Posted By Administration,
Tuesday, September 8, 2020
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Kansas Court of Appeals
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 Unpublished Court of Appeals case, is found to be similar to Olsman’s case.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)
Elk District Court
Posted By Administration,
Monday, August 24, 2020
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Kansas Supreme Court
constitutional law—criminal procedure—evidence—jury instructions
state v. green
Montgomery District Court—affirmed
no. 118,366—August 21, 2020
FACTS: For offenses related to the killing of Green’s ex-wife’s boyfriend, a jury convicted Green of first-degree premeditated murder, aggravated burglary, and arson. On appeal he claimed: (1) district judge should have instructed jury on defense of voluntary intoxication; (2) district judge should instructed jury on lesser included offense of voluntary manslaughter; (3) district judge’s failure to give those two instructions deprived Green of his constitutional right to a jury trial; (4) the failure to instruct on voluntary manslaughter pushed jury to convict on first-degree premeditated murder even if jurors had reasonable doubt that State had proved its case; (5) district judge erred in admitting into evidence a videotaped interrogation of Green because officers repeatedly challenged his honesty and truthfulness during that interrogation; (6) district judge erred in refusing to give cautionary instruction about testimony from jailhouse informants; and (7) cumulative error denied him a fair trial.
ISSUES: (1) Jury instruction—voluntary intoxication; (2) jury instruction—voluntary manslaughter; (3) right to a jury trial; (4) constitutional right to due process; (5) evidence—videotaped statements; (6) cautionary instruction on informant testimony; (7) cumulative error
HELD: Under facts in case, an instruction on voluntary intoxication was not factually appropriate. No evidence of impairment that would prevent the formation of the necessary criminal intent. Instead, Green relies on evidence of his intoxication before and after the crime.
District judge correctly denied Green’s request for a voluntary manslaughter instruction. No evidence that the sleeping victim did anything as Green entered his house that could be characterized as provocation.
District judge’s failure to instruct jury on voluntary intoxication and voluntary manslaughter did not violate Green’s constitutional claim of being denied right to a jury trial where no evidence supported Green’s requests for those instructions.
Green’s argument for extending Beck v. Alabama, 447 U.S. 625 (1980), to noncapital cases is rejected. Under facts in case, no error under Beck’s letter or its spirit.
Green’s challenge to the admission of videotaped statements he made during police interview, raised for the first time on appeal, is not considered. Even if error to not redact the interviewers’ comments on credibility, the error would be far from dispositive. Court finds no established exception to the preservation problem, and notes this case is a poster child for adherence to the contemporaneous rule.
District judge did not err in denying Green’s request for a cautionary instruction on informant testimony. Neither jailhouse informant was acting as an agent for the State when the informant first received incriminating information from Green, and multiple witnesses and other evidence corroborated each informant’s testimony.
Cumulative error doctrine not applicable where there is no error or only a single error.
CONCURRENCE (Rosen, J.)(joined by Stegall, J.): Agrees that a voluntary intoxication instruction was not factually appropriate because there was no evidence indicating Green was impaired at the time of the crime. Disagrees with that portion of majority’s decision to the extent it implies the presence of any evidence, however slight, mandates the district court to instruct and skip the gatekeeping test required in the affirmative defense statute
STATUTES: K.S.A. 2019 Supp. 21-5108(c), 60-261; K.S.A. 2018 Supp. 21-5205(b), -5404(a)(1); K.S.A. 60-404, -455, -1507
constitutional law—criminal law—criminal procedure—
state v. moore
reno district court—affirmed
no. 121,040—august 21, 2020
FACTS: Moore was convicted of first-degree premeditated murder. The trial judge allowed State to introduce incriminating statements Moore made during police interview, finding Moore made no unequivocal request for counsel. Trial judge also denied Moore’s request for voluntary intoxication instructions on first-degree premeditated murder and lesser-included crime of intentional second-degree murder. On appeal Moore claimed: (1) district judge should have suppressed evidence of his incriminating statements; (2) it was error to refuse to give voluntary intoxication instructions; (3) prosecutor committed error in closing argument; and (4) cumulative error denied him a fair trial.
ISSUES: (1) Motion to suppress; (2) voluntary intoxication jury instruction; (3) prosecutorial error; (4) cumulative error
HELD: District judge did not err in denying the motion to suppress. Moore’s statement that “Well, I guess it’s lawyer time now then,” considered as a whole and in context, is ambiguous. And his statement ten minutes later that he was “done, all right,” followed by continued talking on his part did not transform his earlier statement into an unambiguous invocation of right to counsel.
District judge did not err in denying voluntary intoxication instructions. Even assuming such an instruction was legally appropriate, it was not factually appropriate where there was no evidence of impairment negatively affecting Moore’s ability to form the requisite intent.
No error found in prosecutor’s closing argument by stating that premeditation can be seen from Moore standing there and pulling the trigger over and over again, and by decrying the American tradition of criticizing the police. These statements did not make an equivalent to the forbidden argument that premeditation can be formed instantaneously, and did not appeal to jurors’ passions or prejudices. Prosecutor’s rebuttal statement that Moore may have been eliminating his competition was error because this unsupported speculation on Moore’s motive argued facts not in evidence. In light of overwhelming evidence against Moore, however, this error was harmless.
Cumulative error doctrine not applicable where only a single instance of a harmless prosecutorial error found.
