officer should have known that the questioning was reasonably likely to elicit an incriminating response from the suspect. In this case, the officers’ comments and questions were not interrogation and did not violate Fifth Amendment. Palacio thus was free to waive his previously invoked right, and knowingly and intelligently did so. Under facts in this case, district court did not err in finding the officers did not threaten, coerce, or engage in deceptive practices, and in concluding Palacio’s confession was voluntary.
CONCURRENCE (Johnson, J.): Concurs in the result.
STATUTE: K.S.A. 22-2616, -2616(1)
state v. rucker
wyandotte district court—affirmed
NO. 117,143—june 7, 2019
FACTS: Rucker was convicted of first-degree felony murder. He appealed, challenging the sufficiency of the evidence supporting that conviction. He also claimed the district court erred in admitting gruesome photographs of the victim that had no probative value on issues in dispute at trial, and that only inflamed passions of the jury.
ISSUES: (1) Sufficiency of the evidence; (2) admission of photographs
HELD: State alleged the victim was killed while Rucker was “in the commission of” or “attempt to commit” one or more of four inherently dangerous felonies: robbery, rape, aggravated kidnapping, and aggravated burglary. Rucker’s challenge to the sufficiency of the evidence supporting this alternative means crime fails because the evidence considered in the light most favorable to the state supports a jury finding that Rucker committed the four underlying felonies.
At trial, Rucker did not object to the admission of any of the photographs, and stipulated to their admission. Rucker did not preserve this issue for appeal, and merits of his argument are not reached.
STATUTE: K.S.A. 21-3401(b), -3426, -3436(a)(2), (3), (5), (10), -3716 (Furse)
Kansas Court of Appeals
state v. glover
sumner district court—affirmed
NO. 120,098—june 7, 2019
FACTS: Glover entered unlocked church and entered locked sacristy where he stole items from a locked cabinet. State charged him with burglary. District court dismissed the charge, reasoning the State did not prove Glover entered the building without authorization because church was open to the public. State appealed, arguing the sacristy can be considered a building or structure under the Kansas burglary statute.
ISSUE: (1) Kansas burglary statute—building or structure
HELD: A locked sacristy inside an unlocked church is not a building or structure as the terms are used in K.S.A. 2018 Supp. 21-5807(a). Published and unpublished opinions in Court of Appeals are reviewed as seeming to read into the burglary statute a definition of building or structure that hinges, in part, on whether an individual or entity is renting or leasing a space within the main building. But under plain language of the statute which the Legislature has not modified for 19 years, the sacristy was nothing more than a room within the church building. District court’s dismissal of the burglary charge is affirmed.
STATUTE: K.S.A. 2018 Supp. 21-5807(a)(2)
Posted By Administration,
Monday, April 15, 2019
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Kansas Supreme Court
ORDER OF DISBARMENT
IN RE PATRICK GEORGE COPLEY
NO. 20,699—APRIL 9, 2019
FACTS: In a letter dated April 1, 2019, Patrick George Copley surrendered his license to practice law in Kansas. At the time of surrender, two disciplinary complaints were pending with the Disciplinary Administrator.
HELD: The Court accepts the surrender of Copley's license and orders that he be disbarred.
ESTATE OF GRABER V. DILLON COMPANIES
WORKERS COMPENSATION BOARD—COURT OF APPEALS IS AFFIRMED,
BOARD IS REVERSED, CASE REMANDED
NO. 113,412 – APRIL 12, 2019
FACTS: Graber was injured after he fell down some stairs while at work. Graber did not remember the accident, and there were no witnesses or any evidence to suggest how the accident happened. Graber applied for workers compensation benefits. An ALJ awarded him benefits, finding that the injury arose in and out of the course of his employment. Dillon appealed, claiming that because the cause of the accident was unknown, Graber's injuries arose from an idiopathic cause and were not compensable. The Board agreed with Dillon, holding that after 2011 amendments to the workers compensation statutes, idiopathic falls are not compensable. The Court of Appeals reversed, holding that "idiopathic" means something personal or innate to the claimant. The Supreme Court granted Dillon's petition for review.
ISSUES: (1) First impression question of the meaning of the term "idiopathic causes"
HELD: The legislative history does not address the "idiopathic causes" exclusion. "Idiopathic" means more than "spontaneous" or "unknown." Rather, it is connected with medical conditions and is not a synonym for all unknown causes. For that reason, the idiopathic exclusion is narrow. It applies only if there is proof that an injury or accident arose directly or indirectly from a medical condition or medical event of unknown origin which is peculiar to the claimant. The case must be remanded for further factfinding by the Board.
