Kansas Supreme Court
HABEAS CORPUS—INEFFECTIVE ASSISTANCE OF COUNSEL
KHALIL-ALSALAAMI V. STATE
RILEY DISTRICT COURT—COURT OF APPEALS IS AFFIRMED,
DISTRICT COURT IS REVERSED—CASE REMANDED
NO. 115,184—SEPTEMBER 11, 2020
FACTS: Khalil-Alsalaami was convicted of two counts of aggravated criminal sodomy. At trial, a primary issue was the voluntariness of custodial statements made by Khalil-Alsalaami to law enforcement. Issues included the accuracy of the Miranda warning, the fact that Khalil-Alsalaami's primary language is Arabic, and a question about whether Khalil-Alsalaami knew he was confessing to an actual crime. Trial counsel stipulated that Khalil-Alsalaami's partial confession was knowing and voluntary and did not object when that stipulation was introduced at trial. After an unsuccessful direct appeal, Khalil-Alsalaami filed a K.S.A. 60-1507 motion challenging the effectiveness of his trial counsel. The district court denied the motion, finding that the stipulation and the failure to object to introduction of the agreement was a strategic decision. Khalil-Alsalaami appealed, and the Court of Appeals unanimously reversed and remanded, finding that trial counsel was constitutionally ineffective. The ruling gave particular mention to the failure of law enforcement to provide an interpreter for Khalil-Alsalaami. The State's petition for review was granted.
ISSUES: (1) Deficient performance of trial counsel; (2) prejudice resulting from deficient performance
HELD: The Court does not believe it is necessary to decide whether the lack of an interpreter renders Khalil-Alsalaami's confession involuntary. Instead, given the plain testimony from trial counsel, it is easy to see that counsel's performance was ineffective. The admissibility of Khalil-Alsalaami's confession was the paramount issue in the case, and counsel's failure to even attempt to keep it from the jury cannot be attributed to trial strategy. It is easy to see that prejudice occurred. This case must be returned to district court for a new trial.
CONCURRENCE: (Beier, J., joined by McAnany, S.J.) The majority reached the right decision. But it should also have found that Khalil-Alsalaami's confession was per se involuntary due to the lack of an interpreter, which was required by the plain language of K.S.A. 75-4351.
DISSENT: (Biles, J., joined by Stegall, J.) Counsel's motion to suppress would not have succeeded at trial, so a failure to file it could not have amounted to prejudicial ineffective assistance of counsel.
STATUTES: K.S.A. 60-1507, 75-4351
FAIRFAX PORTFOLIO LLC V. CAROJOTO LLC
WYANDOTTE DISTRICT COURT—COURT OF APPEALS IS AFFIRMED
DISTRICT COURT IS REVERSED—CASE REMANDED
NO. 118,712—SEPTEMBER 11, 2020
FACTS: Fairfax owned commercial real estate which was secured by a promissory note and mortgage held by Carojoto. Fairfax was in default on the note at the time Carojoto acquired the debt. Without warning, Carojoto took possession of the property and filed a mortgage foreclosure action. Carojoto eventually purchased the property at a sheriff's sale. Fairfax filed this action, claiming Carojoto improperly took possession of the property prior to the foreclosure action, causing damages. Carojoto sought dismissal, claiming it was allowed to take possession of the property under the terms of the mortgage. The district court agreed. The Court of Appeals reversed, holding that Carojoto was not allowed to rely on provisions of executory agreements. A petition for review was granted.
ISSUE: (1) Ability to take property
HELD: It has long been established that in the absence of stipulations to the contrary, a mortgagor of real property may retain possession of that property. The mortgage instrument alone cannot provide a sufficient stipulation for possession. Even if Carojoto included such language in its mortgage instrument, it cannot be enforced.
CONCURRENCE: (Stegall, J.) Justice Stegall concurs in the judgment solely on the grounds of stare decisis, which should be followed especially closely in instances where there is economic reliance.
DISSENT: (Biles, J.) The mortgage provision allowing possession is a "stipulation to the contrary" which overrides the general rule that a mortgagor is allowed to hold property.
