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  • 02 Aug 2021 3:14 PM | Amanda Kohlman (Administrator)

    Swearing-In Ceremony

    for

     

    Jacy J. Hurst

     

    as a member

    of the

     

    Kansas Court of Appeals

     

    11 a.m.

    Friday

    August 13, 2021

     

    Watch live on the

    Kansas Supreme Court

    YouTube channel


     


  • 23 Jul 2021 11:51 AM | Amanda Kohlman (Administrator)

    Appeal No. 121,316: State of Kansas vs. Joshua Knapp

    Appeal No. 121,316 archived oral argument

     The Supreme Court affirmed Knapp's convictions of first-degree murder and interference with law enforcement. Knapp was convicted in Allen County District Court for killing Shawn Cook after a robbery gone bad. On appeal, Knapp claimed the district court erred by admitting evidence in violation of K.S.A. 60-455 and by admitting hearsay evidence, and that cumulative error denied him a fair trial. In a unanimous decision, the Supreme Court determined that even if the district court erred admitting certain evidence, the errors were harmless in light of the overwhelming evidence against Knapp. The Court declined to consider the hearsay claim because it was invited by Knapp. Justice Caleb Stegall, in a concurring opinion, explained that evidence of prior bad acts did not violate K.S.A. 60-455, as it involved events leading directly to or flowing out of the crime, which provided context of the crime itself for the jury.

    Appeal No. 122,696: State of Kansas, ex rel, Secretary of the Department for Children and Families v. M.R.B. Jr. 

    Appeal No. 122,696 archived oral argument video

     The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the Court of Appeals on the issue subject to its review and remands this case to Douglas County District Court with directions after E.F. appealed the Court of Appeals decision granting residential custody to M.R.B. Jr. The Supreme Court ruled the Court of Appeals decision presents plain error by making its own factual findings after reweighing the evidence and reaching the conclusion of which parent should have residential custody.

    Appeal No. 120,863: State of Kansas v. Archie Joseph Patrick Dooley 

    Appeal No. 120,863 archived oral argument video

    Dooley entered a plea of guilty for failing to register as an offender as required by statute. The McPherson County District Court sentenced him to a prison term of 120 months but granted him probation for a period of 36 months. The terms of probation included successfully completing a supervision program and keeping all scheduled appointments with his supervision officer. About a year later, the State moved to revoke his probation because he failed to report, changed residences without permission, and used drugs. After revoking his probation, the court reinstated it with the conditions that he serve a 30-day sanction in county jail and enter a halfway house upon his release from jail. Some months later, the State again filed to revoke his probation because he was using drugs, he failed to enter a halfway house, and he failed to report to his supervision officer. The court revoked his probation because he was an absconder and reinstated the original 10-year sentence. Dooley appealed, and the Court of Appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court granted review and reversed because the district court did not explicitly hold that Dooley had violated the terms of his probation by absconding. The Court remanded the case to the district court for a hearing on whether Dooley was an absconder. At the hearing, it came out that Dooley never left Dodge City, where he was supposed to stay in a halfway house; he was not actively hiding from law enforcement; he did not provide a new address because he was homeless; and he didn’t have the money to be admitted to the halfway facility. He turned himself in to law enforcement about a month after he missed a meeting with his supervisor. The district court found that this evidence was sufficient to conclude that Dooley was an absconder and again revoked his probation. A divided Court of Appeals again affirmed the revocation and imposition of sentence.

    The Supreme Court again granted review. In a per curiam decision, the court affirmed the district court and the Court of Appeals. The court analyzed K.S.A. 2013 Supp. 22-3716 and held that the evidence supported a pattern of violations that permitted the district court to infer Dooley was intentionally evading the legal process. Justice Eric Rosen dissented, arguing that Dooley’s “pattern of conduct” boiled down to a single act—failing to report to his supervising officer—and one act cannot create a “pattern.”

    Appeal No. 118,802: In the Matter of I.A. 

    Appeal No. 118,802 archived oral argument video

     The Supreme Court held that it lacked jurisdiction to hear the appeal of a juvenile offender challenging his conviction 19 years after his conviction was final. The juvenile argued that because the juvenile court failed to inform him of his right to file an appeal during the plea hearing, equitable exceptions should apply that would allow him to file his appeal after the deadline required by statutes in the juvenile justice code. The Court held that there was no constitutional due process right to be informed of the right to appeal, and that there was also no statutory directive in the juvenile code that required judges to inform an offender of his or her right to appeal. Because the right to appeal is statutory, and not constitutional, appellate courts lack jurisdiction to consider appeals that do not comply with statutory directives. Accordingly, the Court dismissed the appeal.

