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April 10, 2020 Digests

Posted By Administration, Monday, April 13, 2020

Kansas Supreme Court

Civil

EMERGENCY PROCEDURES—QUO WARRANTO
KELLY V. LEGISLATIVE COORDINATING COUNCIL
ORIGINAL ACTION—QUO WARRANTO GRANTED IN PART
NO. 122,765—APRIL 11, 2020

FACTS: Because of the global pandemic caused by the novel coronavirus, Governor Kelly issued an emergency proclamation and follow-up executive orders. Under statute, the state of disaster emergency could not last longer than 15 days unless ratified by a concurrent resolution of the Legislature. Within that 15-day window, the legislature adopted House Concurrent Resolution 5025, extending the Governor's declaration to May 1, 2020. Governor Kelly used her emergency powers to issue Executive Order 20-18 which temporarily prohibited "mass gatherings", defined as any event that would bring together more than 10 people in an enclosed space. Importantly, Executive Order 20-18 removed religious gatherings from a list of exempted activities. Acting under HCR 5025, the Legislative Coordinating Council convened, voted, and revoked Executive Order 20-18. Governor Kelly filed this original action in quo warranto, and expedited proceedings were allowed given the unusual circumstances.

ISSUE: (1) Authority of the LCC

HELD: Quo warranto is an appropriate procedure for questioning the LCC's authority to revoke Executive Order 20-18. The House of Representatives and the Senate are not appropriate parties to the action and are dismissed. But the governor has standing to pursue this action. HCR 5025 establishes a conditions precedent which must be met before the LCC can act if the Legislature is not in session, including input from the State Finance Council. The LCC cannot act until the State Finance Council acts. K.S.A. 46-1202 is a general statute which creates the LCC and gives it some authority. In this instance, that statute must give way to the more specific statute, which governs the revocation of executive orders during an emergency.

CONCURRENCE: (Biles, J.) While agreeing with both the outcome and rationale, Justice Biles questions whether HCR 5025 can confer oversight powers on the LCC at all.

CONCURRENCE: (Stegall, J.) The majority reached the right outcome using the right rationale. There are lingering issues with the Kansas Emergency Management Act relating to separation of powers. The plain language of HCR 5025 may produce absurd results, but the court has no authority to rewrite the resolution.

STATUTES: K.S.A. 2019 Supp. 48-925 -925(b); K.S.A. 46-1202, 48-924, -924(b), 60-1203

criminal 

criminal procedure—sentences—statutes
state v. coleman
saline district court—reversed and remanded 
court of appeals—affirmed
no. 118,673—april 10, 2020

FACTS: In 2013, 2014, and 2015 cases, Coleman granted downward dispositional departure sentences of probation with underlying prison terms. In November 2017 revocation hearing, district court ruled that because probation had been granted as the result of dispositional departures it had authority under K.S.A. 2017 Supp. 22-3716(c)(9)(B), effective July 1, 2017, to revoke probation and impose the underlying sentences without first imposing intermediate sanctions. Coleman appealed. In unpublished opinion, Court of Appeals reversed and remanded, holding the trial court erred in applying K.S.A. 2017 Supp. 22-3716(c)(9)(B) retrospectively. State’s petition for review granted.

ISSUE: Probation revocation

HELD: Court of Appeals judgment is affirmed. The K.S.A. 2017 Supp. 22-3716(c)(9)(B) exception, which allows a trial court to revoke a probationer’s probation without first imposing graduated sanctions if the probation was granted as a result of a dispositional departure, applies only to probationers whose offenses or crimes of conviction occurred on or after that statute’s effective date.  District court judgment is reversed and case remanded with directions.

