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  • 31 Mar 2020 8:17 AM | Amanda Kohlman (Administrator)

    Supreme Court issues administrative order to allow file-stamped copies when docketing an appeal

     

    TOPEKA—The Kansas Supreme Court today issued Administrative Order 2020-RL-027 to temporarily allow file-stamped copies of documents to be used when docketing an appeal instead of certified copies normally required under Supreme Court Rule 2.04.

    “The appellate courts continue to process cases, even though we are on emergency operations as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Chief Justice Marla Luckert. “By allowing file-stamped copies of documents to be used to docket appeals, we are making it easier for the parties and for district courts that would provide those certified copies.”

    All state courts have been on emergency operations since the Supreme Court issued Administrative Order 2020-PR-016 March 18. The administrative order lists emergency operations that courts must perform while the order is in place.

    All courts continue to accept filings in all case types, but priority is given to filings in matters that are on the list of emergency operations. Courts process filings in matters not considered emergency operations as time and staffing allow.

    “Kansas courts continue to serve the people of Kansas, even though we had to restrict services to protect the health of our judges, our employees, and the people who come into our courthouses,” Luckert said. “We are taking actions to make it easier to process cases until we can resume normal operations. Temporarily allowing file-stamped copies to be used to docket an appeal is one example.”

    The Supreme Court and the Court of Appeals encourage parties to continue to meet filing deadlines, even while Administrative Order 2020-PR-016 is in place.

    “It’s better to keep cases moving, even at a slower pace, than to stop them until the need for restricted operations has passed,” Luckert said.

    ______ 

    Kansas courts response to COVID-19


  • 27 Mar 2020 4:19 PM | Amanda Kohlman (Administrator)

    The Kansas Supreme Court released the following published decision today:

     

     

    Appeal No. 119,492: State of Kansas v. Efrain Gonzalez Jr.

    Archived oral argument video

    The Supreme Court rejected challenges made by Gonzalez to his Wyandotte County convictions for felony murder, attempted aggravated robbery, and conspiracy to commit aggravated robbery. On November 27, 2016, a passenger in a car Gonzalez was driving shot and killed Louis Scherzer outside a bar in Kansas City, Kansas The central question on appeal was whether sufficient evidence existed to prove intent to commit a robbery. Justice Dan Biles wrote the Supreme Court's unanimous opinion.

    Kansas Court of Appeals decisions released today


  • 23 Mar 2020 10:55 AM | Amanda Kohlman (Administrator)

    Governor Laura Kelly directed that all executive branch offices, including OAH, will be closed from March 23 to April 5, 2020, to reduce the spread of COVID-19 (coronavirus).  All hearings and prehearing conferences scheduled during this two week period are cancelled and will be rescheduled.  OAH tentatively is scheduled to reopen on April 6, 2020.

    To ensure access to OAH during this time, documents and exhibits may be submitted in one of three ways:

    1. Use the e-filing system if you are an approved e-filer.  If you are not an approved e-filer, you may access the e-filing system by completing the E-filing Terms of Use Agreement. This Agreement is located at the “Resources” tab on the OAH website.
    2. Use TemporaryFilingOAH@ks.gov to send documents and exhibits to OAH.  This temporary email address will be monitored by OAH staff while OAH is closed.
    3. File by fax at 785-296-4848.

    Cheryl L. Whelan
    Director & Administrative Law Judge
    Office of Administrative Hearings
    1020 S. Kansas Avenue
    Topeka, KS  66612
    Phone (785) 296-2433
    Fax (785) 296-4848

    Cheryl.Whelan@ks.gov


  • 18 Mar 2020 7:15 PM | Amanda Kohlman (Administrator)

    State courts on emergency operations until further order

     

    TOPEKA—The Kansas Supreme Court today issued Administrative Order 2020-PR-016 directing all district and appellate courts to cease all but emergency operations until further order.

    The only exception is jury trials that are currently under way. They may proceed to conclusion, but no other criminal or civil jury trials will be scheduled until further order.