CONCURRENCE (Rosen, J.)(joined by Stegall, J.): Agrees that a voluntary intoxication instruction was not factually appropriate because there was no evidence indicating Moore was impaired at the time of the crime. Disagrees with that portion of majority’s discussion on the issue to the extent it relies on State v. Green, __ Kan. __ (this day decided), that finds the presence of any evidence, however slight, mandates the district court to instruct and skip the gatekeeping test required in the affirmative defense statute
STATUTE: K.S.A. 2019 Supp. 21-5108(c), -5205(b)
appeals—constitutional law—criminal law—
criminal procedure—jury instructions—statutes
state v. pattillo
shawnee district court—affirmed
no. 118,941—august 21, 2020
FACTS: Pattillo drove the van in which an occupant fired shots, killing Miller and hitting the residence which was occupied by Miller’s seven-year-old nephew. Jury convicted Pattillo of felony murder, aggravated assault for threatening Miller with a gun, felony discharge of a firearm, and aggravated endangering of a child. On appeal, Pattillo challenged whether the underlying felonies supported the felony-murder conviction, and whether sufficient evidence supported the convictions. He also claimed his convictions for discharge of a firearm and felony murder violated both the Double Jeopardy clause and K.S.A. 2019 Supp. 21-5109(b), and claimed the trial judge erred in instructing the jury.
ISSUES: (1) Underlying felonies—merger doctrine; (2) underlying felonies—sufficiency of the evidence; (3) underlying felonies—multiplicity; (4) multiple convictions and punishments; (5) jury instructions
HELD: Merger doctrine applies to Patillo’s aggravated assault conviction, and under facts in case, the aggravated assault merged with the homicide. If this were the only underlying felony, the felony-murder conviction would be reversed.
Pursuant to K.S.A. 2019 Sup. 21-5402(c)(1), merger doctrine does not apply to Pattillo’s convictions for aggravated endangering a child and discharge of a firearm at a dwelling, but under facts in case, sufficient evidence supports both underlying felonies. Sufficient circumstantial evidence that Pattillo was aware of the risk to the seven-year-old who lived in the dwelling and consciously disregarded that risk. Statutes for child endangerment and aggravated child endangerment are compared to reject Pattillo’s argument that State was required to prove he knew a child was in the house at the time of the shooting. No language in K.S.A. 2019 Supp. 21-5601(b)(1) or the definition of reckless conduct requires that a person endangering a child must know a child is in danger. State v. Herndon, 52 Kan.App.2d 857 (2016), rev. denied 306 Kan. 1324 (2017), is factually distinguished. Sufficient evidence also supports Pattillo’s conviction for criminal discharge of a firearm at a dwelling, and Miller’s death occurred during the res gestae of the acts of discharging a weapon at a dwelling and of endangering a child.
Cumulative punishments for both criminal discharge of a firearm and felony murder violate neither the Double Jeopardy Clause nor K.S.A. 2019 Supp. 21-5109. Same elements test in State v. Schoonover, 281 Kan. 453 (2006), is not employed where the legislature has expressed its intent to allow cumulative punishments for felony murder and those underlying felonies that do not merge with the homicide, such as discharge of a firearm at a dwelling. Pattillo can be sentenced for both felony murder and the enhanced punishment for discharging a firearm resulting in great bodily harm.
No merit to Pattillo’s jury instruction claims. Invited-error doctrine precludes review of Patillo’s claims regarding the felony-murder jury instruction and the criminal discharge instruction. And Pattillo failed to show clear error in district judge’s failure to instruct jury on the lesser-included offenses of criminal discharge or of endangering a child.
STATUTE: K.S.A. 2019 Supp. 21-5109, -5109(b), -5109(b)(1), -5109(b)(2) -5202(j), -5402(a)(2), -5402(c), -5402(c)(1)(S), -5402(c)(2), -5402(c)(2)(D), -5601(a), -5601(b)(1), -5601(c)(1), -6308, -6308(a)(1)(A), -6308(a)(3)(B), -6308(b), -6308(b)(1)(A), -6308(b)(1)(B), 22-3414(3)
K.S.A. 2015 Supp. 21-5402(c)(1)(O), -5402(c)(1)(S) -5601(b)(1). -6308(a)(1)(A)
Kansas Court of Appeals
STATE V. BROWN
SALINE DISTRICT COURT—REVERSED AND REMANDED
NO. 119,460—AUGUST 21, 2020
FACTS: In 2015 Brown was charged with three counts of rape and one count of aggravated indecent liberties for crimes involving his stepdaughter, K.N. While he was in custody, Brown wrote both K.N. and A.N., the victim's mother and his long-time companion. The contents of the letters caused the State to charge him with one count each of intimidation of a victim and a witness. Over Brown's objections, the information was consolidated for one trial. After a jury trial, Brown was convicted of all charges except for intimidation of a victim. He appealed.
ISSUES: (1) Admission in evidence of prior acts of domestic violence; (2) consolidation of information for one trial; (3) denials of motions for mistrial
HELD: At trial, the district court admitted evidence that Brown significantly damaged property at the home during arguments with A.N. The evidence was ostensibly admitted to prove why K.N. would be fearful to disclose the sexual abuse, even though the evidence showed that K.N. did not witness these events. There was extensive testimony at trial about these domestic violence events. Although the prior-crimes evidence was relevant and material, its probative value was diminished given the lengthy timelines over which the abuse occurred and the undisputed fact that K.N. did not witness the behavior. And the State never asked K.N. at trial if her failure to report was due, at least in part, to Brown's violent tendencies. The exhaustive testimony about Brown's prior crimes, the diminished probative value of the evidence, and the fact that the State could have proven the same thing with less prejudicial evidence, results in the conclusion that the district court erred by admitting the evidence. This error cannot be considered harmless and the case must be remanded for a new trial. It is undisputed that the State established the legal requirements to consolidate all charges. The letters to A.N. and K.N. put Brown's character into dispute that prejudiced him with the jury, all for little probative value. The district court erred by consolidating these cases for trial. There is no need to review errors in the district court's rulings on Brown's motions for mistrial. This case has already been reversed for two new trials.
