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September 4, 2020 Digest

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, September 8, 2020

Kansas Court of Appeals

criminal 

criminal law—criminal procedure—evidence—juries—prosecutors
state v. olsman
elk district court—affirmed in part,
reversed in part, vacated in part
no. 120,119—september 4, 2020

FACTS: Jury convicted Olsman of kidnapping and attempted rape. On appeal he claimed: (1) insufficient evidence supported the kidnapping conviction because confinement of the victim was incidental and inherent in the attempted rape; (2) district court erred in ruling the testimony of victim’s sister about victim’s reputation for dishonesty was inadmissible for lack of foundation; (3) district court erroneously instructed jury on kidnapping; (4) in closing argument and rebuttal prosecutor improperly commented on Olsman’s and victim’s credibility and inflamed passions of jury; (5) district court erred in denying Olsman’s motion for a new trial which argued in part that a deputy improperly referred to Olsman having been in jail on a previous occasion; and (6) cumulative error denied him a fair trial.

ISSUES: (1) Sufficiency of the evidence—kidnapping, (2) exclusion of testimony, (3) jury instruction—kidnapping, (4) prosecutorial error, (5) motion for new trial, (6) cumulative error

HELD: Olsman’s kidnapping conviction is reversed and kidnapping sentence is vacated. State v. Buggs, 219 Kan. 203 (1976), State v. Cheers,  231 Kan. 164 (1982), and State v. Richmond, 250 Kan. 375 (1992), are factually distinguished as involving takings or confinements that substantially facilitated the commission of other crimes. Unpublished Court of Appeals case, is found to be similar to Olsman’s case. Applying Buggs analysis, evidence in this case is insufficient to support the kidnapping conviction.

            District court did not err in relying on State v. Penn, 41 Kan. App. 2d 251 (2009), for the foundational requirements for admitting reputation evidence. Olsman’s argument that Penn was wrongly decided is unpersuasive. Under circumstances in case, including lapse of five years between events that formed the basis for victim’s reputation and events leading to trial, district court’s determination was not an abuse of discretion. Even if district court may have incorrectly stated that victim and her sister were not of the same community, Olsman failed burden of establishing that they were. Olsman’s constitutional claim fails with no showing of error in district court’s evidentiary ruling.

            Reversal of Olsman’s kidnapping conviction renders his jury instruction claim moot.

            Prosecutor’s limited and isolated closing argument statements, in particular referring to Olsman as a “liar,” were improper but overall nature of prosecutor’s argument was premised in reasonable inferences fairly derivable from the evidence and directed jury to reach its own conclusions. Prosecutor’s rebuttal comments were an improper appeal to jury for sympathy toward the victim. In light of entire record, however, no reasonable probability these comments affected outcome of the trial.

            Olsman fails to explain how district court’s admonishment to the deputy and its curative instruction to the jury was insufficient to cure any prejudicial effect of the deputy’s statement. No abuse of district court’s discretion is demonstrated.

            With reversal of Olsman’s kidnapping conviction, only identified errors bearing on cumulative error analysis are prosecutor’s comments and deputy’s testimony. On overall strength of evidence the limited prejudice from these two harmless errors did not aggregate into reversible error.    

CONCURRENCE and DISSENT (Warner, J.): Joins majority’s analysis of all claims but for its conclusion that Olsman’s confinement of victim within his home was insufficient to support the jury’s kidnapping verdict. Jury decided whether Olsman’s grabbing of victim’s arm and preventing her from leaving was an independently significant act, and sufficient evidence supported its assessment. Majority ventured into jury’s fact-finding role by reweighing the evidence supporting Olsman’s kidnapping conviction.

STATUTES: K.S.A. 2019 Supp. 22-3501(1), 60-455, -460(z); K.S.A. 2015 Supp. 21-5408(a)(2), -5503(a)(1)(A); K.S.A. 60-419, -420. -422(d), -446, -447(a), -460(z)

Tags:  criminal law  criminal procedure  Elk District Court  evidence  juries  prosecutors 

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July 17, 2020 Digests

Posted By Administration, Monday, July 20, 2020

 

Kansas Supreme Court

 

CRIMINAL

 

ATTORNEYS—CONSTITUTIONAL LAW—CRIMINAL PROCEDURE—MENTAL COMPETENCY

STATE V. BURDEN

SUMNER DISTRICT COURT—AFFIRMED; COURT OF APPEALS—AFFIRMED

NO. 116,819 - JULY 17, 2020

 

FACTS: Burden was charged with possession of drugs and drug paraphernalia. District court found she was competent to stand trial pursuant to a court-ordered competency exam and evaluation that found, in part, that Burden had “no significant impairment that is psychiatric in nature.”  District court also allowed Burden to represent herself, and appointed standby counsel. Jury convicted her on drug possession charges, and acquitted on the paraphernalia charge. Burden appealed, arguing district court used an incorrect standard to determine whether she was competent to represent herself. Court of appeals affirmed in unpublished opinion. Review granted.

 

ISSUE: (1) Standard for determining mental competency

 

HELD: Three distinct but related concepts are examined—mental competency to stand trial, the capacity to waive the right to counsel, and mental competency to self-represent. Indiana v. Edwards, 554 U.S. 164 (2008), allows a district court judge to deny a request to waive counsel if a defendant has a severe mental illness. But there is no error when a court does not appoint counsel for a defendant who wishes to exercise the right of self-representation if there is no evidence of the defendant's severe mental illness. Here, the district court did not err in allowing Burden to exercise her constitutional right of self-representation when the record does not establish that she suffers from a severe mental illness.  

 

STATUTE: K.S.A. 22-3301, -3301(1)

 

CRIMINAL PROCEDURE—MOTIONS—STATUTES

STATE V. EDWARDS

SHAWNEE DISTRICT COURT—AFFIRMED

NO. 120,600—JULY 17, 2020

 

FACTS: Jury convicted Edwards in 1996 of first-degree murder, conspiracy to possess with intent to sell hallucinogenic drugs, and aggravated robbery. In 2011, he filed motion for DNA testing of items found at crime scene. District court granted the motion in 2013, and for additional, independent DNA analysis of the evidence. District court held a 2017 hearing and found the DNA results were favorable to Edwards, but denied Edwards’ motion for a new trial because the DNA evidence was “not reasonably probable to lead to a jury reaching a different result.”  Edwards appealed.

 

ISSUE: (1) DNA testing statute

 

HELD: Even when additional DNA testing ordered under K.S.A. 2019 Supp. 21-5212 leads to results favorable to the defense, a district judge does not necessarily abuse his or her discretion by denying a motion for new trial. As in State v. LaPointe, 309 Kan. 299 (2019), the non-DNA evidence against Edwards is strong. District judge did not abuse her discretion by concluding there was no reasonable probability the DNA results would have changed the original trial’s outcome. District judge’s denial of Edwards’ motion for a new trial is affirmed.

 

STATUTE: K.S.A. 2019 Supp. 21-2512, -2512(f)(2)

 

CONSTITUTIONAL LAW—CRIMINAL LAW—EVIDENCE—STATUTES

STATE V. HARRIS

SEDGWICK DISTRICT COURT—REVERSED AND REMANDED; COURT OF APPEALS—REVERSED

NO. 116,515—JULY 17, 2020

 

FACTS: Harris, a convicted felon on parole, was in an altercation when he opened a pocketknife with a 3.5 inch serrated blade for protection, then dropped it when police arrived. State charged him with aggravated assault, criminal possession of a weapon by a convicted felon, and criminal use of a weapon. Harris filed motion to dismiss the possession charge, claiming the statutory definition in K.S.A. 2019 Supp. 21-6304 of a “knife” was unconstitutionally vague on its face and as applied. District court denied the motion. Harris also sought to introduce evidence of parole officer who advised him he could carry a knife less than 4 inches long, and similar info in Kansas Department of Corrections (KDOC) orientation and handbook. Adopting State’s position that parole officers and KDOC staff are not legally authorized to interpret statutes, district court excluded all evidence in support of Harris’ mistake-of-law defense.  Harris appealed, claiming district court erred by rejecting his vagueness challenge to the statute and by excluding all evidence supporting his mistake-of -fact defense. In unpublished opinion Court of Appeals rejected the constitutional challenge, but reversed the trial court’s evidentiary ruling on the mistake-of-fact evidence and remanded for a new trial. Review granted.