    Appeal No. 121,715: State of Kansas v. Heidi Hillard 

    Appeal No. 121,715 archived oral argument video

     The Supreme Court affirms in part and reverses in part the decision of the Sedgwick County District Court after Hillard appealed her convictions for premeditated first-degree murder, felony murder, two counts of aggravated kidnapping, aggravated battery, conspiracy to distribute a controlled substance, and rape. The Court determined that the State presented insufficient evidence to support Hillard's conviction for conspiracy to distribute a controlled substance and reversed her conviction for that crime. The Court affirmed Hillard's remaining convictions and sentences. Specifically, the Court concluded that Hillard failed to preserve for appeal her objection to the district court's ruling that limited her cross-examination of one witness, and concluded that the district court did not abuse its discretion in limiting the cross-examination of another witness; that the prosecutor did not misstate the law during closing arguments; that the district court did not err in issuing jury instructions; that the district court did not abuse its discretion in admitting an audio recording of the interrogation of the victim; and that the district court properly classified a prior out-of-state conviction of Hillard's as a person felony for purposes of evaluating her criminal history score.


  • 20 Jul 2021 11:10 AM | Amanda Kohlman (Administrator)

    Stan Hazlett argued his last attorney discipline case before the Kansas Supreme Court at the end of May. It was like all the other times he appeared before the court in his 34 years with the Kansas Office of the Disciplinary Administrator with one exception.

    When the hearing concluded, Chief Justice Marla Luckert deviated from standard docket protocol to acknowledge Hazlett’s work.

    “He does take a position of protecting the public, but at the same time he tries to find a holistic outcome that works for the benefit of all the individuals involved,” Luckert said. “We want to take this opportunity as a court to thank Mr. Hazlett for all of that good work and for his many appearances before this court always in a professional manner."

    During his years with the disciplinary administrator’s office, Hazlett estimates he has appeared before 24 Supreme Court justices and has worked for eight chief justices. He is the fourth disciplinary administrator to serve in the history of the office, and he will retire September 3.

    Hazlett describes himself as an “ethics nerd” who was inspired to apply for a job with the disciplinary administrator’s office in 1986 after serving on the Douglas County Ethics and Grievance Committee.

    “My biggest fear was that I would be ostracized, but I found great support among my lawyer friends,” Hazlett said. “The majority of lawyers don’t like it when other lawyers commit violations because it sullies the profession, so they were very supportive of me.”

    In 1986, the disciplinary administrator’s office was made up of two lawyers. It later expanded to three and, after Hazlett was appointed disciplinary administrator in 1997, it grew to four lawyers plus Hazlett.

    One reason the office grew was that technological advances involving communication made investigating complaints more complex.

    “With communications what they are now, we are looking at texts, emails, and messaging tools. It makes it more difficult to put a case together,” Hazlett said.

    Another change came through an impaired lawyers program, which looked at potential causes of behavior that can get a lawyer into trouble. The program evolved into the Kansas Lawyers Assistance Program, which is a source of confidential help for lawyers with alcohol, drug abuse, or mental health issues. A lawyer can be directed to seek its services by the Office of the Disciplinary Administrator if the lawyer is involved in a discipline case.

    Luckert noted that Hazlett was ahead of his time when he focused on underlying causes for attorney discipline issues.

    “Sometimes, looking at underlying causes for a behavior is critical,” Luckert said. “He was focused on that before it was vogue to do so. He considered issues that the attorney might have been dealing with and how to equip and help the attorney in the process.”

    Hazlett agreed that focusing on what underlying causes might impact attorney behavior was a huge change for his office.

    “Really serious violations are few and far between. Dishonesty and conversion of client funds just don’t happen very often,” Hazlett said. “Instead, we see lawyers with impairments who have not committed really serious violations.”

    Hazlett describes attorney discipline in Kansas as a system of self-regulation. It relies on attorneys in communities across Kansas who volunteer to conduct preliminary investigations on behalf of the disciplinary administrator’s office. Another 20 attorney volunteers sit on the Board for Discipline of Attorneys.

    The Board for Discipline of Attorneys assigns three attorneys, at least two of whom are members of the board, to a committee that reviews and approves or modifies recommendations by the disciplinary administrator. Other board members are assigned to three-person hearing panels that determine if a lawyer engaged in misconduct and, if so, what the discipline should be. Ultimately, the Supreme Court decides what should happen to a lawyer who breaks the rules.