STATUTE: K.S.A. 22-3202, -3303, 60-447(b), -455, -455(a), -455(b),
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Monday, August 10, 2020
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Kansas Supreme Court
constitutional law—criminal procedure—
state v. ellis
lyon district court—reversed and remanded;
court of appeals—affirmed
No. 120,046—august 7, 2020
FACTS: Police were called to check on welfare of a person (Ellis) in convenience store bathroom. Ellis stated she was okay and having stomach trouble. Police asked for identification, held Ellis’ drivers license to run warrant check, arrested her on an outstanding probation violation warrant, and found drugs and paraphernalia in subsequent search. State charged Ellis with drug offenses. She filed motion to suppress, arguing the seizure and subsequent search exceeded the scope of the encounter. State argued the attenuation doctrine set out in Utah v. Strieff, 579 U.S. __ (2016), legitimized the search. District court denied the motion and convicted Ellis in bench trial. Ellis appealed. Court of Appeals reversed, holding the investigatory detention exceeded the scope of the welfare check and the evidence obtained as a result should have been suppressed. 57 Kan.App.2d 477 (2019). State’s petition for review granted.
ISSUES: (1) Scope of welfare check; (2) attenuation doctrine
HELD: Under facts of the case, the officer lawfully engaged with Ellis and requested her identification. But police may not lawfully extend a welfare check by running a warrant check on an individual who is the subject of the check unless some other circumstances support prolonging the check and converting it into a detention. Here, the officer had no reasonable suspicion that Ellis was committing, had committed, or was about to commit a crime. Checking if Ellis “had some pick up order” exceeded the scope of the safety check. Ths constituted an unlawful seizure and consequent search.
Application of the attenuation exception to the exclusionary rule is inappropriate on facts in this case. Factors in Strieff are applied finding all weigh against admissibility of the drug evidence under the attenuation doctrine: (1) a very short passage of time; (2) under Kansas caselaw the discovery of an outstanding warrant was not an attenuating factor in this case; and (3) the clarity of Kansas law forbidding the officer’s illegal conduct supports a finding of flagrant official misconduct. District court’s judgment is reversed and evidence seized subsequent to the initial conduct must be suppressed. Remanded for further proceedings.
CONCURRENCE (Stegall, J.)(joined by Luckert, C.J. and Wilson, J.): Concurs with the result but majority appears to back away from the more stringent requirements in Strief. Under Strief as outlined in State v. Tatro, 310 Kan. 263 (2019), when a preexisting valid warrant is discovered, the only question remaining is whether the unconstitutional conduct was purposeful or flagrant. Agrees with majority’s finding of flagrant misconduct, but would limit the analysis in these circumstances to that question only.
constitutional law—criminal procedure—evidence—
state v. timley
shawnee district court—affirmed
No. 120,414—august 7, 2020
FACTS: Timley convicted of first-degree premeditated murder. During trial, Timley’s cellphone records including the cell towers accessed were admitted into evidence without objection, and a detective using Per Call Measurement Data (PCMD) from Sprint testified about the relative position of Timley’s phone throughout the day of the shooting. On appeal Timley claimed: (1) prosecutor erred during opening and closing arguments by making statements concerning the location of Timley’s phone at the time of the shooting; (2) district court erred in admitting the detective’s cell tower maps and accompanying testimony because detective lacked necessary expertise; (3) district court committed clear error by failing to instruct jury on intentional second-degree murder as a lesser included offense; (4) district court’s failure to instruct jury on lesser included offenses violated Timley’s right to due process; and (5) cumulative error denied him a fair trial.
ISSUES: (1) Prosecutorial error; (2) admission of evidence; (3)jury instruction on lesser included offense; (4) due process; (5) cumulative error
HELD: Prosecutor’s remarks during closing argument did not stretch the PCMD distance from a cell tower to Timley’s phone into a certitude, and thereby did not exceed the wide latitude extended to prosecutors. Prosecutor’s opening statement, by postulating that Timley’s phone was “exactly” at the site of the shooting, barely avoided error, but even if error, no possibility the prosecutor’s remark contributed to the verdict.
Under facts of the case, no expert witness was needed. The detective’s exhibits and accompanying testimony did not require any specialized knowledge or expertise beyond that which he was demonstrated to possess.
District court erred in failing to sua sponte instruct jury on lesser included offense of intentional second-degree murder, but under facts of the case, no clear error is found.
In noncapital case, a district court’s failure to sua sponte instruct on lesser included offense does not violate a defendant’s constitutional right to due process. Based on State v. Becker, 311 Kan. 176 (2020), and State v. Love, 305 Kan. 716 (2017), no due process violation found in district court’s failure to issue a lesser included offense instruction sua sponte.