    The Supreme Court anticipates the order to remain in effect for at least two weeks, at which time it will be reevaluated. 

    “This is an extraordinary measure to match the gravity of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Chief Justice Marla Luckert. “We have a duty to protect the people who come into our courthouses and courtrooms, as well as our employees and judges. This action allows courts to fulfill core functions while reducing in-person contact.”

    Emergency operations are outlined in the Administrative Order, and generally include:

    • determining probable cause for persons arrested without a warrant;
    • first appearances;
    • bond hearings;
    • warrants for adults and juveniles;
    • juvenile detention hearings;
    • care and treatment emergency orders;
    • protection from abuse and protection from stalking temporary orders;
    • child in need of care hearings and orders;
    • considering petitions to waive notice for abortions by minors;
    • commitment of sexually violent predators; and
    • isolation and quarantine hearings and orders.

    Referenced in the Administrative Order is 2020 House Substitute for Senate Bill 102. On its publication, the court’s Administrative Order will have the effect of suspending until further order all statutes of limitations and statutory time standards or deadlines that apply to conducting or processing judicial proceedings.

    During the effective dates of the order, no action will be dismissed for lack of prosecution.

    People who have business with a court are urged to try completing that business online, by phone, or by mail. If that’s not possible, the person can call the court for direction. A limited number of staff will be available to answer questions.

    Chief judges of district courts are charged with identifying essential personnel—both judges and employees—needed to fulfill emergency operations.

    The Administrative Order also applies to appellate courts, including the Supreme Court. Emergency operations for the appellate courts include:

    • Appeals, motions, or original actions arising from the emergency operations of the district court;
    • Any other appeal, motion, or original action requiring expeditious resolution.

    “It is through our collective action that we will slow COVID-19’s spread,” Luckert said. “The courts will continue to serve the people of Kansas, but in a way that protects all of us.”


  • 16 Mar 2020 6:14 PM | Amanda Kohlman (Administrator)

    Attorney, client protocol established for Kansas courts

    TOPEKA—Attorneys and their clients who have symptoms of COVID-19, have been exposed to the virus, or are covered by the Kansas Department of Health's recommendations for quarantine and isolation of travelers are advised to follow protocols established by the Kansas judicial branch.

    Persons entering any Kansas courthouse may be asked screening questions consistent with public health guidelines. Admission may be denied for public health concerns. These individuals will be encouraged to visit a courtroom or court offices at another time or use a different method of conducting business.

    Attorneys should ask their clients to follow these rules. If a judge determines a proceeding must proceed, individuals may be required to wear masks.

    Postings inside courthouses will provide telephone or email contact information for court personnel. Contact information for district courts also is available online.

    Attorneys, members of the public, and law enforcement officers appearing in courtrooms should follow the same hand foam and handwashing procedures as court employees. That includes frequently washing hands with soap and water for a minimum of 20 seconds or using alcohol-based hand cleaners. If sheriff's deputies or inmates in their custody have a fever or are coughing, they should wear masks while in the courthouses.

     

    If any inmate is confirmed to have COVID-19, the court will coordinate with the sheriff, defense counsel, and the prosecutor to arrange for video appearances or continuances of court proceedings.


  • 16 Mar 2020 3:11 PM | Amanda Kohlman (Administrator)

    Kansas Supreme Court restricts Judicial Center access, cancels March oral arguments

     

    TOPEKA—The Kansas Supreme Court issued Administrative Order 2020-PR-015 restricting access to the Kansas Judicial Center; outlining a self-quarantine policy for employees and judges; and canceling travel, conferences, and training organized by or involving the judicial branch workforce.

