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  • 21 Jan 2020 4:09 PM | Amanda Kohlman (Administrator)

    The Kansas Supreme Court released the following published decision today:

    Appeal No. 117,149: Williams v. GEICO General Insurance Co.

    Archived oral argument video

    The Supreme Court upheld the statutory right to reimbursement under the Kansas Automobile Injury Reparations Act when a person provides personal care services to a spouse who was injured in a motor vehicle accident. The unanimous decision reversed a contrary decision by the Court of Appeals.

    The Sedgwick County case was brought by Royce Williams, who was injured in an automobile collision. His physician determined he was disabled and unable to perform his regular duties at home and needed to have a caregiver provide such duties. Before the accident, Williams prepared his own meals, did his own laundry, drove himself, took care of his own hygiene needs, did his own shopping, and administered his own medication. He agreed with his wife, Mary, that she would provide those services for $25 per day. From December 18, 2015, through March 31, 2016, Mary spent up to five hours a day doing this. She kept detailed itemizations of her services. She indicated she often had to be absent from work during this time.

    The parties conceded reimbursement would be required had the same services been provided by anyone else. Sedgwick County District Court ruled Williams was entitled to $2,625 for his wife's services. But the Court of Appeals held his insurance company did not have to pay because the wife's obligation to help her husband "was incurred as a result of the marital relationship itself."

    In a decision written by Justice Dan Biles, the Supreme Court said the Court of Appeals was wrong because state law makes no such distinction. The district court's award was reinstated.

    Kansas Court of Appeals decisions released today

  • 13 Jan 2020 11:30 AM | Amanda Kohlman (Administrator)

    The Kansas Supreme Court released the following published decisions January 10:

    Appeal No. 114,312: State of Kansas v. Christopher Lyman

    Archived oral argument video

    The Supreme Court affirmed Lyman's Geary County jury trial convictions for felony murder based on abuse of a child, abuse of a child by shaking, and aggravated battery. The victim was Lyman's 8-month-old nephew J.S. who was temporarily living with Lyman and his family. The Supreme Court held: 1) the district court did not err in denying Lyman's motion for a new trial based on newly discovered evidence concerning the prosecutor because the evidence was not credibly exculpatory nor impeaching and was not of such materiality to establish prejudice to Lyman; 2) the district court did not abuse its discretion in excluding testimony from Lyman's proposed expert when the witness failed to satisfy the statutory test for admissibility of expert testimony; 3) the district court did not err by allowing the State to introduce photographs documenting Lyman's prior assault of the victim because the evidence showed Lyman's modus operandi—a disputed material fact—and because it contradicted Lyman's claim the child's previous health issues, and not Lyman, caused the death; 4) Lyman did not establish the district judge committed judicial misconduct by allegedly sleeping during the trial; and 5) the district court did not abuse its discretion by prohibiting Lyman from introducing medical records subject to a written stipulation after the court excluded Lyman's proposed expert from testifying.

    Appeal No. 118,120: State of Kansas v. Sherman Norman Jenkins

    Archived oral argument video

    The Supreme Court affirmed Jenkins' Shawnee County convictions for first-degree felony murder, two counts of aggravated battery, two counts of felony fleeing and eluding police, one count of theft, one count of driving without tail lamps, and one count of driving while suspended. At trial, the district court judge admitted into evidence recordings of jail calls made using Jenkins' unique personal identification number. On appeal, Jenkins argued this was a reversible error because the recordings were not properly authenticated. The Court held admission of the calls was not error and announced a seven-factor test for authenticating an audio recording outlined in State v. Williams, 235 Kan. 485, 681 P.2d 660 (1984), is no longer controlling in Kansas. Instead, the Court held audio recordings are 'writings' under the Kansas Rules of Evidence and can be authenticated by any evidence sufficient to support a finding the writing is what its proponent claims. Jenkins also argued one of the means of the felony fleeing and eluding statute, which renders fleeing and eluding a felony if the defendant commits five or more moving violations while fleeing, was unconstitutionally vague. He argued that a typical person would not understand the conduct made illegal and that the statute would permit arbitrary enforcement. The Court rejected these assertions, holding administrative regulations defining "moving violations" provide fair notice of what conduct is illegal. 

