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Supreme Court releases for October 25, 2019

25 Oct 2019 12:52 PM | Tiffany Fisher (Administrator)

The Kansas Supreme Court released the following published decisions today:

Appeal No. 115,387: State of Kansas v. Timothy C. Boettger

Archived oral argument video 

Boettger appealed his Douglas County conviction and sentence for one count of reckless criminal threat. The Court of Appeals affirmed, finding no reversible error. The Supreme Court reversed, holding the reckless form of criminal threat is unconstitutionally overbroad in violation of the free speech clause of the First Amendment to the U.S Constitution. The Supreme Court dismissed Boettger's remaining arguments as moot. 

Appeal No. 116,307: Corvias Military Living LLC and Corvias Military Construction LLC v. Ventamatic Ltd. and Jakel Inc.

Archived oral argument video 

In an opinion written by Justice Caleb Stegall, the Supreme Court reversed in part and affirmed in part the Court of Appeals as right for the wrong reason and remanded to Geary County District Court for further proceedings. Corvias built thousands of homes near Fort Riley in Geary County. In these homes, Corvias installed bathroom ceiling fans constructed by Ventamatic Ltd. and Jakel Motors Inc. After installation, several of the ceiling fans caught fire. Corvias sought recovery for the fire damage as well as the removal and replacement costs of the remaining fans. The Supreme Court held the Kansas Product Liability Act, K.S.A. 60-3301 et seq., did not bar Corvias from recovering damages associated with the fire damage to the homes because the Act permits a plaintiff to recover for "damage to property"—even damage to the product itself. Additionally, while the court held removal and replacement costs are not recoverable in a product liability action, the Act does not create an absolute bar against their recovery.

Appeal No. 116,453: State of Kansas v Ryan R. Johnson 

Summary calendar; no oral argument

Johnson appealed his Montgomery County conviction and sentence for one count of criminal threat. The Court of Appeals affirmed, finding no error. The Supreme Court reversed, holding there was sufficient evidence to support Johnson's conviction as either a reckless or intentional criminal threat. But the Supreme Court held the reckless form of criminal threat is unconstitutionally overbroad in violation of the free speech clause of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The Supreme Court reversed Johnson's conviction and sentence because Johnson had been charged with either reckless or intentional criminal threat, the jury had been instructed on both, and the record on appeal did not establish whether the jury found Johnson acted recklessly or intentionally. A majority of the Supreme Court held Johnson should be granted a new jury trial solely under the intentional threat provision of Kansas' criminal threat statute. Justice Caleb Stegall, joined by Justice Dan Biles, agreed the reckless form of criminal threat is unconstitutional, but they would affirm the conviction because the evidence established Johnson acted intentionally, not recklessly.

Appeal No. 116,568: State of Kansas v. Marquel D. Dean 

Archived oral argument video

On direct appeal, the Supreme Court affirmed Dean's Sedgwick County convictions for premeditated murder, four aggravated battery charges, and criminal possession of a firearm. In an opinion written by Justice Caleb Stegall, the court held Dean failed to sufficiently furnish the record with a juror's notebook Dean claimed prejudiced his trial rights after the juror impermissibly brought the notebook from home. Because Dean failed to affirmatively designate the record with the document, the court affirmed the district court's denial of Dean's motion for mistrial. Additionally, Dean argued the district court erred when it failed to provide a "cooperating witness" jury instruction. The court held a district court is not legally required to instruct the jury to view with caution the testimony of a noninformant witness who is, nonetheless, testifying in exchange for benefits from the State. Similarly, the Supreme Court affirmed the district court's denial of Dean's new trial motion because Dean failed to provide allegedly new documents detailing the witness' federal plea deal. Moreover, the witness testified he hoped to receive a reduced sentence for his testimony. The Supreme Court also held the State presented sufficient evidence of premeditation and evidence of Dean's gang affiliation was admissible. Finding no error, the Supreme Court held the cumulative error doctrine did not apply.

Kansas Court of Appeals decisions released today


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