    This is the Supreme Court’s second order issued in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

    Visits to the Judicial Center, 301 W 10th Ave., Topeka, are restricted to judicial branch judges and employees and members of the public who have court business that cannot be conducted remotely online or via mail service with the:

    • Kansas Supreme Court
    • Kansas Court of Appeals
    • Clerk of the Appellate Courts
    • Appellate Reporter's Office
    • Kansas Judicial Council
    • Office of Judicial Administration

    This restriction also applies to the Kansas Lawyers Assistance Program and the Disciplinary Administrator's offices, which are in other locations.

    There will be no events or tours in the Judicial Center, and the Supreme Court Law Library will not receive visitors.

    People entering the Judicial Center or offices of the Disciplinary Administrator or the Kansas Lawyers Assistance Program may be asked screening questions consistent with public health guidelines. Admission may be denied.

    The Supreme Court encourages using the judicial branch website at www.kscourts.org and other online tools to complete court business in lieu of visiting these locations.

    Chief judges are advised to develop similar restrictions for each judicial district.

    Judicial branch judges and employees will be required to self-quarantine and not report to work for 14 days if they or someone with whom they live or share close contact has traveled or will travel after March 1 to any international location, to high-risk areas in the United States with known widespread community transmission identified by the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, or on a cruise ship.

    Self-quarantined workers will be required to work from home or receive administrative leave, depending on the nature of their jobs.

    Judicial branch workforce travel for meetings, conferences, trainings, or similar events is discontinued. All in-person trainings provided or organized by the judicial branch are canceled. Where possible, the judicial branch workforce will use digital options for meetings, trainings, or similar work tasks.

    On March 12, the Supreme Court issued Administrative Order 2020-PR-013 to outline judicial branch policy on:

    • anticipated personnel issues;
    • notices to the public; and
    • continuity of operation plans.

    Supreme Court cancels March 23-26 oral arguments in Topeka

    The Supreme Court canceled oral arguments scheduled in March as part of its efforts to protect the public and judicial branch staff during the COVID-19 outbreak.

    Justices were scheduled to hear oral arguments in 17 appeals. Oral arguments take place in the Kansas Supreme Court courtroom in the Kansas Judicial Center in Topeka.

    Some appeals will be decided on the briefs and others will be scheduled for argument on a future date. 

    On March 13, the Supreme Court canceled its travel docket scheduled April 7 at Concordia High School in Concordia. The two cases to be heard then also will be rescheduled.

    Visitor alerts at Kansas courthouses

    Kansas courts have posted public notices urging people not to enter courtrooms or court offices if they have traveled to areas affected by COVID-19, or have been exposed to or have symptoms of the disease.

    Members of the public, as well as attorneys and their clients, who have symptoms or have been exposed to COVID-19 are asked to call or email court personnel to complete court business or to reschedule.

    District court contact information is posted in courthouses and is also online.

    Supreme Court justice self-quarantines

    Justice Caleb Stegall has entered a period of self-quarantine until March 27.

    Stegall's action is pursuant to the Supreme Court's administrative order issued March 16 that outlines judicial branch self-quarantine procedures in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

    Several of Stegall’s family members just returned from traveling in areas covered by today's order.

    Stegall will participate fully in all court activities by remote conferencing and will continue to perform all other duties, including serving as departmental justice for two judicial departments. Those departments include the 2nd, 3rd, 8th, 12th, 15th, 17th, 21st, 23rd, and 28th judicial districts.

    “We are relying on the best available information and medical expertise in order to keep everyone safe,” Stegall said, “and we urge all Kansans to do the same.”


    Kansas Supreme Court restricts Judicial Center access, cancels March oral arguments

     

    TOPEKA—The Kansas Supreme Court issued Administrative Order 2020-PR-015 restricting access to the Kansas Judicial Center; outlining a self-quarantine policy for employees and judges; and canceling travel, conferences, and training organized by or involving the judicial branch workforce.

    This is the Supreme Court’s second order issued in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

    Visits to the Judicial Center, 301 W 10th Ave., Topeka, are restricted to judicial branch judges and employees and members of the public who have court business that cannot be conducted remotely online or via mail service with the:

    • Kansas Supreme Court
    • Kansas Court of Appeals
    • Clerk of the Appellate Courts
    • Appellate Reporter's Office
    • Kansas Judicial Council
    • Office of Judicial Administration

    This restriction also applies to the Kansas Lawyers Assistance Program and the Disciplinary Administrator's offices, which are in other locations.

