Posted By Administration,
Monday, October 19, 2020
| Comments (0)
Kansas Supreme Court
IN RE MARK D. MURPHY
NO. 122,036—OCTOBER 16, 2020
FACTS: A hearing panel determined that Murphy violated KRPC 1.1 (competence); 1.2(c) (scope of representation); 1.7 (conflict of interest); 2.1 (independent judgment); and 8.4(d) (conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice). The issues arose after Murphy represented both sides in a business transaction without informing his clients of the potential conflicts of interest and without learning that one party to the transaction had already filed for bankruptcy.
HEARING PANEL: The disciplinary administrator asked that Murphy be disbarred. This incident was part of a pattern of misconduct which resulted in minor discipline. Murphy was dishonest about his role in the proceedings and did so in an attempt to minimize his culpability. Based on the balance of the aggravating and mitigating circumstances, the hearing panel recommended that Murphy's license be suspended for one year.
HELD: Murphy filed several exceptions to the hearing panel report. But the evidence presented supports the hearing panel's findings by clear and convincing evidence, and some of Murphy's arguments mischaracterized the evidence. Murphy argued that the recommended discipline was excessive and that reprimand would be the appropriate discipline or, in the alternative, that he be allowed to serve a term of probation. Both the Disicplinary Administrator and the court found that Murphy failed to comply with the rules regarding probation and denied his request. After considering the evidence, the court concluded that a two-year suspension was the appropriate discipline. The second year of the suspension may be stayed if Murphy follows a probation plan which is approved by the Disciplinary Administrator's office.
appeals—constitutional law—criminal law—statutes
state v. dale
johnson district court—affirmed in part, reversed in part
court of appeals—affirmed
no. 117,162—october 16, 2020
FACTS: Jury convicted Dale of two counts of aggravated robbery and one count of theft. Dale appealed. Rejecting all grounds but for a jury instruction claim on aggravated robbery, Court of Appeals in unpublished opinion reversed the aggravated robbery conviction and remanded for a new trial on those two counts. On remand, Dale argued his conviction on lesser included crime of theft barred retrial on aggravated robbery counts. Alternatively on issue not raised in his appeal he argued the aggravated robbery counts were multiplicitous. District court convicted Dale on both aggravated robbery counts. Dale appealed. In unpublished opinion, Court of Appeals held Dale’s two aggravated robbery convictions were not multiplicitous, but reversed the theft conviction as multiplicitous with the aggravated robbery convictions. Dale’s petition for review granted. State did not cross-petition for review of panel’s determination that theft was a lesser included offense of aggravated robbery.
ISSUES: (1) Double jeopardy; (2) multiplicity
HELD: Neither the Double Jeopardy Clause nor K.S.A. 21-3107(2)(a) absolutely prevent the continued prosecution of some counts in a prosecution after a criminal defendant has been convicted on other counts. If the continued prosecution follows a defendant’s post-conviction appeal that sought a new trial and, on remand, a defendant is found guilty of a greater offense after a lesser included offense has been affirmed, a court may, absent application of one of a limited number of exceptions, vacate the sentence for the lesser included offense and impose a sentence for the greater offense. Here, Court of Appeals did not err in holding that Dale’s convictions for aggravated robbery would not result in a subsequent prosecution in violation of either a constitutional or statutory right to be free from double jeopardy.
Under facts of case, Dale’s convictions for two counts of aggravated robbery were not multiplicitous even though they arose from one transaction that constituted unitary conduct because robbers, while armed with BB gun, took property in the possession or control of two individuals by force directed at both.
STATUTES: K.S.A. 2019 Supp. 21-5109; K.S.A. 21-3107, -3107(2), -3107(2)(a), -3108(4)(c), -3426, -3427
appeals—attorney-client—criminal law—criminal procedure—motions
state v. herring
sedgwick district court—reversed; court of appeals—reversed
No. 118,648—october 16, 2020
FACTS: Herring pleaded no contest to robbery and aggravated assault. Prior to sentencing he filed motion to withdraw his plea, asserting claims of ineffective assistance of counsel. District court denied the motion applying the Strickland test to find Herring failed to satisfy the first factor in State v. Edgar, 281 Kan. 30 (2006). Herring appealed. In unpublished opinion, Court of Appeals found district court erred by using the Strickland test instead of the “lackluster advocacy” standard specified under State v. Aguilar, 290 Kan. 506 (2010), but affirmed the district court’s ruling because the error was harmless. Herring petitioned for review of panel’s application of harmless error.
