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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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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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