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
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