Kansas Supreme Court
ONE-YEAR SUSPENSION, STAYED DURING AN EXTENDED PROBATION
IN RE ANDREW M. DELANEY
NO. 121,208—DECEMBER 6, 2019
FACTS: A hearing panel determined that Delaney violated KRPC 1.1 (competence); 1.3 (diligence); 1.4(a) (communication); and 1.7(a) (conflict of interest). Delaney was placed on probation in November 2014 and remained on probation at the time these matters arose. The allegations of new discipline involved Delaney's representation of a client in a divorce action and his failure to free his client from debt on a vehicle retained by the ex-spouse. In addition, Delaney failed to properly negotiate a plea agreement on behalf of three other clients, none of whom were aware of the potential conflict of interest.
HEARING PANEL: The hearing panel found facts sufficient to sustain all alleged rule violations. The panel found several aggravating factors, including prior discipline. But there were also mitigating circumstances such as the absence of a dishonest motive and some mental health issues. The disciplinary administrator recommended a one-year suspension, with that suspension suspended so that Delaney's probation could be extended for two years. This recommendation was joined by Delaney and his counsel, and the panel determined that the probation plan proposed by Delaney was workable and appropriate.
HELD: In the absence of any exceptions, the hearing panel's findings of fact and conclusions were accepted. After hearing arguments, a majority of the court agreed that the probation plan proposed by the disciplinary administrator and Delaney was appropriate. Delaney's license to practice law in Kansas was suspended for one year, with that suspension stayed in favor of a two-year term of probation. A minority of the court would have imposed a less severe sanction.
ORDER OF DISBARMENT
IN RE JOAN M. HAWKINS
NO. 121,064—DECEMBER 6, 2019
FACTS: After Hawkins failed to participate or appear, a hearing panel found that Hawkins violated KRPC 1.3 (diligence); 1.15(a) and (b) (safekeeping property); 1.16(d) (termination of representation); 8.1(b) (failure to respond to disciplinary authority); Rule 207(b) (failure to cooperate in disciplinary investigation); Rule 211(b) (failure to answer in disciplinary proceeding); and Rule 218(a) (failure to file motion to withdraw upon suspension). The allegations arose after Hawkins failed to file pleadings on behalf of clients. In addition, Hawkins was suspended but failed to withdraw or take the steps required of her during the suspension. In addition, Hawkins made deposits into her attorney trust account even after she was suspended, and she paid personal bills directly out of her trust account.
HEARING PANEL: Hawkins failed to appear or participate in the hearing panel process. This failure, combined with the evidence presented to the hearing panel, resulted in the disciplinary administrator seeking discipline of either indefinite suspension or disbarment. The hearing panel recommended that Hawkins be disbarred.
HELD: The Clerk of the Supreme Court made repeated efforts to serve Hawkins with the notice of hearing. All certified mail was returned unclaimed and an attempt to make personal service was similarly unsuccessful. The court found that adequate notice was given of both the formal complaint and the hearing. Because Hawkins did not participate, panel's findings of fact and conclusions of law were deemed admitted. And in the absence of an appearance at the disciplinary hearing, the court adopted the disciplinary administrator's recommendation that Hawkins be disbarred.
Court Reporter Discipline
IN RE APRIL C. SHEPARD
CCR NO. 1318 – DECEMBER 6, 2019
FACTS: April Shepard works as a court reporter in Wyandotte County. She previously served in that capacity in Shawnee County. In June 2018, the State Board of Examiners of Court Reporters filed a formal complaint against Shepard alleging a violation of Board Rule No. 9.F.9. The facts showed that Shepard worked as a court reporter on a high-profile murder trial. After the defendant's conviction was overturned on appeal, a newspaper article quoted from Facebook posts made by Shepard in which she opined that the defendant was guilty and would be convicted again. Shepard admitted that she made the posts but defended herself by claiming that she behaved in an impartial manner during the trial and noted that she no longer worked for Shawnee County.
BOARD: The Board's disciplinary counsel asked that Shepard be subjected to public discipline, in order to provide transparency and increase public confidence in the profession. Shepard asked that any discipline be private, noting that she stipulated to the rule violation and arguing that her conduct was not severe enough to warrant public discipline. After considering arguments, the Board recommended that Shepard receive a public reprimand.
HELD: In the absence of objections, the Board's findings and conclusions were adopted. The court found that Shepard's conduct was egregious and damaging to the profession, but also noted that she cooperated with the investigation and admitted to wrongdoing. The court agreed that a public reprimand was the appropriate discipline.