STATUTES: K.S.A. 2019 Supp. 60-212(d); K.S.A. 58-2301
CONSTITUTIONAL LAW—CRIMINAL PROCEDURE—MOTIONS—SENTENCING—STATUTES
STATE V. COLEMAN
WYANDOTTE DISTRICT COURT—AFFIRMED
NO. 120,246—SEPTEMBER 11, 2020
FACTS: Coleman’s 1999 conviction for first-degree premeditated murder and aggravated assault convictions were affirmed but case was remanded for resentencing because district court considered two aggravating factors not found in the statute to impose a hard-40 life prison term. 271 Kan. 733 (2001). Coleman again sentenced in 2001 to a hard-40 life term which was then affirmed in 2003 (unpublished). Coleman filed 2018 motion to modify his sentence to require no mandatory prison term, citing Alleyne v. United States, 570 U.S. 99 (2013), and State v. Soto, 299 Kan. 102 (2014). District judge summarily denied the motion, noting in part Coleman’s earlier K.S.A. 60-1507 motion. Coleman appealed.
ISSUE: (1) Motion to modify sentence
HELD: Appeal involves constitutional issues and questions of statutory interpretation. Developing caselaw regarding sentence enhancement based on judicial fact finding is summarized. Coleman’s motion is not proper under K.S.A. 22-3504 (to correct an illegal sentence) or under K.S.A. 60-1507 (a collateral attack on an unconstitutional sentence), and Alleyene and Soto do not operate retroactively to provide a remedy in this case. Coleman cites K.S.A. 2019 Supp. 21-6628(c), but under analysis in State v. Thurber, 308 Kan. 140 (2018), that statute does not apply. District court judgment is affirmed.
STATUTES: K.S.A. 2019 Supp. 21-6628(b), -6628(c), 60-1507(f)(1), -1507(f)(2); K.S.A. 2016 Supp. 21-6622(h); K.S.A. 21-4635, -4629, 60-1507, 22-3504
CONSTITUTIONAL LAW—CRIMINAL LAW—JURY INSTRUCTIONS
STATE V. KEYES
GRANT DISTRICT COURT—REVERSED AND REMANDED
NO. 118,894—SEPTEMBER 11, 2020
FACTS: Jury convicted Keyes of first-degree premeditated murder for fatally shooting victim in the chest and head. District court denied Keyes’ request to instruct jury on self-defense and involuntary manslaughter finding the evidence failed to support either instruction. Keyes appealed, claiming in part reversible error by the district court’s refusal to give the requested instructions. State argued a self-defense instruction was not justified where Keyes provoked the victim by taking a gun to the victim’s trailer and threatening the victim, and any error was harmless because Keyes’ testimony was implausible.
ISSUE: (1) Jury instruction
HELD: Based on evidence introduced at trial, a self-defense instruction was both legally and factually appropriate. State’s theory ignores Keyes’ testimony, if believed, that it was necessary to kill the victim in order to defend himself. Viewing the evidence in light most favorable to Keyes, district court erred in not instructing jury on self-defense and the court is not convinced there is no reasonable probability this error affected the outcome of the trial. Keyes’ additional claims in the appeal are not reached. Reversed and remanded.
CONCURRENCE (Leben, J.): Joins the court’s opinion in full but also comments on the standard of review. Because Keyes’ constitutional right to present a defense is at issue, the constitutional harmless-error test should apply. No need to decide which standard should apply here because State has not shown the district court’s error was harmless under either standard. This standard-of-review question can be addressed in a future case with briefing.
STATUTE: K.S.A. 2019 Supp. 21-5108(c), -5222, -5226
Court of Appeals
BUCKLIN NATIONAL BANK V. HAYSE RANCH
KIOWA DISTRICT COURT—REVERSED AND REMANDED
NO. 121,690—SEPTEMBER 11, 2020
FACTS: In 2002, L.P.P. Mortgage Ltd. obtained a default judgment of foreclosure against Helen Hayse and her son, Paul. The district court confirmed the sheriff's sale and ordered a statutory redemption period of three months. The day before the redemption period ended, Helen assigned her rights of redemption to Celia Pruitt for $100. Pruitt then filed notice of her exercise of the right of redemption and deposited the total amount of Helen's debt to redeem the property. Pruitt followed up by filing an affidavit with the Register of Deeds in which she declared herself to be the owner of the property by virtue of her acquisition and subsequent exercise of redemption rights. Helen and Paul had previously used the property to secure a series of loans from Bucklin National Bank. Helen died intestate in January 2017, and after these loans went unpaid the Bank initiated foreclosure proceedings. Pruitt intervened in the action seeking a declaratory judgment that she was the rightful owner of the property. The Bank moved for summary judgment and the district court granted it, finding that exercising an assigned right of redemption was ineffective to pass title absent a document of conveyance. After her motion for new trial was denied, Pruitt appeals.