 

ISSUES: (1) Constitutionality of K.S.A. 2019 Supp. 21-6304; (2) evidence—mistake of law defense

 

HELD: Case is resolved on a facial challenge to the statute. The residual clause "or any other dangerous or deadly cutting instrument of like character" in K.S.A. 2019 Supp. 21-6304 is unconstitutionally vague because it fails to provide an explicit and objective standard of enforcement. Similar problem in City of Lincoln Center v. Farmway Co-Op, Inc., 298 Kan. 540 (2013)(noise ordinance is unconstitutionally vague). This constitutional failure began with legislative enactment that impermissibly delegated legislative power to the executive and judicial branches.

            Because case is resolved in Harris’ favor on constitutional grounds, the evidentiary issue raised in State’s petition is not reached.

 

DISSENT (Biles, J.)(joined by Rosen, J. and Green, J.): K.S.A. 2019 Supp. 21-6304 is not unconstitutionally vague on its face or as applied to Harris. Majority imposes too strict a standard on Legislature’s ability to formulate criminal laws. Analyzing K.S.A. 2019 Supp. 21-6304(c)(1) in light of the facts, the statute is sufficiently clear to have informed Harris it was unlawful to possess his knife, and the statute is sufficiently clear to stave off any contention that authorities arbitrarily prosecuted him for having it. Photo of Harrisknife is attached. Majority’s reading  of Farmway is criticized.

            Would reverse Harris’ conviction because he is entitled to pursue a mistake-of-law defense. KDOC is legally authorized to interpret the criminal-possession statute, and the KDOC handbook could be read by Harris as containing the agency’s official interpretation of the statute. Trial court’s error in not allowing Harris to pursue a mistake-of-law defense was not harmless in this case.

 

STATUTES: K.S.A. 2019 Supp. 21-5207(b)(4), -6304, -6304(c)(1), -6304(c)(2); K.S.A. 2018 Supp. 21-5207(b)(4); K.S.A. 2016 Supp. 21-5111(aa)(5), -5111(p)(2), 75-5217, -5217(a), -5217(b), -5217(c), -5217(d); K.S.A. 2012 Supp. 21-630; K.S.A. 21-6301, -6304, 75-5201, -5216

 

CONSTITUTIONAL LAW—CRIMINAL PROCEDURE—JURIES—STATUTES

STATE V. HARRISON

JOHNSON DISTRICT COURT—AFFIRMED; COURT OF APPEALS—AFFIRMED

NO. 116,670—JULY 17, 2020

 

FACTS: Jury convicted Harrison of various crimes committed in 2015. During deliberation, judge discussed jury question with Harrison, counsel and prosecutor all present. All agreed to send jury a written response. Harrison appealed on four claims of trial error, including his challenge at not being present when written response was passed to the jury by court staff. In unpublished opinion court of appeals affirmed the convictions, holding in part the district court violated Harrison’s constitutional right to be present at a critical stage in the proceedings by responding to the jury in writing rather than giving the answer in open court with Harrison present, but the error was harmless. Review granted limited to the district court’s failure to have Harrison present when jury received the answer.

 

ISSUE: (1) Response to jury’s question

 

HELD: District court complied with both statutory and constitutional requirements. 2014 revision of K.S.A. 22-3420 allows judges to answer jury questions in open court or in writing. K.S.A. 2019 Supp. 22-3405(a) is analyzed in light of that revision. If a criminal trial judge responds to a jury question in writing by having court personnel deliver the response to the jury in the jury room: the delivery is not a stage of the trial at which a defendant must be present under K.S.A. 2019 Supp. 22-3405(a);  K.S.A. 2019 Supp. 22-3420(d) does not require a defendant’s presence when the jury receives that response; and the defendant’s right to be present during critical stages of the proceedings is not a violation under the Sixth Amendment Confrontation Clause or the Due Process Clause of Fourteenth Amendment. Nothing in the record reasonably suggests Harrison’s presence was essential or critical to a fair and just determination of a substantial issue. Review of panel’s harmless error analysis is unnecessary.

 

STATUTES: K.S.A. 2019 Supp. 22-3405(a), -3420(d); K.S.A. 22-2102, -3405(1), -3420(3)

 

 CRIMINAL PROCEDURE—MOTIONS—POSTCONVICTION RELIEF—STATUTES

STATE V. HILL

OSAGE DISTRICT COURT—AFFIRMED

NO. 119,359—JULY 17, 2020

 

FACTS: Pursuant to amended plea agreement, Hill entered no a contest plea in 2000 to various charges including premeditated first-degree murder. No direct appeal taken. Hill then pursued various post-conviction motions: 2004 motion under K.S.A. 60-1507; 2008 motion to withdraw his no contest pleas; 2014 and 2015 motions including new motion to withdraw pleas and motion to correct illegal sentence. District court denied each motion, and when appealed, the court of appeals affirmed. Present appeal is from district court’s denial of Hill’s 2017 pro se “Motion to Set Aside a Void Judgment Under Due Process of Law and K.S.A. 22-3210.”  The district court construed the motion as one to withdraw pleas under K.S.A. 22-3210, and denied the motion as untimely. District court further found no manifest injustice supported withdrawal of the pleas, found Hill was represented by competent counsel, there was no coercion or unfair advantage taken of Hill, and his pleas were knowingly and understandingly made. Hill appealed, arguing trial court errors, including incorrectly analyzing the motion as one to withdraw plea instead of a motion to void convictions and sentence, denied Hill due process.

 

ISSUE: (1) Due process—motion to correct illegal sentence

 

HELD: Trial judge correctly construed Hill’s various arguments as another effort to withdraw his pleas. Hill’s 2017 motion was filed outside the one year time limitation added to K.S.A. 22-3210 in 2009, and no grounds of excusable neglect for his untimely filing are asserted by Hill or otherwise demonstrated. Hill’s motion is procedurally barred. Trial court’s decision is affirmed.

 

STATUTES: K.S.A. 2019 Supp. 22-3210, -3210(a), -3210(b), -3210(d), -3210(d)(1), -3210(d)(2),  -3210(e)(1), -3210(e)(2); K.S.A. 2017 Supp. 22-3210, -3210(e)(1); K.S.A. 60-1507

 

 

Kansas Court of Appeals

 

CIVIL

 

DUISEARCH AND SEIZURE
CITY OF COLBY V. FOSTER
THOMAS DISTRICT COURT
REVERSED AND REMANDED
NO. 121,373
JULY 17, 2020

 

FACTS: A municipal court convicted Foster of DUI, and Foster appealed to district court. Prior to trial, Foster filed a motion to suppress evidence, including the breathalyzer results. During a hearing on that motion, Foster discovered that law enforcement administered the breath test before providing the implied consent advisories. The district court denied the motion, holding that at the time Foster was arrested, there was no requirement to provide the advisories because Foster was given the breath test incident to arrest. Foster was convicted after a bench trial, and he appealed.

 

ISSUE: (1) Whether the district court erred by denying the motion to suppress

 

HELD: The law in effect at the time of the criminal act controls. Foster was arrested on May 6, 2018, and on that date the amendments to K.S.A. 8-1001 had not yet been enacted. K.S.A. 2017 Supp. 8-1001(k) required that Foster receive notice of his statutory rights. There is not substantial evidence that Foster consented to the search and because he never received the statutory advisory, his consent could not have been knowing or voluntary. Similarly, Kansas law required that Foster be given the consent advisory even if the search of the breath test was done incidental to an arrest. It was not enough for the officer to deliver the implied consent advisories after the breath test had been conducted. That was not substantial compliance. The evidence should have been suppressed.