STATUTES: K.S.A. 2017 Supp. 22-3716, -3716(c)(9)(B); K.S.A. 2014 Supp. 22-3716(c)(11); K.S.A. 20-3018(b), 60-2101(b)

 

Kansas Court of Appeals

Civil

CONTRACTS—EMPLOYMENT
HEFNER V DEUTSCHER
SHAWNEE DISTRICT COURT—REVERSED AND REMANDED
NO. 119,201—APRIL 10, 2020

FACTS: Hefner, Deutscher, and Rottinghaus worked together in their optometry practice as a corporation. As an employee of the corporation, Hefner signed a noncompete agreement barring him from employment within a set geographic area for three years following his employment with the corporation. The contract specified that damages would be awarded for any breach or "threatened breach" of the contract. Over time, Hefner and Deutscher's relationship soured, and both parties proposed strategies that would allow Hefner to leave the corporation. Before the details could be finalized, Hefner located new office space and registered a new tradename with the Kansas Optometry Board. Hefner ultimately resigned instead of finalizing his exit agreement. And instead of practicing, Hefner decided he would rather teach optometry. It was thought that Hefner would work for the corporation for an additional six months, but Deutscher fired him for violating the noncompete clause. Hefner filed suit for breach of contract and wrongful termination. All parties filed competing motions for summary judgment. The district court granted Hefner's motion for partial summary judgment on his breach of contract claim and granted the corporation's motion for summary judgment on Hefner's wrongful termination claim. After a bench trial on the remaining breach of fiduciary duty claim, the district court found that Deutscher and Rottinghaus breached their fiduciary duty to Hefner because their motives for terminating Hefner were not made in fairness and good faith to the corporation. The district court awarded Hefner in excess of $1 million in damages. The corporation, Deutscher, and Rottinghaus appealed.

ISSUE: (1) Hefner's breach of contract claim

HELD: The use of the phrase "threatened breach" in Hefner's employment contract did not mean the same thing as an anticipatory breach. It had a broader meaning under the plain language of the employment contract, and encompassed actions which would lead a reasonable person to believe that a breach is imminent and likely to happen. The district court incorrectly defined "threatened breach", and this error resulted in the district court wrongly granting Hefner's motion for summary judgment. This case must be remanded to the district court for further action.

STATUTES: No statutes cited.

RATEMAKING—UTILITIES
HANSON V. KCC
STEVENS DISTRICT COURT—AFFIRMED IN PART,
REVERSED IN PART, REMANDED TO KCC
NO. 119,834—APRIL 10, 2020

FACTS: TKO Gas, LLC provides limited natural gas service in Kansas, operating as a middleman to resell gas to customers. TKO assumed contract rights from a previous provider and never went through a formal rate-setting process. Over time, some customers complained that TKO improperly calculated the heat content of the gas it was selling, resulting in a consistent 9.5% overcharge. Staff found that TKO changed the pressure at which is delivered natural gas. TKO acknowledged that this happened, but claimed it was industry standard practice to do so, and that the practice was in its contracts which were approved by the KCC. The KCC held a hearing and determined that none of the customers were entitled to relief. Even though TKO admitted to all of the customers' claims, the KCC ultimately determined that the rates charged by TKO were still reasonable, resulting in no harm to the customers. The district court reversed this finding, ruling that the KCC improperly focused on rate making while ignoring TKO's improper billing practices. The district court ordered the KCC to calculate the exact amount of overbilling and require TKO to pay refunds. TKO appealed.

ISSUE: (1) KCC's ability to address overpayment

HELD: The KCC is not limited to ratemaking or rate-reviewing functions. It has broad authority to determine whether any action is unreasonable or unfair. The KCC erred by only focusing on whether TKO's rates were reasonable, ignoring TKO's flawed billing methodology. TKO's practice of changing the pressure at which gas is distributed resulted in an overcharge and was neither honest nor fair. The KCC erred by not addressing it. But the district court erred by directing the KCC on how to fix this error. The KCC has total statutory control over crafting an appropriate remedy, and the case is remanded to the KCC.

STATUTE: K.S.A. 66-1,201, -1,205, -1,205(a), -1,206, -1,206(a), -1,207, 77-621(a)(1), -621(c)(4)

OIL AND GAS—TAX
IN RE TAX APPEAL OF RIVER ROCK ENERGY COMPANY
BOARD OF TAX APPEALS—AFFIRMED IN PART, REVERSED IN PART, REMANDED
NO. 120,387—APRIL 10, 2020

FACTS: In 2016, River Rock acquired producing gas wells, leases, and other assets in Kansas. After taking possession, River Rock learned that the counties in which the wells were located assigned a total appraised value of over $13 million. River Rock appealed while paying its taxes under protest. But River Rock only paid filing fees for a small percentage of its wells. River Rock sought an abatement of the filing fees it did pay. The Property Valuation Division of the Kansas Department of Revenue intervened to defend its valuation methods. After a hearing based on written testimony, BOTA upheld the counties' valuations. River Rock appealed.

