Kansas Supreme Court
appeals—constitutional law—criminal law—criminal procedure—
state v. Gonzalez
wyandotte district court—affirmed
no. 119,492—march 27, 2020
FACTS: Passenger (Espinoza) in car driven by Gonzalez shot and killed a man outside a bar. Gonzalez convicted of felony murder, attempted aggravated robbery, and conspiracy to commit aggravated robbery. During trial, district court refused to compel testimony of Espinoza who had already pleaded guilty and been sentenced for his participation. On appeal Gonzalez argued: (1) insufficient evidence supported the convictions; (2) the attempt and conspiracy convictions were multiplicitous; (3) district court’s aiding and abetting jury instruction erroneously lowered the State’s burden of proof on specific intent crimes; (4) district court erroneously permitted Espinoza to invoke Fifth Amendment privilege; (5) State’s peremptory strikes during jury selection constituted purposeful racial discrimination to exclude prospective Hispanic jurors; and (6) cumulative error denied him a fair trial.
ISSUES: (1) Sufficiency of the evidence; (2) multiplicitous offenses; (3) jury instruction—aiding and abetting; (4) Fifth Amendment—failure to compel testimony, (5) Batson challenge, (6) cumulative error
HELD: Evidence in this case established the pair’s intent to rob the victim and an agreement to commit aggravated robbery. Evidence included detective’s testimony, without objection, that provided a concrete context to ambiguous text messages.
District court’s instruction accurately reflected Kansas’ aiding and abetting statute, but did not accurately state applicable caselaw limiting the statute’s use when defendants are charged with aiding and abetting specific intent crimes. In this case the legal error was harmless under the clear error standard.
Multiplicity claim, raised for first time on appeal, is considered. Gonzalez’ conspiracy and the aiding and abetting attempted aggravated robbery convictions are not multiplicitous - each requires proof of an element not required by the other.
Gonzalez’ failure to make an adequate proffer of what Espinoza would have testified about provides no basis for appellate review of whether trial court abused its discretion in not compelling the testimony.
Jury selection in this case is examined. No abuse of district court’s discretion in finding Gonzalez failed to show purposeful discrimination given the State’s race-neutral reasons for its peremptory strikes.
The single error found in this case does not support application of the cumulative error doctrine.
STATUTES: K.S.A. 2018 Supp. 21-5210, -5210(a), -5301, -5301(a), -5302(a), -5402(a)(2), -5402(c)(1)(D), -5420, 22-3414(3), -3601(b)(3), -3601(b)(4); K.S.A. 60-405
Kansas Court of Appeals
IN RE MARRIAGE OF PERALES
SALINE DISTRICT COURT—AFFIRMED
NO. 120,306—MARCH 27, 2020
FACTS: Gary Perales is serving a life sentence in prison. At the time of his divorce from Cynthia Perales, Cynthia was supporting herself and the couple's four children. Gary did not complete a property affidavit, but he has been imprisoned since 2012. The district court held a hearing to consider separation of the couple's property. At the hearing, Cynthia provided a quitclaim deed showing that Gary had deeded the house to her and testified that she needed Gary's truck to transport herself and their children. Cynthia also testified that she made payments on both the house and truck after Gary's imprisonment. Gary disputed Cynthia's testimony about the quitclaim deed and claimed that he sold both the house and his truck to his sister. After weighing the evidence, the district court ruled that it would be most equitable to award Cynthia both the house and the truck. Gary appealed.
ISSUES: (1) Award of the house; (2) requirement that Cynthia compensate Gary
HELD: There is no evidence that the district court failed to consider the home as marital property subject to division. To the contrary, the district court appropriately considered the factors established by K.S.A. 2019 Supp. 23-2802(c). A division of marital property need only be equitable, not equal. There is a statutory requirement that property division may be accomplished by the payment of a "just and proper sum" to one party. In some cases, equity may allow that sum to be zero. The extraordinary facts of this case mean the district court's award of assets to Cynthia was equitable.
STATUTE: K.S.A. 2019 Supp. 23-2801, -2802(a)(1), -2802(a)(2), -2802(c)
state v. lucas
sedgwick district court—affirmed
no. 120,510—March 27, 2020
FACTS: Lucas convicted of being a felon in criminal possession of a “firearm or knife,” K.S.A. 2017 Supp. 216304(c)(2). The weapon in this case was a folding knife 9 inches long when unfolded, 5.5. inches long when closed, with a 4.5 in. blade. Lucas argued the folding knife was not a “knife” as defined by K.S.A. 2017 Supp. 21-6304(c)(1).
ISSUE: Statutory definition of “knife”
HELD: District court did not err in concluding the folding knife in this case is a dangerous or deadly cutting instrument of like character to those listed in K.S.A. 2017 Supp. 21-6304(c)(1).
STATUTE: K.S.A. 2017 Supp. 21-6304, -6304(a)(2), -6304(c)(1), -6304(c)(2)
state v. mundo-parra
sedgwick district court—affirmed
no. 118,875—march 27, 2020
FACTS: Mundo-Parra convicted in 2005 on no contest pleas to kidnapping and rape. In 2017 while still serving his sentence, he asked prosecutors to provide State’s investigatory files in the case, including anything that might show his innocence. District court denied the request. Mundo-Parra appealed. State argued the appeal was not timely filed within 30 days of district court’s ruling.
ISSUES: (1) Appellate jurisdiction; (2) district court’s jurisdiction; (3) postconviction discovery
HELD: State’s jurisdictional hurdle is rejected. District court entered its order electronically, with no record in district court’s file that court clerk mailed a copy of the order to Mundo-Parra. After that order had been entered Mundo-Parra made several requests for a court ruling on his discovery request, and filed his notice of appeal well within 30 days of district court’s denial of Mondo-Parra’s last request for a ruling.
District court had jurisdiction to consider Mundo-Parra’s request for postconviction discovery, even though there was no pending motion in the criminal case and no pending civil action challenging his confinement. There is no Kansas statute governing postconviction discovery, and no statutory limit on district court’s general jurisdiction over it.
No provision in Kansas Code of Criminal Procedure covers postconviction discovery. Kansas cases are reviewed and guidance sought from rules and statutes in federal and state jurisdictions. Panel concludes postconviction discovery sought by the defendant should be allowed when the defendant shows it is necessary to protect substantial rights. To get discovery, the defendant must make a good-cause showing by identifying the specific subject matter for discovery and explaining why discovery about those matters is necessary to protect substantial rights. Mundo-Parra made no such showing in this case. Instead, his request is a classic fishing expedition with no stated connection to any claim that could lead to setting aside either his no-contest pleas or his convictions.
STATUTES: K.S.A. 2019 Supp. 21-2512, 22-3210(d)(2), -3212, -3213, 60-1507, -2103(a); K.S.A. 20-301