Kansas Supreme Court
IN RE ADOPTION OF BABY GIRL G.
SEDGWICK DISTRICT COURT—COURT OF APPEALS IS AFFIRMED, DISTRICT COURT IS AFFIRMED, CASE REMANDED
NO. 121,051—JULY 10, 2020
FACTS: Baby Girl G. was born in 2018. The day after her birth the natural mother signed a consent to adoption and relinquished her parental rights. In that consent form, she named two men as possible fathers. The adoptive parents filed actions in district court seeking to terminate the parental rights of natural mother and both men named as possible fathers. A month later, Father filed a voluntary acknowledgement of paternity and indicated his intent to contest the adoption. After an evidentiary hearing, the district court found that Father failed to provide meaningful support to natural mother during the final six months of her pregnancy. The district court also found that Father was unfit on several grounds, but it elected not to use them as a basis for termination. Father's parental rights were terminated. The court of appeals affirmed that ruling but reversed the award of attorney fees and remanded the case to district court for further consideration of that issue. Father's petition for review was granted.
ISSUES: (1) Constitutionality of K.S.A. 2019 Supp. 59-2136(h)(1)(D); (2) whether there was adequate evidence of a failure to support;
HELD: The court declines to address the constitutional issue because it was not raised before the district court or court of appeals. It is not sufficient to raise a new issue for the first time in a petition for review, and counsel presented inconsistent arguments to the appellate courts. There was sufficient evidence to support the district court's decision that Father failed to support the natural mother during the last six months of her pregnancy. Father's non-financial support was minimal and of little value to the mother and his financial support was inconsequential.
DISSENT: (Stegall, J.) Justice Stegall would consider the merits of Father's constitutional claim in order to serve the ends of justice. Preservation is a prudential rule rather than a jurisdictional bar and it can be waived if justice requires. The disparate treatment for unwed biological fathers in adoption cases is troubling.
STATUTE: K.S.A. 2019 Supp. 59-2136, -2136(h), -2136(h)(1)
IN RE EQUALIZATION APPEALS OF TARGET CORPORATION
BOARD OF TAX APPEALS—COURT OF APPEALS IS AFFIRMED IN PART AND REVERSED IN PART, CASE REMANDED TO THE COURT OF APPEALS
NO. 119,228 – JULY 10, 2020
FACTS: Target is one of several commercial real estate owners in Johnson County which appeals the County's ad valorem tax valuation for the 2016 tax year on seven commercial properties. After an evidentiary hearing, the Board of Tax Appeals issued a summary decision ordering lower values for each property. The Taxpayers promptly requested a full and complete written opinion. Five weeks later, the Taxpayers confirmed that the County did not request a full and complete written opinion and subsequently withdrew their request. The County objected, asking BOTA to issue a full and complete written opinion regardless of the withdrawal. The County noted that it didn't learn of the withdrawal until it was too late to file its own request. In the alternative, the County asked that BOTA consider the objection as a request for reconsideration of the summary decision. BOTA denied both requests and the County appealed. The court of appeals dismissed the appeal for lack of jurisdiction and the petition for review was granted.
ISSUES: (1) Jurisdiction; (2) scope of review
HELD: The Kansas Judicial Review Act provides the exclusive means for judicial review of agency action. There is not a final order in this case because there is no full and complete written opinion and the Taxpayers did not seek a trial de novo in district court. The KJRA does allow for limited review of nonfinal agency actions if certain conditions are met. BOTA's failure to issue a full and complete written opinion is properly considered a nonfinal agency decision. K.S.A. 77-631(a) allows for an appeal from an agency's failure to act in a timely manner. The County was an aggrieved party, as that term is used in K.S.A. 74-2426(c). BOTA's refusal to issue the full and complete written opinion was an order and is appealable on an interlocutory basis. The case is remanded to the court of appeals for further consideration of whether BOTA acted properly in failing to issue a full and complete opinion. Because there has not been a final decision the court of appeals cannot yet address the merits of the County's argument.
appellate procedure—criminal procedure—evidence
state v. brazzle
riley district court—affirmed; court of appeals—affirmed
no. 116,649—july 10, 2020
FACTS: Following car stop and subsequent discovery of drugs, Brazzle was convicted of drug-related crimes including possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute and possession of oxycodone. During trial, district court found the State’s prior crime evidence of Brazzle’s sale of methamphetamine to undercover detective was admissible to show whether Brazzle intended to distribute the methamphetamine found in the car. On appeal, Brazzle claimed: (1) district court erred in admitting K.S.A. 60-455 evidence related to the prior methamphetamine sales; (2) jury instruction on possession of oxycodone did not require jury to find that he illegally possessed the drug without a prescription; and (3) insufficient evidence supported his conviction for possession of oxycodone. Court of appeals affirmed, finding in part that Brazzle could not claim instructional error on appeal because he advocated for the version of the instruction given to the jury. 54 Kan.App.2d 276 (2018). Review granted.
ISSUES: (1) Evidence of prior crimes; (2) invited error; (3) sufficiency of the evidence
HELD: District court did not err in admitting prior crimes evidence under K.S.A. 60-455. Caselaw on evidence of intent for simple possession is distinguished from possession with intent to distribute. If a defendant argues he or she lacked the intent to distribute drugs, evidence about a prior crime committed by the defendant may be material, especially if evidence establishes similarities between the prior crime and the charged crime. Under facts in this case the prior crimes evidence was material to and probative of Brazzle’s intent to distribute, and the risk for undue prejudice did not substantially outweigh the probative value.