ISSUES: (1) Valuing wells based on minimum lease values; (2) minimum leave values creating arbitrary and erroneous valuations; (3) whether BOTA properly considered the evidence; (4) whether BOTA erred when valuing equipment in the wells; (5) filing fee abatements

HELD: Personal property must be appraised at its fair market value. The Kansas Oil and Gas Appraisal Guide does not comply with this statutory directive because it prevents the gross working interest in any producing well from ever dropping to zero. The use of a minimum lease value on limited-production wells creates an assessed value higher than the actual gross working interest value, arbitrarily substituting the higher of two possible values. The Guide does not allow for the proper reconciliation of market values when the working interest value differs greatly from the minimum leave value. When an appraiser uses the minimum lease value, deductions for actual costs and other expense allowances are no longer used. This prevents sufficient consideration of these costs and does not lead to a fair market value of the property. Actual evidence shows that River Rock has wells with negative gross working interest, but the assigned minimum lease values do not reflect fair market value. BOTA did not ignore relevant evidence, rather overly simplified the evidence. River Rock cannot tie the value of its equipment to variable market conditions which ultimately affect the price of natural gas. BOTA properly valued River Rock's equipment with one exception: BOTA erred when valuing segments of underground poly flow lines. BOTA disregarded uncontroverted evidence that the lines could not be salvaged without destroying them. Filing fees are not allowed if they exceed the reasonable costs of administering the appeals. Neither BOTA nor River Rock properly calculated River Rock's filing fees, but the record on appeal does not contain enough information to determine how much abatement should have been granted to River Rock. If BOTA wants to deny River Rock's request for abatement, it must explain why.

STATUTE: K.S.A. 77-603(a), -613(e), -621(a)(1), -621(c), 79-329, -331(a), -501, -503a

GARNISHMENTS
STORMONT-VAIL HEALTHCARE V. SIEVERS
SHAWNEE DISTRICT COURT—AFFIRMED
NO. 121,109—APRIL 10, 2020

FACTS: Stormont-Vail received a consent judgment against Sievers for unpaid medical expenses. The amount of the debt is undisputed. Sievers refused to set up a payment plan and instead asked Stormont-Vail to garnish him. Stormont-Vail took him up on his offer and filed two requests for orders of garnishment: one from his employer and one to attach Sievers' other property held in bank accounts. Sievers objected to the garnishment order at his bank, arguing that the funds in his bank account were exempt from attachment because the funds met the definition of "earnings." The district court disagreed with Sievers, finding that once Sievers' paycheck was deposited into a bank account the money became garnishable. Sievers appeals.

ISSUE: (1) Whether wages deposited into a bank account can be garnished

HELD: Kansas statutes create limits on how much of a debtor's earnings can be attached by a nonwage garnishment order. Only an employer can act as the garnishee for a wage garnishment. The meaning of "earnings" is expressly tied to an employer-employee relationship, and once money paid as earnings is deposited into a bank account it loses its status as earnings. The money in Sievers' bank account was garnishable, even if the funds originated from his earnings.

DISSENT: (Standridge, J.) Wages paid by an employer are earnings. So wages electronically paid to Sievers by his employer via direct deposit into his bank account meet the statutory definition of earnings and are exempt from attachment through garnishment.

STATUTE: K.S.A. 2019 Supp. 60-2310(a)(1), 61-3504(a), -3504(b), -3505(a), -3506(g), -3507, -3507(a), -3508, -3509, -3510; K.S.A. 61-3502, -3505

criminal

constitutional law—criminal procedure—evidence—juries—jury instructions
state v. albano
riley district court—affirmed
no.120,767—april 10, 2020

FACTS: Albano convicted of distribution of a controlled substance within 1,000 feet of a school. On appeal she claimed: (1) district court erred by failing to give a limiting instruction concerning the admission of evidence of Albano’s prior drug convictions; (2) district court undermined jury’s power of nullification by instructing jury that it “must” follow the law and that it was jury’s “duty” to do so; and (3) sentencing court’s use of judicial findings of prior convictions to sentence Albano violated section 5 of Kansas Constitution Bill of Rights - the right of trial by jury.