Cumulative error claim is rejected. Only one harmless error found in district court’s failure to sua sponte instruct jury on a lesser included offense. Even if prosecutor’s opening statement was harmless error, it bore no relation to the instructional error.
CONCURRENCE (Biles, J.)(joined by Rosen, J. and Ward, S.J.): Disagrees that prosecutor’s opening statement was fair comment. Would hold it was error for prosecutor in opening statement to tell jury the cell tower data would reflect Timley’s exact location, but agrees the error is harmless for reasons stated by majority.
Kansas Court of Appeals
state v. rozell
wyandotte district court—affirmed
No. 121,094—August 7, 2020
FACTS: Rozell (Missouri resident) and Lopez (Wyandotte County, Kansas, resident) were in a car accident in Missouri. Rozell submitted bodily injury claim on Lopez’ State Farm insurance to a claims representative in Tennessee who discovered the Missouri hospital bill Lopez submitted had been altered to show a post-accident date. State charged Rozell in Wyandotte County with one count of making false information and one count of fraudulent insurance act, listing State Farm as the victim of Rozell’s crimes. District court granted Rozell’s motion to dismiss the charges for lack of jurisdiction. State appealed, arguing proximate result jurisdiction existed under K.S.A. 2017 Supp. 21-5106(b)(3) for a person who attempts to defraud a Kansas insurance policy issued to a Kansas resident, and Wyandotte County was the proper venue.
ISSUE: Proximate result jurisdiction
HELD: District court’s dismissal of the charges for lack of jurisdiction is affirmed. Kansas does not have proximate result jurisdiction to prosecute Rozell for making false information, K.S.A. 2019 Supp. 21-5824(a), or committing a fraudulent insurance act, K.S.A. 2019 Supp. 40-2,118(a), just because he allegedly intended to defraud a Kansas insurance policy. The law related to proximate result jurisdiction is reviewed. When determining proximate result jurisdiction, Kansas courts may consider the negative consequences of a person’s out-of-state criminal acts within Kansas only if the statutory language of that person’s charged crime considered such negative consequences. Here, the State failed to analyze the elements of the charged crimes. Neither the making false information statute, nor the fraudulent insurance act statute consider the negative consequences of a person’s out-of-state criminal acts in the language of the statute.
STATUTES: K.S.A. 2019 Supp. 21-40-2,118(a), -5106, -5106(b), -5106(b)(3), -5824(a), -5830(a)(2); K.S.A. 2017 Supp. 40-2,118(a), -2,118(e), -5106(b),-5106(b)(3), -5824(a) ; K.S.A. 1994 Supp. 21-3734(a)(2)
Lyon District Court
Shawnee District Court
Wyandotte District Court
Posted By Administration,
Monday, July 27, 2020
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Kansas Supreme Court
HABEAS CORPUS, RIGHT TO COUNSEL
BALBIRNIE V. STATE
FRANKLIN DISTRICT COURT—COURT OF APPEALS IS REVERSED
DISTRICT COURT IS REVERSED—CASE REMANDED
NO. 115,650—JULY 24, 2020
FACTS: Balbirnie was convicted of second-degree murder, and his conviction was affirmed on direct appeal. Throughout that process, Balbirnie consistently proclaimed his innocence and blamed the murder on one of the other people present at the scene of the crime. Within one year of his conviction being affirmed, Balbirnie filed a K.S.A. 60-1507 motion in which he claimed trial counsel was ineffective for failing to investigate and then introduce at trial a recording of a 911 call at which an eyewitness named another person as the murderer. After an evidentiary hearing, the district court found that trial counsel did not perform deficiently and even if he had, Balbirnie failed to establish prejudice. The Court of Appeals disagreed with the district court on the question of trial counsel's performance, finding that the failure to introduce the 911 call fell below an objective standard for reasonably effective representation. But the panel ultimately affirmed the district court, holding that this deficient performance did not prejudice Balbirnie. The Supreme Court granted Balbirnie's petition for review.
ISSUES: (1) Performance; (2) prejudice
HELD: Balbirnie prevailed in the Court of Appeals on the issue of deficient performance and did not seek review of that decision. The State did not file a cross-petition for review either, although case law existing at the time the petition was filed suggests such a filing was not necessary. A cursory glance at the Court of Appeals' decision shows that it correctly ruled that trial counsel's failure to introduce the 911 call was not a strategic decision was, in fact, objectively unreasonable. A review of the evidence in its totality shows that if the call had been introduced there was a reasonable probability the jury would have made a different decision. This is true even though there was evidence of Balbirnie's guilt.
STATUTE: K.S.A. 60-420, -1507
state v. martinez
shawnee district court—affirmed
no. 119,739—july 24, 2020
FACTS: Martinez convicted of first-degree premeditated murder and other crimes arising from a drive-by shooting. On appeal he claimed the prosecutor erred in closing arguments by saying “The defense has speculated about other peoples [sic] motives, but the State has actually presented evidence.” Martinez argues this impermissibly shifted the burden of proof and infringed on his constitutional protection against compulsory self-incrimination.
ISSUE: (1) Prosecutorial error
HELD: Prosecutor’s statements were within the wide latitude allowed in closing arguments. The comments, when read in context, appropriately explained how the evidence supported the State’s theory of the case, and did not offend Martinez’ constitutional right to a fair trial. Prosecutor did not comment on Martinez’ failure to testify or argue Martinez had to prove that he lacked a motive or that witnesses had a motive to lie. Prosecutor did not suggest the defense had any burden to do something in response to the State’s evidence or that 000Martinez needed to testify and explain his action. Nor did the prosecutor shift the burden or comment on Martinez’ failure to testify by pointing out the defense’s argument rested on an inference.