ISSUE: Motion to withdraw plea—Ineffective assistance of counsel
HELD: District court’s improper use of the more stringent, constitutional Strickland standard when considering the first Edgar factor is not amenable to harmless error analysis. Panel’s decision is reversed and case is remanded to district court with directions to reassess the first Edgar factor under the lackluster advocacy standard and then exercise its statutory discretion under K.S.A. 2019 Supp. 22-3210(d)(1).
STATUTE: K.S.A. 2019 Supp. 22-3210(a), -3210(d), -3210(d)(1), -3210(d)(2)
Kansas Court of Appeals
KRAUSE V. KERNS
JOHNSON DISTRICT COURT— AFFIRMED
NO. 121,842—OCTOBER 16, 2020
FACTS: The Kernses contracted to sell their house to Krause. The purchase contract contained several disclosures but did not mention any issues with water intrusion or the fireplace. After closing on the property, Krause discovered many issues with the property that were not included in the disclosure. Krause sued the Kernses for the misrepresentations or omissions included in the disclosure. The parties ended up settling; the Kernses stipulated to a final judgment of $79,482 in favor of Krause. As part of the agreement the Kernses agreed to assign their rights under their insurance policy to Krause. In return, Krause promised to only pursue collection of the judgment with the insurance company, not with the Kernses personally. Krause filed a garnishment action against the insurance company to recover the judgment amount. The insurance company filed a motion for summary judgment, arguing that the Kernses' insurance policy did not cover misrepresentation and so the company was not liable. The district court granted that motion, finding that policy coverage was triggered by an "occurrence" and that the failure to disclose was not an occurrence. Krause appeals.
ISSUES: (1) Whether coverage exists under the insurance policy
HELD: A threshold requirement of coverage under the insurance policy is the existence of an occurrence. The insurance policy clearly defines "occurrence" as an accident which results in bodily injury or property damage. The facts of this case do not show an occurrence. And even if Krause could prove an occurrence, the policy language which excludes coverage for a claim arising out of any written or oral statement clearly bars Krause's claim.
Johnson District Court
Sedgwick District Court
Posted By Administration,
Monday, August 10, 2020
| Comments (0)
Kansas Supreme Court
constitutional law—criminal procedure—
state v. ellis
lyon district court—reversed and remanded;
court of appeals—affirmed
No. 120,046—august 7, 2020
FACTS: Police were called to check on welfare of a person (Ellis) in convenience store bathroom. Ellis stated she was okay and having stomach trouble. Police asked for identification, held Ellis’ drivers license to run warrant check, arrested her on an outstanding probation violation warrant, and found drugs and paraphernalia in subsequent search. State charged Ellis with drug offenses. She filed motion to suppress, arguing the seizure and subsequent search exceeded the scope of the encounter. State argued the attenuation doctrine set out in Utah v. Strieff, 579 U.S. __ (2016), legitimized the search. District court denied the motion and convicted Ellis in bench trial. Ellis appealed. Court of Appeals reversed, holding the investigatory detention exceeded the scope of the welfare check and the evidence obtained as a result should have been suppressed. 57 Kan.App.2d 477 (2019). State’s petition for review granted.
ISSUES: (1) Scope of welfare check; (2) attenuation doctrine
HELD: Under facts of the case, the officer lawfully engaged with Ellis and requested her identification. But police may not lawfully extend a welfare check by running a warrant check on an individual who is the subject of the check unless some other circumstances support prolonging the check and converting it into a detention. Here, the officer had no reasonable suspicion that Ellis was committing, had committed, or was about to commit a crime. Checking if Ellis “had some pick up order” exceeded the scope of the safety check. Ths constituted an unlawful seizure and consequent search.
Application of the attenuation exception to the exclusionary rule is inappropriate on facts in this case. Factors in Strieff are applied finding all weigh against admissibility of the drug evidence under the attenuation doctrine: (1) a very short passage of time; (2) under Kansas caselaw the discovery of an outstanding warrant was not an attenuating factor in this case; and (3) the clarity of Kansas law forbidding the officer’s illegal conduct supports a finding of flagrant official misconduct. District court’s judgment is reversed and evidence seized subsequent to the initial conduct must be suppressed. Remanded for further proceedings.
CONCURRENCE (Stegall, J.)(joined by Luckert, C.J. and Wilson, J.): Concurs with the result but majority appears to back away from the more stringent requirements in Strief. Under Strief as outlined in State v. Tatro, 310 Kan. 263 (2019), when a preexisting valid warrant is discovered, the only question remaining is whether the unconstitutional conduct was purposeful or flagrant. Agrees with majority’s finding of flagrant misconduct, but would limit the analysis in these circumstances to that question only.
constitutional law—criminal procedure—evidence—
state v. timley
shawnee district court—affirmed
No. 120,414—august 7, 2020
FACTS: Timley convicted of first-degree premeditated murder. During trial, Timley’s cellphone records including the cell towers accessed were admitted into evidence without objection, and a detective using Per Call Measurement Data (PCMD) from Sprint testified about the relative position of Timley’s phone throughout the day of the shooting. On appeal Timley claimed: (1) prosecutor erred during opening and closing arguments by making statements concerning the location of Timley’s phone at the time of the shooting; (2) district court erred in admitting the detective’s cell tower maps and accompanying testimony because detective lacked necessary expertise; (3) district court committed clear error by failing to instruct jury on intentional second-degree murder as a lesser included offense; (4) district court’s failure to instruct jury on lesser included offenses violated Timley’s right to due process; and (5) cumulative error denied him a fair trial.
