Kansas Supreme Court Decisions, July 14, 2023

14 Jul 2023 10:19 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

Appeal No. 123,190: State of Kansas v. Jerry W. Campbell

Appeal No. 123,190 archived oral argument

After law enforcement discovered drugs and items associated with the sale of drugs in a car driven by Campbell on two separate occasions, a jury convicted him of two counts of possessing methamphetamine and four counts of possessing drug paraphernalia with intent to use to distribute. At trial, Douglas County District Court allowed the State to introduce detailed evidence relating to Campbell's prior convictions for similar crimes under K.S.A. 2017 Supp. 60-455. On direct appeal, a Court of Appeals panel reversed Campbell's convictions, finding the district court erred by allowing the State to introduce the prior crimes evidence and remanded the case for a new trial. On review, the Supreme Court affirmed the panel's ruling.

In a unanimous decision written by Justice Melissa Standridge, the Court held the panel erred in failing to review the district court's improper admission of the K.S.A. 60-455 evidence for harmless error. But the Court ultimately affirmed the panel's decision after finding the error was not harmless, given the prejudicial impact on the outcome of the trial resulting from the introduction of the prior crimes evidence and from the district court's instructions to the jury that it could consider the prior crimes evidence. The Court held that although a defendant's use of a controlled substance may be admitted—subject to the requirements of K.S.A. 2022 Supp. 60-455—when such evidence is relevant to prove a disputed material fact, the defendant's use of a controlled substance is not a factor that is automatically admissible as an exception to the specific mandates of K.S.A. 2022 Supp. 60-455. The Court specifically disapproved of any suggestion otherwise by PIK Crim. 4th 57.040 and past Kansas appellate caselaw. Finally, the Court rejected Campbell's argument that the district court abused its discretion in reversing its order suppressing evidence found in Campbell's car because his claims involved technical irregularities that did not affect the validity of the search warrant.
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