STATUTE: K.S.A. 60-439
criminal law—criminal procedure—jury instructions—
state v. thomas
chautauqua district court—affirmed in part, reversed in part,
vacated in part, remanded
court of appeals—affirmed in part, reversed in part, vacated in part
no. 115,990—july 24, 2020
FACTS: Thomas convicted of aggravated battery, abuse of a child, and aggravated endangering of a child. On appeal he argued: (1) district court erred by giving jury instructions that allowed the jury to convict him of aggravated battery if it found he intended the conduct but not the harm; (2) prosecutor improperly inflamed the passions and prejudices of jurors during closing argument by showing them photos of the child’s injuries and repeatedly telling them to acquit only if the jurors thought it was acceptable to inflict such injuries on “your child;” (3) cumulative effect of these two errors denied him a fair trial; and (4) district court erroneously scored Thomas’ 2001 out-of-state Virginia conviction for domestic assault and battery as a person crime. Court of Appeals affirmed in unpublished opinion, finding in part the aggravated battery jury instruction was erroneous but the error was harmless, and prosecutor’s if-you-think-it’s-okay statements did not encourage jurors to consider factors outside the evidence and law. Review granted.
ISSUES: (1) Jury instructions—aggravated battery; (2) prosecutorial error; (3) cumulative error; (4) sentencing
HELD: District court’s aggravated battery instructions were erroneous. Under State v. Hobbs, 301 Kan. 203 (2015), “knowingly” in elements of aggravated battery means more than just proving the defendant intended to engage in the underlying conduct, and requires State to prove the defendant acted when he or she was aware the conduct was reasonably certain to cause the result.
Prosecutor’s If-you-think-it’s-okay statements were error. Panel’s reasons for finding that prosecutor’s statement did not encourage jurors to consider factors outside the evidence and law are examined and criticized as conflating the analysis of error with whether error was harmless. As to the child abuse charge the prosecutor’s error was harmless. Thomas’ conviction on this charge is affirmed. As to the aggravated battery charge for which instructional error was found, the combined impact of these errors must be considered.
Cumulative error denied Thomas a fair trial on the aggravated battery charge. The erroneous jury instruction allowed the jury to find guilt based on a less culpable intent than required by the statute, and State’s repeated comments urged jury to convict based on emotional consideration rather than a reasoned and deliberate consideration of facts and law. The aggravated battery conviction is reversed and case is remanded for a new trial on this charge.
Assault and battery, as defined by Virginia common law, is broader than Kansas battery and could encompass behavior that is not a crime in Kansas. Under State v. Wetrich, 307 Kan. 552 (2018), district court incorrectly calculated Thomas’ criminal history score and should have scored the 2001 Virginia conviction as a nonperson crime. Remanded for resentencing.
STATUTES: K.S.A. 2017 Supp. 21-6811(e); K.S.A. 2015 Supp. 21-5413, -5413(b), -5413(b)(1)(A), -5413(g), -5602, -6811(e), 22-3414(3)
Kansas Court of Appeals
IN RE MARRIAGE OF DAVIS AND GARCIA-BEBEK
SEDGWICK DISTRICT COURT—AFFIRMED
NO. 121,110—JULY 24, 2020
FACTS: Davis and Garcia-Bebek divorced in 2014. They shared joint legal custody of two minor children and Garcia-Bebek had permission to take the children to visit family in his native country of Peru every other year. In 2018, Davis sought to be awarded sole legal custody of the children after Garcia-Bebek was charged with three federal crimes. Perhaps because of his legal issues, Garcia-Bebek moved back to Peru. But he asked for reasonable parenting time which would include having the children visit him in Peru for up to 30 days at a time. The district court initially ruled in Garcia-Bebek's favor but was swayed to reconsider by Davis's argument that Garcia-Bebek's crimes showed that he was untrustworthy, making international parental kidnapping a realistic possibility. Garcia-Bebek appealed.
ISSUE: (1) Parenting time outside of the United States
HELD: The district court did not prevent Garcia-Bebek from exercising his parenting time. It just prevented him from doing so in Peru. There was nothing to prevent Garcia-Bebek from visiting the children in their home country. It is undisputed that there is an outstanding indictment in a federal criminal case and a warrant for his arrest in Kansas. This evidence is sufficient to support the district court's decision preventing the children from visiting Garcia-Bebek in Peru.
STATUTE: K.S.A. 2019 Supp. 23-3203(a), -3208(a)
constitutional law—criminal procedure—probation—sentencing—statutes
state v. lyon
sedgwick district court—affirmed
no. 120,993—july 24, 2020
FACTS: Lyon convicted on his pleas to charges of aggravated battery, criminal possession of a firearm, and endangerment of a person. Pursuant to the plea agreement, district court imposed dispositional departure sentence of probation with underlying prison term. District court’s calculation of criminal history included Lyon’s 2010 Kansas aggravated burglary conviction as a person felony. Probation violation warrant issued four months later, alleging in part that Lyon committed the felony offense of aggravated battery/domestic violence. Trial judge revoked probation, finding Lyon had committed misdemeanor domestic battery. On appeal, Lyon claimed the trial court’s revocation of probation denied Lyon due process because the State failed to allege he committed a domestic battery in the probation violation. He also claimed his 2010 Kansas conviction should have been classified as a nonperson felony because the elements of the 2010 version of aggravated burglary are broader than the elements of the 2017 version of the crime.
