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The Kansas Supreme Court Decisions April 17, 2020

17 Apr 2020 4:10 PM | Amanda Kohlman (Administrator)

The Kansas Supreme Court released the following published decisions today:

Appeal No. 114,675: State of Kansas v. Darrell Broxton

Archived oral argument video

On appeal by petition, the Supreme Court affirmed Broxton's convictions in Wyandotte County District Court but vacated his sentence and remanded his case for resentencing. In an opinion written by Justice Caleb Stegall, the court held the district court did not err when it refused to give a felony-murder instruction because felony murder is not a lesser included offense of first-degree premeditated murder. The court further held when performing a jury instruction analysis, an appellate court must not continue to factual appropriateness if the instruction is not legally appropriate. Broxton also argued the district court erred when it excluded a "No Information" document filed by Florida authorities stating they lacked sufficient evidence to charge Broxton in a 1996 Florida homicide. The Supreme Court agreed with the Court of Appeals the evidence was both relevant and probative to disprove Broxton committed the Florida murder, which the State sought to admit as evidence of a prior bad act under K.S.A. 60-455 to prove identity. However, this error was harmless in light of the significant and convincing body of evidence presented at trial. The Supreme Court also held the district court erred when it scored a 1989 Florida burglary conviction as a nonperson felony. The Supreme Court changed its analysis of "comparable offenses" in State v. Wetrich, 307 Kan. 552, 561-62, 412 P.3d 984 (2018), which was decided while Broxton's case was on appeal. Under this new analysis, the Florida burglary statute used to convict Broxton is not a "comparable offense" to the Kansas analogue and must be scored as a nonperson felony. Broxton received the benefit of this change in the law because the change occurred during his direct appeal's pendency and not using a motion to correct an illegal sentence. The Supreme Court remanded Broxton's case for resentencing with the Florida burglary offense scored as a nonperson felony.

 

Appeal No. 117,362: State of Kansas v. Bryan Richard Harris


Archived oral argument video


The Supreme Court reversed the decisions of the Court of Appeals and Atchison County District Court in Harris' case and remands the matter for a new trial. The Supreme Court held Harris' waiver of his right to jury trial was legally insufficient based on the district court's failure to properly inform Harris of his right and to ensure Harris understood the nature of his right. In light of this decision, the Supreme Court declined to address Harris' other claims.

Appeal No. 117,362: State of Kansas v. Reginald Frazier

Archived oral argument video

The Supreme Court reversed the Court of Appeals and Geary County District Court decisions to deny Frazier's motion to withdraw a plea of no contest. The case is remanded with directions. As part of his plea negotiations, Frazier signed a plea agreement that, in part, purported to preclude any charges in Ohio. This provision is of uncertain enforceability. The Supreme Court holds the defendant did not understandingly sign the plea agreement when he relied on an uncertain provision that works in his favor and he justifiably believed that provision to be a certainty. Accordingly, Frazier has shown good cause and must be allowed to withdraw his plea.

 

Appeal No. 119,665: State of Kansas v. Nicholas Corbin

Summary calendar; no oral argument

The Supreme Court affirmed Saline County District Court's denial of Corbin's intellectual disability claim. In 2014, Corbin pleaded no contest to murder of his 2-month old son. The district court rejected his argument he was intellectually disabled. In a 2016 appeal, the Supreme Court remanded the case to district court to reconsider its ruling because the applicable law had changed. On remand, the district court complied with the Supreme Court's direction and again denied the intellectual disability claim. In a unanimous opinion written by Justice Dan Biles, the Supreme Court affirmed the district court's ruling and held its decision was reasonable and supported by the evidence.

Appeal No. 119,712: State of Kansas v. Sony Uk

Archived oral argument video

The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of Lyon County District Court after Uk appealed his conviction for murder. Uk argued the district court should have given the jury an instruction on voluntary manslaughter as a lesser included offense of first-degree murder and the district court's instruction on premeditation was insufficient. The Supreme Court held that the absence of legally sufficient provocation rendered a voluntary manslaughter instruction factually inappropriate, and that the district court did not err by issuing an unmodified instruction defining premeditation from the Pattern Jury Instructions for Kansas.

Kansas Court of Appeals decisions released today

 


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