 

STATUTE: K.S.A. 2017 Supp. 8-1001(a), -1001(b), -1001(k)

 

DUIIMPLIED CONSENT
FISHER V. KANSAS DEPARTMENT OF REVENUE
DOUGLAS DISTRICT COURT
AFFIRMED
NO. 118,830
JULY 17, 2020

 

FACTS: Officer Russell saw Fisher speeding through town. Russell caught up with Fisher, who showed signs of impairment including bloodshot eyes, slurred speech and an unsteady gait. Russell arrested Fisher and gave him the implied consent advisories from the DC-70 form. Fisher refused to take a blood or breath test without an attorney present, so Russell obtained a warrant to draw blood. The test confirmed that Fisher was under the influence, and his driver's license was subsequently suspended. The suspension was affirmed by both the Kansas Department of Revenue and the district court, which found that reasonable grounds existed to require testing. Fisher appealed.

 

ISSUES: (1) Probable cause to arrest; (2) adequacy of implied consent advisory

 

HELD: Russell observed Fisher speeding and running a red light. Russell also had slurred speech and bloodshot eyes, and he smelled strongly of alcohol. Under the totality of the circumstances, there was substantial competent evidence to support the district court's conclusion that Russell had reasonable grounds to believe that Fisher was driving under the influence. The DC-70 form given to Fisher did not tell him that he had a constitutional right to refuse to submit to the test. An arresting officer must substantially comply with statutory notice provisions. In this case, Russell substantially complied by providing the implied consent notices from the revised DC-70 form. Fisher is correct that a driver is not required to consent to a requested test. But the use of the word "requires" in the statute is not by itself unduly coercive. The text, when read in its entirety, clearly informs drivers that they have the right to refuse testing.

 

STATUTES: K.S.A. 2016 Supp. 8-1001(a), -1001(k), -1020(q); K.S.A. 2014 Supp. 8-1025

 

DUIEXCLUSIONARY RULE
JOHNSON V. KANSAS DEPARTMENT OF REVENUE
COWLEY DISTRICT COURT
AFFIRMED
NO. 119,151
JULY 17, 2020

 

FACTS: Trooper LaVelle responded to reports of a one-vehicle accident. He waited on the scene while EMS treated Johnson, the driver. As EMS was walking Johnson to his car, LaVelle noticed that Johnson was swaying as he walked. EMS told LaVelle that Johnson had given the wrong birth date while in the ambulance, and they noticed that he smelled strongly of alcohol. LaVelle noticed the same thing, along with bloodshot eyes. Johnson failed the field sobriety tests that he performed. As a result. LaVelle arrested Johnson and gave him a copy of the DC-70 form before asking him to submit to an evidentiary breath test. Johnson agreed to the breath test, which revealed that his breath alcohol level was over the legal limit. Johnson received the DC-27 form and his driver's license was suspended. The Kansas Department of Revenue affirmed the suspension, so Johnson sought judicial review. The district court found that the encounter between LaVelle and Johnson was appropriate, and Johnson appealed.

 

ISSUES: (1) Reasonable grounds to request a breath test; (2) due process violation

 

HELD: In order to request an evidentiary breath test, LaVelle needed to have reasonable grounds to believe that Johnson was driving under the influence and Johnson had to be under arrest, in custody, or involved in a car accident. In this case, Johnson was in an accident which damaged property. There was also probable cause that Johnson was driving under the influence, and the district court reviewed the evidence under the correct standard. The district court's decision was supported by substantial competent evidence, and the appellate court will not reweigh the evidence. It is undisputed that some of the information contained in the implied consent advisory was later declared unconstitutional. But criminal DUI law does not apply herespecifically, the exclusionary rule has no application in an administrative license proceeding. And even if it did, the good faith exception would apply here. Johnson failed to prove that he suffered a violation of his procedural due process rights. And any substantive due process analysis must be specifically analyzed under the Fourth Amendment. Johnson could not prove that he suffered a substantive due process injury under the Fourth Amendment.

 

STATUTES: K.S.A. 2015 Supp. 8-1001, -1002(a); K.S.A. 77-621(a)(1), -621(c)

 

IMPLIED CONSENT—JURISDICTION
SANDATE V. KANSAS DEPARTMENT OF REVENUE
JOHNSON DISTRICT COURT—AFFIRMED
NO. 119,514—JULY 17, 2020

 

FACTS: Officer Jordan was driving behind Sandate and noticed that he was not maintaining a lane or signaling lane changes. Jordan initiated a traffic stop and arrested Sandate, who admitted to consuming alcohol, showed signs of impairment, failed field sobriety tests and refused a preliminary breath test. Jordan gave Sandate the appropriate DC-70 form when requesting the test and the appropriate DC-27 form after the refusal. The Kansas Department of Revenue affirmed the suspension, as did the district court after Sandate requested judicial review. Sandate appealed.

 

ISSUES: (1) Subject matter jurisdiction; (2) substantial compliance of the DC-70 form; (3) use of the word "require"

 

HELD: Although other panels of the court of appeals have found otherwise, the district court did have subject matter jurisdiction. Any given court of appeals panel is not bound by another panel's decision. Each panel conducts an independent analysis and comes to its own conclusion. The DC-27 form has two components: notification and certification. It acts like a charging document and charging documents do not bestow or confer subject matter jurisdiction and defects in a complaint do not deprive a court of power to hear the case. KDOR had jurisdiction to suspend Sandate's driver's license. Sandate did not properly preserve for review part of his argument. The evidence before the district court shows that Jordan substantially complied with K.S.A. 2016 Supp. 8-1001(k), and Kansas has never required strict compliance. Although the DC-70 uses the word "require", it is not coercive.

 

STATUTES: K.S.A. 2019 Supp. 8-259, -1001(k), -1002, -1002(a), -1020; K.S.A. 2016 Supp. 8-1001(k), -1002(a), -1002(f)

 

 

Tags:  attorneys  constitutional law  criminal law  criminal procedure  DUI  evidence  exclusionary rule  implied consent  juries  jurisdiction  mental competency  motions  postconviction relief  search and seizure  Sedgwick District Court  Shawnee District Court  statutes  Sumner District Court 

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July 10, 2020 Digests

Posted By Administration, Monday, July 13, 2020

Kansas Supreme Court

Civil

ADOPTION
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)

JURISDICTION—TAXATION
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.

criminal

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 

criminal procedure—juries—motions—statutes
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

  CRIMINAL

criminal procedure—evidence—juries—motions—sentencing
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

 

 

 

 

 

Tags:  adoption  appellate procedure  board of tax appeals  criminal procedure  evidence  juries  jurisdiction  motions  procedures  Riley District Court  Sedgwick District Court  sentencing  statutes  taxation 

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June 5, 2020 Digests

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, June 9, 2020

Kansas Supreme Court

 

Civil

TRUSTS
IN RE ST. CLAIR TRUST REFORMATION
SEDGWICK DISTRICT COURT—AFFIRMED
NO. 120,050—JUNE 5, 2020

FACTS: Jill St. Clair executed a trust agreement in September 2003. St. Clair's husband, William, was named a life beneficiary of the trust's income. Upon his death, the trust's income would be distributed to Jill and William's children and grandchildren, with the principal eventually being distributed to the grandchildren or their estates. William had previously created his own trust with an identical distribution scheme. Both trusts were funded with identical amounts, and both trusts were prepared by the same attorney. Mr. Davidson drafted the trusts to make sure that the trust assets were not included in either William or Jill's taxable estates. At the time the trust was executed, Jill believed it contained the necessary provisions for the trust assets to be excluded from both taxable estates. Unfortunately, the trust contained a drafting error which resulted in the trusts becoming reciprocal, with the assets of Jill's trust being included in William's estate upon his demise, and vice versa. The trust as written did not accurately express Jill's intent. In order to correct the drafting error, Jill and her trustee petitioned the district court for an order reforming Jill's trust to include provisions which would prevent the trusts from becoming reciprocal. The proposed amendment was served on all beneficiaries, with no objection. The district court ordered that the trust be reformed to correct the scrivener's error.

