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 CommissionKansas Court of Appeals decisions released today
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.