ISSUES: (1) limiting instruction—prior crimes; (2) jury instructions—power of nullification; (3) sentencing—Kansas Constitution

HELD: State’s argument that Albano invited the limiting-instruction error is rejected. A defendant does not waive applicability of a limiting instruction simply by introducing K.S.A. 60-455 evidence because a limiting instruction is required regardless of which party introduced the evidence. Here, district court erred in failing to give a limiting instruction, but this failure was not clearly erroneous. Unclear how jury could have impermissibly relied on Albano’s prior convictions as general propensity evidence when it was undisputed she committed the acts in question, and jury’s acquittal on one of the three charges establishes that jury did not impermissibly rely on the prior convictions to establish guilt.

            District court did not err in giving legally correct instructions. State v. Boothby, 310 Kan. 619 (2019), determined that the same “must follow the law” language Albano challenged in one instruction did not interfere with jury’s power to nullify. The “duty” language challenged   in a second instruction is substantively identical—telling jury to follow the law.

            There is no authority for the proposition that section 5 provides greater protection than the federal jury trial right by requiring a jury to determine criminal history. And the section 5 jury trial right does not prohibit judicial findings of prior criminal history because there was no common law right to have a jury determine criminal history when the Kansas Constitution was adopted.    

STATUTES: K.S.A. 2019 Supp. 22-3414(3); K.S.A. 60-455

constitutional law—criminal procedure—evidence
state v. R.W.
douglas district court—affirmed
no. 120,854—April 10, 2020

FACTS: Juvenile R.W. was interrogated several hours at police facility after being picked up from high school by two police officers. State later charged R.W. with multiple criminal counts including rape and aggravated battery, and district court certified R.W. for trial as an adult. R.W. filed motion to suppress statements he made during interrogation. District court granted the motion, finding R.W.’s statements were not the product of a free and independent will, and citing the officers’ promises, benefits, and reassurances as resulting in R.W.’s will being overborne. State filed interlocutory appeal.

ISSUE: Fifth Amendment—juveniles

HELD: District court’s suppression order is affirmed. Totality of circumstances in this case suggest that R.W.’s confession was not the product of a free and independent will. Standard of care to be exercised in assessing the validity of a juvenile’s statements during interrogation without counsel present is discussed. Here, substantial competent evidence supported district court’s factual findings, and district court applied the correct legal analysis. Agreement stated with specific findings and considerations in district court’s comprehensive memorandum decision. Officers may have had good intentions, but statements made to juveniles that are likely to mislead them regarding the nature and legal consequences of an interrogation have the potential to render a confession involuntary.

STATUTES: K.S.A. 2019 Supp. 22-3603, 60-460(f); K.S.A. 60-460(f)

Tags:  Constitutional law  contracts  criminal procedure  emergency procedures  employment  evidence  garnishments  juries  jury instructions  oil and gas  quo warranto  ratemaking  sentences  statutes  tax  utilities 

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April 3, 2020 Digests

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Kansas Supreme Court

ATTORNEY DISCIPLINE

ORDER OF REINSTATEMENT
IN RE ROSIE M. QUINN
NO. 119,148—APRIL 3, 2020

FACTS: In 2018, Quinn's license to practice law in Kansas was indefinitely suspended. She filed a petition for reinstatement in 2019, and a hearing panel heard her application for reinstatement. After that hearing, the panel unanimously recommended Quinn's reinstatement, subject to certain conditions.

HELD: The court agrees with the hearing panel and grants the petition for reinstatement. Prior to her return to active practice, Quinn must comply with annual CLE requirements and pay all fees. Quinn's practice must be supervised for two years, and she must enter a monitoring agreement with the Kansas Lawyers Assistance Program.