ISSUE: (1) Whether trust should have been reformed

HELD: The district court's decision was appealed in order to satisfy the requirements of Commissioner v. Estate of Bosch, and the case was transferred from the Kansas Court of Appeals. The record on appeal shows that Jill and the trustee demonstrated by clear and convincing evidence that Jill's intent in creating and funding the trust was adversely affected by a drafting error, making it necessary to reform the trust. Reformation destroys the economic symmetry of the trusts, allowing the trust to be consistent with Jill's original intent. The reformation is affirmed.

STATUTES: K.S.A. 2018 Supp. 20-3017; K.S.A. 58a-415

criminal

appeals—criminal procedure—evidence—juries—verdicts
state v. brown
cowley district court—affirmed; court of appeals—reversed
no. 115,817—june 5, 2020

FACTS: State charged Brown with attempted second-degree intentional murder. District court instructed jury on that charge and the lesser offense of attempted voluntary manslaughter. Verdict form returned by the jury, however, found “the defendant guilty of the lesser offense of attempted involuntary manslaughter as set forth in Instruction No. 7,” an instruction that referred to the correct crime of attempted voluntary manslaughter. This verdict inconsistency was not caught until sentencing, well after jury was discharged. District court sentenced Brown for the instructed crime, attempted voluntary manslaughter. Brown appealed. In unpublished opinion, Court of Appeals reversed and remanded for a new trial on that count, holding the written language of the verdict controlled and district court was powerless to deviate from its literal meaning. Panel in a strikingly similar case held the district court could reasonably interpret the verdict in light of the record. State v. Rice, (2011)(unpublished opinion). State’s petition for review granted to resolve this panel split.

ISSUE: Ambiguous verdict

HELD: Based on Kansas caselaw and persuasive decisions from other jurisdictions, general approach in Rice is correct. Lower court’s decision is reversed with caution. An ambiguous verdict can be reasonably interpreted in light of the charging document, jury instructions, and record as a whole to determine and give effect to jury’s intent. When such intent is clear, a mistaken description of the crime of conviction contained in the verdict form may be discarded as surplusage when the verdict form also refers to the correct charge by pointing back to the charging document or the jury instruction. The strong presumption in favor of the literal text of the jury verdict as the surest guide to jury’s intentions can only be overcome when the record as a whole clearly demonstrates a different intent and district court is convinced beyond a reasonable doubt that portions of the verdict text are inconsistent with that intent. An appellate court’s review of a district court’s application of the surplusage rule is de novo. In this case, district court did not err when it discarded the “in-“ prefix from the verdict form as mere surplusage.

STATUTE: K.S.A. 22-3421

criminal procedure—evidence—motions
state v. hachmeister
shawnee district court—affirmed
no. 114,796—june 5, 2020

FACTS: Hachmeister was convicted of premeditated murder for killing his mother. On appeal he claimed the district court abused its discretion by admitting evidence under K.S.A. 60-455 of mother thinking that Hachmeister had stolen her wedding ring, and of child pornography found on Hachmeister’s computer and the charges associated with that possession.  He also claimed eight instances of error during prosecutor’s closing argument.

ISSUES: (1) K.S.A. 60-455 evidence; (2) prosecutorial error

HELD: No error in district court’s admission of the 60-455 evidence. Probative value of the wedding ring evidence substantially outweighed any prejudice where the confrontation surrounding the missing wedding ring was key evidence of motive. And evidence of child pornography on Hachmeister’s computer and charges for possessing this porn was extremely probative in identifying Hachmeister as author of anonymous letters written by the “real killer.”

            Each allegation of prosecutorial error is examined finding only one error. Prosecutor’s comment that victim “could breathe just fine” exceeded the prosecutor’s ability to draw inferences from the evidence. This error was harmless in light of the trial as a whole and the overwhelming evidence against Hachmeister..

STATUTES: K.S.A. 2019 Supp. 60-455(b)

Tags:  appeals  Cowley District Court  criminal procedure  evidence  juries  motions  Sedgwick District Court  Shawnee District Court  verdicts 

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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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March 27, 2020 Digests

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Kansas Supreme Court

criminal

appeals—constitutional law—criminal law—criminal procedure—
evidence—juries—jury instruction—statutes
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

Civil

DIVORCE—PROPERTY DIVISION
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)

criminal

criminal law—statutes
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)

appeals—criminal procedure—discovery—evidence—jurisdiction
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

 

Tags:  appeals  constitutional law  criminal law  criminal procedure  discovery  divorce  evidence  juries  jurisdiction  jury instructions  property division  Saline District Court  Sedgwick District Court  statutes  Wyandotte District Court 

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December 6, 2019 Digests

Posted By Administration, Monday, December 9, 2019

Kansas Supreme Court

 

Attorney Discipline

ONE-YEAR SUSPENSION, STAYED DURING AN EXTENDED PROBATION
IN RE ANDREW M. DELANEY
NO. 121,208
DECEMBER 6, 2019

FACTS: A hearing panel determined that Delaney violated KRPC 1.1 (competence); 1.3 (diligence); 1.4(a) (communication); and 1.7(a) (conflict of interest). Delaney was placed on probation in November 2014 and remained on probation at the time these matters arose. The allegations of new discipline involved Delaney's representation of a client in a divorce action and his failure to free his client from debt on a vehicle retained by the ex-spouse. In addition, Delaney failed to properly negotiate a plea agreement on behalf of three other clients, none of whom were aware of the potential conflict of interest.

HEARING PANEL: The hearing panel found facts sufficient to sustain all alleged rule violations. The panel found several aggravating factors, including prior discipline. But there were also mitigating circumstances such as the absence of a dishonest motive and some mental health issues. The disciplinary administrator recommended a one-year suspension, with that suspension suspended so that Delaney's probation could be extended for two years. This recommendation was joined by Delaney and his counsel, and the panel determined that the probation plan proposed by Delaney was workable and appropriate.

HELD: In the absence of any exceptions, the hearing panel's findings of fact and conclusions were accepted. After hearing arguments, a majority of the court agreed that the probation plan proposed by the disciplinary administrator and Delaney was appropriate. Delaney's license to practice law in Kansas was suspended for one year, with that suspension stayed in favor of a two-year term of probation. A minority of the court would have imposed a less severe sanction.

ORDER OF DISBARMENT
IN RE JOAN M. HAWKINS
NO. 121,064—DECEMBER 6, 2019

FACTS: After Hawkins failed to participate or appear, a hearing panel found that Hawkins violated KRPC 1.3 (diligence); 1.15(a) and (b) (safekeeping property); 1.16(d) (termination of representation); 8.1(b) (failure to respond to disciplinary authority); Rule 207(b) (failure to cooperate in disciplinary investigation); Rule 211(b) (failure to answer in disciplinary proceeding); and Rule 218(a) (failure to file motion to withdraw upon suspension). The allegations arose after Hawkins failed to file pleadings on behalf of clients. In addition, Hawkins was suspended but failed to withdraw or take the steps required of her during the suspension. In addition, Hawkins made deposits into her attorney trust account even after she was suspended, and she paid personal bills directly out of her trust account.

HEARING PANEL: Hawkins failed to appear or participate in the hearing panel process. This failure, combined with the evidence presented to the hearing panel, resulted in the disciplinary administrator seeking discipline of either indefinite suspension or disbarment. The hearing panel recommended that Hawkins be disbarred.

HELD: The Clerk of the Supreme Court made repeated efforts to serve Hawkins with the notice of hearing. All certified mail was returned unclaimed and an attempt to make personal service was similarly unsuccessful. The court found that adequate notice was given of both the formal complaint and the hearing. Because Hawkins did not participate, panel's findings of fact and conclusions of law were deemed admitted. And in the absence of an appearance at the disciplinary hearing, the court adopted the disciplinary administrator's recommendation that Hawkins be disbarred.