    “When lawyers volunteer their time, it shows the importance they give to upholding the integrity of their profession,” Hazlett said. “I’ve been fortunate to work with the cream of the crop of the legal profession.”

    During his time as disciplinary administrator, Hazlett has focused on educating attorneys about the Kansas Rules of Professional Conduct and how to work within them. The rules provide a framework for professional conduct, but they do not address every possible scenario an attorney might encounter.

    Luckert said, “He’s emphasized education, and his programs on professional ethics are always in demand, whether he’s delivering them or other attorneys in his office are. You rarely see a conference where they are not part of the agenda.”

    Hazlett said in every educational program his office delivers, they encourage lawyers to call if they are questioning whether an action could violate ethics rules for the profession.

    “Most ethical questions involve potential conflicts of interest. It’s not an area that’s entirely black and white,” Hazlett said.

    Hazlett went on to describe a call from an attorney on his way to court to represent a client who had offered differing stories. The attorney was concerned about his duty to effectively represent his client, as well as following rules for ethical professional conduct.

    The disciplinary administrator’s office did not have an immediate answer, so the attorney told the judge he’d asked for guidance and could the hearing be continued for 30 minutes. The judge obliged and Hazlett’s office was able to give advice.

    “Our office gets about 20 calls a week like this. The callers understand the rules, but there are definite gray areas related to conflict of interest,” Hazlett said. “Some questions require a lot of thought, and we aren’t able to answer all of them, but we always tell attorneys it’s better to call before they engage in the conduct rather than after.”

    Hazlett added that Kansas attorneys are fortunate that the Kansas Supreme Court provides as much detail as it does in its rulings on attorney discipline cases.

    “The court’s decisions set out the facts and the rules and explain how the rules were violated,” Hazlett said. “The court then explains why a lawyer should be disciplined and in what way. Not every state supreme court does that.”

    If Hazlett could change one thing about the disciplinary process, it would be to communicate more effectively when he tells someone why a complaint is dismissed.

    “People file complaints because they believe their attorney has done something wrong, and we may have to tell them their complaint is without merit, or it involves something over which we have no jurisdiction,” Hazlett said. “An attorney can do everything right and still get an outcome the client doesn’t like.”

    Luckert said the reason Hazlett has been successful in his role as disciplinary administrator is that he cares about finding balance.

    “He really cares about protecting the public and making sure that those who make complaints are fully heard,” Luckert said. “He also seeks the best result for the attorney based on the conduct.”

    Hazlett was raised in Topeka and graduated from Kansas University and the University of Kansas School of Law. He was in private practice for about 10 years before he joined the Office of the Disciplinary Administrator in 1986. He was named disciplinary administrator in 1997.

    In 2004, Hazlett was given the Smiling Bull Award by the Leavenworth County Bar Association. In 2005, the Kansas Bar Association honored him with the Outstanding Service Award for significantly advancing the administration of justice and the goals of the legal profession. In 2009, the 13th Judicial District Bar Association gave him the Guardian of Legal Ethics award.

    Hazlett is a member of the Douglas County Bar Association, the Judge Hugh Means American Inn of Court, the National Organization of Bar Counsel, and the National Client Protection Organization. He currently serves as a regional vice president of the National Client Protection Organization.

    The Office of the Disciplinary Administrator works under the direction of the Supreme Court. The disciplinary administrator reviews and investigates misconduct complaints filed against attorneys. The office also presents cases to the Kansas Board for Discipline of Attorneys, recommends discipline to the Supreme Court in serious matters, and provides education and resources to Kansas attorneys to prevent misconduct.


  • 19 Jul 2021 9:17 AM | Amanda Kohlman (Administrator)

    Appeal No. 121,459: State of Kansas v. Kora L. Liles

    Appeal No. 121,459 archived oral argument video

    The Supreme Court upheld Liles' convictions and sentences for multiple counts of felony murder, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, and aggravated kidnapping, and drug and drug paraphernalia possession. The charges stem from a 2017 triple murder that occurred at Liles' Topeka home. Liles argued that arguments by prosecutors and the Shawnee County District Court’s instructions to jurors concerning her own testimony and that of her accomplices amounted to improper commentary on her credibility. She also argued prosecutors breached an unwritten agreement they reached with her after her convictions to give a favorable sentencing recommendation in exchange for her testimony in the accomplices' prosecutions.

    In a unanimous opinion written by Justice Dan Biles, the Supreme Court affirmed the convictions and sentences. The Court held that neither the prosecutor's comments nor the jury instructions given were improper or deficient. And it held the claimed sentencing agreement breach was not reviewable because Liles did not develop an adequate record in the trial court—noting in particular that the terms of any agreement were absent.

