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August 19, 2016, Appellate Court Digests
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Kansas Supreme Court – Criminal

Appeals—Constitution—Criminal Procedure—Evidence
State v. Keenan
Johnson District District Court – Affirmed
Court of Appeals – Affirmed
No. 108,550 – August 19, 2016

FACTS: Officers confronted Keenan at his home based on informant’s report that Keenan was driving his four-year-old grandson home while alcohol impaired, and officers’ belief that Keenan was in violation of a protection from abuse order (PFA). When Keenan entered home to put grandson to bed, officers asked to follow. Keenan said “no,” but officers entered the home, arrested Keenan, and searched his car.  Alleging an unlawful warrantless entry of his home, Keenan filed motion to suppress.  District court denied the motion, finding exigent circumstances and officers having reasonable suspicion to investigate drunk driving.  Keenan convicted of felony third-time DUI and refusing a preliminary breath test, and fined for transporting an open container.  He appealed. State argued Keenan failed to preserve the suppression issue.  Court of Appeals rejected State’s preservation claim and affirmed the convictions, holding there was probable cause before officers’ entry into house to arrest Keenan for violation of PFA and drunk driving, and warrantless entry to the house was supported by exigent circumstances including hot pursuit and possible loss, destruction, or concealment of evidence.  50 Kan.App.2d 358 (2014). Keenan’s petition for review granted.

ISSUES: (1) Preservation of issue for appellate review and (2) Suppression

HELD: State did not cross-petition for review of the preservation issue, which is not considered.

District court judge applied wrong legal standard by evaluating facts for existence of reasonable suspicion. Nonetheless, officers had probable cause to arrest Keenan for DUI before they entered his home, when detailed information about Keenan’s condition and behavior from an identified informant was corroborated by officers’ direct, personal observations. Even if illegal entry is assumed, under facts of case the constitutional error was harmless where evidence gathered and admitted at trial as a result of the entry was superfluous and would not have affected ultimate trial outcome. Accordingly, court does not decide whether officers’ entry into Keenan’s home was permissible because of exigent circumstances of loss, concealment, or destruction of evidence or doctrine of hot pursuit.

CONCURRENCE (Johnson, J.): Agrees that officers had probable cause to arrest Keenan before he entered his house, but given the post-entry evidence, does not agree the State met its burden of proving beyond a reasonable doubt that the erroneously admitted evidence had no reasonable possibility of affecting jury’s verdict. Would affirm lower courts because no constitutional error due to exigent circumstance, however labeled, of providing emergency aid to protect welfare of child in this unique situation.

STATUTE: K.S.A. 2010 Supp. 8-1567(a)(3)

Kansas Court of Appeals – Civil

Contracts; Divorce
in re Marriage of Knoll
Barber District District Court – Affirmed in part, reversed in part, remanded with directions
No. 114,908 – August 19, 2016

FACTS: Dean and Melissa divorced in 2014, and their property settlement agreement was incorporated into their divorce decree. Per that agreement, Dean was to pay Melissa roughly $1,200 per month in spousal maintenance for a total of 5 years. Payment stopped upon the death of either party or if Melissa remarried or cohabitated. The term "cohabitation" was not defined in the property settlement agreement. Dean moved to end payment before the 5 years elapsed, claiming that Melissa was cohabitating with Trevor. Melissa acknowledged that she was romantically involved with Trevor, but presented evidence to bolster her argument that they were not cohabitating. The district court weighed the evidence and terminated Dean's spousal maintenance obligation as of October 1, 2015. Dean challenged that date since the district court found that cohabitation existed as of May 2015. The district court refused to amend its prior order. Melissa appealed the termination of maintenance, and Dean cross-appealed the date of termination.

ISSUE: Whether the district court properly interpreted the property settlement agreement when terminating maintenance

HELD: Because the property settlement agreement did not define "cohabitation", the court used a definition from prior case law. This definition does not include a time component for the length of the romantic relationship but instead focuses primarily on whether the couple are living with each other as husband and wife. The evidence presented to the district court showed that Melissa and Trevor were cohabitating. For that reason, the district court erred by not terminating Dean's maintenance obligation until October 2015. The matter is remanded with directions to terminate maintenance as of May 2015.