Court Reporter Discipline

PUBLIC REPRIMAND
IN RE APRIL C. SHEPARD
CCR NO. 1318 – DECEMBER 6, 2019

FACTS: April Shepard works as a court reporter in Wyandotte County. She previously served in that capacity in Shawnee County. In June 2018, the State Board of Examiners of Court Reporters filed a formal complaint against Shepard alleging a violation of Board Rule No. 9.F.9. The facts showed that Shepard worked as a court reporter on a high-profile murder trial. After the defendant's conviction was overturned on appeal, a newspaper article quoted from Facebook posts made by Shepard in which she opined that the defendant was guilty and would be convicted again. Shepard admitted that she made the posts but defended herself by claiming that she behaved in an impartial manner during the trial and noted that she no longer worked for Shawnee County.

BOARD: The Board's disciplinary counsel asked that Shepard be subjected to public discipline, in order to provide transparency and increase public confidence in the profession. Shepard asked that any discipline be private, noting that she stipulated to the rule violation and arguing that her conduct was not severe enough to warrant public discipline. After considering arguments, the Board recommended that Shepard receive a public reprimand.

HELD: In the absence of objections, the Board's findings and conclusions were adopted. The court found that Shepard's conduct was egregious and damaging to the profession, but also noted that she cooperated with the investigation and admitted to wrongdoing. The court agreed that a public reprimand was the appropriate discipline.

Civil

EMINENT DOMAIN—INVERSE CONDEMNATION—JURISDICTION
GFTLENEXA, LLC V. CITY OF LENEXA
JOHNSON DISTRICT COURT—AFFIRMED
NO. 119,278—DECEMBER 6, 2019

FACTS: Through a series of leases and subleases, GFTLenexa ended up as the landlord of a Bridgestone tire dealer. In October 2013, the City of Lenexa filed a condemnation action with the goal of making street improvements and creating a permanent public utility easement. The district court granted the condemnation request and paid appropriate compensation to affected parties; neither GFTLenexa nor Bridgestone participated and neither was awarded compensation. A year later, Bridgestone sought declaratory judgment against GFTLenexa claiming it was entitled to reduced rent because the property had been partially condemned. The district court dismissed the action on GFTLenexa's motion for summary judgment on the theory that GFTLenexa did not receive any proceeds from the condemnation. The Court of Appeals reversed and remanded and on remand, the district court ordered GFTLenexa to both reduce Bridgestone's monthly rent and refund past overpayments. This decision prompted GFTLenexa to file an inverse condemnation action against the City for a loss of its intangible property rights. The district court granted the City's motion for summary judgment. GFTLenexa filed a notice of appeal to the Kansas Supreme Court.

ISSUES: (1) Jurisdiction; (2) need for inverse condemnation

HELD: Inverse condemnation actions are not creatures of statute. K.S.A. 2018 Supp. 26-504 requires that appeals in eminent domain cases go directly to the Kansas Supreme Court. Inverse condemnation actions are not eminent domain actions, and cases involving an inverse condemnation must be filed in the court of appeals. Even though the case was filed in the wrong court, the court exercises its power of concurrent jurisdiction to rule on the controversy before it rather than transfer it to the court of appeals. The eminent domain petition did not name GFTLenexa as a party and GFTLenexa chose not to participate in the process. The City's failure to name GFTLenexa is not determinative; GFTLenexa could have—and should have—sought to intervene in the condemnation. Requiring the City to pay again in an inverse condemnation action violates the undivided fee rule.

STATUTES: Kansas Constitution, Article 3, § 3; K.S.A. 2018 Supp. 26-504; K.S.A. 20-3018(a), 26-517, 60-2101(a), -2101(b)

criminal 

criminal procedure—motions—sentences—statutes
state v. carpenter
sedgwick district court—affirmed; court of appeals—affirmed
no. 115,713—december 6, 2019

FACTS: Complaint charged Carpenter of burglary, theft, and criminal damage to property. A separate complaint charged February 2008 offenses of aggravated indecent liberties with a child and criminal sodomy. Carpenter convicted on all charges. District court’s pronouncement stated a 55 month underlying sentence and 36 months of post-release supervision, but journal entry reflected lifetime postrelease supervision in case involving sexually violent offenses. Probation revoked two years later, with imposition of underlying sentence and lifetime postrelease supervision. Carpenter filed motion to correct illegal sentence by confirming the orally pronounced sentence of 36 months’ postrelease supervision, distinguishing postrelease for persons sent to prison versus those granted probation. State argued the lifetime postrelease supervision was mandatory and the 36-month supervision itself was illegal. District court agreed and denied the motion. Court of Appeals affirmed in unpublished opinion. Review granted. While appeal was pending, parties ordered to show cause why sole issue on review was not controlled by State v. Brook, 309 Kan. 780 (2019).

ISSUE: (1) Lifetime postrelease supervision under K.S.A. 22-3717(d)(1)

HELD: District court and Court of Appeals are affirmed based on Brook. Due to nature and timing of his offenses, Carpenter is subject to lifetime postrelease supervision under K.S.A. 22-3717. For determining length of postrelease supervision, Legislature clearly distinguished between categories of sexually violent offenses in K.S.A. 22-3717(d)(1)(D) and (G) based on date of their commission, not by sentences of probation versus prison. K.S.A. 22-3717(d)(1)(G) applies to persons convicted of a sexually violent crime committed on or after July 1, 2006. There are no persons convicted of a sexually violent crime on or after that date to whom both subsection K.S.A. 22-3717(d)(1)(A) and subsection (d)(1)(G) apply. Construing the statute as a whole and giving effect to all subsections, there is no conflict or ambiguity in K.S.A. 22-3717(d)(1).

STATUTES: K.S.A. 2015 Supp. 22-3717(d)(1); K.S.A. 2013 Supp. 22-3717(d)(1); K.S.A.20-3018(b), 21-4704, 22-3504, -3717, -3717(d)(1), -3717(d)(1)(A), -3717(d)(1)(G), -3717(d)(2)(C), -3717(d)(2)(D), 60-2101(b)

criminal law—criminal procedure—evidence—jury instructions
state v. claerhout
johnson district court—affirmed; court of appeals—affirmed
no. 115,227—december 6, 2019

FACTS: Claerhout was convicted of reckless driving and second-degree murder for unintentional but reckless homicide. District court allowed State to introduce Claerhout’s prior diversion agreement for purpose under K.S.A. 60-455(b); allowed an officer to evaluate the relative speeds of the two vehicles at the time of collision; and denied Claerhout’s request for voluntary intoxication instruction. On appeal Claerhout challenged:  (1) admission of the K.S.A. 60-455 evidence; (2) officer’s qualification to testify about scientific and mathematical conclusions; and (3) denial of the requested instruction. Court of appeals affirmed, 54 Kan.App. 2d 742 (2017). Review granted on all issues.

ISSUES: (1) Evidence of prior diversion agreement; (2) expert testimony; (3) voluntary intoxication instruction

HELD: Claerhout’s diversion agreement had probative value that outweighed its prejudicial effect. Statutory requirements and specific details outlined in a diversion for driving under the influence essentially serve the same purpose as a conviction in showing its relevance. In this case, any deficiency in district court’s abbreviated evaluation of possible prejudicial effect was harmless. No need at this time to decide how little or how much analysis a district count must display to satisfy due process mandates in State v. Boysaw, 309 Kan. 526 (2019), but courts are encouraged to state on the record the factors considered in weighing the admissibility of K.S.A. 60-455 evidence.

Kansas Supreme Court has not previously ruled on the degree to which an expert must be able to demonstrate knowledge of the principles underlying the expert’s expertise. It is not necessary that an expert witness demonstrate expertise in every theory, principle or scientific discipline underlying the knowledge, skill, experience, training or education that may qualify an expert witness to give testimony. Background of officer in this case sufficed to meet the statutory requirements for qualification as an expert witness.