    Appeal No. 119,834: Richard L. Hanson, Circle H Farms LLC, Rome Farms LLC, Stegman Farms Partnership v. Kansas Corporation Commission and Texas-Kansas-Oklahoma Gas LLC 

    Appeal No. 119,834 archived oral argument video

    The Supreme Court upheld lower court decisions that Texas-Kansas-Oklahoma Gas, LLC, a natural gas utility company, unlawfully billed its customers and remanded the case to the Kansas Corporation Commission to fashion an appropriate remedy.

    The case was brought by TKO's customers who claimed the utility overcharged them by distorting the energy content of the gas sold, and that it overpriced them by about 9.5%. But the Commission determined TKO did not violate state law even though it acknowledged that the utility manipulated the energy content of the gas. In a decision for the court written by Justice Dan Biles, the Court agreed with the lower courts that the Commission erroneously interpreted and applied the relevant state law, and that its factual findings were not supported by substantial evidence. The court concluded that "the utility's invoicing practice was 'unjust, unreasonable, [or] unfair.'"

    No. 123,589: In the Matter of Kevin W. Kenney, respondent

    No. 123,589 archived oral argument video

    In an original proceeding in attorney discipline, the Supreme Court disbarred Kenney, Prairie Village, from the practice of law effective from the date of its written opinion. The Court cited violations of Kansas Rules of Professional Conduct, including making a false statement of fact or law to a tribunal; engaging in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation; and engaging in conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice. In its decision to disbar Kenney, the Court noted Kenney’s actions resulted in two adoptions that were overturned a significant time later due to his acts of fraud.

  • 09 Jul 2021 1:24 PM | Amanda Kohlman (Administrator)

    Appeal No. 119,265: State of Kansas v. Paul B. Young

    Summary calendar; no oral argument 

    The Supreme Court held that appellate courts lack jurisdiction to review a sentence when a district court revokes probation and orders the underlying sentences to be served consecutively. Young committed a felony while on probation for another felony conviction; and K.S.A. 2020 Supp. 21-6606 instructs district courts to impose the underlying sentences in such circumstances to be served consecutive to each other. Young argued that the Sedgwick County District Court committed error because it did not find circumstances that would amount to manifest injustice that would allow it to impose a more lenient sentence under a different statute. However, the sentence that was imposed fell within the statutory presumptive sentencing guidelines system, and so long as sentences comply with those statutory directives, appellate courts are without legal authority to review those sentences. Thus, the appeal was properly dismissed.


    Appeal No. 122,630: State of Kansas v. Matthew Douglas Hutto

    Summary calendar; no oral argument 

    In the summer of 2018, Hutto and another man went to a house where an adult woman and a teenage boy were asleep. The two men entered the house through a window and used knives and a hammer to kill the two sleeping residents. Hutto pleaded guilty to two counts of first-degree felony murder. After the district court sentenced him to two consecutive life sentences without the possibility of parole for 25 years, Hutto filed a motion requesting permission to withdraw his guilty plea for a variety of reasons. After an evidentiary hearing, the Shawnee County District Court denied his motion, and Hutto appealed. Justice Eric Rosen, writing for a unanimous Supreme Court, affirmed the denial of Hutto’s request to withdraw his plea. Hutto claimed on appeal that his trial counsel was ineffective for failing to inform him that he could raise a defense of compulsion if he went to trial. A compulsion defense asserts that the defendant committed the elements of a crime because the defendant believed that a third party would inflict great bodily harm or death on him or his close family if he didn’t follow instructions to carry out the crime. The Supreme Court rejected this claim, noting that Hutto did not demonstrate that his situation would have allowed him to raise that defense. Indeed, the record showed Hutto had several opportunities to get away from the other participants in the crime, but, instead, he chose to actively participate in two brutal murders. The Supreme Court concluded that Hutto’s trial counsel was not ineffective and that Hutto suffered no manifest injustice when he entered his guilty plea.


  • 06 Jul 2021 12:28 PM | Amanda Kohlman (Administrator)

    TOPEKA—Chief Justice Marla Luckert today signed an order that reinstates additional statutory deadlines and time limitations for court proceedings beginning August 2.

    "Kansas courts continue to hear many cases by videoconference, and public health trends are reassuring that courts can conduct required in-person proceedings by following health protocols suitable for their location," Luckert said. "Both factors influenced my decision to reinstate additional statutory deadlines and time requirements."

