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Kansas Supreme Court Decisions for July 9, 2021

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.

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