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  • 21 Jul 2017 11:12 AM | Tiffany Fisher (Administrator)

    The Kansas Supreme Court released the following published decisions today: ​


    Appeal No. 114,614: State of Kansas v. Antwon D. Banks Sr.
     
    The Kansas Supreme Court unanimously affirmed Banks' conviction for the premeditated, first-degree murder of Daniel Flores on February 9, 2014, in Wichita. The Supreme Court rejected the defense contention that the State relied on impermissible inference stacking and held that the evidence was sufficient for a rational jury to find Banks guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, notwithstanding the State's use of circumstantial evidence. In a related issue, the Supreme Court determined that the prosecutor did not commit reversible error during closing argument by arguing facts not in evidence or by relying on unreasonable inferences to be drawn from the evidence. Finally, the Supreme Court rejected Banks' claim that he was denied the right to present a defense when the trial court excluded certain photographs depicting written documents for which the defense had failed to offer evidence of authentication. The Supreme Court opined that, without knowing the author of the writings, the excluded photographs were devoid of any relevance in this case.

    Appeal No. 116,447: Shane Landrum v. Hon. Jeffrey E. Goering, Presiding Judge, Criminal Division, Kansas 18th Judicial District; and State of Kansas 

    In an opinion written Justice Marla J. Luckert, the Supreme Court considered an original action in mandamus filed by Landrum against Judge Goering. Landrum is currently in state custody, charged with aiding and abetting first degree murder. Landrum was adjudicated a partially indigent defendant and requested state funding for investigative, expert, and other services under K.S.A. 22-4508. Judge Goering denied the request, concluding a partially indigent defendant was not entitled to state funds for such services. Landrum filed an action in mandamus asking the Supreme Court to order Judge Goering to authorize the requested funds. The Supreme Court interpreted the plain language of K.S.A. 22-4508 to require Judge Goering to hold an ex parte hearing to determine whether Landrum is financially unable to obtain investigative, expert, or other services, and whether the requested services are necessary to an adequate defense. Accordingly, the court issued the writ of mandamus in part and ordered Judge Goering hold a hearing on Landrum's requests.

    Appeal No. 114,005 State of Kansas v. Corey Pollard
     
    The Supreme Court affirmed Pollard's convictions for aggravated robbery and the first-degree felony murder of Paul "Danny" Khmabounheuang. Pollard raised two issues on appeal. First, the prosecutor erred by introducing gang affiliation evidence and misleading the district judge about the grounds for doing so. Second, Pollard attacked the procedures of the court clerk's office in Sedgwick County for handling pro se motions in criminal cases. The court rejected both these arguments. The Supreme Court noted that the State's pretrial proffer of testimony of gang affiliation was completely consistent with the actual testimony at trial. And, without that testimony, the State would not have been able to explain to jurors how Pollard came to be a suspect in the case. Despite Pollard's claim otherwise, his identity was a central issue in the case. The Supreme Court also rejected Pollard's attack of the procedures employed by the court clerk's office for handling pro se motions. Pollard had filed a pro se motion to compel discovery but the district judge never held a hearing on the motion. Despite the lack of hearing, the court held that Pollard had not been prejudiced by the way the motion was handled. The court noted that there was no indication in the record on appeal that any discovery issue surfaced during trial. Nor did Pollard allege that the State failed to provide him with any discovery. At the time Pollard filed the motion, the district judge had already ordered the State to comply with state statutory law and case law on discovery. Before trial, the parties agreed that each had provided the other with all relevant discovery, and the judge acknowledged that the parties had so agreed.

    Appeal No. 111,774: State of Kansas v. Denise Davey
     
    A unanimous Supreme Court affirmed the Court of Appeals decision to uphold Davey's convictions for attempted first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit first-degree murder of her husband, Dennis Davey. The Supreme Court held that the plain language of K.S.A. 60-460(i)(2), upon which the coconspirator exception to the hearsay rule is based, requires that: 1) the out-of-court statement must have been made by one of the coconspirators; 2) the statement of the coconspirator must have been made while the conspiracy was in progress; and 3) the statement must be relevant to the plan or its subject matter. The coconspirator exception to the hearsay rule does not require that the coconspirator's statement be offered to the court by a third person who is not a participant in the conspiracy, and prior case law establishing that requirement was overruled. Accordingly, the Supreme Court held that the Johnson County District Court did not err in admitting the hearsay statements of coconspirators that were offered through the testimony of another coconspirator.