EMINENT DOMAIN—INVERSE CONDEMNATION—JURISDICTION
GFTLENEXA, LLC V. CITY OF LENEXA
JOHNSON DISTRICT COURT—AFFIRMED
NO. 119,278—DECEMBER 6, 2019
FACTS: Through a series of leases and subleases, GFTLenexa ended up as the landlord of a Bridgestone tire dealer. In October 2013, the City of Lenexa filed a condemnation action with the goal of making street improvements and creating a permanent public utility easement. The district court granted the condemnation request and paid appropriate compensation to affected parties; neither GFTLenexa nor Bridgestone participated and neither was awarded compensation. A year later, Bridgestone sought declaratory judgment against GFTLenexa claiming it was entitled to reduced rent because the property had been partially condemned. The district court dismissed the action on GFTLenexa's motion for summary judgment on the theory that GFTLenexa did not receive any proceeds from the condemnation. The Court of Appeals reversed and remanded and on remand, the district court ordered GFTLenexa to both reduce Bridgestone's monthly rent and refund past overpayments. This decision prompted GFTLenexa to file an inverse condemnation action against the City for a loss of its intangible property rights. The district court granted the City's motion for summary judgment. GFTLenexa filed a notice of appeal to the Kansas Supreme Court.
ISSUES: (1) Jurisdiction; (2) need for inverse condemnation
HELD: Inverse condemnation actions are not creatures of statute. K.S.A. 2018 Supp. 26-504 requires that appeals in eminent domain cases go directly to the Kansas Supreme Court. Inverse condemnation actions are not eminent domain actions, and cases involving an inverse condemnation must be filed in the court of appeals. Even though the case was filed in the wrong court, the court exercises its power of concurrent jurisdiction to rule on the controversy before it rather than transfer it to the court of appeals. The eminent domain petition did not name GFTLenexa as a party and GFTLenexa chose not to participate in the process. The City's failure to name GFTLenexa is not determinative; GFTLenexa could have—and should have—sought to intervene in the condemnation. Requiring the City to pay again in an inverse condemnation action violates the undivided fee rule.
STATUTES: Kansas Constitution, Article 3, § 3; K.S.A. 2018 Supp. 26-504; K.S.A. 20-3018(a), 26-517, 60-2101(a), -2101(b)
state v. carpenter
sedgwick district court—affirmed; court of appeals—affirmed
no. 115,713—december 6, 2019
FACTS: Complaint charged Carpenter of burglary, theft, and criminal damage to property. A separate complaint charged February 2008 offenses of aggravated indecent liberties with a child and criminal sodomy. Carpenter convicted on all charges. District court’s pronouncement stated a 55 month underlying sentence and 36 months of post-release supervision, but journal entry reflected lifetime postrelease supervision in case involving sexually violent offenses. Probation revoked two years later, with imposition of underlying sentence and lifetime postrelease supervision. Carpenter filed motion to correct illegal sentence by confirming the orally pronounced sentence of 36 months’ postrelease supervision, distinguishing postrelease for persons sent to prison versus those granted probation. State argued the lifetime postrelease supervision was mandatory and the 36-month supervision itself was illegal. District court agreed and denied the motion. Court of Appeals affirmed in unpublished opinion. Review granted. While appeal was pending, parties ordered to show cause why sole issue on review was not controlled by State v. Brook, 309 Kan. 780 (2019).
ISSUE: (1) Lifetime postrelease supervision under K.S.A. 22-3717(d)(1)
HELD: District court and Court of Appeals are affirmed based on Brook. Due to nature and timing of his offenses, Carpenter is subject to lifetime postrelease supervision under K.S.A. 22-3717. For determining length of postrelease supervision, Legislature clearly distinguished between categories of sexually violent offenses in K.S.A. 22-3717(d)(1)(D) and (G) based on date of their commission, not by sentences of probation versus prison. K.S.A. 22-3717(d)(1)(G) applies to persons convicted of a sexually violent crime committed on or after July 1, 2006. There are no persons convicted of a sexually violent crime on or after that date to whom both subsection K.S.A. 22-3717(d)(1)(A) and subsection (d)(1)(G) apply. Construing the statute as a whole and giving effect to all subsections, there is no conflict or ambiguity in K.S.A. 22-3717(d)(1).
STATUTES: K.S.A. 2015 Supp. 22-3717(d)(1); K.S.A. 2013 Supp. 22-3717(d)(1); K.S.A.20-3018(b), 21-4704, 22-3504, -3717, -3717(d)(1), -3717(d)(1)(A), -3717(d)(1)(G), -3717(d)(2)(C), -3717(d)(2)(D), 60-2101(b)
criminal law—criminal procedure—evidence—jury instructions
state v. claerhout
johnson district court—affirmed; court of appeals—affirmed
no. 115,227—december 6, 2019
FACTS: Claerhout was convicted of reckless driving and second-degree murder for unintentional but reckless homicide. District court allowed State to introduce Claerhout’s prior diversion agreement for purpose under K.S.A. 60-455(b); allowed an officer to evaluate the relative speeds of the two vehicles at the time of collision; and denied Claerhout’s request for voluntary intoxication instruction. On appeal Claerhout challenged: (1) admission of the K.S.A. 60-455 evidence; (2) officer’s qualification to testify about scientific and mathematical conclusions; and (3) denial of the requested instruction. Court of appeals affirmed, 54 Kan.App. 2d 742 (2017). Review granted on all issues.
