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Supreme Court Decisions, June 3, 2022

06 Jun 2022 9:42 AM | Executive Director (Administrator)

Appeal No. 121,866: State of Kansas v. Luqman Yusef Keys

Appeal No. 121,866 archived oral argument

The Supreme Court affirmed Keys' convictions and sentences for felony murder and aggravated robbery. In an opinion written by Justice Melissa Standridge, the Court held that: (1) a grand jury's issuance of a second superseding indictment after mistrial is not the functional equivalent of State sought amendment of an indictment; (2) Keys' selective prosecution claim was unsupported by the record; (3) the State made sufficient efforts to establish a witness's unavailability; (4) no self-defense justification exists for the crimes of distributing a controlled substance or aggravated robbery; and (5) no error existed, so cumulative error was inapplicable. Justice Evelyn Wilson did not participate.

Appeal No. 123,856: State of Kansas v. Shelbert Smith

Appeal No. 123,856 archived oral argument

The Supreme Court dismissed Smith’s second overall attempt to directly appeal the sentences he received in connection with a murder he committed in 1993. Smith’s previous attempt to appeal his sentences, which brought him before the Supreme Court three times, centered on a claim under the third exception to the general rule requiring timely appeals. That exception is set forth in State v. Ortiz¸ 230 Kan. 733, 640 P.2d 1255 (1982). In the previous appeal, the Supreme Court ultimately concluded that Smith could not appeal out of time under the third Ortiz exception. The Court also declined to address two newly raised alternative arguments concerning the timeliness of Smith’s appeal. With no intervening events at the Sedgwick County District Court, Smith again appealed in an attempt to raise these two claims. This time, the Court concluded that Smith could not raise these new claims. The Court held that Smith had previously abandoned one claim early in his litigation of the first appeal and could not resurrect it in a second appeal. The Court also held that Smith’s second claim was precluded in this second appeal under the law-of-the-case doctrine. The Court thus dismissed Smith’s second appeal for lack of appellate jurisdiction.

Appeal No. 123,959: State of Kansas v. Michael Davidson

Summary calendar; no oral argument

Davidson, serving a life sentence for first-degree murder, moved for a new trial based on newly discovered evidence more than 20 years after his conviction became final. The Johnson County District Court summarily dismissed Davidson's motion because a motion for new trial filed under K.S.A. 22-3501 must be filed within two years of final judgment. The Court affirmed in a unanimous decision written by Chief Justice Marla Luckert.

Appeal No. 124,028: State of Kansas v. Martin Vasquez

Summary calendar; no oral argument

In a unanimous decision written by Chief Justice Marla Luckert, the Supreme Court held that a defendant’s claims of insufficiency of evidence, procedural violations, and false arrest do not fall within the narrow definition of an illegal sentence as is required by the statute that allows a court to correct an illegal sentence. Vasquez filed motions to correct illegal sentences for his multiple life sentences for three convictions of first-degree murder and other crimes, but K.S.A. 22-3504 only allows a sentence to be corrected if it was imposed by a court without jurisdiction, and does not conform to statutory provisions, or is ambiguous regarding the time and manner it is to be served. Because Vasquez’s claims of error did not fall within those parameters, the Court affirmed the Edwards County District Court’s denial of Vasquez’s motions.

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