STATUTE: K.S.A. 2018 Supp. 44-501b(b), -508(f), -508(f)(3)(A)(iii), -508(f)(3)(A)(iv), 77-621(a), -621(c), -621(d)
Kansas Court of Appeals
SHORT V. BLUE CROSS AND BLUE SHIELD OF KANSAS, INC.
SALINE DISTRICT COURT—AFFIRMED
NO. 118,688—APRIL 12, 2019
FACTS: Short was involved in an accident which required the amputation of both legs—one below the knee and one above the knee. Short requested that Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas, Inc. provide coverage for multiple prosthetics. One of the requested prosthetics was an Ottobock X3 Microprocessor leg and knee. Blue Cross denied coverage, citing the insurance contract which excluded from coverage "deluxe or electrically operated" prosthetics. Blue Cross acknowledged that a prosthetic leg was medically necessary, and it offered to pay the price of a standard knee. Short believed that Blue Cross should pay for the Ottobock X3, and he sued for breach of contract. During discovery Short requested documents beyond the insurance contract in an attempt to delve in to the policy behind Blue Cross' denial. Blue Cross refused to provide them, on grounds that the case was a straightforward contract dispute. The district court agreed and refused to compel production of the documents requested by Short. The district court granted Blue Cross' motion for summary judgment, finding that the Ottobock X3 was clearly excluded from coverage by the plain language of Short's insurance policy. Short appealed.
ISSUES: (1) Whether insurance policy is ambiguous; (2) listings of exclusions; (3) summary judgment review; (4) scope of discovery
HELD: There is no dispute that a prosthetic knee is medically necessary for Short. The insurance policy provides enough detail to support the district court's ruling that the policy is not ambiguous. The policy covers a nonelectric device that does what is absolutely necessary to treat the insured's condition. If the insured wants a device that does more, Blue Cross will pay for a standard device and the insured can pay the difference. Because the policy is unambiguous, there is no need to apply doctrines of construction. This insurance policy does not contravene public policy. It is undisputed that the Ottobock X3 is an electronically operated device, which is excluded by the plain language of Short's insurance policy. This case centers on application of a limitations clause, which involves questions of fact. For this reason, Short should have been given access to the documents he requested in discovery. The district court abused its discretion by failing to compel discovery. But the error was harmless.
DISSENT: (Atcheson, J.) There is some ambiguity in the insurance contract and there remain questions of fact. For that reason, summary judgment was inappropriate. This case should be remanded for further proceedings.
STATUTES: No statutes cited.
STATE V. MANWARREN
RENO DISTRICT COURT—AFFIRMED
NO. 119,520—APRIL 12, 2019
FACTS: After receiving a tip, officers found Manwarren lying in a ditch. When the officers arrived on the scene Manwarren rose to greet them. The officers began a welfare check and noted there was no indication of criminal activity, and Manwarren did not appear to be injured or intoxicated. Officers asked for and received Manwarren's photo ID. Instead of returning the card to Manwarren, officers ran a warrant check which returned a warrant for failure-to-appear. After confirming the warrant, Manwarren was arrested. After he was handcuffed, Manwarren answered officers' questions by admitting that he had drugs and scales in his backpack. Manwarren was charged with various crimes relating to this drug possession. Prior to trial, he filed a motion to suppress in which he claimed that the police impermissibly converted a welfare check to an investigatory detention without having reasonable suspicion of criminal activity. The district court agreed, finding that running a warrant check was beyond the scope of a welfare check where there was no reasonable suspicion of criminal activity. The State appealed.
ISSUES: (1) Voluntariness of the encounter; (2) application of the attenuation doctrine
HELD: The encounter between police and Manwarren began as a welfare check. But once the officer obtained and then kept Manwarren's identification card, the encounter turned into a seizure. In the absence of any evidence of criminal activity, the warrant check went beyond the scope of a welfare check and evolved into an illegal detention. Very little time elapsed between the illegal seizure of Manwarren and the discovery of the drugs in his backpack. Police officers were polite and courteous and did not appear to know they were violating Manwarren's rights. But running a warrant check as part of a welfare check is not a good-faith mistake. It is misconduct and should be punished by excluding the evidence discovered.
STATUTES: No statutes cited.
Posted By Administration,
Monday, March 4, 2019
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Kansas Supreme Court
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)
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)
Posted By Administration,
Tuesday, October 9, 2018
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Kansas Supreme Court
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.
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)
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—
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 Bodine—a person who had previously lived with Anderson and wife—about 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)
Posted By Administration,
Tuesday, May 29, 2018
Updated: Tuesday, May 29, 2018
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Kansas Supreme Court
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
State v. Perkins
Posted By Administration,
Tuesday, December 5, 2017
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Kansas Supreme Court
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.
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.
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
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)
Posted By Administration,
Friday, January 8, 2016
Updated: Monday, September 10, 2018
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Kansas Supreme Court
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
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