The requested voluntary intoxication instruction was not factually appropriate. Voluntary intoxication is not a defense to reckless second-degree murder. Claerhout’s theory, that evidence of his intoxication tends to show he could not attain a reckless state of mind because of impaired mental function, is rejected. Instead, cited cases show common thread of courts treating intoxication as evidence of recklessness.

STATUTES: K.S.A. 2018 Supp. 8-1567(i)(1), -1567(i)(6), 21-5403(a)(2), -5403(b)(2), 60-455(a), -455(b), -456(b); K.S.A. 2016 Supp. 60-455(b); K.S.A. 60-455

criminal procedure—motions—postconviction remedies—statutes
state v. fox
cherokee district court—affirmed
No. 115,247—december 6, 2019

FACTS: In 2013, Fox filed a K.S.A. 22-3210 motion to withdraw his 1982 guilty plea, arguing in part for equitable tolling of the limitation period. District court denied the motion as untimely filed with no showing of excusable neglect. Fox appealed, further arguing he had been imprisoned in Florida for several years without access to a phone or library materials about Kansas law. He also claimed manifest injustice, citing ineffective assistance of counsel, duplicitous charges, and jurisdictional claims.

ISSUE: (1) Statue of limitations—excusable neglect

HELD: Grace period in 2009 amendment to K.S.A. 22-3210 allowed Fox until April 2010 to file his motion. District court did not abuse its discretion in finding Fox did not establish excusable neglect to permit his untimely filing. No facts support equitable tolling of the limitation period where Fox was held in a Kansas prison about seven years before the statute of limitations ran.  No need to address whether Fox established manifest injustice.

STATUTES: K.S.A. 2018 Supp. 22-3210, -3210(d)(2), -3210(e)(1), -3210(e)(2), -3601(b); K.S.A. 60-1507

criminal procedure—juries—jury instructions—motions—trials
state v. pruitt
Butler District Court—affirmed
NO. 118,448—december 6, 2019

FACTS: Pruitt was convicted of first-degree premeditated murder. On appeal he claimed: (1) prosecutor error during closing argument; (2) judge should have instructed jury on lesser included offenses of reckless second-degree murder and reckless voluntary manslaughter, (3) erroneous instructions foreclosed jury’s power of nullification; (4) a new trial should have been granted because one juror slept during part of the proceedings; and (5) cumulative error denied him a fair trial.  

ISSUES: (1) Prosecutorial error; (2) instructions on lesser included offenses; (3) instructions regarding jury nullification; (4) motion for new trial—juror misconduct; (5) cumulative error

HELD: Prosecutor’s statement in summing up testimony about the alleged murder weapon, “This seems to be the shotgun, folks. I don’t think there’s a lot of question about that at this point,” was an impermissible personal opinion; but no reversible error in this case. Prosecutor’s statement that victim deserved jurors’ “consideration” was not error where statement’s context demonstrates that prosecutor was not attempting to invoke jury’s sympathy. Prosecutor’s statement, “Folks, if you’re convinced beyond a reasonable doubt that those three elements exist, you must find the defendant guilty of murder in the first degree, as he has been charged,” was not an impermissible misstatement of the law because it forbade jury nullification. A prosecutor’s closing argument is distinguished from court instructions.  

Even if error is assumed in district judge’s failure to give sua sponte two reckless homicide instructions, no reversible clear error on facts in this case.

District judge’s instructions to jury did not direct a verdict of conviction or prevent jury nullification, and were correct statements of the law and not erroneous under State v. Boothby, 310 Kan. 619 (2019).

Under facts in this case, district judge did not abuse his discretion in finding no fundamental failure due to jury misconduct occurred in defendant’s trial.

Errors found or assumed in this case did not cumulatively prejudice Pruitt and deprive him of a fair trial.   

STATUTE: K.S.A. 2018 Supp. 21-5109(b)(1), -5202(c)

Tags:  attorney discipline  Butler District  Cherokee District Court  court reporter discipline  criminal law  criminal procedure  eminent domain  evidence  inverse condemnation  Johnson District Court  juries  jurisdiction  jury instructions  motions  postconviction remedies  sentences  statutes  trials 

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December 15, 2017 Digests

Posted By Administration, Monday, December 18, 2017

Kansas Supreme Court

criminal

constitutional law—criminal procedures—statutes
state v. amos
wyandotte district court—affirmed
No. 115,925—december 15, 2017

FACTS: Amos’ 1999 convictions of first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit aggravated robbery were affirmed on direct appeal. In 2015, he filed a motion to correct an illegal sentence, seeking relief under 2014 Kansas decisions and under 2013 legislation (now codified at K.S.A. 2016 Supp. 21-6620) enacted in response to Alleyne v. United States, 570 U.S. 99 (2013), to require jury findings before an enhanced mandatory minimum sentence can be imposed for first-degree murder. District court summarily denied the motion. Amos appealed, arguing for the first time that K.S.A. 2016 Supp. 21-6620(f), which makes the 2013 amendment inapplicable to sentences that were final before June 17, 2013, violates the Equal Protection Clause.

ISSUE: Motion to correct illegal sentence

HELD: A claim that a sentence is illegal because it violates the constitution cannot be brought via K.S.A. 22-3504(1). Nor can a K.S.A. 22-3504(1) motion to correct an illegal sentence serve as the procedural vehicle for attacking the constitutionality of K.S.A. 2016 Supp. 21-6620(f). Impact of 2017 amendment of K.S.A. 22-3504 is not considered in this case.

STATUTES: K.S.A. 2016 Supp. 21-6620, -6620(f); K.S.A. 22-3504(1)

criminal

constitutional law—criminal procedure—sentencing
state v. campbell
sedgwick district court—affirmed
No. 114,814—december 15, 2017

FACTS: Campbell was convicted in 1996 of first-degree murder and multiple crimes. In calculating criminal history for application of the Kansas Sentencing Guidelines Act (KSGA), district court classified several of Campbell’s out-of-state convictions as person felonies. In 2015, Campbell filed motion to correct an illegal sentence, citing State v. Murdock, 299 Kan. 312 (2014). District court summarily denied relief, refusing to apply Murdock retroactively. Murdock was later overruled by State v. Keel, 302 Kan. 560 (2015). Campbell appealed claiming: (1) his sentence was illegal under Murdock; (2) application of Keel to Campbell’s motion violated the Ex Post Facto Clause; (3) KSGA’s person/nonperson classification of pre-KSGA offenses violates the Sixth Amendment; and (4) summary denial of his motion denied him his right under K.S.A. 22-3504(1) to a hearing. Appeal transferred to the Kansas Supreme Court.

ISSUES: (1) Classification of out-of-state convictions, (2) Ex Post Facto Clause, (3) Sixth Amendment, (4) summary denial

HELD: Campbell was not entitled to have his out-of-state convictions classified as nonperson offenses under Murdock which was overruled by Keel, and is not entitled to relief under holding in Keel. Impact of 2017 amendment of K.S.A. 22-3504 is not addressed.

Application of Keel in this case does not violate the Ex Post Facto Clause. The 1993 statutes interpreted in Keel were in effect when Campbell committed crimes in 1996. They are not laws that increased the potential punishment after Campbell’s crimes were committed.

Holding in State v. Collier, 306 Kan. 521 (2017), defeats Campbell’s Sixth Amendment claim.

Campbell mistakenly relies on 2017 amendment to K.S.A. 22-3504 which was not effective until after Campbell’s hearing. Under law that applied at the time of Campbell’s hearing, he had no right to be present for the court’s preliminary review or to demand a hearing at which he could be present.

