Kansas Supreme Court – Criminal
State v. Hurley
Saline district court – reversed and remanded; court of appeals – reversed
No. 108,735 – January 8, 2016
FACTS: At revocation hearing, Hurley stipulated to allegations he violated terms of probation in three cases. District court reinstated probation on same terms and conditions, and ordered 90-day jail sanction (30 days in each case). When Hurley responded with query about going to prison instead, district court denied Hurley’s request to serve 90-day sanction on weekends, and requests for a different intension supervision officer (ISO). During prosecutor’s attempt to clarify start date of jail sanction and probation extension, ISO interrupted to tell court that Hurley had just made a disparaging comment to him. District court entered a finding of contempt, reopened the matter of whether probation should be reinstated with 90-day jail sanction, and remanded Hurley to prison. On appeal Hurley claimed district court (1) lacked jurisdiction to reopen the probation revocation hearing after pronouncing its disposition, and (2) violated his due process rights by summarily revoking newly imposed probation without hearing based upon newly alleged probation violation of contempt. Court of Appeals affirmed in unpublished opinion. Review granted.
ISSUE: Revocation of Probation
HELD: District court revoked Hurley’s probation based upon a ground for which Hurley was not provided sufficient notice and opportunity to be heard. Reversed and remanded to district court for new probation revocation hearing that comports with statutory and constitutional requirements.
STATUTES: K.S.A. 2011 Supp. 22-3716, -3716(b); K.S.A. 20-1203
State v. Michael R. Williams
Sedgwick District Court – Affirmed
No. 109,353 – January 8, 2016
FACTS: In 2010, Michael R. Williams lived in the same house with Deborah Weiss—whom Williams described as his common-law wife—and with Sean Putnam. On the evening of December 21, Williams called the police in an attempt to have Putnam evicted from the home, but the police refused. Later that evening, Williams shot Putnam in the head, killing him. A few days after that, Williams buried Putnam's body in a shallow grave. A jury convicted Williams of first-degree premeditated murder. The district court imposed a hard 25 sentence.
ISSUES: (1) Evidence, (2) motion for new trial, (3) lesser included offense instruction, (4) prosecutorial misconduct, and (5) cumulative error
HELD: First, Court held the record lacked any evidence establishing a nexus between the alleged prior bad act of the victim—Putnam in this case—and the defendant's state of mind at the time the defendant claims to have acted in self-defense, or defense of another concerning the victim's attempted rape of the witness. In these circumstances, the prior bad act of the victim is not relevant to a material fact and is not admissible. Second, Court held the trial court made a similar ruling regarding evidence of another rape by the victim. Court stated that Williams became aware of the rape victim's statements at some point, but nothing in the record indicated he was aware of them at the time of the shooting. Next, Court held this is exactly the kind of case to which the skip rule for lesser-included offenses reasonably applies. The jury convicted Williams of premeditated first-degree murder when it had the option to convict of intentional second-degree murder. Such circumstances necessarily show that the jury would have rejected the still lesser culpable mental state required for a conviction of voluntary manslaughter. There was no reasonable possibility the error affected the outcome. Next, Court held the prosecutor's colloquial use of "story" to refer to a defendant's testimony does not by itself imply either truth or fiction and does not constitute prosecutorial misconduct. Last, Court found no error to cumulate.
STATUTES: K.S.A. 21-3211; K.S.A. 22-3501, -3601(b)(3); K.S.A. 60-401, -447
State v. Tarlene A. Williams
Wyandotte District Court – Affirmed
No. 112,417 – January 8, 2016
FACTS: Tarlene A. Williams has previously filed unsuccessful motions to withdraw her 2008 no contest plea to a first-degree murder charge. In this instance, she argues the district court erred in holding her latest motion failed to demonstrate excusable neglect as required by K.S.A. 22-3210(e)(2). She concedes this motion is successive to others she has filed and lost.
ISSUES: (1) Habeas, (2) successive motions, (3) excusable neglect
HELD: Court stated that under K.S.A. 22-3210(e)(1), a motion to withdraw a plea must be brought within 1 year of: (a) the final order of the last appellate court in this state to exercise jurisdiction on a direct appeal or the termination of such appellate jurisdiction; or (b) the denial of a petition for a writ of certiorari to the United States Supreme Court or issuance of such Court's final order following the grant of such petition. But these time limitations can be extended upon an additional, affirmative showing of excusable neglect by the defendant under K.S.A. 22-3210(e)(2). Court held Williams failed to demonstrate excusable neglect.
STATUTES: K.S.A. 22-3210, -3601; K.S.A. 60-1507
Kansas Court of Appeals – Criminal
State v. Gauger
Leavenworth district court – affirmed
No. 112,913 – January 8, 2016
FACTS: Gauger charged his purchase of goods from auto parts store to former employer’s store account without authorization. Prior to opening statements, district court’s instruction to jury included statement regarding cost and burden of mistrial if there was jury misconduct. During trial, district court allowed State to introduce printed copies of auto store’s electronically stored receipts and invoice. On appeal Gauger claimed: (1) admission of these exhibits violated best evidence rule, and (2) district court’s preliminary instruction denied Gauger a fair trial.
ISSUES: (1) Best Evidence Rule – Electronically Stored Documents, (2) Preliminary Jury Instruction
HELD: Best evidence rule is stated and applied to electronically stored information. Analysis of issue of first impression in State v. Robinson, 303 Kan. __ (2015), regarding admission of printed version of email communication, equally applies in this case. Under that rule, a printed version of an electronically stored document may be admitted as the original, provided there is no genuine dispute regarding authenticity. Here, copies of auto store’s electronically stored receipts and a monthly invoice were properly admitted as originals.
Clear error test applies to appellate review of instructional errors in district court’s preliminary instructions. Instruction at issue in this case, as in State v. Tahah, 302 Kan. 783 (2015), was given as warning to jurors against committing misconduct, and was legally and factually appropriate.
STATUTES: K.S.A. 2014 Supp. 22-3414(3); K.S.A. 60-467