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  • The Kansas Supreme Court issued the following published decisions January 15, 2021

The Kansas Supreme Court issued the following published decisions January 15, 2021

15 Jan 2021 9:59 AM | Amanda Kohlman (Administrator)

Appeal No. 118,382: Howard Johnson III v. Chase L. Coble

Archived oral argument video

The Kansas Supreme Court reversed Coble's conviction for aggravated arson. Coble was charged with three identically-worded aggravated arson counts following a fire in his Hutchinson apartment. At trial the State presented evidence tending to establish three separate incidents occurred. The jury acquitted Coble on all but one count. In a unanimous opinion written by Justice Dan Biles, the Supreme Court held that due process concerns required it to reverse the sole conviction. The identically worded charges caused confusion for the jury about what incident to attach to each charge. In addition, appellate review of the conviction was hampered since it was also impossible for the Supreme Court to determine what incident the jury believed constituted aggravated arson. In view of the jury confusion, the two acquittals, and the arguably inadequate evidence establishing two of the three incidents, the Supreme Court remanded the case to Reno County District Court for additional proceedings.


Appeal No. 119,824: State of Kansas v. Emmanuel Elijah Crosby

Summary calendar; no oral argument 

On direct appeal, the Kansas Supreme Court reversed Crosby's distribution of a controlled substance conviction and affirmed Crosby's several other criminal convictions in Sedgwick County. In an opinion written by Justice Caleb Stegall, the court held the State failed to provide sufficient evidence of Crosby distributing or intending to distribute marijuana. The Supreme Court held the State must present sufficient evidence of a defendant's possession as a necessary part of a distribution of a controlled substance conviction, and the State failed to do so here. Further, the Supreme Court held joinder of Crosby's criminal cases was proper, several jury instructions were not erroneous, and the cumulative error doctrine did not apply.

Appeal No. 121,075: State of Kansas v. Michael L. Phillips

Archived oral argument video 

A Sedgwick County jury convicted Phillips of first-degree premeditated murder and aggravated battery. On appeal, Phillips argued the district court erred by denying his pretrial motion for self-defense immunity. The Kansas Supreme Court held the district court erred when it failed to resolve conflicting evidence relevant to the self-defense immunity issues before denying the motion. The Supreme Court also found this error was not subject to traditional harmless error analysis. However, given the extraordinary facts of the case, the Supreme Court took the unique step of reviewing the existing record and determined that, at the immunity hearing, the State established probable cause that Phillips' use of deadly force was not justified, thus defeating Phillip's motion. Phillips also argued the district court erred by denying his request for a lesser included offense instruction, but the Supreme Court found no error because the requested instruction was not factually appropriate. The Supreme Court also affirmed the district court's denial of Phillips' motion for new trial alleging ineffective assistance of counsel.



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