ISSUES: (1) Prosecutorial error; (2) admission of evidence; (3)jury instruction on lesser included offense; (4) due process; (5) cumulative error
HELD: Prosecutor’s remarks during closing argument did not stretch the PCMD distance from a cell tower to Timley’s phone into a certitude, and thereby did not exceed the wide latitude extended to prosecutors. Prosecutor’s opening statement, by postulating that Timley’s phone was “exactly” at the site of the shooting, barely avoided error, but even if error, no possibility the prosecutor’s remark contributed to the verdict.
Under facts of the case, no expert witness was needed. The detective’s exhibits and accompanying testimony did not require any specialized knowledge or expertise beyond that which he was demonstrated to possess.
District court erred in failing to sua sponte instruct jury on lesser included offense of intentional second-degree murder, but under facts of the case, no clear error is found.
In noncapital case, a district court’s failure to sua sponte instruct on lesser included offense does not violate a defendant’s constitutional right to due process. Based on State v. Becker, 311 Kan. 176 (2020), and State v. Love, 305 Kan. 716 (2017), no due process violation found in district court’s failure to issue a lesser included offense instruction sua sponte.
Cumulative error claim is rejected. Only one harmless error found in district court’s failure to sua sponte instruct jury on a lesser included offense. Even if prosecutor’s opening statement was harmless error, it bore no relation to the instructional error.
CONCURRENCE (Biles, J.)(joined by Rosen, J. and Ward, S.J.): Disagrees that prosecutor’s opening statement was fair comment. Would hold it was error for prosecutor in opening statement to tell jury the cell tower data would reflect Timley’s exact location, but agrees the error is harmless for reasons stated by majority.
Kansas Court of Appeals
state v. rozell
wyandotte district court—affirmed
No. 121,094—August 7, 2020
FACTS: Rozell (Missouri resident) and Lopez (Wyandotte County, Kansas, resident) were in a car accident in Missouri. Rozell submitted bodily injury claim on Lopez’ State Farm insurance to a claims representative in Tennessee who discovered the Missouri hospital bill Lopez submitted had been altered to show a post-accident date. State charged Rozell in Wyandotte County with one count of making false information and one count of fraudulent insurance act, listing State Farm as the victim of Rozell’s crimes. District court granted Rozell’s motion to dismiss the charges for lack of jurisdiction. State appealed, arguing proximate result jurisdiction existed under K.S.A. 2017 Supp. 21-5106(b)(3) for a person who attempts to defraud a Kansas insurance policy issued to a Kansas resident, and Wyandotte County was the proper venue.
ISSUE: Proximate result jurisdiction
HELD: District court’s dismissal of the charges for lack of jurisdiction is affirmed. Kansas does not have proximate result jurisdiction to prosecute Rozell for making false information, K.S.A. 2019 Supp. 21-5824(a), or committing a fraudulent insurance act, K.S.A. 2019 Supp. 40-2,118(a), just because he allegedly intended to defraud a Kansas insurance policy. The law related to proximate result jurisdiction is reviewed. When determining proximate result jurisdiction, Kansas courts may consider the negative consequences of a person’s out-of-state criminal acts within Kansas only if the statutory language of that person’s charged crime considered such negative consequences. Here, the State failed to analyze the elements of the charged crimes. Neither the making false information statute, nor the fraudulent insurance act statute consider the negative consequences of a person’s out-of-state criminal acts in the language of the statute.