ISSUES: (1) Evidence of prior diversion agreement; (2) expert testimony; (3) voluntary intoxication instruction
HELD: Claerhout’s diversion agreement had probative value that outweighed its prejudicial effect. Statutory requirements and specific details outlined in a diversion for driving under the influence essentially serve the same purpose as a conviction in showing its relevance. In this case, any deficiency in district court’s abbreviated evaluation of possible prejudicial effect was harmless. No need at this time to decide how little or how much analysis a district count must display to satisfy due process mandates in State v. Boysaw, 309 Kan. 526 (2019), but courts are encouraged to state on the record the factors considered in weighing the admissibility of K.S.A. 60-455 evidence.
Kansas Supreme Court has not previously ruled on the degree to which an expert must be able to demonstrate knowledge of the principles underlying the expert’s expertise. It is not necessary that an expert witness demonstrate expertise in every theory, principle or scientific discipline underlying the knowledge, skill, experience, training or education that may qualify an expert witness to give testimony. Background of officer in this case sufficed to meet the statutory requirements for qualification as an expert witness.
The requested voluntary intoxication instruction was not factually appropriate. Voluntary intoxication is not a defense to reckless second-degree murder. Claerhout’s theory, that evidence of his intoxication tends to show he could not attain a reckless state of mind because of impaired mental function, is rejected. Instead, cited cases show common thread of courts treating intoxication as evidence of recklessness.
STATUTES: K.S.A. 2018 Supp. 8-1567(i)(1), -1567(i)(6), 21-5403(a)(2), -5403(b)(2), 60-455(a), -455(b), -456(b); K.S.A. 2016 Supp. 60-455(b); K.S.A. 60-455
criminal procedure—motions—postconviction remedies—statutes
state v. fox
cherokee district court—affirmed
No. 115,247—december 6, 2019
FACTS: In 2013, Fox filed a K.S.A. 22-3210 motion to withdraw his 1982 guilty plea, arguing in part for equitable tolling of the limitation period. District court denied the motion as untimely filed with no showing of excusable neglect. Fox appealed, further arguing he had been imprisoned in Florida for several years without access to a phone or library materials about Kansas law. He also claimed manifest injustice, citing ineffective assistance of counsel, duplicitous charges, and jurisdictional claims.
ISSUE: (1) Statue of limitations—excusable neglect
HELD: Grace period in 2009 amendment to K.S.A. 22-3210 allowed Fox until April 2010 to file his motion. District court did not abuse its discretion in finding Fox did not establish excusable neglect to permit his untimely filing. No facts support equitable tolling of the limitation period where Fox was held in a Kansas prison about seven years before the statute of limitations ran. No need to address whether Fox established manifest injustice.
STATUTES: K.S.A. 2018 Supp. 22-3210, -3210(d)(2), -3210(e)(1), -3210(e)(2), -3601(b); K.S.A. 60-1507
criminal procedure—juries—jury instructions—motions—trials
state v. pruitt
Butler District Court—affirmed
NO. 118,448—december 6, 2019
FACTS: Pruitt was convicted of first-degree premeditated murder. On appeal he claimed: (1) prosecutor error during closing argument; (2) judge should have instructed jury on lesser included offenses of reckless second-degree murder and reckless voluntary manslaughter, (3) erroneous instructions foreclosed jury’s power of nullification; (4) a new trial should have been granted because one juror slept during part of the proceedings; and (5) cumulative error denied him a fair trial.
ISSUES: (1) Prosecutorial error; (2) instructions on lesser included offenses; (3) instructions regarding jury nullification; (4) motion for new trial—juror misconduct; (5) cumulative error
HELD: Prosecutor’s statement in summing up testimony about the alleged murder weapon, “This seems to be the shotgun, folks. I don’t think there’s a lot of question about that at this point,” was an impermissible personal opinion; but no reversible error in this case. Prosecutor’s statement that victim deserved jurors’ “consideration” was not error where statement’s context demonstrates that prosecutor was not attempting to invoke jury’s sympathy. Prosecutor’s statement, “Folks, if you’re convinced beyond a reasonable doubt that those three elements exist, you must find the defendant guilty of murder in the first degree, as he has been charged,” was not an impermissible misstatement of the law because it forbade jury nullification. A prosecutor’s closing argument is distinguished from court instructions.
Even if error is assumed in district judge’s failure to give sua sponte two reckless homicide instructions, no reversible clear error on facts in this case.
District judge’s instructions to jury did not direct a verdict of conviction or prevent jury nullification, and were correct statements of the law and not erroneous under State v. Boothby, 310 Kan. 619 (2019).
Under facts in this case, district judge did not abuse his discretion in finding no fundamental failure due to jury misconduct occurred in defendant’s trial.
Errors found or assumed in this case did not cumulatively prejudice Pruitt and deprive him of a fair trial.
STATUTE: K.S.A. 2018 Supp. 21-5109(b)(1), -5202(c)