ISSUES: (1) Due process—revocation of probation; (2) sentencing—criminal history
HELD: District court did not err in revoking Lyon’s probation. The warrant’s allegation that Lyon committed aggravated battery/domestic violence sufficiently notified him of what the State intended to prove, and it is uncontested that substantial competent evidence supports the trial court’s finding of domestic battery.
The identical-or-narrower test in State v. Wetrich, 307 Kan. 552 (2018), which applies to out-of-state offenses and to Kansas offenses committed prior to the1993 implementation of the Kansas Sentencing Guidelines Act (KSGA), does not apply to the scoring of Lyon’s post-KSGA Kansas conviction. A post-KSGA Kansas crime is properly scored as a person offense if the crime was classified as a person offense when it was committed and when the current crime of conviction was committed and when the current crime of conviction was committed even if the prior version of the earlier crime’s elements are broader than the elements of the current version. Lyon’s alternative constitutional argument under Apprendi is not properly before the court and is not considered. Whether recodification and/or statutory amendments to aggravated burglary amounted to a repeal for purposes of K.S.A. 2017 Supp. 21-6810(d)(8) is examined, finding no such determination is required in this case. Regardless of the statutory amendments to aggravated burglary, district court properly scored Lyon’s prior conviction for aggravated burglary as a person offense.
STATUTES: K.S.A. 2019 Supp. 21-5109(b), -5111(i), -6801 et seq., -6804(c), -6804(p), -6809, -6810, -6811(e)(1); K.S.A. 2018 Supp. 21-5414(a), 22-3716, -3716(b)(1), -3716(c)(8)(A), -3716(c)(9)(B); K.S.A. 2017 Supp. 21-5807(b), -5807(b)(1), 5807(e), -6810(d), -6810(d)(8), -6810(d)(9), -6811(e)(3); K.S.A. 2011 Supp. 21-3715(a), -5103(d), -5413, -5427(3), -6811(d)(1); K.S.A. 21-3412, -3701, -3715, -3716, -4843, 22-3716
right to counsel
Posted By Administration,
Monday, March 2, 2020
Updated: Monday, March 2, 2020
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Kansas Supreme Court
IN RE LAUREL R. KUPKA
NO. 122,053—FEBRUARY 28, 2020
FACTS: A hearing panel determined that Kupka violated KRPC 1.1 (competence); 1.3 (diligence); 1.4(a) and (b) (communication); 4.1(a) (truthfulness in statements to others); 8.4(c) (engaging in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation); 8.4(d) (engaging in conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice); and 8.4(g) (engaging in conduct adversely reflecting on lawyer's fitness to practice law). The charges arose after Kupka expanded her law practice to include domestic cases while also taking on extra duties after other attorneys at the firm resigned. Kupka's workload grew even heavier around the time her first child was born, and she lost administrative support. The heavy workload, combined with a lack of any support, resulted in Kupka feeling anxious and depressed. As those conditions worsened, Kupka failed to adequately represent clients. She did not file things despite saying that she did, she altered documents in an attempt to make them look file-stamped, and she falsified judge's signatures. Kupka also failed to communicate with clients, and when she did speak with them, she lied about the status of their cases.
HEARING PANEL: Kupka self-reported her misconduct, in addition to another complaint being filed. She fully cooperated and admitted to the misconduct. The hearing panel acknowledged that Kupka engaged in dishonest conduct by cutting and pasting file stamps onto documents and forging clerk and judge signatures. But her actions were driven by an overwhelming workload, a lack of supervision or assistance, and depression. She fully admitted her misconduct and cooperated with the disciplinary process. The disciplinary administrator asked for a two-year suspension, and that the suspension be suspended after one year so that Kupka could complete a one-year term of probation. Kupka asked that she be allowed to continue practicing under the terms of a probation plan. The hearing panel, however, reiterated its position that dishonesty cannot be corrected by probation alone. The hearing panel recommended that Kupka be suspended for two years, but that she be returned to active practice after serving six months of the suspension, with a two-year term of probation to follow.
HELD: The panel's factual findings and conclusions of law were deemed admitted. The court agreed that a two-year suspension was the appropriate discipline. Kupka will be allowed to apply for reinstatement after completing nine months of the suspension. A minority of the court would have required a longer period of suspension before applying for reinstatement.
constitutional law—criminal law—criminal procedure—jury instructions—prosecutors—sentences
state v. becker
ford district court—affirmed in part, vacated in part
NO. 118,235—february 28, 2020
FACTS: On evidence—including Becker’s confession, jury found him guilty of first-degree premeditated murder. Sentence included a Hard 25 life prison term and lifetime postrelease supervision. On appeal, he claimed prosecutor’s comments during closing argument regarding plea deals taken by codefendants was error. Becker also claimed the district court erred in failing to instruct jury on lesser included crimes, and on voluntary intoxication. He also claimed for first time that failure to instruct on lesser included crimes violated his constitutional rights to due process and jury trial. He claimed cumulative error denied him a fair trial, and claimed the district court erred in ordering lifetime postrelease supervision.