    Appeal No. 118,180: State of Kansas v. Londro Emanuel Patterson III

    Archived oral argument video

    The Supreme Court affirmed Patterson's convictions and sentencing arising from the 2015 armed robbery of a Shawnee gun shop during which a store owner was killed. Patterson and three accomplices tried to rob She's A Pistol, jointly owned by Jon and Rebecca Bieker. Jon was killed by one of Patterson's accomplices when gunfire erupted. A jury convicted Patterson of felony murder, conspiracy to commit robbery, attempted aggravated robbery, and aggravated battery. The district court sentenced him to a hard-25 life sentence for the murder conviction and consecutive 47-, 34-, and 13-month prison terms for the remaining three convictions. On appeal, Patterson argued the felony murder statute, which defines a killing occurring during commission of a dangerous felony as first-degree murder, denied him due process because the jury did not have to determine whether he had a specific intent to kill. He also argued there were problems with the jury instructions and comments by the prosecutor, and that his hard-25 life sentence was too severe for his crime because he was 19 years old at the time of the crime. The court rejected each claim. 

    Kansas Court of Appeals decisions released


  • 13 Dec 2019 12:01 PM | Amanda Kohlman (Administrator)

    The Kansas Supreme Court released the following published decision today: 

    Appeal No. 112,883: State of Kansas v. Samuel L. Harris

    Archived oral argument video

    The Supreme Court today affirmed Harris' Lyon County convictions for robbery, kidnapping, and criminal threat. His crimes arose from a 2013 incident during which he controlled his victim for two hours while demanding money. In a unanimous opinion written by Justice Dan Biles, the court rejected Harris' claims there was insufficient evidence to sustain his kidnapping conviction. And although it concluded there were errors in the district court's jury instructions, it nonetheless determined they did not require reversing Harris' convictions. The court also held Harris failed to demonstrate he was prejudiced by his defense counsel's tardiness in challenging the contents of the State's filing setting out the charges against him.

    Kansas Court of Appeals decisions released today


  • 09 Dec 2019 10:23 AM | Amanda Kohlman (Administrator)

    The Kansas Supreme Court released the following published decisions today:

    The first two decisions are for cases argued before the Supreme Court at its October 7 special session at El Dorado High School.

    Appeal No. 118,448: State of Kansas v. Howard R. Pruitt

    Archived oral argument video

    The Supreme Court affirmed Pruitt's conviction for first-degree premeditated murder of Phillip Little by a jury in Butler County District Court. Pruitt killed Little with a shotgun after lying in wait for Little outside a mobile home. Trial evidence showed bad blood had developed between Pruitt and Little before the shooting. A mutual acquaintance who was aware of the ongoing feud and that Pruitt was interested in harming or paying someone to harm Little called Pruitt on the night of the shooting to let him know Little's location. On appeal, Pruitt raised multiple challenges. The court held the prosecutor's statement during closing argument—"This seems to be the shotgun, folks. I don't think there's a lot of question about that at this point"—was an impermissible personal opinion but the error did not require reversal of Pruitt's conviction. The court assumed, without deciding, the district judge's failure to instruct sua sponte on reckless second-degree murder and reckless involuntary manslaughter was error. Based on the overwhelming evidence, however, the error did not warrant reversal.

    Appeal No. 119,278: GFTLenexa LLC v. City of Lenexa

    Archived oral argument video

    GFTLenexa LLC leased property that was reduced in size when the City of Lenexa condemned part of it to widen a street. GFTLenexa lost some rental income from a sublessee because the property size was reduced. GFTLenexa sued the city to recover its lost rental income, asserting a claim of inverse condemnation. The district court ruled in favor of the city. GFTLenexa appealed, arguing in part the district court wrongly found the property lease prohibited suing the city. Justice Eric Rosen, writing for a unanimous Supreme Court, held the undivided fee rule precluded compelling the city to pay a second time for land already condemned in an eminent domain proceeding. A party cannot create contractual liability for a third party that was not a participant in a contract between two other parties. Of procedural significance is the holding that inverse condemnation appeals are properly initiated in the Court of Appeals, not the Supreme Court.

    Appeal No. 115,247: State of Kansas v. Virgil Patrick Fox

    Summary calendar; no oral argument

    The Supreme Court affirmed the district court's denial of Fox's motion to withdraw his 1982 guilty pleas for aiding and abetting two felony murders in Cherokee County. Fox filed his motion to withdraw his pleas over 30 years after he entered them and over three years after the Legislature imposed a one-year statute of limitation for filing such a motion. The Supreme Court agreed with the district court that Fox did not establish any facts that would constitute excusable neglect to permit his untimely filing.