    Appeal No. 114,168: Midwest Crane & Rigging, LLC v. Kansas Corporation Commission

    After stopping a truck owned by Midwest Crane & Rigging, LLC, a state trooper issued Midwest a fine for failing to register the vehicle under the federal Unified Carrier Registration Act. The truck's only purpose was to provide the crane service. It has a crane permanently attached to its chassis. Determining whether the fine was warranted required analyzing whether the vehicle stopped was transporting "cargo," as the term is defined in the Unified Carrier Registration Act. The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the Court of Appeals and the judgment of the Shawnee County District Court, which had affirmed the fine. The Supreme Court held that a crane permanently bolted to a truck chassis and associated necessary tools do not qualify as cargo, and the truck itself thus does not qualify as a commercial motor vehicle under the Act.  

    Kansas Court of Appeals decisions released today 


  • 10 Jul 2017 3:33 PM | Tiffany Fisher (Administrator)

    The Kansas Supreme Court released the following published decision today: ​

    Appeal No. 116,773: In the Matter of Uchchi Okechukwu Nwakanma

    Uhchi Okechukwu Nwakanma of Houston, Texas, was disbarred from the practice of law in Kansas. Since he was admitted to practice law in Kansas in 2003, Nwakanma only ever practiced law in Houston, Texas. He was never licensed to practice in the state of Texas. The Kansas Supreme Court found that Nwakanma violated several of Texas' Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct. It also found numerous violations of the Kansas Rules of Professional Conduct, such as those relating to competence, diligence, communication, fees, safekeeping of property, termination of representation, fairness to opposing party and counsel, bar admission and disciplinary matters, misconduct, and cooperation. Many of these violations arose during Nwakanma's representation of a defendant charged in federal court with 55 felony counts of health care fraud, mail fraud, and money laundering.

    Kansas Court of Appeals decisions released today 

    State of Kansas
    Office of Judicial Administration
    Kansas Judicial Center
    301 SW 10th
    Topeka, Kansas 66612-1507
    785-296-2256
    www.kscourts.org


  • 10 Jul 2017 2:29 PM | Tiffany Fisher (Administrator)

    The Kansas Supreme Court released the following published decisions today: 

    Case No. 111,698: State of Kansas v. David Lee Ryce, rehearing

    Case No. 110,393: State of Kansas v. Darwin Estol Wycoff, rehearing

    Case No. 112,009: State of Kansas v. Derick A. Wilson, rehearing

    Case No. 111,401: State of Kansas v. Gregory Michael Nece, rehearing

    In a 6-1 decision written by Justice Marla Luckert, the Kansas Supreme Court affirmed its previous rulings in State v. Ryce, State v. Wycoff, and State v. Wilson, that a Kansas statute, which criminalized a DUI suspect's refusal to submit to a warrantless blood-alcohol content test, was unconstitutional.

    State v. Ryce originated in Sedgwick County District Court. State v. Wycoff and State v. Nece originated in Saline County District Court. State v. Wilson originated in Shawnee County District Court.

    The State successfully sought rehearing on those Kansas Supreme Court rulings, which were originally made in February 2016, after the U.S. Supreme Court decided three similar cases from other states in Birchfield v. North Dakota. The U.S. Supreme Court had concluded that warrantless breath tests for DUI suspects were permissible under the Fourth Amendment as a search incident to lawful arrest, though warrantless blood tests were not.
     
    In reconsidering its previous rulings, the Kansas Supreme Court explained that its ruling was based on interpretation of a state statute and was thus insulated from Birchfield. In addition, the North Dakota and Minnesota statutes discussed by the U.S. Supreme Court were distinguishable from Kansas's statute. For example, the Kansas statute required a DUI suspect to submit to a blood-alcohol content test even if he or she was not under arrest, and the Kansas statute was based on implied consent as opposed to some other exception to the Fourth Amendment's warrant requirement.
     