Civil

ADMINISTRATIVE LAW—UTILITIES
IN RE JOINT APPLICATION OF WESTAR ENERGY AND
KANSAS GAS AND ELECTRIC CO
KANSAS CORPORATION COMMISSION—COURT OF APPEALS IS REVERSED, KCC IS REVERSED, CASE REMANDED
NO. 120,436—APRIL 3, 2020

FACTS: In 2018, Westar and Kansas Gas sought a rate increase and certain changes in residential rate design. When considering the rate design, the companies had to address a two-part rate, involving both a flat service charge and a variable energy charge based on the amount of energy used during a billing period. Some of the utilities' fixed costs are recovered through the variable energy charge. Some of the utilities' customers are attached to the electric grid but also get power through an alternative source, such as solar or wind. These customers, known as "partial requirements customers", use less generated electricity and may have zero due for variable energy charges. This creates an issue for the utility, which has the same fixed costs regardless of how much energy is purchased. In an attempt to attempt to even the ledger, the utilities received approval for a new rate structure, applicable only for partial users. Some of the parties to the agreement objected to the rate structure meant only for partial users. After that rate structure was approved, two intervenors appealed to the Court of Appeals.

ISSUE: (1) Whether the rate structure approved by the KCC is allowable

HELD: Kansas statute bars a utility from establishing higher rates or charges for any customer who uses alternative energy. Under the proposed dual-rate system, partial users will pay more for electricity than other customers. The Court of Appeals erred when it found a conflict in our statutes. The utilities are allowed to use a different rate structure for partial use customers, but that structure cannot result in price discrimination.

STATUTES: 16 U.S.C. §796 (17)(A); K.S.A. 66-117d, -118a(b), -118c, -1265(e), 77-621(c)(4)

criminal

criminal procedure—motions—sentences—statutes
state v. coleman
sedgwick district court—affirmed; court of appeals—affirmed
no. 115,293—april 3, 2020

FACTS: Coleman convicted in 2012, 2013, and 2014. In 2015 she was convicted of two counts of theft that were committed weeks after the effective date of the 2015 amendment of  K.S.A. 21-6810 in the Kansas Sentencing Guidelines Act (KSGA). Probation revoked in Coleman’s three prior cases. Coleman challenged the legality of her sentences in those three prior cases, and filed a direct appeal from the 2015 sentence. District court denied relief on all claims. Court of Appeals affirmed in unpublished opinion. In consolidated appeal, review granted on common issue of whether district court erred in scoring Coleman’s prior 1992 Kansas involuntary manslaughter conviction as a person felony.

ISSUES: (1) Classification of prior Kansas conviction—direct appeal; (2) classification of prior Kansas conviction—probation revocation

HELD: The identical-or-narrower test adopted in State v. Wetrich, 307 Kan. 552 (2018), for classifying prior out-of-state convictions applies as well to in-state Kansas convictions for crimes committed before KSGA used person and nonperson designations. Coleman’s arguments that the 1992 involuntary manslaughter statute was broader than the statute making involuntary manslaughter a person offense at the time of her 2015 theft convictions are examined and rejected. District court properly scored the 1992 conviction as a person felony when sentencing Coleman’s 2015 theft convictions.

            Coleman may not file a motion to correct an illegal sentence based on a constitutional challenge, and her 1992 conviction was properly scored in the earlier sentences. Court does not resolve whether the identical-or-narrower test, or the judicially adopted comparability rule for pre-KSGA Kansas offenses in State v. Keel, 302 Kan. 560 (2015), is applicable when pre-KSGA Kansas offenses are used to sentence crimes committed before K.S.A. 2015 Supp. 21-6810 codified the comparability requirement. 

STATUTES: K.S.A. 2018 Supp. 21-6801 et seq., -6804(a), -6810, -6811(e)(3); K.S.A. 2015 Supp. 21- 6810; K.S.A. 2014 Supp. 21-6810(d)(2); K.S.A. 2013 Supp. 21-5801(b)(6); K.S.A. 2011 Supp. 21-5202(j), -5405, -5801(b)(6); K.S.A. 20-3018(b), 21-3201(c), 60-2101(b); K.S.A. 21-3201, -3201(c), -3404 (Ensley 1988)

 