    Appeal No. 115,227: State of Kansas v. Jeremy Claerhout

    Archived oral argument video

    Claerhout was drinking with friends and became highly intoxicated Driving at a speed far in excess of the legal limit, he hit the rear of another car, propelling it forward nearly 300 yards through a tree, utility pole, and fence. The driver of that car died shortly afterward. A Johnson County jury convicted Claerhout of second-degree murder, involuntary manslaughter, and reckless driving. The Court of Appeals affirmed the convictions, and the Supreme Court granted review. Justice Eric Rosen, writing for a unanimous Supreme Court, affirmed both the Court of Appeals and the district court. The court held the district court did not err when it allowed the State to present evidence Claerhout had previously entered into a diversion agreement for intoxicated driving. The court also upheld the admission of a police officer's analysis of crash data obtained from measuring devices in both Claerhout's and the victim's cars. Finally, the court held Claerhout was not entitled to assert a voluntary intoxication defense against the second-degree murder charge. The court disagreed with Claerhout's theory that the evidence of his intoxication tended to show he could not attain a reckless state of mind because of his impaired mental function.

    Appeal No. 115,713: State of Kansas v. Daniel S. Carpenter

    Summary calendar; no oral argument

    The Court affirms the Court of Appeals and the Sedgwick County District Court. Carpenter was placed on probation, with an underlying sentence of 55 months in prison followed by lifetime postrelease supervision. Carpenter disputed the lifetime postrelease supervision, arguing the statute was ambiguous and he could also receive 36 months' postrelease supervision and should have received the lesser sentence. The Supreme Court rejected Carpenter's argument that persons sent to prison are treated differently under the statute than persons placed on probation. The court reiterated its statement from earlier in 2019 that the statute does not contain an ambiguity and clearly provides that all persons convicted of a sexually violent crime on or after July 1, 2006 (such as Carpenter) will have lifetime postrelease supervision included in their sentence.

    Case No. 121,064: In the Matter of Joan M. Hawkins

    Archived oral argument video

    Hawkins, of Lawrence, was disbarred from the practice of law for violation of the Kansas Rules of Professional Conduct governing diligence, safekeeping property, termination of representation, failure to respond to disciplinary authority, failure to cooperate in disciplinary investigation, failure to file answer in disciplinary proceeding, and failure to file motion to withdraw upon suspension.

    Case No. 121,208: In the Matter of Andrew M. Delaney

    Archived oral argument video

    At the time of the hearing in this attorney discipline case, Delaney, a Hiawatha attorney, was under ongoing probation from a previous disciplinary action. The hearing panel found, and the Supreme Court agreed, that Delaney failed in the present case to provide competent representation and failed to avoid conflicts of interest in representing clients in two separate proceedings. The court agreed with the hearing panel's recommended discipline and suspended Delaney's license to practice for one year, but stayed the imposition of that sanction and extended his probation for an additional two years.

    CCR Case No. 1318: In the Matter of April C. Shepard

    Archived oral argument video

    Shepard was publicly reprimanded for violation of the rules adopted by the State Board of Examiners of Court Reporters governing the failure to maintain impartiality toward each participant in all aspects of reported proceedings or other court-related matters.

    Kansas Court of Appeals decisions released today
  • 27 Nov 2019 3:39 PM | Amanda Kohlman (Administrator)

    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

  • 04 Nov 2019 10:16 AM | Amanda Kohlman (Administrator)

    The Kansas Supreme Court released the following published decisions today:

    Appeal No. 115,441: State of Kansas v. Ken'Dum Dan'Sha Owens

    Archived oral argument video 

    The Supreme Court affirmed Owens' Sedgwick County convictions for aggravated robbery, criminal use of a weapon, and criminal deprivation of property. The court held Owens did not establish that a 19-month delay between his arrest and trial violated his constitutional speedy trial rights. Although the length of the delay was presumptively prejudicial given that this was not a complex case, the reasons for the delay and lack of prejudice to Owens countered the presumption of prejudice. And while Owens objected to the delay, his objections were partially withdrawn, and overall he failed to show his constitutional speedy trial rights were violated.

    Appeal No. 116,692: Via Christi Hospitals Wichita Inc. v. Kan-Pak LLC, et al.