    Accordingly, the Kansas Supreme Court affirmed its previous rulings and held that the Kansas statute criminalizing refusal to submit to a warrantless blood-alcohol content test was unconstitutional. Justice Caleb Stegall dissented both from the original ruling and the ruling upon rehearing.
     
    In a related case, State v. Nece, the Kansas Supreme Court again affirmed a district court's assessment that a DUI suspect's consent to a breath test was involuntary because it was obtained by means of an inaccurate and coercive advisement of the law. Justice Stegall concurred in the result.

    Kansas Court of Appeals decisions released today 

    State of Kansas
    Office of Judicial Administration
    Kansas Judicial Center
    301 SW 10th
    Topeka, Kansas 66612-1507
    785-296-2256
    www.kscourts.org


  • 26 Jun 2017 1:45 PM | Tiffany Fisher (Administrator)

    The Kansas Supreme Court released the following published decisions today: 

    Appeal No. 114,554: State of Kansas v. Daniel Perez 

    In a unanimous decision written by Justice Eric Rosen, the Supreme Court affirmed Perez's convictions in Sedgwick County District Court for first-degree premeditated murder; sexual exploitation of a child; eight counts of rape; seven counts of aggravated criminal sodomy; three counts of aggravated assault; and eight counts of making false information. The charges stem from the State's allegations that Perez had convinced a group of people to live and work with him and then murdered a group member for her life insurance benefit; falsified a number of documents; and raped, sexually assaulted, and sexually exploited a number of the group members' children. The unanimous court concluded that any error in the admission of certain testimony was harmless; that the facts of the case did not support an assisting suicide instruction; that the district court did not abuse its discretion when it concluded the probative value of prior crime evidence outweighed any potential prejudice; and that challenged limiting instructions were not clearly erroneous.

    Case No. 114,052, State of Kansas v. Bruce Julius Ashley Jr.

    Ashley was convicted of one count of first-degree felony murder and one count of attempted aggravated robbery, based on the 2010 shooting death of the owner of a liquor store in Johnson County. On appeal, Ashley challenged instructions given to the jury. He also challenged the trial court's refusal to grant a new trial when, after the conviction, two inmate-witnesses came forward to impeach testimony provided by witnesses for the State. Writing for a unanimous court, Justice Eric Rosen held that an informant jury instruction was not appropriate in this case because a witness for the State was not acting as an agent for the State at the time that he learned the information serving as the basis for his testimony. The court further held that the court properly gave the jury a limiting instruction relating to evidence of other crimes, even though Ashley had objected to the instruction. Finally, the court determined that the trial court did not abuse its discretion when it discounted the credibility of Ashley's after-the-fact impeachment witnesses and refused to order a new trial. The convictions were affirmed.

    Kansas Court of Appeals decisions released today 

    State of Kansas
    Office of Judicial Administration
    Kansas Judicial Center
    301 SW 10th
    Topeka, Kansas 66612-1507
    785-296-2256
    www.kscourts.org


  • 22 Jun 2017 9:57 PM | Tiffany Fisher (Administrator)

    UPDATE: Appeal No. 113,267: Luke Gannon, by his next friends and guardians, et al. v. State of Kansas

    The Kansas Supreme Court notified lawyers in the above-captioned case to appear by phone for a scheduling conference at 8:30 a.m. Monday to discuss deadlines and identify at least the major issues arising out of the signing yesterday afternoon of Senate Bill 19, the school finance bill. The court will issue a scheduling order later Monday. Counsel were notified early today of the scheduling conference Monday so they have ample time to review and prepare for the call.
     
    Documents in this case are available online at http://www.kscourts.org/kansas-courts/supreme-court/Cases_of_interest/Cases/113267/defaultasp   

    State of Kansas
    Office of Judicial Administration
    Kansas Judicial Center
    301 SW 10th
    Topeka, Kansas 66612-1507
    785-296-2256
    www.kscourts.org


  • 22 Jun 2017 9:56 PM | Tiffany Fisher (Administrator)

    The Kansas Supreme Court released the following published decision today: 

    Appeal No. 112,260: State of Kansas v. Jason Hachmeister.

