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Kansas Supreme Court Decisions for Oct. 15, 2021

18 Oct 2021 10:27 AM | Amanda Kohlman (Administrator)

Appeal No. 112,572: State v. Taylor Arnett

Summary calendar; no oral argument

The Supreme Court affirms the judgment of the Court of Appeals and the Wyandotte County District Court, finding that Arnett's ordered restitution does not violate her right to a jury under the Sixth Amendment of the United States Constitution and, upon severance of certain criminal restitution statutes, it does not violate section 5 of the Kansas Constitution Bill of Rights.

Appeal No. 120,753: State v. Owens

Archived oral argument
A jury convicted Owens of first-degree felony murder and aggravated burglary in connection with the shooting death of his ex-girlfriend in Sedgwick County. In an opinion written by Justice KJ Wall, the Supreme Court unanimously affirmed Owens' convictions and a majority affirmed the district court's order for Owens to pay restitution.

On appeal, Owens argued that the district court erred by admitting text messages and other hearsay testimony describing comments attributed to Owens. The Court, however, found that the district court judge analyzed the evidence under the correct legal framework and did not abuse his discretion in admitting the evidence at trial.

Owens also claimed the district court judge should have granted a mistrial based on the State's failure to disclose testing a detective performed before trial and the State's failure to redact an audio recording of a conversation with Owens' mother. The Court concluded that these events either did not constitute a fundamental failure in the proceedings or that they did not make it impossible to continue the trial without injustice to Owens.

Owens also claimed that he was entitled to a new trial due to prosecutorial error. And while the prosecutor did err by referring to facts not in evidence during closing argument, the Court confirmed that this error was harmless and did not affect the verdict at trial. The Court rejected Owens' other claims of trial error, including claims that the district court gave an erroneous jury instruction and that cumulative error deprived him of a fair trial.

Finally, Owens argued that the statutory scheme governing criminal restitution violated section 5 of the Kansas Constitution Bill of Rights. The Court agreed that the statutory provisions that converted judicially determined criminal restitution into civil judgments implicated section 5 but, based on State v. Arnett, a majority held that the proper remedy was to sever the problematic statutory provisions rather than vacate Owens' restitution order. Justice Eric Rosen dissented from this part of the opinion and would have vacated Owens' restitution order.

Appeal No. 120,903: State v. Robert James Robison III

Archived oral argument

The Supreme Court affirms the judgment of the Court of Appeals and the Lyon County District Court, finding that Robison's ordered restitution does not violate his right to a jury under the Sixth Amendment of the United States Constitution and, upon severance of certain criminal restitution statutes, it does not violate section 5 of the Kansas Constitution Bill of Rights.

Appeal No. 123,145: State v. Andrew Wallace Ellington

Summary calendar; no oral argument
The Supreme Court affirms Sedgwick County District Court’s denial of defendant Ellington's untimely motion to withdraw his guilty plea for first-degree murder. The Court found that Ellington failed to plead facts amounting to the required "excusable neglect" in order to extend the one-year state statute of limitations for plea withdrawals. The Court found that all of Ellington's pled reasons for filing late—including his lack of criminal history and experience with the criminal justice system—amounted to only "ignorance of the law," which cannot establish excusable neglect.




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