STATUTES:  K.S.A. 2016 Supp. 21-6810(d), -6810(e), 22-3601(b)(3); K.S.A. 1993 Supp. 21-4710; K.S.A. 21-4711, 22-3504, -3504(1)

criminal

criminal procedure—juries—prosecutors—sentencing
state v. hilt
johnson district court—affirmed
No. 114,682—december 15, 2017

FACTS: Hilt was convicted of first-degree murder. Conviction affirmed, but hard-50 sentence vacated and remanded for resentencing in accord with Alleyne v. United States, 570 U.S. 99 (2013). On remand, district court replaced a juror who had consulted a high school yearbook in violation of the court’s repeated admonitions, and was not forthright when questioned. District court imposed hard-50 sentence pursuant to jury’s verdict. Hilt appealed claiming: (1) district court’s removal of the juror during deliberation was error because the juror was not doing internet research on the case, and the juror’s failure to be forthright was not a proper basis for dismissal; (2) prosector erred during closing argument by telling jury that its role was to determine whether Hilt would get hard 50 sentence or be eligible for parole in 25 years, and telling jury it did not have to determine which blows to the victim were inflicted by Hilt and which were inflicted by co-defendants; and (3) the district court’s pronouncement of sentence was illegal and violated his right to be present at sentencing

ISSUES: (1) Removal of juror, (2) prosecutorial error, (3) pronouncement of sentence

HELD: No abuse of district court’s discretion to remove and replace a juror. Under facts in case, juror who consulted the yearbook violated the judge’s admonitions to do no investigation of any matter outside the courtroom. Judge’s express skepticism of the juror’s honesty was not an independent basis for removal and replacement.

Statutory subsections governing Hilt’s crime made a hard-50 sentence mandatory once a jury found beyond a reasonable doubt that an aggravating circumstance existed that was not outweighed by any applicable mitigating circumstances. District judge had no discretion to deviate from the jury’s hard-50 verdict, and prosecutor did not misstate the law. Nor did prosecutor misstate the law by telling jurors they could vote for hard-50 sentence even if State did not prove which co-defendant inflicted specific blows or wounds.

District judge’s statements in open court, that appropriateness of imposing the hard-50 sentence was the jury’s decision which the court was going to follow and impose, did not create an illegal ambiguity in the length of Hilt’s sentence or violate his right to be present at sentencing.

STATUTES: K.S.A. 2016 Supp. 21-6620(c), -6620(d), -6620(e), -6620(e)(1), -6620(e)(5), -6623, -6624(f), -6625, -6625(a), -6625(a)(4), 22-3405, -3412(c); K.S.A. 2013 Supp. 21-6620, -6624;  K.S.A. 22-3424, -3504(3)

criminal

crimes and punishment—criminal procedure—juries—sentencing
state v. ruiz-ascencio
lyon district court—convictions affirmed—sentence vacated in part— remanded
No. 115,343—december 15, 2017

FACTS: Ruiz-Ascencio was convicted of attempted first-degree murder, first-degree murder, aggravated assault, and illegal use of a communication facility. District court imposed hard-25 sentence for first-degree murder, prison terms for the other three offenses, and lifetime post-release supervision on all four counts. Ruiz-Ascencio appealed claiming the district court: (1) erred by not instructing jury on voluntary manslaughter for the first-degree murder and attempted first-degree murder charges because both victims were shot during a sudden quarrel; and (2) imposed an illegal sentence by ordering lifetime post-release supervision on each count.

ISSUES: (1) Jury instructions, (2) sentencing

HELD: Kansas cases are reviewed. Under facts in this case, a voluntary manslaughter instruction was not factually appropriate. No facts or reasonable inferences that can be drawn therefrom to suggest a sudden quarrel, or that Ruiz-Ascencio otherwise acted in a heat of passion. One victim’s words or gestures were not enough to constitute legally sufficient provocation.

State concedes error in sentencing. Judgment imposing lifetime post-release supervision on all four counts is vacated as contrary to K.S.A. 2016 Supp. 22-3717. Remanded for resentencing.   

CONCURRENCE (Johnson, J.): Concurs in the result.

STATUTES: K.S.A. 2016 Supp. 21-5404(1), 22-3717, -3717(b)(2)(C), -3717(d)(1)(A), -3717(d)(1)(C); K.S.A. 21-5404, 22-3504

Kansas Court of Appeals

CIVIL

LIMITATION OF ACTIONS—TORTS
BONNETTE V. TRIPLE D AUTO PARTS
HAMILTON DISTRICT COURT—AFFIRMED
NO. 116,578—DECEMBER 15, 2017

FACTS: Triple D Auto Parts purchased its store in 1990. At that time, the building's exterior had not changed since its construction in 1925. One feature of the exterior was a step down from the entrance/exit door to the sidewalk. Bonnette, who was a regular customer, fell when leaving the store and badly broke her wrist. Although she had navigated the step on dozens of occasions, she alleged that she fell because she could not see the step. Bonnette filed suit against Triple D, claiming negligence. Triple D responded by claiming that it was protected by the statute of repose. The district court granted Triple D's motion for summary judgment on those grounds, and this appeal followed.

ISSUES: (1) Applicability of the statute of repose; (2) duty to warn

HELD: The facts show that Triple D failed to warn Bonnette about the dangerous step. Because the duty to warn is an ongoing duty, that duty was breached on the day Bonnette was injured. This ongoing duty prevents application of the statute of repose.  But, Bonnette had actual knowledge of the step, and the danger was open and obvious. There is no evidence that Bonnette was distracted when leaving the store. Because Triple D did not have a duty to warn it is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.

STATUTES: K.S.A. 60-513, -513(b)

Tags:  constitutional law  criminal procedure  Hamilton  juries  limitations of actions  Lyon  procedures  prosecutors  Sedgwick  sentencing  statutes  torts  Wyandotte 

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December 5, 2017 Digests

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Kansas Supreme Court

Attorney Discipline

ORDER OF INDEFINITE SUSPENSION
IN THE MATTER OF HARRY LOUIS NAJIM
NO. 116,943 – DECEMBER 1, 2017
 

FACTS: This disciplinary matter arose after Najim was caught offering to provide legal services to an undercover agent engaged in a conspiracy to commit wire fraud and contraband cigarette trafficking. Najim's retainer was paid in cash, and Najim did not notify his law firm about the payment in excess of $10,000 cash so that it could report the payment to the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network. The failure to report is a Class D federal felony, and after a conviction a hearing panel determined that Najim violated Rule 8.4(b) (commission of a criminal act reflecting adversely on the lawyer's honesty).

HEARING PANEL: Najim pled guilty to one of the 44 counts that were filed against him in federal court. But after the disciplinary administrator filed its complaint, Najim denied that his conduct violated Rule 8.4(b). The disciplinary administrator asked that Najim's license be suspended indefinitely, retroactive to a temporary suspension that was entered after criminal charged were first filed. Najim thought that a 2-year suspension was appropriate, retroactive to May 2015. A majority of the hearing panel ultimately recommended that Najim be suspended for three years, with suspension running from the date of the Supreme Court's opinion.

HELD: Although Najim disputes the idea that he committed a crime, the record of criminal judgment was admitted into evidence during the disciplinary hearing. That judgment is conclusive evidence that a crime was committed. And the crime of which Najim was convicted was one of dishonesty. The evidence before the court warrants an indefinite suspension from the practice of law.

THREE-YEAR SUSPENSION
IN THE MATTER OF BRANDY L SUTTON
NO. 117,395 – DECEMBER 1, 2017

FACTS: A hearing panel found that Brandy L. Sutton violated KRPC 8.4(c) (engaging in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation). The complaint arose after a former employee accused Sutton of failing to make promised contributions to that employee's individual retirement account. A review by the employee revealed a shortfall of almost $9,000. Sutton disputed the amount but acknowledged there were some shortfalls which were caused by the law firm's financial distress. And, Sutton claimed, that distress was caused by the employee's negligence.

HEARING PANEL: After being notified of these issues, Sutton made whole not only the complaining employee but also other employees whose IRAs were not properly funded. The disciplinary administrator asked that Sutton be indefinitely suspended, although he acknowledged that a shorter term might be appropriate. Sutton asked that she be allowed to continue practicing law, subject to a probation plan. The hearing panel agreed with Sutton that probation was a good option for Sutton.

