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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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