    There will be no events or tours in the Judicial Center, and the Supreme Court Law Library will not receive visitors.

    People entering the Judicial Center or offices of the Disciplinary Administrator or the Kansas Lawyers Assistance Program may be asked screening questions consistent with public health guidelines. Admission may be denied.

    The Supreme Court encourages using the judicial branch website at www.kscourts.org and other online tools to complete court business in lieu of visiting these locations.

    Chief judges are advised to develop similar restrictions for each judicial district.

    Judicial branch judges and employees will be required to self-quarantine and not report to work for 14 days if they or someone with whom they live or share close contact has traveled or will travel after March 1 to any international location, to high-risk areas in the United States with known widespread community transmission identified by the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, or on a cruise ship.

    Self-quarantined workers will be required to work from home or receive administrative leave, depending on the nature of their jobs.

    Judicial branch workforce travel for meetings, conferences, trainings, or similar events is discontinued. All in-person trainings provided or organized by the judicial branch are canceled. Where possible, the judicial branch workforce will use digital options for meetings, trainings, or similar work tasks.

    On March 12, the Supreme Court issued Administrative Order 2020-PR-013 to outline judicial branch policy on:

    • anticipated personnel issues;
    • notices to the public; and
    • continuity of operation plans.

    Supreme Court cancels March 23-26 oral arguments in Topeka

    The Supreme Court canceled oral arguments scheduled in March as part of its efforts to protect the public and judicial branch staff during the COVID-19 outbreak.

    Justices were scheduled to hear oral arguments in 17 appeals. Oral arguments take place in the Kansas Supreme Court courtroom in the Kansas Judicial Center in Topeka.

    Some appeals will be decided on the briefs and others will be scheduled for argument on a future date. 

    On March 13, the Supreme Court canceled its travel docket scheduled April 7 at Concordia High School in Concordia. The two cases to be heard then also will be rescheduled.

    Visitor alerts at Kansas courthouses

    Kansas courts have posted public notices urging people not to enter courtrooms or court offices if they have traveled to areas affected by COVID-19, or have been exposed to or have symptoms of the disease.

    Members of the public, as well as attorneys and their clients, who have symptoms or have been exposed to COVID-19 are asked to call or email court personnel to complete court business or to reschedule.

    District court contact information is posted in courthouses and is also online.

    Supreme Court justice self-quarantines

    Justice Caleb Stegall has entered a period of self-quarantine until March 27.

    Stegall's action is pursuant to the Supreme Court's administrative order issued March 16 that outlines judicial branch self-quarantine procedures in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

    Several of Stegall’s family members just returned from traveling in areas covered by today's order.

    Stegall will participate fully in all court activities by remote conferencing and will continue to perform all other duties, including serving as departmental justice for two judicial departments. Those departments include the 2nd, 3rd, 8th, 12th, 15th, 17th, 21st, 23rd, and 28th judicial districts.

    “We are relying on the best available information and medical expertise in order to keep everyone safe,” Stegall said, “and we urge all Kansans to do the same.”


  • 13 Mar 2020 7:19 PM | Amanda Kohlman (Administrator)

    The District Court of Shawnee County, Kansas released Administrative Orders 20-01 and 20-02 on March 13, 2020. Click the links below to view. 