HELD: The hearing panel's findings were adopted. The court found that Sutton's behavior was, essentially, conversion, and that conversion historically warrants a more severe sanction than probation. Accordingly, a majority of the court elected to impose a three-year suspension, subject to lifting the suspension after six months upon application. A minority of the court would have approved the probationary plan suggested by the hearing panel.

 

Civil

NEGLIGENCE – TORTS
MCELHANEY V. THOMAS
RILEY DISTRICT COURT – 
AFFIRMED IN PART, REVERSED IN PART, REMANDED
COURT OF APPEALS – AFFIRMED IN PART, REVERSED IN PART
NO. 111,590 – DECEMBER 1, 2017

FACTS: Thomas was driving a pick-up truck when he ran over McElhaney's feet in a school parking lot. It is undisputed that Thomas was driving, but there was no agreement about his state of mind at the time. Thomas claimed it was purely an accident. McElhaney testified that Thomas told her that he just meant to "bump" her with the truck. McElhaney brought claims for both negligence and intentional tort theories. She later asked to amend her petition to include a claim for punitive damages, but that request was denied. The district court also dismissed her intentional tort claim, finding there was no evidence of an intent to injure. The Court of Appeals agreed with this assessment. And a majority of the panel upheld the district court's ruling disallowing a claim for punitive damages. This appeal followed after McElhaney's petition for review was granted.

ISSUE: Standard for proving tort of civil battery

HELD: An intent to injure is a necessary element of the tort of battery in Kansas. This includes both the intent to do actual harm and the intent to cause an offensive contact. A person may be guilty of civil battery if the defendant intends to make an offensive contact and bodily harm results. In so ruling, the court does away with the concept of "horseplay" as a legal category. And because McElhaney should have been allowed to bring her battery claim, the district court also erred by not permitting McElhaney to amend her petition and claim punitive damages.

STATUTE: K.S.A. 60-3703

criminal

constitutional law – criminal procedure – sentencing – statutes
state v. simmons
saline district court – affirmed; court of appeals – affirmed
No. 108,885 – december 1, 2017

FACTS: Simmons convicted of drug offense in 2005. Prior to her release on parole, Kansas Offender Registration Act (KORA) was amended to require registration of drug offenders. When Simmons was charged with failing to register, district court found her guilty and ordered payment of $200 DNA database fee. On appeal Simmons claimed: (1) the retroactive application of the KORA registration requirement violated the Ex Post Facto Clause; (2) it was error to impose the DNA database fee because she would have provided a DNA sample before her release on parole; and (3) even if the KORA registration was not punishment, it was part of her 2005 sentence which could not be modified by the executive branch. Court of Appeals affirmed. 50 Kan.App.2d 448 (2014). Simmons’ petition for review granted.

ISSUES: (1) Ex Post Facto Challenge, (2) Modification of Sentence, (3) DNA Database Fee

HELD: Under State v. Petersen–Beard, 304 Kan. 192 (2016), lifetime sex offender registration does not constitute “punishment” for Eighth Amendment and ex post facto challenges. Record in this appeal is insufficient to demonstrate that drug offenders as a class are distinguishable from the class of sex offenders such that KORA registration becomes punitive rather than civil when applied to drug offenders.

Challenge to authority of executive branch to order Simmons to register is issue of first impression. Simmons’ 2005 criminal sentence is not illegal, and has not been “modified” by the post–sentencing registration obligation.

District court did not err by imposing the DNA database fee required by K.S.A. 2012 Supp. 75–724. Simmons failed to show that she previously paid a DNA database fee or that she did not submit a DNA sample for the current offense.

DISSENT (Beier, J., joined by Rosen and Johnson, JJ.): Consistent with dissent in Petersen–Beard, Kansas offender registration requirement is punishment for sex or violent offender, and no less so for drug offender. Simmons met burden of showing an ex post facto violation in this case.

STATUTES: K.S.A. 2012 Supp. 75–724, –724(a)–(b); K.S.A. 22–4901 et seq.

 

appeals – criminal procedure – juries
state v. mcbride
shawnee district court – reversed
court of appeals – reversed
No. 112,277 – december 1, 2017

FACTS: McBride convicted of kidnapping. On appeal he claimed he was denied a fair trial because prosecutor asserted the alleged victim deserved consideration similar to the presumption of innocence constitutionally recognized for criminal defendants. In unpublished opinion, Court of Appeals agreed that this was prosecutorial error but found the error was harmless under State v. Tosh, 278 Kan. 83 (2004). Review granted on this issue.

ISSUE: Prosecutorial Error – Harmless Error

HELD: No cross–petition of panel’s determination that the prosecutor misstated the law, so only issue on appeal is whether this prosecutorial error was harmless. Harmless error inquiry in Tosh was abandoned in State v. Sherman, 305 Kan. 88 (2016). Applying Sherman to facts in this case, where prosecutor improperly tried to bolster victim’s credibility by claiming she deserved a credibility presumption akin to McBride’s presumption of innocence, denied McBride a fair trial. Kidnapping conviction is reversed and case is remanded to district court.

STATUTES: K.S.A. 2016 Supp. 21–5408(a)(3); K.S.A. 20–3018(b), 60–261, –2101(b)

 

criminal procedure – habeas corpus – sentencing
state v. buford
wyandotte district court – affirmed
No. 114,175 – december 1, 2017

FACTS: Buford is serving a life sentence imposed for 1990 felony murder conviction. e filed 2014 motion to correct an illegal sentence, arguing the parole board instituted a new sentence each time it denied him parole, and these “sentences” were illegal because the parole board should have classified his pre–1993 crime as a nonperson felony. District court summarily denied the motion. Buford appealed.

ISSUE: Motion to Correct Illegal Sentence

HELD: The denial of parole is not a sentence, so K.S.A. 22–3504 has no application. Claim is not construed as habeas motion because it is not clear Buford has exhausted administrative remedies.

STATUTES: K.S.A. 22–3504, 60–1501; K.S.A. 21–5401(a), 22–3717(b) (Ensley 1988)

Tags:  appeals  Attorney Discipline  constitutional law  criminal procedure  habeas corpus  juries  negligence  Saline District  sentencing  statutes  torts 

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February 6, 2015, Digests

Posted By Administration, Monday, February 9, 2015
Updated: Thursday, February 13, 2020

Kansas Court of Appeals

Criminal

STATE V. CRABB
SHAWNEE DISTRICT COURT – REVERSED AND REMANDED
NO. 110,673 – FEBRUARY 6, 2015

FACTS: Crabb appeals his conviction of one count of interference with law enforcement for running from a police officer while Crabb was outside of the area of his parole without permission. Crabb claims the district court committed reversible error by using what is commonly known as the "hot-box" method of jury selection over Crabb's objection instead of using the statutory method of jury selection set forth in K.S.A. 22-3411a. He also argues that the district court erred in instructing the jury and that he was denied a fair trial based on prosecutorial misconduct and cumulative error.

ISSUES: (1) Jury selection; (2) jury instructions; (3) prosecutorial misconduct; and (4) cumulative error

HELD: Court reversed Crabb's conviction based on the hot-box jury selection issue. Court held the hot-box method as opposed the method outlined in K.S.A. 22-3411a is erroneous because it requires counsel to exercise their peremptory challenges piecemeal rather than in comparison to the entire panel and after the parties have exercised all peremptory challenges and the final juror is seated in the jury box, that final juror may only be removed for cause. Court also stated the State failed to persuade the court that the error was harmless or make an affirmative showing that the jury selection error did not affect Crabb's substantive rights. Court did not address Crabb's other issues.

STATUTES: K.S.A. 22-3411a, -3412; and K.S.A. 60-261

Tags:  2015  cumulative error  juries  jury instructions  jury selection  prosecutorial misconduct  Shawnee District Court 

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