    The Supreme Court affirmed the conviction of Jason Hachmeister on 105 counts of sexual exploitation of a child. The conviction was based on police discovery of child pornography on his computer, which was seized as part of a murder investigation. Hachmeister was convicted in a separate criminal proceeding for the 2011 first-degree murder of his mother, Shelia. That conviction remains under appeal.

    In today's decision, the court rejected Hachmeister's argument that the search warrant used to discover the photos on his computer was not properly supported by a law enforcement affidavit. In an opinion written by Justice Dan Biles, the court held the facts outlined in the affidavit provided "a fair probability evidence related to Shelia's murder might have been found on a computer within the possession of Hachmeister."

    On a separate issue, the court divided 4-3 on whether Hachmeister would be required to register as a sex offender under Kansas law if he were released from imprisonment. The question turned on whether a court or a jury was required to make a factual finding that some of the pornographic images depicted children under 14 years of age. The court majority held it was appropriate for the Shawnee County District Court to make that factual finding, so registration was appropriate under state law. Three justices dissented and said a jury was required to make that determination.

    Kansas Court of Appeals decisions released today 

    State of Kansas
    Office of Judicial Administration
    Kansas Judicial Center
    301 SW 10th
    Topeka, Kansas 66612-1507
    785-296-2256
    www.kscourts.org


  • 12 Jun 2017 12:03 PM | Tiffany Fisher (Administrator)

    The National Association of Women Judges, Informed Voter Project is hosting an upcoming webinar for Constitutional Day educational events. The Webinar will be held on 6/21/17 @ 2 pm Eastern time.

    Questions related to this can be addressed to:

    Annette Boyd Pitts

    Executive Director

    The Florida Law Related Education Association, Inc

    P. O. Box 13674

    Tallahassee, Florida 32317

    www.flrea.org

    staff@flrea.org 

  • 09 Jun 2017 3:16 PM | Tiffany Fisher (Administrator)

    The Kansas Supreme Court released the following published decisions today: 

    Appeal No. 111,299: Shannon Bogguess v. State of Kansas
    Justice Caleb Stegall wrote the opinion in which the Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the Sedgwick County District Court. In a prior criminal case, Bogguess was convicted of first-degree murder and several other crimes. After the Supreme Court affirmed his convictions and sentence, Bogguess filed a collateral action, alleging that his trial counsel was ineffective in several respects. The district court dismissed Bogguess' motion, and the Court of Appeals affirmed. The Court of Appeals held that Bogguess was barred by res judicata from relitigating his claims. It also held that his ineffective assistance of counsel claims failed on the merits. The Supreme Court unanimously held that Bogguess' ineffective assistance of counsel claim was not barred by res judicata because this court has previously explained that such claims are not typically addressed on direct appeal; because this court treated Bogguess' claims under a motion for substitute counsel rubric in his direct appeal; and because Bogguess raised a new factual basis for his claim in the collateral action. The Supreme Court nonetheless agreed with the Court of Appeals that Bogguess' claim failed on the merits.

    Appeal No. 111,915: State of Kansas v. Casey M. Baker
    Justice Caleb Stegall wrote the opinion in which the Supreme Court unanimously reversed the denial of Baker's motion to suppress, reversed his resulting convictions, and remanded the case to Douglas County District Court. At the time of Baker's arrest, police conducted a warrantless search of Baker's backpack and discovered needles inside a Nintendo game case and methamphetamine inside a cell phone carrier. The state conceded police lacked probable cause to search the backpack but claimed the contraband would have been inevitably discovered through a valid inventory search. The court held standardized criteria or an established routine must regulate the opening of containers found during inventory searches. Therefore, the search of Baker's backpack violated the Fourth Amendment because the state presented no evidence of an established inventory routine that would have inevitably led to the opening of the containers in which the evidence was found.