STATUTES: K.S.A. 2019 Supp. 21-40-2,118(a), -5106, -5106(b), -5106(b)(3), -5824(a), -5830(a)(2); K.S.A. 2017 Supp. 40-2,118(a), -2,118(e), -5106(b),-5106(b)(3), -5824(a) ; K.S.A. 1994 Supp. 21-3734(a)(2)
Lyon District Court
Shawnee District Court
Wyandotte District Court
Posted By Administration,
Monday, June 29, 2020
| Comments (0)
Kansas Supreme Court
MONTGOMERY V. SALEH
SHAWNEE DISTRICT COURT—COURT OF APPEALS IS AFFIRMED, DISTRICT COURT IS AFFIRMED IN PART, REVERSED IN PART
NO. 117,518—JUNE 26, 2020
FACTS: Trooper Saleh initiated a traffic stop when he was informed that a passenger in the vehicle had a knife and was acting erratically. The driver rapidly accelerated and drove recklessly, running stop signs and red lights while his speed reached near 100 miles per hour. Saleh decided to stop pursuit, but not before the driver ran a red light and hit a pickup truck, injuring Montgomery and another individual named Bennett. The plaintiffs filed separate petitions alleging that Saleh was negligent and that the State was liable for his actions. The State moved for summary judgment, arguing that even if the plaintiffs could prove negligence there was no duty owed by Saleh under the public duty doctrine. The district court granted the motion, rejecting application of both the public duty doctrine and Kansas Tort Claims Act immunity. But the district court ruled the plaintiffs failed to proffer evidence sufficient to support a finding of causation in fact. The Court of Appeals affirmed the district court's findings on immunity and the public duty doctrine but remanded the case for further action on proof of causation. The Supreme Court granted Trooper Saleh and the State's petition for review.
ISSUES: (1) Application of the public duty doctrine; (2) breach; (3) causation; (4) immunity
HELD: The plain language of K.S.A. 8-1506 required emergency vehicle drivers to "drive with due regard for the safety of all persons." This language shows that the legislature did not intend to exempt emergency vehicle drivers from the consequences of reckless conduct. This statute imposes a specific duty on law enforcement and individuals may sue if they believe this duty has been breached. In order to prevail, the plaintiffs must prove that Saleh acted with reckless disregard for the safety of others. The evidence presented to the district court showed there is a material issue of fact as to whether Saleh exhibited reckless disregard when continuing to pursue the fleeing driver. Law enforcement's conduct during a pursuit can be the legal cause of a third party's injuries. Given the evidence presented to the district court, a jury could have found that the driver knew he was being pursued by Saleh. Because there is a statutory duty created by K.S.A. 8-1506(d), the discretionary function exception does not apply to Saleh's pursuit of the fleeing driver.
DISSENT: (Rosen, J., joined by Stegall, J., and Green, J., assigned) Justice Rosen would reverse the Court of Appeals and affirm the district court's grant of summary judgment, holding that the plaintiffs failed to establish a prima facie case that Saleh breached his duty of care under K.S.A. 8-1506.
STATUTE: K.S.A. 8-1506, -1506(d), 75-6101(b), -6103(a), -6104, -6104(e), -6104(n)
RUSSELL V. TREANOR INVESTMENTS
DOUGLAS DISTRICT COURT—COURT OF APPEALS IS AFFIRMED, DISTRICT COURT IS AFFIRMED
NO. 117,973—JUNE 26, 2020
FACTS: In 1997, the owner of two adjacent properties executed and recorded an Operation and Easement Agreement. The OEA restricted the building size and prohibited either property from being used as a regular grocery store. The OEA allowed for amendment if all of the current owners agreed in writing, and the OEA was amended to alter the original site plan. The amendment allowed for the creation of a multi-unit buildings with condominiums and retail space; Russell purchased a unit in the building in 2010. Treanor Investments purchased part of the property covered by the OEA in 2015, with hopes to amend the OEA and enlarge the property footprint to encompass a grocery store. Russell filed suit, claiming the OEA could not be amended without condominium owner consent. The parties filed competing motions for summary judgment and the district court agreed with Treanor, finding that it had been designated as the responsible owner, who had authority to act on behalf of other owners. The Court of Appeals affirmed, finding that the OEA and its amendments were clear and unambiguous in allowing the responsible owner to act on others' behalf. Russell's petition for review was granted.
ISSUES: (1) Authority to amend the OEA; (2) can amendment materially change the character of the real estate
HELD: The language of the OEA is plain and unambiguous, and it allows for the designation of a responsible owner to act on others' behalf. This language existed before Russell purchased his condominium. Nothing in the language prevents the responsible owner from further amending the OEA to alter size and use restrictions. Russell failed to raise a genuine issue of material fact about whether the proposed changes to the property would cause a material change in circumstances.
STATUTES: No statutes cited.
appeals—constitutional law—criminal law—criminal procedure—evidence
state v. George
finney district court—affirmed
no. 120,190—june 26, 2020
FACTS: George convicted of first-degree murder, attempted distribution of a controlled substance, attempted aggravated robbery, aggravated assault, and criminal possession of a firearm. He appealed claiming: (1) his convictions were multiplicitous, arguing three of his convictions “folded” into one another and became a single offense; (2) prosecutorial error during cross-examination of a witness by commenting on the witness’ credibility; (3) trial court erred by allowing a witness to invoke Fifth Amendment and refuse to testify where the witness had been convicted and sentenced but his appeal was still pending; and (4) cumulative error denied him a fair trial.