Kansas Court of Appeals

Civil

SUBROGATION—WORKERS COMPENSATION
HAWKINS V. SOUTHWEST KANSAS CO-OP SERVICE
WORKERS COMPENSATION BOARD—REVERSED AND REMANDED
NO. 118,379—APRIL 3, 2020

FACTS: Hawkins suffered catastrophic injuries while working for Southwest Kansas Co-op; his injuries require on-going care. Southwest Kansas Co-op provided workers compensation benefits to Hawkins in excess of $850,000, with the expectation that payments would continue. Hawkins also filed a civil action against other parties who he believed contributed to the accident and his resulting injuries. Southwest Kansas Co-op chose not to intervene in this civil action. Hawkins either settled or received jury verdicts against multiple defendants, resulting in an award of over $4 million. After all proceedings were complete, Southwest Kansas Co-op filed a request in the workers compensation proceeding for a determination of its statutory subrogation lien and any credit for future benefits. An ALJ worked up a mathematical formula to determine how much credit Southwest Kansas Co-op should receive. Three members of the Workers Compensation Board of Appeals agreed with the ALJ and affirmed the result. Hawkins appealed the Board's decision and Southwest Kansas Co-op cross-appealed.

ISSUE: (1) Amount of subrogation award for Southwest Kansas Co-op

HELD: K.S.A. 44-504 does not anticipate liens and credits for employers based on third-party litigation with multiple settlements and verdicts. It is undisputed that Southwest Kansas Co-op is entitled to some lien and future credit, but the statute is unclear as to exactly how much. A jury found that the co-op was 25 percent at fault for Hawkins's injuries. Southwest Kansas Co-op's subrogation amount should have been decreased by an amount acknowledging their 25 percent fault. The terms of a settlement agreement between Hawkins and other parties make it difficult to calculate the amount of any subrogation lien. When recalculating the subrogation amount, the Board must consider each annual payment as a recovery actually paid.

STATUTE: K.S.A. 44-504, -504(b), -504(d), 60-258a

 

Tags:  administrative law  Attorney discipline  criminal procedure  KCC  motions  sentences  statutes  subrogation  utilities  workers comp 

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January 21 and January 28, 2020 Digests

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Kansas Supreme Court

 

Civil

INSURANCE
WILLIAMS V. GEICO GENERAL INSURANCE COMPANY
SEDGWICK DISTRICT COURT—COURT OF APPEALS IS REVERSED, DISTRICT COURT IS AFFIRMED
NO. 117,149—JANUARY 21, 2020

FACTS: Williams was insured by GEICO at the time he was injured in an automobile accident. His injuries required surgery and physical rehabilitation. While he recovered, Williams's treating physicians specified that Williams would be unable to perform household tasks such as lawn care, shoveling, cooking or cleaning. Williams was married, but he and his wife, Mary, had separate schedules and finances, and Williams generally took care of his own meals, laundry, and cleaning. Williams and Mary agreed that, for $25 per day, she would cook, do laundry, administer medication, drive, and assist Williams with hygiene needs. Williams wanted his insurance to pay for this expense, and he filed a claim for personal injury protection (PIP) substitution benefits available to him under his policy. GEICO refused to pay, arguing that Mary had a legal duty to care for her spouse and provide replacement services. Williams filed suit and the district court agreed with him, ruling that the law does not exclude an injured person's spouse from being compensated for substitution services. GEICO appealed and the Court of Appeals reversed the district court, agreeing with GEICO that married persons cannot be compensated for substitution services. The Supreme Court granted Williams's petition for review.

ISSUE: (1) Ability of a spouse to be compensated for substitution services

HELD: K.S.A. 40-3103(w) does not specifically preclude a spouse from providing substitution services, so the only relevant inquiry is whether Williams incurred an obligation to pay Mary for the substitution services that she provided. The facts specific to this case show that Williams incurred an obligation to pay Mary by entering into a contract with her to perform specific services for him that she would not have otherwise performed. The district court correctly ruled that GEICO must pay for Mary's expenses.

STATUTE: K.S.A. 40-3103(w)

 

criminal

appeals—criminal law—evidence—statutes
state v. downing
reno district court—reversed; court of appeals—affirmed
No. 116,629—january 24, 2020

FACTS: Downing appealed his burglary conviction that was based for taking items from a rural farmhouse. Court of appeals reversed in unpublished opinion, based on building owner’s testimony that no one lived there when the crime occurred, and owner had no plans to live there or rent it out. Downing’s petition for review granted.

