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The Kansas Supreme Court issued the following published decisions June 5, 2020

10 Jun 2020 2:16 PM | Amanda Kohlman (Administrator)

The Kansas Supreme Court issued the following published decisions June 5, 2020

Appeal No. 114,796: State of Kansas v. Jason W. Hachmeister

Archived oral argument video

Hachmeister was convicted in Shawnee County District Court of premeditated murder for killing his mother, Sheila Hachmeister. On direct appeal to the Supreme Court, Hachmeister challenged his conviction claiming improperly admitted evidence under K.S.A. 60-455 and eight prosecutorial errors deprived him of a fair trial. In a unanimous opinion written by Justice Caleb Stegall, the Supreme Court affirmed Hachmeister's conviction, finding the trial court properly admitted evidence under K.S.A. 60-455 and the single prosecutorial error was harmless.

Appeal No. 115,817: State of Kansas v. Aaron Robert Brown

Summary calendar; no oral argument

The Supreme Court reversed a Court of Appeals panel and affirmed Cowley County District Court's action to discard the "in" prefix from "voluntary manslaughter" on Brown's jury verdict form. The Supreme Court granted the State's petition for review to resolve a panel split between State v. Brown, No. 115,817, 2017 WL 5016171 (Kan. App. 2017) (unpublished opinion) and State v. Rice, No. 103,223, 2011 WL 4031494 (Kan. App. 2011) (unpublished opinion), concerning a district court's ability to resolve inconsistencies between verdict forms and other case evidence, including charging documents and jury instructions. In an opinion written by Justice Caleb Stegall, the Supreme Court sided with the Rice panel's approach and held a strong presumption exists in favor of the literal text of a verdict form and a district court judge may only invoke the surplusage rule to discard inconsistent parts of a verdict form when the record as a whole necessarily creates doubt as to its meaning. A district court may consider anything from the record that tends to show with certainty what the jury intended, and the district court judge must be convinced beyond a reasonable doubt the record as a whole clearly demonstrates the intent of the jury when discarding contrary surplusage. Applying Brown's facts, the Supreme Court held the record created doubt as to the meaning of the jury's verdict but noted aspects of the trial record demonstrated the jury's intent with certainty. With this evidence, the Supreme Court held the jury intended to convict Brown of attempted voluntary manslaughter beyond a reasonable doubt. Therefore, the Supreme Court held the district court did not err when it discarded the "in" prefix from the verdict form as mere surplusage and reversed the Court of Appeals panel.

Appeal No. 120,050: In the Matter of the Jill Petrie St. Clair Trust Reformation

Summary calendar; no oral argument

The Supreme Court today affirmed Sedgwick County District Court's order reforming a trust. In a unanimous opinion written by Senior Judge Patrick McAnany, the court held the addition of two new trust terms was necessary to conform the trust to the creator's intent. The trust was formed in 2003 to shield the assets from federal estate taxes. The newly approved terms were mistakenly omitted from the original trust document.

Kansas Court of Appeals decisions released today


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