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Supreme Court release for February 15, 2019

15 Feb 2019 7:19 PM | Amanda Kohlman (Administrator)

The Kansas Supreme Court released the following published decisions today:

Appeal No. 105,183: State of Kansas v. Steve Kelly Moyer

Summary calendar; no oral argument

This is the second time this Sherman County case was brought before the Supreme Court.         

Moyer was convicted by jury of five sex crimes against his minor daughter. Previously, the Supreme Court remanded Moyer's case to the district court to determine whether Moyer was denied his constitutional right to effective assistance of counsel at his trial. At that time, this court reserved ruling on whether the cumulative effect of other errors at Moyer's trial denied Moyer a fair trial. Following remand, the Supreme Court affirmed Moyer's convictions, holding Moyer was not denied his constitutional right to effective assistance of counsel and rejecting Moyer's claim that cumulative trial errors denied him a fair trial.

Appeal No. 113,580: State of Kansas v. Jack R. LaPointe

Archived oral argument video

The Supreme Court today denied a request for new trial from LaPointe, who claimed recent DNA test results would have changed the outcome of his trial for the armed robbery of a Roeland Park Payless store in 2000 In its decision, a divided court narrowed the scope of convictions eligible for postconviction DNA testing under state law. A jury convicted LaPointe of aggravated robbery and aggravated assault. Years later, he requested DNA testing under a state law authorizing postconviction DNA testing in certain first-degree murder and rape cases. LaPointe argued his prison sentence was similar to those imposed for the statutorily designated crimes so he was entitled to the same testing. A Johnson County district court judge agreed, ordered the testing, but ultimately concluded the results would not have changed the jury's verdict

Writing for the majority, Justice Dan Biles said the court agreed with the decision to deny LaPointe a new trial. It also concluded a 2013 decision judicially expanding the crimes eligible for postconviction DNA testing based on the term of imprisonment should be overruled.

"The Legislature has authority to grant a limited right to access postconviction DNA testing procedures without violating equal protection principles," Biles wrote. He was joined in this view by Chief Justice Lawton Nuss and Justices Eric Rosen and Caleb Stegall.

Disagreeing, Justice Carol Beier argued the case did not require overruling the 2013 decision, noting LaPointe's long prison sentence was "largely attributable to his extensive criminal history, not to the severity level and long sentences assigned to his crimes in this case." She was joined in dissent by Justices Marla Luckert and Lee Johnson.

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