ISSUES: (1) Prosecutorial error; (2) jury instructions—lesser included offenses; (3) Constitutional claims; (4) jury instruction—voluntary intoxication; (5) cumulative error; (6) sentencing
HELD: Prosecutor’s comments did not fall outside wide latitude afforded prosecutors, and was not an attempt to obtain a conviction in a manner that offended Becker’s right to a fair trial. Taken in context, prosecutor’s comments did not direct jury to ignore the plea agreements or to give them no weight in determining witness credibility. Instead, prosecutor was rebutting attacks in defense counsel’s closing argument regarding a codefendant’s favorable plea agreement.
District court did not commit reversible error under K.S.A. 2018 Supp. 22-3414 by failing to instruct jury on lesser included offenses of second-degree murder and voluntary manslaughter. Both instructions would have been legally appropriate. Even if error is assumed —without deciding—that a second-degree intentional murder instruction was factually appropriate, the error was harmless under facts in this case. And no sudden quarrel factually supported an instruction for voluntary manslaughter.
Court considers Becker’s newly raised constitutional claims. Consistent with Beck v. Alabama, 447 U.S. 625 (1980), and State v. Love, 305 Kan. 716 (2017), no merit to Becker’s claim that the lack of a lesser included alternative required jury to render an all-or-nothing verdict in violation of Becker’s due process rights. Also, based on Love and a 6th Circuit Court of Appeals case, district court did not preempt function of jury in violation of Becker’s right to a jury trial.
Under facts in this case, district court did not err in failing to instruct jury on voluntary intoxication. Evidence viewed in light most favorable to Becker establishes methamphetamine consumption but not intoxication to impair his ability to form the requisite intent. Nor did parents’ unsworn statements at sentencing hearing establish a level of impairment at time of the crime that would have warranted a voluntary intoxication instruction.
No cumulative error in trial having only one assumed harmless error.
Sentencing court’s order of lifetime postrelease supervision is vacated. District court has no authority to order a term of postrelase supervision in conjunction with an off-grid, indeterminate life sentence.
STATUTES: K.S.A. 2018 Supp. 21-5202(h), 5402(a), -6620(c)(2)(A), 22-3414, -3414(3), -3504, 3504(1), -3601(b)(3), -3601(b)(4); K.S.A. 2015 Supp. 21-5109(b)(1); K.S.A. 2014 Supp. 21-5205(b); K.S.A. 60-2106(c)
appeals—criminal law—criminal procedure—evidence—jury instructions
state v. gray
sedgwick district court—affirmed
NO. 117,747—february 28, 2020
FACTS: Jury convicted Gray of first-degree premeditated murder, rape, and aggravated burglary. During trial, he unsuccessfully challenged district court’s admission under K.S.A. 60-455 of evidence of a previous rape. On appeal, argued for first time that under the identical offense doctrine, the district court should have sentenced him for intentional second-degree murder. Gray next argued the district court abused its discretion in finding evidence of the prior rape was more probative than prejudicial because no juror would have been able to follow the limiting instruction. Gray further claimed the district erred in failing to instruct jury on intentional second-degree murder as a lesser included offense of first-degree murder.
ISSUES: (1) Newly raised claim; (2) K.S.A. 60-455 evidence; (3) jury instruction—lesser included offense
HELD: Gray’s identical offense doctrine claim is not considered. K.S.A. 2019 Supp. 21-6820(e)(3) does not support review because Gray does not challenge the classification of his crime or conviction, and no exception to the preservation rule is utilized.
Jury members are presumed to follow instructions, including limiting instructions regarding the admission and use of prior crimes evidence. Gray failed to offer any facts or legal authority to suggest otherwise.
Absence of an instruction on second-degree intentional murder as a lesser included offense of premeditated first-degree murder was not clear error. The instruction would have been legally appropriate, but even if factual appropriateness is assumed, the error was harmless in light of overwhelming evidence of premeditation.
STATUTES: K.S.A. 2019 Supp. 21-6820(e)(3), 60-455(a), -455(b), -455(d); K.S.A. 2015 Supp. 21- 5402(a)(1), -5403(a)(1); K.S.A. 60-455
Kansas Court of Appeals
IN RE LIEN AGAINST THE DISTRICT AT CITY CENTER, LLC
JOHNSON DISTRICT COURT—REVERSED AND REMANDED
NO. 121,184—FEBRUARY 28, 2020
FACTS: The District at City Center, LLC, hired a construction company to build a mixed-use development. The construction company hired Kansas City Steel Werx, Inc. as a steel and labor subcontractor. Change orders from KC Steel to the general contractor added approximately $25,000 to the cost of the contract. To ensure complete payment, KC Steel filed a mechanic's lien against the development citing unpaid labor and materials of approximately $400,000. The itemizations filed with the lien included documentation but was incomplete. Instead of challenging the lien as a whole or specific items, the contractor filed a motion claiming the lien was "fraudulent" and asking the court to set it aside. Without waiting for a response, the district court granted the motion and removed the lien. KC Steel appealed.
ISSUE: (1) Ability of the district court to find that the lien was "fraudulent"
HELD: A party asserting a mechanic's lien must strictly comply with our mechanic's lien statutes before that lien becomes enforceable. K.S.A. 2019 Supp. 58-4301 allows a district court to quickly review a lien's status to determine whether it is fraudulent. Legislative history shows this statute was enacted to prevent abuses by militias and common-law groups. The quick review is intended to allow an efficient way to remove an obviously bogus lien that is being used as a tool of harassment. The district court improperly equated an invalid lien with a fraudulent one. The document filed by KC Steel is recognized by Kansas law, and the district court erred by ruling that the lien was fraudulent. The real question is whether KC Steel strictly complied with the mechanic's lien procedures enough to create a valid lien; that is the issue that must be decided on remand.
