The Kansas Supreme Court released the following published decisions today:
Appeal No. 113,228: State of Kansas v. Daquantrius S. Johnson
Archived oral argument video
Johnson was convicted in Sedgwick County for criminal possession of a firearm, aggravated assault, and felony criminal discharge of a firearm. The Court of Appeals reversed Johnson's convictions and remanded for a new trial, holding the trial judge "nodding off" on the first day of trial was structural error. The panel also held the district court did not have to obtain a limited jury trial waiver before accepting Johnson's stipulation to an element of the possession charge.
In a unanimous opinion written by Justice Caleb Stegall, the Supreme Court reversed both of the Court of Appeals' holdings. The court explained an isolated incident of a trial judge nodding off during a portion of testimony where no objections were made does not create structural error requiring automatic reversal. The court also held when a defendant stipulates to an element of a crime, the defendant has effectively waived the right to a jury determination of that element. Thus, a valid jury trial waiver—limited to the stipulated element or elements—is required. The Supreme Court remanded Johnson's case to the Court of Appeals to consider the rest of Johnson's issues raised on appeal.
Appeal No. 118,848: State of Kansas v. Timothy C. Bryant
Summary calendar; no oral argument
Bryant sought a Supreme Court review of a Wyandotte County District Court judge's denial of his motion to correct an illegal sentence. In August 2006 a jury convicted Bryant of first-degree murder and aggravated robbery. The Supreme Court upheld these convictions on direct appeal in 2008. In his motion to correct an illegal sentence, Bryant tried to use changes to the law made after he was sentenced to argue his sentence was illegal. He also argued his sentence was unconstitutional. The court rejected these arguments. The court held the legality of a sentence is controlled by the law in effect at the time the sentence is imposed. The court further held a motion to correct an illegal sentence is an inappropriate vehicle to challenge the constitutionality of a sentence.
Kansas Court of Appeals decisions released today