    Appeal No. 110,483: Mahnaz Consolver v. Chris Hotze, et al
    Justice Caleb Stegall wrote the opinion in which the Supreme Court reversed the decision of the Court of Appeals and affirmed the decision of the Sedgwick County District Court. Consolver hired Bradley A. Pistotnik to represent her in a personal injury lawsuit through a standard contingency agreement. Pistotnik and defense counsel concluded mediation by agreeing that the defendant would offer Consolver $300,000 once Consolver provided proof that she would need an additional surgery. A few days before Pistotnik's contingency fee percentage increased and before the formal offer could be made, Consolver terminated Pistotnik and hired Stephen Brave. Brave later settled the case for $360,000. The district court found that Pistotnik had completed 90 percent of the case and calculated the award as 90 percent of one-third of $300,000. The Court of Appeals reversed, holding that the district court erred when it considered the terms of the contingency fee agreement when calculating the appropriate fee. Reversing the Court of Appeals decision, the Supreme Court unanimously held that the district court did not abuse its discretion by considering all of the factors in K.S.A. 2016 Supp 7-121b(a) and KRPC 1.5(a), including whether the fee agreement is fixed or contingent.

    Appeal No. 114,008:  State of Kansas v. Essex Sims
    Justice Dan Biles wrote the opinion in which the Supreme Court rejected an effort by Essex T. Sims to be resentenced for a 1995 Sedgwick County aggravated battery conviction. The court noted his challenge was based on overruled case law. A jury convicted Sims of felony murder, two counts of aggravated battery, one count of criminal discharge of a firearm at an occupied dwelling, and one count of criminal possession of a firearm. At the time of his original sentencing, Sims had a 1992 juvenile adjudication for theft and a 1992 juvenile adjudication for aggravated assault. In 2015, Sims filed a motion to correct the aggravated battery sentence, arguing the sentencing court misclassified the 1992 aggravated assault as a "person felony," which resulted in a more severe sentence than he would have received under Kansas' sentencing guidelines if the crime was not so classified. The court observed that while his sentencing challenge was pending on appeal, the case he relied on for his argument had been overruled and the new case law would be applicable to his case.

    Appeal No. 112,513:  State of Kansas v. Matthew R. McDaniel
    Justice Dan Biles wrote the opinion in which the Supreme Court affirmed Matthew R. McDaniel's felony-murder and aggravated robbery convictions. The convictions stemmed from the 2012 killing of Ronald Wilson during a planned robbery of Wilson in Wichita. A Sedgwick County jury convicted McDaniel of the crimes, and he was sentenced to consecutive terms of life imprisonment without the possibility of parole for 20 years for the felony murder and 102 months' imprisonment for the aggravated robbery. On appeal, McDaniel claimed a Sedgwick County District Court judge erred by refusing McDaniel's initial request for a new attorney without any inquiry into the alleged problem and was wrong to make on-the-record observations about McDaniel's interactions with that attorney at a time when McDaniel was not present. In a unanimous ruling, the court agreed the judge did not handle the proceedings correctly but said both mistakes were harmless and did not require reversal of the convictions. McDaniel also claimed there was a mistake in the jury instructions, but the court rejected this and noted the instructions fairly and accurately stated the applicable law.   

    Appeal No. 114,336:  State of Kansas v. Undra Lee
    Justice Dan Biles wrote the opinion in which the Supreme Court rejected a request by Undra D. Lee to convert his criminal sentences to reflect sentencing guidelines enacted after his crimes. The court reasoned that Lee relied on case law that had been overruled and misread the applicable statute. Lee was convicted in 1995 for four crimes that occurred in January 1993: first-degree murder, aggravated kidnapping, kidnapping, and aggravated assault. In July 1993, the state enacted the Kansas Sentencing Guidelines Act, under which Lee claimed he would have received more lenient sentences. But the district court sentenced Lee according to the sentencing laws applicable at the time of his crimes, sententing Lee to life imprisonment for first-degree murder and aggravated kidnapping, 15 years to life for kidnapping, and 3 to 10 years for aggravated assault. The court ordered Lee to serve these sentences consecutively. In 2014, Lee filed a motion to correct his sentences, citing case law that was overturned in 1995. In its unanimous ruling, the court held the more recent case law made clear Lee was not entitled to have his sentences converted to what they would have been under the sentencing guidelines. The court further noted the sentencing guidelines act did not permit the conversion of Lee's sentence.