STATUTES: K.S.A. 2019 Supp. 58-4301, -4301(a), -4301(b), -4301(c), -4301(e), -4302; K.S.A. 60-1102, -1102(a), -1103(a), -1105, -1106, -1108
AIKINS V. GATES CORPORATION
WORKERS COMPENSATION APPEALS BOARD—AFFIRMED
NO. 120,905—FEBRUARY 28, 2020
FACTS: Aikins was injured in a car accident while leaving work. In May 2018, an ALJ awarded Aikins compensation for her injuries. One week later, she served Gates with a demand for compensation based on that award. The next day, Gates filed for review with the Workers Compensation Board of Appeals. Before the Board could decide the appeal, Aikins filed a motion for penalties with the ALJ because Gates had not yet paid out her award. The ALJ held a hearing and ruled that Aikins was entitled to a penalty payment because Gates had not yet paid as required by K.S.A. 44-512a and had not obtained a stay of the judgment. Gates appealed the imposition of the penalty, arguing that compensation was not yet due so no penalty could accrue. The Board agreed, and Aikins appealed.
ISSUE: (1) Whether payment is due such that penalties could attach
HELD: K.S.A. 44-512a allows claimants to apply for a civil penalty if payments are overdue. In this case, the only issue to determine is whether Aikins's award was due. Statutes clarify that payment of an award is not due until at least 30 days after the Board hears the parties' arguments. There is no statute which requires the employer to seek and receive a stay of judgment; a stay is only required after payment obligations have accrued. Aikins was not due any payment until after the Board ruled on Gates's appeal, and the Board properly reversed the ALJ's award of penalties.
STATUTES: K.S.A. 2019 Supp. 44-551, -551(l)(1), -551(l)(2)(A), -551(l)(2)(B), -551(l)(2)(C), -551(p); K.S.A. 44-512a, -512a(a)
BURCH V. HOWARD
PAWNEE DISTRICT COURT—AFFIRMED
NO. 120,704—FEBRUARY 28, 2020
FACTS: Burch was committed to the Sexual Predator Treatment Program in 2002. After more than a decade in the program, Burch filed a K.S.A. 60-1501 petition which raised several concerns. Relevant to this case was his claim that the SPTP does not provide adequate treatment for securing an eventual release from the Program. The SPTP operated on a leveled system where treatment was provided in phases, and participants gained independence by completing levels. At a hearing before the district court, the evidence showed that Burch has not participated in any meaningful treatment since July 2009. Based on this lack of participation, the district court ruled that Burch failed to meet his burden to prove shocking or intolerable conduct and denied the petition. Burch appeals.
ISSUES: (1) Mootness; (2) adequacy of treatment provided in the SPTP
HELD: Although the treatment system is different now from when Burch filed his petition, the changes are more style than substance and do not render this appeal moot. Because he declined treatment, Burch does not have standing to challenge the adequacy of the SPTP. The SPTP is consistent with the statutory criteria of the Sexually Violent Predator Act and does not shock the conscience.
STATUTES: K.S.A. 2019 Supp. 59-29a06, -29a07(a), -29a08(a), -29a08(d), -29a08(f); K.S.A. 60-1501
criminal law—criminal procedure—restitution—sentences—statutes
state v. henry
sedgwick district court—affirmed
no. 119,895—february 28, 2020
FACTS: Henry was charged and convicted on one count of felony theft for stealing money from store deposits on 12 different occasions while employed as armored truck driver. District court imposed 60 months’ probation and ordered payment of $78,315 in restitution. On appeal, Henry claimed insufficient evidence supported his conviction because the single larceny doctrine did not apply to thefts that occurred on 12 separate occasions, and each of the individual takings failed to meet the $25,000 threshold of the felony theft charged. He also argued the restitution plan was unworkable because it would take over 43 years to complete, making a multi-decade term of probation per se unreasonable.
ISSUES: (1) Single larceny doctrine; (2) restitution
HELD: Henry’s theft conviction is affirmed. The single larceny doctrine is a rule of evidence and may be invoked whenever the facts warrant it. Disagreement stated with legal conclusion in State v. Ameen, 27 Kan.App.2d 181, rev. denied 269 Kan. 934 (2000). The doctrine is not only limited to instances where multiple misdemeanor takings are charged as a single felony but also permits multiple instances of felony takings to be charged as a single higher severity level felony. On evidence in this case, Henry should have been charged in the alternative with a lower severity level theft for each separate taking, and the jury should have been instructed in the alternative on the single larceny doctrine and the elements of each lesser theft for each taking separately, but Henry waived or abandoned any claims of error concerning the charging document or instructions. Sufficient evidence supported the key factual determination that Henry’s acts arose out of a single incriminating impulse or plan.
District court imposed a workable restitution plan. Henry admitted the monthly payments are workable, and K.S.A. 2019 Supp. 21-6608(c)(7) explicitly allows for a term of probation to be extended indefinitely to secure payment of restitution.
STATUTES: K.S.A. 2019 Supp. 21-6604(b)(1), -6608(c)(7); K.S.A. 2016 Supp. 21-5801(a)(1), -5801(b)(2), -5801(b)(3), -5801(b)(4)
Posted By Administration,
Monday, December 18, 2017
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Kansas Supreme Court
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)
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)
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)
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
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)
limitations of actions