ISSUE: (1) Burglary—proof of a dwelling

HELD: Kansas Supreme Court has not previously considered whether the farmhouse qualified as a dwelling as defined by K.S.A. 2018 Supp. 21-5111(k) when facts indicate it was not being used for such purposes when the crime occurred, and owner had no current plans to use or rent it out even if he preferred to do so. Circumstances identified in court of appeals cases on this issue were examined, finding definition and burglary statutes support a present-intent requirement to distinguish between a dwelling and a non-dwelling structure. Absent proof the place burgled was used as a human habitation, home or residence when the crime occurred, a conviction for burglary under K.S.A. 2018 Supp. 21-5807(a)(1) requires a showing of proof that someone had a present, subjective intent at the time of the crime to use the place burgled for such a purpose. Here, State failed to prove the farmhouse was a dwelling. District court is reversed and court of appeals is affirmed. State’s backup position that panel should have remanded for resentencing on lesser included crime of burglary of a structure is not considered because this alternative argument was not presented below.

STATUTES: K.S.A. 2018 Supp. 21-5111(k), -5807(a)(1), -5807(a)(2); K.S.A. 20-3018(b), 60-2101(b)

 

criminal procedure—sentences—statutes
state v willliams
sedgwick district court—affirmed in part, reversed in part, remanded
court of appeals—affirmed in part, reversed in part
no. 115,119—january 24, 2020

FACTS: Williams convicted of unintentional second-degree murder in 2011. Court of appeals reversed and remanded for a new trail. On remand Williams again convicted of unintentional  second-degree murder. He appealed, arguing in part his statutory speedy trial rights were violated at his first trial which invalidated all proceedings thereafter. In unpublished opinion Court of appeals found the doctrine of res judicata barred the speedy trial claim. After Williams’ petition for review was granted he raised supplemental claim that under State v. Wetrich, 307 Kan. 552 (2018), district court erroneously compared Williams’ 1980 Mississippi felony conviction for unnatural intercourse to Kansas’ crime of aggravated criminal sodomy, erroneously scoring the out-of-state crime as person felony.

ISSUES: (1) Speedy trial; (2) sentencing—scoring out-of-state conviction

HELD: Court of appeals is affirmed as right for the wrong reason. When appealing a conviction from a second trial after the first conviction was reversed on appeal, a defendant cannot raise for first time an alleged statutory speedy trial violation that occurred during the first trial. Even if Williams’ speedy trial claim in his first trial is assumed correct, plain statutory language makes clear the statutory speedy trial clock in a case resets and starts over as soon as an appellate court issues a mandate to reverse the first conviction.

Williams’ is entitled to the benefit of a change in the law while his case is pending on direct appeal. Wetrich changed the law governing Williams’ sentence, but even though Wetrich did not render that sentence illegal, it did render Williams’ sentence erroneous. Williams’ sentence is vacated and case is remanded for resentencing.

STATUTES: K.S.A. 2019 Supp. 21-6811(e)(3)(B); K.S.A. 2018 Supp. 22-3504, -3504(1); K.S.A. 2015 Supp. 21-6811(e)(3); K.S.A. 2010 Supp. 21-3506; K.S.A. 22-3402(1), -3402(6)

 

Kansas Court of Appeals

Civil

IMMUNITY—KANSAS TORT CLAIMS ACT—NEGLIGENCE
ESTATE OF RANDOLPH V. CITY OF WICHITA
SEDGWICK DISTRICT COURT—AFFIRMED IN PART, REVERSED IN PART, REMANDED
NO. 118,842—JANUARY 21, 2020

FACTS: Icarus Randolph was 26 years old and had a history of significant mental illness. Randolph lived with his mother. As family members gathered at the home for a holiday cookout, Randolph was out of sorts to the extent that family members became concerned for his welfare. Concluding that he needed to be emergently admitted to a mental health facility, Randolph's family called the police. Officer Snyder was the lead officer who responded, and he was dismissive of the family's concerns. Randolph's agitation increased and he came into the yard, carrying a knife at his side. Officer Snyder Tasered Randolph, which had no effect on his movements. As Randolph continued to walk. Officer Snyder drew his weapon and shot Randolph four times. He did not survive. Randolph's estate and the relatives who witnessed the scene filed suit against Officer Snyder, the other officer, and the City of Wichita. After extensive litigation, the district court granted all defendants' motions for summary judgment. The Randolph estate appealed.