ISSUES: (1) Multiplicity; (2) prosecutorial error; (3) invocation of Fifth Amendment; (4) cumulative error
HELD: George’s convictions are not multiplicitous. Elements of each of three crimes arising from the same conduct but grounded in three different statutes are examined, finding: attempted aggravated robbery and aggravated assault are not multiplicitous; attempted distribution or possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance and attempted aggravated robbery are not multiplicitous; and attempted distribution or possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance is not multiplicitous with aggravated assault.
George failed to preserve his evidentiary claim and cannot evade the contemporaneous objection requirement demanded by K.S.A. 60-404 by reframing the issue as one of prosecutorial error. Defense counsel objected to the State’s cross-examination question as going “beyond the scope” of direct examination, but did not argue any grounds relating to impeachment or character evidence. This was insufficient for appellate review of the issue now claimed.
Error resulting from district court’s exclusion of a witness’ testimony, if any, was harmless. Court declines to decide whether a plea of nolo contendere waives the privilege against self-incrimination after sentencing but before the conclusion of direct appeals. Even if error is assumed in this case, the error is harmless because the substance of this witness’ proffered testimony was entirely presented at trial through the testimony of a detective.
Cumulative error doctrine does not apply in case having only one assumed error.
STATUTES: K.S.A. 2019 Supp. 21-5301, -5301(a), -5412(a), -5412(b)(1), -5420, -5420(a), -5420(b), -5705(a)(1), -5705(d)(3)(C), 22-3601(b)(4), 60-261; K.S.A. 60-404, -422(c)
state v. satchell
sedgwick district court—affirmed in part and vacated in part
court of appeals—affirmed in part and reversed in part
no. 116,151—june 26, 2020
FACTS: Satchell charged with 2014 sexual offenses involving two children. To show his propensity to sexually abuse children, State was allowed to present evidence under K.S.A. 2019 Supp. 60-455(d) about Satchell’s 2010 abuse of three other children under similar circumstances. Jury convicted Satchell on all counts. Sentencing court ordered consecutive “hard 25” sentences for the eight off-grid offenses, followed by 100 months in prison for criminal sodomy. Court also ordered lifetime parole for the off-grid offenses and lifetime postrelease supervision for the on-grid offense. On appeal, Satchell claimed in part the district should not have allowed the 60-455 evidence because it was unduly prejudicial, and argued he should not have been given lifetime postrelease supervision. In unpublished opinion, Court of Appeals rejected both claims. Review granted
ISSUES: (1) K.S.A. 60-455 evidence; (2) sentencing
HELD: District court did not abuse its discretion by admitting evidence of the 2010 allegations. The 2010 evidence, if true, would be relevant. At issue is whether the probative value of this evidence was substantially outweighed by the risk of unfair prejudice. Factors in State v. Boysaw, 309 Kan. 526 (2019), to be considered in determining probative value and undue prejudice are analyzed on facts in this case. In balancing those factors, the district court can exclude otherwise admissible relevant evidence if its probative value is “substantially outweighed” by the risk of undue prejudice. Court acknowledges criticism of past decisions that have left out the term “substantially,” but finds the proper test has been applied despite the occasional shorthand references. Here, the risks of undue prejudice did not substantially outweigh the high probative value of the 2010 evidence.
District court erred by ordering lifetime postrelease supervision. Under K.S.A. 2016 Supp. 21-6819, in effect at the time of Satchell’s offenses, the proper post release supervision term is lifetime parole when the district court imposed consecutive on-grid and off-grid sentences. The lifetime postrelease supervision portion of Satchell’s sentence is vacated.
STATUTES: K.S.A. 2019 Supp. 60-455(d); K.S.A. 2016 Supp. 21-6627, -6819, -6819(b)(2), 22-3717, -3717(d)(1)(G), -3717(u); K.S.A. 60-406, -407(f), -445
Kansas Court of Appeals
AGENCY ACTION—MEDICAL EXPENSES
UNIVERSITY OF KANSAS HOSPITAL AUTHORITY V. BOARD OF COUNTY COMMISSIONERS OF FRANKLIN COUNTY, KANSAS
WYANDOTTE DISTRICT COURT—AFFIRMED IN PART, REVERSED IN PART, REMANDED
NO. 120,472—JUNE 26, 2020
FACTS: After seeing a man driving without headlights and with a suspended license, Ottawa police engaged in a high-speed chase. Officers lost track of the vehicle, and by the time they found it, the driver had crashed and the vehicle was fully engulfed in flames. Rescue personnel found the driver on the ground, suffering from severe injuries. Officers did not search the driver, and he was not placed under arrest, although a hold was placed while the man was in the hospital. After his release, the driver was taken to jail based on outstanding warrants that were unrelated to the police chase. After an investigation, the driver was charged with felony fleeing and eluding. The University of Kansas Hospital Authority filed suit against the City of Ottawa and the Franklin County Board of County Commissioners in an attempt to recoup some of the man's considerable medical bills. All parties filed motions for summary judgment. After considering arguments, the district court found that the driver was in the City's custody when medical treatment was initiated. But for the driver's injuries, he would have been arrested when the chase ended. The district court granted summary judgment in the Hospital's favor against the City but found that the County was not involved enough to be responsible for bills. The City appealed and the Hospital cross-appealed.