ISSUES: (1) Action to quiet title; (2) whether a deed is necessary to convey title
HELD: A statutory right of redemption is different than the common law equitable right of redemption, the latter of which arises before the foreclosure sale. Under the statutory scheme in Kansas, an assignee of a property owner's redemption rights obtains all property rights of the owner upon exercise of those redemption rights. Pruitt obtained equitable title to the property when she exercised the redemption rights that she purchased from Helen. It is not necessary to have a deed of conveyance to prove ownership of property. Pruitt took many official steps to register her equitable title, and that was enough to secure her primary right to the property. But the case must be remanded to determine whether Pruitt has a colorable claim of adverse possession.
STATUTE: K.S.A. 2019 Supp. 60-2414, -2414(h), -2414(i)
IN RE MARRIAGE OF WELTER
MIAMI DISTRICT COURT—REVERSED AND REMANDED
NO. 121,605—SEPTEMBER 11, 2020
FACTS: Steven and Keira Welter divorced in 2016. The decree ordered Steven to pay monthly maintenance of $781 for 73 months. One of the conditions on maintenance is that payments would stop if Keira remarried or was cohabitating, which was defined as living with a non-relative adult for substantially consecutive periods of time in excess of 30 days, even if the relationship was not marriage-like. Steven's maintenance payments were often suspended in the years after the divorce, primarily because Keira refused to comply with certain requirements of the divorce decree. In December 2018, Steven moved to terminate maintenance on grounds that Keira was cohabitating with her boyfriend. Keira objected, claiming she lived with her boyfriend only because she could not afford to live independently due to the lack of maintenance payments. After hearing arguments, the district court denied Steven's motion to terminate and instead modified the maintenance agreement to shorten Steven's obligation by nine months – the length of time Keira was cohabitating. Steven appealed.
ISSUE: (1) District court's authority to modify maintenance
HELD: It is undisputed that Keira violated the cohabitation termination condition of the divorce decree. The automatic termination clause of the decree means that Steven's maintenance obligation automatically terminated after June 2018. It does not matter that, at the time Keira was cohabitating, Steven's maintenance obligation has been temporarily suspended by the district court. Once the terminating event of cohabitation occurred, the district court lost the authority to modify Steven's maintenance obligation and equity does not require a different result.
DISSENT: (Atcheson, J.) All of the decisions made by the district court were within its discretion and authority, and the majority opinion places too many restrictions on district court action.
STATUTE: K.S.A. 2019 Supp. 23-2711(a)(3), -2902, -2903, -2904
STATE V. PATTON
RENO DISTRICT COURT—AFFIRMED
NO. 120,434—SEPTEMBER 11, 2020
FACTS: State charged Patton in November 2016 with DUI. In 2018, jury convicted him on that charge and district court imposed a 12 month sentence upon finding this was Patton’s fourth or subsequent DUI conviction. On appeal Patton claimed the prosecutor erred in closing argument by misstating the evidence. He also claimed district court erred under rule outlined in State v. Wetrich, 307 Kan. 552 (2018), by using Patton’s 2003 Oklahoma and 2007 Missouri DUI convictions to enhance the sentence.
ISSUES: (1) Prosecutorial error; (2) classification of prior out-of-state convictions to enhance sentence
HELD: Given the entire context of prosecutor’s closing arguments, prosecutor’s statements that Patton had been drinking on New Year’s Day 2016, and that the standard field sobriety tests showed Patton was under the influence, were not inconsistent with evidence presented at trial.
Patton and the State agreed the rule Weitrich controls because K.S.A. 2015 Supp. 8-1567(i) was the rule in effect at the time Patton committed the DUI offense. But under State v. Reese, 300 Kan. 650 (2014), when a court enhances a current DUI sentence under K.S.A. 8-1567(i) it must apply the sentencing rule in effect at the time of sentencing. Applying the 2018 amendment to K.S.A. 8-1567(i) and (j), district court did not err in sentencing Patton as a fourth or subsequent DUI offender.
STATUTES: K.S.A. 2019 Supp. 8-1567(a), 22-3504(a); K.S.A. 2018 Supp. 8-1567, -1567(i), -1567(i)(1); K.S.A. 2017 Supp. 21-6811(e)(2)(A), -6811(e)(3); K.S.A. 2015 Supp. 8-1567, -1567(a), -1567(a)(3), -1567(b)(1)(D), -1567(i), -1567(j)