    In March, Luckert signed Administrative Order 2021-PR-020 reinstating most statutory deadlines and time limitations effective April 15, but a few remained suspended. Also in March, Luckert issued orders that authorized courts to continue to use two-way audio-visual communication for many proceedings. Today’s order does not affect that authorization.

    Today’s order

    Administrative Order 2021-PR-100 signed today reinstates the following deadlines and time limitations effective August 2:

    • statutory trial and hearing deadlines under K.S.A. 22-4303 in the Uniform Mandatory Disposition of Detainers Act;
    • time requirements for filing actions under K.S.A. 60-1501 and K.S.A. 60-1507; and
    • time requirements for a defendant's appearance in limited action cases under K.S.A. 61-3002(b).

    Speedy trial statute

    During the 2021 session, the Kansas Legislature passed House Bill 2078, which temporarily suspends provisions in K.S.A. 22-3402, the speedy trial statute in the Kansas Code of Criminal Procedure. The bill was requested by the Kansas County and District Attorneys Association, and it became effective on its
    March 31 publication in the Kansas Register. 2021-PR-100 does not impact suspensions under K.S.A. 22-3402.

    Calculating time when suspensions lift

    K.S.A. 20-172, as amended by 2021 House Bill 2227, includes a provision that explains how to calculate deadlines and time limitations when suspensions lift.

    For a deadline or time limitation that was suspended because of an order issued by the chief justice, on the date the order terminates, a person has the same number of days to comply with the deadline or time limitation as the person had when the deadline or time limitation was suspended.

    For a deadline or time limitation that did not begin to run because of an order issued by the chief justice, on the date the order terminates, a person has the full period provided by law to comply with the deadline or time limitation.

    Background

    Luckert’s action to reinstate more statutory deadlines and time limitations on August 2 impacts several administrative orders entered under 2020 House Substitute for Senate Bill 102 and the Legislature's later amendments to K.S.A. 20-172.

    The Legislature authorized the chief justice to enter certain orders during any state of disaster emergency upon a finding that the orders are necessary to secure the health and safety of court users, staff, and judicial officers. These orders can remain in effect for up to 150 days after the state of disaster emergency ends.

    Current court operations

    District and appellate courts are operating under health and safety protocols that reflect local health conditions as required by Administrative Order 2021-PR-048.

    Courts continue to offer many services remotely, including hearings. Courts also have adopted procedures to provide remote access to hearings and services by attorneys and self-represented parties. Providing remote services and hearings promotes safety and allows for expedient case processing.

     


  • 22 Jun 2021 2:08 PM | Amanda Kohlman (Administrator)

    The Court is updating records for attorneys available for Court Appointment as Guardian Ad Litem for the 3rd Judicial District. Attached you will find the updated application for Court Appointment as Guardian Ad Litem. If you would like to be available to serve as guardian ad litem, please complete and return this application at your earliest convenience. Once received and reviewed by Judge Anderson, our website will be updated.

    You may return the application to the office personally, fax, mail, or email it.

    Thank you for your time.

    Click Here to Download Application 

  • 21 Jun 2021 9:53 AM | Amanda Kohlman (Administrator)

    Appeal No. 119,240: State of Kansas v. Dylan Montell Thomas

    Archived oral argument video
     Thomas was convicted in Wyandotte County District Court for rape, criminal threat, sexual battery, and battery. The Court of Appeals affirmed the convictions and the Supreme Court granted review of a single issue—whether the district court's jury instruction, which mirrors the Kansas rape statute, violated Thomas’ rights to due process by rendering rape a strict liability crime. In an opinion written by Justice Caleb Stegall, the Court acknowledged that even if Thomas is correct that Kansas law renders rape a strict liability crime, he failed to show that this violates his due process rights or is outside the Legislature's broad authority to craft criminal laws.

  • 01 Jun 2021 8:00 AM | Amanda Kohlman (Administrator)

    The Kansas Judicial Center will reopen to the public Tuesday, June 1.

    The Judicial Center, 301 SW 10th Ave., has been open by appointment only. Beginning Tuesday, it will be open to the public from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays.

    Visitors must follow minimum standard health protocols to avoid exposing court users, staff, and judicial officers to COVID-19. Those protocols will be posted at the building entrance.

    The protocols require anyone who enters to:

    • answer screening questions about symptoms of or exposure to COVID-19;
    • wear a face mask or face covering in public areas of the building; and
    maintain 6 feet of physical distance between themselves and others, unless a physical barrier provides separation, or the person and all others nearby are fully vaccinated.


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