ISSUES: (1) Whether the driver was in custody; (2) existence of disputed material facts
HELD: "Custody" has a broad definition. A formal arrest is not always necessary to show that a person is in custody. It is undisputed that County deputies did not witness any crimes being committed and did not participate in the chase. This means it is also undisputed that the driver was not in County custody when medical care was sought, and the County has no obligation to contribute to the driver's medical bills. There are lingering fact questions, though, about whether the driver was in the City's custody. Specifically, there was no stipulation that the driver was stopped by law enforcement, triggering the statutory obligation to take him into custody. Because there is a lingering fact question, summary judgment was not appropriate. The case must be remanded to clear up these issues.
STATUTE: K.S.A. 2019 Supp. 8-1568(b), -1568(c), 22-2202(d), -2202(i), -4612, -4612(a)
CONTRACTS—OIL AND GAS
THOROUGHBRED ASSOCIATES V. KANSAS CITY ROYALTY COMPANY
COMANCHE DISTRICT COURT—AFFIRMED IN PART, REVERSED IN PART, REMANDED
NO. 120,068—JUNE 26, 2020
FACTS: Beginning in 1997, Thoroughbred acquired oil and gas leases. After it struck a big well, Thoroughbred acquired leases on nearby property to prevent competition. However, there was a 1/3 mineral interest in one of these tracts which remained unleased. In an attempt to acquire that lease, Thoroughbred contacted the owner, Oxy USA Inc., about selling. The parties signed a lease in 1998 which allowed Thoroughbred to unitize the lease. The lease would continue for as long as Thoroughbred produced oil or gas in paying quantities, either from the tract or from the unit as a whole. Oxy had a 3/16 royalty on production from the tract. In 1999, Oxy sold its interest in the lease to KC Royalty. Tensions arose when KC Royalty believed that gas from the unit was being drained into another unit that was not covered by KC Royalty's lease and that KC Royalty believed that Thoroughbred owed it unpaid royalties. After extensive litigation and another appeal which was heard by the Kansas Supreme Court, the parties ended up back in district court. That court ruled in favor of KC Royalty, finding that the parties agreed to unitize the Lease, that KC Royalty had waived certain conditions, and that Thoroughbred was equitably estopped from enforcing the conditions. After ruling that all liquids produced in the unit were incidental byproducts of the gas, the court concluded that KC Royalty's interest included all unit production. Both parties appealed.
ISSUES: (1) Whether the parties included the lease in the unit by modification, waiver, or estoppel; (2) award of interest in oil production arising from gas lease; (3) attorney fees
HELD: Substantial evidence supported the district court's finding that the parties modified their lease to include the parcel in the larger unit. This is proven by both Oxy and KC Royalty accepting royalty payments. KC Royalty had the unilateral power to waive conditions and allow Thoroughbred to include the lease in the larger unit. All evidence shows that KC Royalty intended to modify the agreement. Because Thoroughbred represented that KC Royalty's lease was in the unit for over three years, it is estopped from changing its mind now. A portion of the unit included a parcel which was a separate, oil-producing formation where oil production far exceeded gas production. There was no evidence that the oil and gas in this particular parcel was condensate. The district court improperly included this parcel in its royalty calculations, and the case must be remanded for accurate calculations. The district court did not abuse its discretion by denying KC Royalty's motion for attorney fees.
STATUTE: K.S.A. 55-205, -1617
CLASS ACTIONS—OIL AND GAS
COOPER CLARK FOUNDATION V. OXY USA, INC.
GRANT DISTRICT COURT—AFFIRMED
NO. 120,371—JUNE 26, 2020
FACTS: This appeal involves a class-action lawsuit over natural gas leases. After extracting gas, Oxy sent most of it for processing. Cooper, representing the wells included within the class action, disputes the method Oxy was using to calculate royalties for all Class Leases. The class action petition was filed in 2017, alleging that Oxy underpaid royalties from July 2007 through April 2014. Cooper's specific grievances included Oxy passing through processing fees, improperly calculating volume, using the wrong price structure, and not paying interest on conservation fees. The district court certified Cooper's class, and Oxy appealed that certification.