    Admin Order 20-01 Court Operations Pandemic 03132020.pdf

    Admin Order 20-02 CSO Operations Pandemic 03132020.pdf

  • 13 Mar 2020 7:14 PM | Amanda Kohlman (Administrator)

    The Kansas Supreme Court released the following published decisions today:

     

     

    Appeal No. 117,941: State of Kansas v. Crystal Dawn Galloway

    Archived oral argument video

    A Cherokee County jury convicted Galloway of one count of premeditated first-degree murder, one count of arson, and one count of interference with law enforcement. The district court sentenced her to a controlling hard-50 life sentence. Justice Eric Rosen, writing for a unanimous Supreme Court, affirmed the conviction. The court held the district court did not abuse its discretion when it denied Galloway's motion for a change of venue, noting she had failed to demonstrate prejudice in the jury selection process that denied her a fair trial. The court also held the district court did not err when it admitted into evidence, for impeachment purposes, a recording of Galloway's statements to investigators shortly after her arrest. The court found Galloway made the statements voluntarily and she was not under such a disability that she was unaware of or unable to exercise her rights. The court further rejected her claims of error based on an assertion that a question from the jury was not answered in open court and that a jury instruction on the duties of a jury denied her a right to jury nullification. Having affirmed the conviction, the Supreme Court addressed Galloway's claim of error in sentencing. The district court refused to consider her lack of criminal history to be a mitigating factor despite a statutory requirement that sentencing courts consider such factors as possible mitigators. The court found the sentencing judge's statements to be contrary to Kansas statutory law and remanded the case for resentencing.

     

     

    Appeal No. 118,349: State of Kansas v. Willie E. Parker

    Archived oral argument video

    A Wyandotte County jury convicted Parker of first-degree premeditated murder after he shot his employer to death following an argument. Justice Eric Rosen, writing for a unanimous Supreme Court, affirmed the conviction. The court held Parker's statements to police after his arrest were voluntarily made and there is no absolute requirement investigators read a suspect his Miranda rights out loud if he insists on reading them himself. The court also held the evidence did not support a jury instruction on voluntary manslaughter because the evidence of premeditation, including recordings from surveillance cameras and Parker's statements to police, was so overwhelming.

     

     

    Appeal No. 119,862: State of Kansas v. Yesenia Sesmas

    Archived oral argument video

    The Supreme Court affirmed Sesmas' Sedgwick County convictions for first-degree murder, kidnapping, and aggravated interference with parental custody. In 2016, Sesmas murdered Laura Abarca and kidnapped Abarca's newborn daughter. At trial, the State introduced evidence of a confession Sesmas gave shortly after her arrest. On appeal, Sesmas argued the confession was involuntary and should not have been admitted. Sesmas claimed the confession was involuntary because she did not speak English and she was coerced by the fact her children were in Child Protective Services' custody at the time. The Supreme Court found the confession was voluntary; police provided a certified Spanish translator for Sesmas and made no promises or false representations regarding custody of her children. Sesmas also argued the State violated her due process rights by introducing a detective's testimony that Sesmas initially invoked her Miranda rights and declined to speak with police. The Supreme Court held admission of this testimony was error but the error was harmless in light of the entire record at trial; the State thoroughly undermined Sesmas' credibility with other evidence; and there was no reasonable probability the error contributed to the jury's guilty verdict.


  • 07 Mar 2020 7:06 PM | Amanda Kohlman (Administrator)

    The Kansas Supreme Court released the following published decisions today:

     

     

    Appeal No 116,223: State of Kansas v. Tabitha Carter

    Archived oral argument video

    The Supreme Court affirmed Carter's obligation to register as a violent offender under the Kansas Offender Registration Act following her Sedgwick County conviction for aggravated robbery. Carter brandished a Taser while robbing a Wichita Dollar General.

    At Carter's sentencing, the district court judge stated on the record he found there "was a dangerous weapon involved" in the aggravated robbery. But the judge checked a box on Carter's journal entry of sentencing stating he found Carter used a deadly weapon in the commission of the crime. Carter argued the oral finding was not enough. The Supreme Court found that, because Kansas Offender Registration Act registration is not part of a defendant's sentence, the journal entry checkbox was a sufficient finding to support a registration requirement.

