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)