ISSUE: (1) Whether class was properly certified
HELD: Gas produced from Class wells wasn't marketable until it was in a condition suitable for its intended market. This didn't occur until after it was processed. The district court did not abuse its discretion when it found that the class petition raised questions of law and fact that were common to all class members. All of the claims can be litigated classwide without individualized evidence; this includes a dispute over whether Oxy owes interest for conservation fees that were repaid to class members. There are similarly no individualized issues regarding Oxy's statute of limitations defense. The district court rigorously analyzed the requirements for class certification and correctly concluded that the class was appropriate.
STATUTES: K.S.A. 2019 Supp. 60-223, -223(a), -223(b); K.S.A. 16-201, 55-1614, -1615
appeals—appellate procedure—constitutional law—criminal procedure— damages—insurance—restitution—sentencing
state v. robinson
lyon district court—affirmed
no. 120,903—june 26, 2020
FACTS: Robinson pled no contest to battery of law enforcement officer. Sentencing included requirement that Robinson pay $2,648.56 in restitution to reimburse workers compensation insurance carrier that paid medical expenses of officer injured as a result of the battery. Robinson appealed claiming the statutes authorizing the district court to order restitution violate Section 5 of Kansas Constitution Bill of Rights by depriving him of right to have a civil jury determine the amount of damages, and violate the Sixth Amendment of U. S. Constitution by allowing a judge to determine the amount of restitution to be awarded the victim. He also claimed district court erred in awarding restitution to be paid to an insurance carrier. State contends the constitutional issues, raised for first time on appeal, were not properly preserved.
ISSUES: (1) Unpreserved claims; (2) restitution—Section 5 of Kansas Constitution Bill of Rights; (3) restitution—Sixth Amendment of U.S. Constitution; (4) payment to insurance carrier
HELD: The issues not raised below are considered because they potentially implicate a claim to the fundamental right to a trial by jury under the Kansas and United States constitutions, and a decision on the merits would serve the ends of justice.
Robinson failed to establish that Section 5 of the Kansas Constitution Bill of Rights requires that a jury impose criminal restitution under K.S.A. 2017 Supp. 21-6604(b)(1) and K.S.A. 2017 Supp. 21-6607(c)(2). Criminal restitution is not a civil remedy and no provision in the Kansas territorial statutes mentions criminal restitution.
District court’s restitution order did not violate the Sixth Amendment. Court of Appeals panels have addressed whether Sixth Amendment applies to criminal restitution, and review of one unpublished opinion is currently pending. Under State v. Huff, 50 Kan.App.2d 1094 (2014), rev. denied 302 Kan. 1015 (2015), restitution is not punishment, but even if punishment is assumed, the Kansas statutes do not violate the Sixth Amendment. Huff is consistent with cited federal and state court opinions, and courts have concluded that Southern Union Co. v. United States, 567 U.S. 343 (2012), does not extend Apprendi and its progeny to restitution. Kansas statutes governing restitution impose neither mandatory minimum amounts nor mandatory maximum amounts, so they do not trigger concerns in Apprendi or Alleyne.
Neither K.S.A. 2017 Supp. 21-6604(b)(1) nor K.S.A. 2017 Supp. 21-6607(c)(2) prohibit a district court from awarding restitution to an insurance carrier that has suffered damage or injury as a result of the defendant’s crime.
DISSENT (Leben, J.): Would vacate the restitution award because Robinson had a right to have a jury determine the amount of damage or loss he caused any victim of his crime. Text of Sixth Amendment, history, and precedent support a holding that Sixth Amendment applies to restitution. Cases cited by the majority as rejecting the claim that Apprendi applies to restitution are criticized. The two Kansas restitution statutes violate Apprendi by allowing judges to increase the statutory maximum punishment for an offense beyond that authorized by the jury’s verdict or the plea agreement. Even if Robison had no jury-trial right under Sixth Amendment, he had one under Section 5 of Kansas Constitution Bill of Rights.