    Carter next argued there was no evidence she "used" a "deadly" weapon. The Supreme Court rejected these arguments. It held whether a weapon is "deadly" is a factual finding; this factual finding involves both objective and subjective elements. Substantial competent evidence supported the district judge's determination a Taser was a deadly weapon. The Supreme Court also concluded brandishing a Taser during a robbery qualifies as "use."

    Finally, the Supreme Court rejected Carter's argument that district judges' deadly weapon findings under the Kansas Offender Registration Act violate Apprendi v. New Jersey, 530 U.S. 466, 120 S. Ct. 2348, 147 L. Ed. 2d 435 (2000).

     

     

    Case No. 121,050: In the Matter of Daniel Vincent Saville, Respondent

    Archived oral argument video

    In an original proceeding in discipline, the Supreme Court suspended Saville from the practice of law in Kansas for two years for violations of Kansas Rules of Professional Conduct 1.7(a)(2) (conflict of interest), 1.8(e) (providing financial assistance to client), 3.4(c) (fairness to opposing party and counsel), and 8.4(d) (engaging in conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice). The Supreme Court also required that if Saville seeks reinstatement, he must undergo a reinstatement hearing under Supreme Court Rule 219 (2019 Kan. S. Ct. R. 270). A minority of the court would have accepted the disciplinary administrator's recommendation of a one-year suspension followed by a Rule 219 hearing.


  • 24 Jan 2020 1:30 PM | Amanda Kohlman (Administrator)

    The Kansas Supreme Court released the following published decisions today:

    Appeal No. 115,119: State of Kansas v. Charles Edward Williams

    Archived oral argument video

    A Sedgwick County jury first convicted Williams of unintentional second-degree murder in 2011. On appeal, Williams' 2011 conviction was reversed and remanded for a new trial. On remand, a jury again convicted Williams of unintentional second-degree murder. Williams appealed his second conviction, arguing that his statutory speedy trial rights were violated. In a unanimous opinion written by Justice Caleb Stegall, the Supreme Court affirmed the Court of Appeals' rejection of Williams' speedy trial claim. When appealing a conviction from a second trial after the first conviction was reversed on appeal, a defendant cannot raise for the first time an alleged statutory speedy trial violation that occurred during the first trial.

    The Supreme Court also remanded Williams' case for resentencing because his out-out-state conviction was improperly scored as a person crime. Under the version of the Kansas Sentencing Guidelines Act effective at the time Williams was sentenced, an out-of-state conviction is classified as a person or nonperson offense by referring to comparable offenses under the Kansas criminal code. If the code does not have a comparable offense, the out-of-state conviction is classified as a nonperson crime.

    While Williams' case was pending on direct appeal, the definition of comparable changed. To be comparable, the elements of prior out-of-state convictions must be identical or narrower than the elements of the Kansas person crime. The Supreme Court held Williams is entitled to the benefit of this change in the law because he was on direct appeal As a result, Williams' sentence was erroneous because the elements of Williams' out-of-state unnatural intercourse conviction are broader than Kansas' offense of aggravated criminal sodomy. Thus, Williams' out-of-state conviction should have been scored as a nonperson felony.

    Appeal No. 116,629: State of Kansas v. Charity Downing

    Archived oral argument video

    The Supreme Court clarified the evidence required to convict someone of burglary of a dwelling. The decision came in a Reno County criminal case against Downing. She was convicted of burglary of a dwelling and attempted theft under $1,000, even though no one lived in the building at the time and the building's owner testified he had no plans to live there or rent it

    The Court of Appeals reversed the burglary conviction, and the Supreme Court unanimously agreed, rejecting the State's challenge to that lower court ruling. The State argued dwelling could be determined by the building's construction characteristics.

    "The statutory definition of 'dwelling' requires proof the burgled place was used as a human habitation, home, or residence when the crime occurred, or proof that someone had a present, subjective intent at the time of the crime to use the burgled place for such a purpose," wrote Justice Dan Biles, who wrote the opinion for the Supreme Court.

    Kansas Court of Appeals decisions released today


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