By failing to argue in his petition for review why the court of appeals erred in its invited error analysis, Brazzle waived any argument he might have as to why the invited error doctrine did not apply to his claim of instructional error.
Sufficient evidence supports Brazzle’s possession of oxycodone conviction. There was circumstantial evidence that oxycodone was part of Brazzle’s illicit drug inventory, and jury could infer Brazzle would not put his own prescription medication in same bag containing drugs that he intended to distribute. Officer’s testimony comparing the appearance of Brazzle’s pills to an image of a pill identified as oxycodone on drugs.com was sufficient. Brazzle did not object to officer’s testimony regarding how he identified the pills found in the car, and did not object to the pills being entered into evidence. Brazzle cannot recast an evidentiary ruling as a sufficiency argument.
STATUTES: K.S.A. 2019 Supp. 60-455; K.S.A. 2015 Supp. 21-5702(b), -5705(e)(2), -5706(a), 65-4116(c)(3); K.S.A. 60-404, -455 Civil
state v. carter
sedgwick district court—affirmed
no. 119,315—july 10, 2020
FACTS: State filed charges against Carter arising from Carter hitting and threatening a victim (Crowe) in November 2015, and arising from a December 2015 shooting that resulted in the death of two other victims. District court granted State’s motion to consolidate the charges, finding the charges were connected. Jury convicted Carter of first-degree felony murder, criminal discharge of a firearm, aggravated battery, and criminal threat. On appeal, he claimed district court erroneously refused to add language to the aiding and abetting instructing that “mere presence” alone does not establish mental culpability to convict under aiding and abetting, citing State v. Llamas, 298 Kan. 246 (2013), and the “better practice” recommendation in State v. Hilt, 2999 Kan. 176 (2014), to give such language. Carter also claimed the district court erred in consolidating the charges.
ISSUE: (1) Jury instruction—aiding and abetting; (2) motion to consolidate
HELD: Court rejects Carter’s argument for converting “better practice” into a legal requirement that “mere presence” language must be included in cases where a defendant is charged under an aiding and abetting theory and requests the instruction. While there was a modicum of evidence that Carter’s requested instruction was factually appropriate, any possible error in failing to give the requested instruction was harmless given the weight of evidence supporting Carter’s guilt.
District court’s decision to consolidate the charges is affirmed. Cases involving consolidation decisions are discussed. In this case, Carter’s battery of Crowe precipitated the factual setting which led to Carter’s participation in the shooting. District court correctly found a statutory condition for consolidation was met, and did not abuse its discretion in allowing consolidation.
STATUTES: K.S.A. 2019 Supp. 60-261; K.S.A. 22-3202, -3202(1), -3202(3), -3203,
Kansas Court of Appeals
state v. williams
sedgwick district court—affirmed in part, reversed in part, remanded
no. 120,768—july 10, 2020
FACTS: Jury convicted Williams of rape of 13-year old girl. During trial State introduced DNA results of one of multiple swabs taken from victim. Sentencing court imposed concurrent hard-25 life sentences, but journal entry also stated that Williams was subject to lifetime postrelease supervision for each crime. Williams filed pre-sentence motion for postconviction DNA testing of all swabs. District court summarily denied both that motion and Williams’ post-sentencing motion for reconsideration, stating only that the motion was unripe and K.S.A. 2019 Supp. 21-2512(a) did not apply. Williams appealed claiming: (1) district court erred by allowing State to exercise a peremptory strike in the midst of jury selection and prior to defense questioning of the jury panel; (2) verdict form which placed the line for finding the defendant “guilty” above “not guilty” infringed the presumption of innocence; (3) cumulative effect of these two errors denied him a fair trial; (4) journal entry of sentencing erroneously included lifetime postrelease supervision; and (5) district court erred by summarily denying his motions for postconviction DNA testing.
ISSUES: (1) Peremptory challenge; (2) verdict form; (3) cumulative error; (4) sentencing; (5) postconviction motion for DNA testing
HELD: Timing of State’s peremptory challenge, though unusual, was not improper and did not violate Williams’ right to a fair trial. Each party voluntarily used one peremptory challenge before the State passed the jury for cause, and used their remaining peremptory challenges after Williams approved the jury. This did not violate Kansas case law or K.S.A. 22-3411a.
Wording of the verdict form did not violate Williams’ presumption of innocence. Kansas Supreme Court cases have rejected William’s position.
No errors shown for application of cumulative error doctrine.
Williams’ convictions are affirmed but case is remanded to district court for correction of error in the sentencing journal entry. A sentencing court cannot order lifetime postrelease supervision when a person has been convicted of an off-grid crime. And the journal entry erroneously recorded the effective sentence announced from the bench.
Because district court did not rule on Williams’ motion until after pronouncing sentence, the motion was not “unripe.” District court’s summary denial of the request for postconviction DNA testing is reversed. Case is remanded so district court can articulate its findings and conclusions under the procedure outlined by Kansas statutes and Kansas Supreme Court caselaw.
STATUTES: K.S.A. 2019 Supp. 21-2512, -2512(a), -2512(a)(1)-(3), -2512(c); K.S.A. 22-3411a