ISSUES: (1) Viability of pre-shooting negligence claims; (2) estate's claim for liability for conduct after Randolph came outside; (3) viability of negligent use of force claim; (4) family members' claims

HELD: Officer Snyder's refusal to call an ambulance or otherwise assist Randolph and his family was a discretionary function, which means his conduct is immune from liability under the Kansas Tort Claims Act. The officer's decision-making was reasonable, even if he was brusque or rude. Evidence shows that Randolph was unaware of what was happening in his front yard, even after Officer Snyder drew his gun. Randolph's inability to appreciate fear means Officer Snyder could not be liable for tortious assault. But there are disputed issues of material fact regarding whether Officer Snyder committed a tortious battery by both Tasing and shooting Randolph, calling in to question Officer Snyder's claim that he was entitled to self-defense privilege. There is no other immunity in the KTCA that warrants summary judgment at this stage of the estate's tortious battery claims. Although it is unclear, it appears that Kansas law does allow for the tort of negligent use of force. But that tort would not be appropriate here, where Officer Snyder's actions were very much intentional. There was no negligence to support a tort of negligent use of force. The district court erred by granting summary judgment on Randolph's mother's claim of tortious assault because there were disputed material facts. The district court also erred by granting summary judgment on family members' claims of tortious assault based on Officer Snyder's use of a handgun. Randolph's family must be given the chance to present evidence and allow the district court to determine whether Officer Snyder is entitled to a KTCA immunity or the privilege of self-defense.

STATUTES: K.S.A. 2018 Supp. 21-5221(a), -5222, -5222(b), -5227, -5230, -5231(a), 60-1901(a); K.S.A. 60-514(b), 75-6103(a), -6104, -6104(d), -6104(e), -6104(i), -6104(n)

 

SALES TAX—UTILITIES
IN RE TAX APPEAL OF SOUTHWESTERN BELL TELEPHONE CO., L.L.C.
BOARD OF TAX APPEALS—AFFIRMED
NO. 120,167—JANUARY 24, 2020

FACTS: Southwestern Bell (Bell) operates transmission and switching equipment to create telecommunication signals. Because the equipment runs continuously, it generates a great deal of heat. If the equipment overheats, it quits working. In order to avoid this, Bell has a dedicated HVAC system in areas where the equipment is located as part of the effort to keep the equipment cool and operational. Electricity that is "consumed in" providing telecommunication services is exempt from sales tax under Kansas statute. Bell sought sales tax refunds for all electricity used. The Kansas Department of Revenue approved a sales tax refund for electricity used to directly power equipment but denied a refund for electricity which powered the HVAC units, reasoning that these units merely maintained the switching and transmission equipment. The Kansas Board of Tax Appeals disagreed, holding that the electricity which powered the HVAC units was essential to the production of telecommunication services. The Department of Revenue appeals.

ISSUE: (1) Tax liability on HVAC equipment

HELD: The HVAC units and the transmission and switching equipment form a system that makes Bell's telecommunication services possible. Under the plain language of the tax statutes, the HVAC system is "essential or necessary" to the production of telecommunication services. This essential nature makes the electricity used to power the HVAC units exempt from sales tax. The Department of Revenue's arguments to the contrary go to public policy rationales, and those must be raised with the Kansas Legislature.

STATUTE: K.S.A. 2018 Supp. 79-3602(dd)(2), -3602(dd)(B), -3602(pp), -3606(n)

Tags:  Appeals  Bd of Tax Appeals  Criminal Law  Criminal Procedure  Evidence  Immunity  Insurance  Kansas Tort Claims Act  Negligence  Reno District Court  Sales Tax  Sedgwick District Court  Sentences  Statutes  Utilities 

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