    Kansas Court of Appeals decisions released today 

    State of Kansas
    Office of Judicial Administration
    Kansas Judicial Center
    301 SW 10th
    Topeka, Kansas 66612-1507
    785-296-2256
    www.kscourts.org


  • 02 Jun 2017 11:04 AM | Tiffany Fisher (Administrator)

    The Kansas Supreme Court released the following published decisions today: 

    Appeal No. 114,304: State of Kansas v. Jeffrey Scott Collier
     
    The Supreme Court rejected Collier's efforts to change his sentence for a 1993 aggravated robbery. Collier claimed the Sedgwick County District Court miscalculated his criminal history score during the original proceedings.
     
    Collier was convicted of first-degree premeditated murder and aggravated robbery for crimes occurring in October 1993. At the time, his criminal history reflected eight prior convictions, including a 1988 conviction for aggravated burglary and two juvenile adjudications in 1987 and 1988. Collier ultimately received a life sentence for the murder conviction and a consecutive, 97-month sentence for the aggravated robbery conviction.
     
    In 2014, Collier claimed his aggravated robbery sentence should be reduced because the 1980s crimes should have been considered nonperson crimes under the Kansas sentencing guidelines. A unanimous Supreme Court noted its recent case law rejected similar claims.  

    Appeal No. 114,032: State of Kansas v. Erick Donaldson
     
    The Supreme Court ordered the Sedgwick County District Court to resentence Donaldson for his 2002 conviction for sale of cocaine because his criminal history was not properly calculated under Kansas sentencing guidelines.
     
    The court noted that under present Kansas case law the district court was required to treat Donaldson's 1990 juvenile adjudication for burglary as a nonperson felony for the purpose of determining the applicable guidelines sentence for the sale of cocaine conviction. When he was originally sentenced, the district court treated the juvenile burglary as a person felony, which resulted in Donaldson receiving a more severe sentence than the guidelines permitted.
     
    Donaldson was convicted in the same trial of first-degree felony murder. His hard-20 life sentence for that offense is unaffected by the court's decision on the burglary adjudication.  

    Appeal No. 114,468: State of Kansas v. Alan W. Kingsley
     
    The Supreme Court rejected Kingsley's claim that the Sedgwick County District Court illegally sentenced him to a hard-40 life sentence for a 1991 first-degree premeditated murder. The court held the sentence conformed to the applicable statute. The court also rejected Kingsley's attempt to use the limited-purpose statute for a broader constitutional claim that he was denied due process.

    Appeal No. 114,534: State of Kansas v. Artis Swafford
     
    A unanimous Supreme Court held that a sentence in a Saline County District Court case was not ambiguous when a judge ordered it to run consecutive to a sentence in a previous case, which the judge referred to by case number only, where the defendant only had one prior case with that case number. The court also clarified that a defendant has 30 days in which to appeal the denial of K.S.A. 22-3504 motion to correct an illegal sentence.

    Appeal No. 114,834: In the Matter of A.D.T.
     
    In an extended juvenile jurisdiction proceeding, the district court imposes a juvenile sentence and an adult sentence, but execution of the adult sentence is stayed pending the offender's compliance with provisions of the juvenile sentence. In this case, the court held that the statutory provisions in K.S.A. 2015 Supp. 38-2364(b) mandated termination of the juvenile court's jurisdiction and execution of the previously-stayed adult sentence, once the Wyandotte County District Court found that the juvenile had violated the terms of his conditional release. In a separate concurring opinion, Justice Rosen questioned whether the imposition of the adult sentence created an Eighth Amendment violation, while acknowledging that A.D.T. had not raised that constitutional argument in this appeal.  

    Kansas Court of Appeals decisions released today 

    State of Kansas
    Office of Judicial Administration
    Kansas Judicial Center
    301 SW 10th
    Topeka, Kansas 66612-1507
    785-296-2256
    www.kscourts.org


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