STATUTES: K.S.A. 2017 Supp. 21-5413(c)(3)(D), -6604, -6604(b)(1), -6604(b)(2), -6607(c)(2), -6608(c)(7), -6613(a), -6613(b), 60-238, -2401, -4304(b); K.S.A. 1991 Supp. 21-6607(c)(2); K.S.A. 60-4301
Oil and Gas
Posted By Administration,
Tuesday, January 28, 2020
| Comments (0)
Kansas Supreme Court
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)
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)
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
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)
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)
Bd of Tax Appeals
Kansas Tort Claims Act
Reno District Court
Sedgwick District Court
Posted By Administration,
Monday, October 29, 2018
| Comments (0)
Kansas Supreme Court
BECKER V. THE BAR PLAN MUTUAL INSURANCE COMPANY
JOHNSON DISTRICT COURT–Remanded
COURT OF APPEALS—REVERSED
NO. 113,291— OCTOBER 26, 2018
FACTS: Becker made a series of loans to a business and hired Seck and Associates, a law firm, to help him with that process. The business faced financial difficulties and Becker claimed that Seck failed to find that the business' collateral was already subject to a properly filed security interest. After the business failed and the owner sought bankruptcy protection, Becker initiated proceedings against Seck's malpractice insurance carrier. Becker asked the Bar Plan, Sack's insurer, for a policy limits settlement offer of $300,000. The Bar Plan denied Seck's claim for coverage, pointing to her failure to timely notify the insurance company about a pending claim. Seck confessed judgment in excess of $3 million and assigned to Becker any right to sue the Bar Plan. Becker did sue, claiming bad faith. But the district court granted summary judgment to the Bar Plan and the court of appeals affirmed. Becker's petition for review was granted.
ISSUE: (1) Reservation of rights and estoppel;
HELD: Both the district court and court of appeals erred by focusing on the "expansion of coverage" rule. The courts should have instead determined whether estoppel was appropriate under the reservation of rights rule. The Bar Plan could have satisfied its duty to defend while also preserving any defenses of noncoverage through a timely reservation of rights. In this case, there are genuine issues of material fact regarding whether Bar Plan timely reserved its rights. Accordingly, summary judgment was inappropriate and the case must be remanded for further findings of fact.
STATUTE: K.S.A. 60-256
state v. alford
sedgwick district court—affirmed
No. 117,270—october 26, 2018
FACTS: Alford was convicted in 1993 of first-degree murder, aggravated kidnapping, and unlawful possession of a firearm. State v. Alford, 257 Kan. 830 (1995). In 2016 he filed pro se motions to correct an illegal sentence. He claimed trial court violated K.S.A. 1993 Supp. 21-4624(3) by permitting sentencing jury to consider murder victim’s written statement regarding an earlier aggravated battery, which was improper hearsay testimony in violation of due process and right of confrontation. He also claimed jury was wrongly instructed it needed to reach a unanimous verdict on the hard 15 sentence in violation of K.S.A. 1993 Supp. 21-4524(5). District court summarily denied the motions. Alford appealed on both claims.
ISSUE: Motion to correct an illegal sentence
HELD: Neither of Alford’s claims fits within the narrow definition of an illegal sentence, thus cannot be raised in a motion to correct an illegal sentence. Alford’s hearsay argument relies on K.S.A. 1993 Supp. 21-4624(3)—a subsection devoted to establishing evidentiary rules—which does not qualify as the relevant statutory provision implicating an illegal sentence. And Alford’s unanimity claim is defeated by State v. Allison, 306 Kan. 80 (2017).
STATUTES: K.S.A. 2017 Supp. 22-3631; K.S.A. 1993 Supp. 21-4624(3), -4624(5); K.S.A. 22-3414(3), -3504, -3504(1)
constitutional law—criminal procedure—evidence—juries—prosecutors
state v. williams
wyandotte district court—affirmed
No. 116,690—october 26, 2018
FACTS: William was convicted of first-degree premeditated murder and criminal possession of a firearm. On appeal he claimed: (1) prosecutor’s closing remarks improperly called William’s testimony a fabrication; (2) State’s peremptory strikes of two jurors, and trial court’s overruling William’s claim of racial discrimination, violated Williams’ rights under Batson v. Kentucky, 476 U.S. 79 (1986); (3) trial court erred in allowing overly gruesome autopsy photographs during testimony of State forensic pathologist; and (4) cumulative error denied him a fair trial.
ISSUES: (1) Prosecutorial misconduct, (2) Batson challenge, (3) gruesome photographs, (4) cumulative error
HELD: Under facts in this case, prosecutor’s comments about Williams’ trustworthiness were within proper bounds. In context, prosecutor was advancing reasonable inferences based on physical evidence which supported the suggestion that Williams’ testimony was unbelievable.
Second and third steps in Batson challenge are discussed. Under circumstances in this case, trial court did not abuse its discretion by concluding the prosecutor had a valid, race-neutral reason to strike each juror.
Autopsy photos in this case were graphically illustrative and unpleasant to view, but were not offered solely to inflame the jurors’ passions or prejudice.
Cumulative error claim is defeated by absence of any error.
STATUTES: K.S.A. 2017 Supp. 21-5402, -6304, 22-3601(b)(4); K.S.A. 60-2101(b)