    Archived oral argument video

    The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the Workers Compensation Appeals Board and reversed the Court of Appeals decision. The appeal arose from a fee dispute between a hospital that treated an injured worker and a workers compensation insurance carrier. The workers compensation regulation governing reimbursement to hospitals—the 2011 schedule of maximum fees—said the hospital would be paid "whichever is least" between either 70% of billed charges or the Medicare Severity-Diagnosis Related Group amount. Testimony at a fee dispute hearing showed that the phrase "whichever is least" was added to the regulation by mistake. The hearing officer held he did not have authority to strike the erroneous language, and the Workers Compensation Appeals Board affirmed. The Court of Appeals reversed, holding the board's decision was unreasonable, arbitrary, and capricious. The Supreme Court held the statute giving the board authority to resolve fee disputes between hospitals and insurers—the specific statute under which the hospital sought more money—does not give the board authority to correct mistakes in workers compensation regulations. As a result, the court affirmed the board's decision in favor of the carrier.

    Kansas Court of Appeals decisions released today
  • 25 Oct 2019 12:52 PM | Amanda Kohlman (Administrator)

    The Kansas Supreme Court released the following published decisions today:

    Appeal No. 115,387: State of Kansas v. Timothy C. Boettger

    Archived oral argument video 

    Boettger appealed his Douglas County conviction and sentence for one count of reckless criminal threat. The Court of Appeals affirmed, finding no reversible error. The Supreme Court reversed, holding the reckless form of criminal threat is unconstitutionally overbroad in violation of the free speech clause of the First Amendment to the U.S Constitution. The Supreme Court dismissed Boettger's remaining arguments as moot. 

    Appeal No. 116,307: Corvias Military Living LLC and Corvias Military Construction LLC v. Ventamatic Ltd. and Jakel Inc.

    Archived oral argument video 

    In an opinion written by Justice Caleb Stegall, the Supreme Court reversed in part and affirmed in part the Court of Appeals as right for the wrong reason and remanded to Geary County District Court for further proceedings. Corvias built thousands of homes near Fort Riley in Geary County. In these homes, Corvias installed bathroom ceiling fans constructed by Ventamatic Ltd. and Jakel Motors Inc. After installation, several of the ceiling fans caught fire. Corvias sought recovery for the fire damage as well as the removal and replacement costs of the remaining fans. The Supreme Court held the Kansas Product Liability Act, K.S.A. 60-3301 et seq., did not bar Corvias from recovering damages associated with the fire damage to the homes because the Act permits a plaintiff to recover for "damage to property"—even damage to the product itself. Additionally, while the court held removal and replacement costs are not recoverable in a product liability action, the Act does not create an absolute bar against their recovery.

    Appeal No. 116,453: State of Kansas v Ryan R. Johnson 

    Summary calendar; no oral argument

    Johnson appealed his Montgomery County conviction and sentence for one count of criminal threat. The Court of Appeals affirmed, finding no error. The Supreme Court reversed, holding there was sufficient evidence to support Johnson's conviction as either a reckless or intentional criminal threat. But the Supreme Court held the reckless form of criminal threat is unconstitutionally overbroad in violation of the free speech clause of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The Supreme Court reversed Johnson's conviction and sentence because Johnson had been charged with either reckless or intentional criminal threat, the jury had been instructed on both, and the record on appeal did not establish whether the jury found Johnson acted recklessly or intentionally. A majority of the Supreme Court held Johnson should be granted a new jury trial solely under the intentional threat provision of Kansas' criminal threat statute. Justice Caleb Stegall, joined by Justice Dan Biles, agreed the reckless form of criminal threat is unconstitutional, but they would affirm the conviction because the evidence established Johnson acted intentionally, not recklessly.

    Appeal No. 116,568: State of Kansas v. Marquel D. Dean 

    Archived oral argument video

    On direct appeal, the Supreme Court affirmed Dean's Sedgwick County convictions for premeditated murder, four aggravated battery charges, and criminal possession of a firearm. In an opinion written by Justice Caleb Stegall, the court held Dean failed to sufficiently furnish the record with a juror's notebook Dean claimed prejudiced his trial rights after the juror impermissibly brought the notebook from home. Because Dean failed to affirmatively designate the record with the document, the court affirmed the district court's denial of Dean's motion for mistrial. Additionally, Dean argued the district court erred when it failed to provide a "cooperating witness" jury instruction. The court held a district court is not legally required to instruct the jury to view with caution the testimony of a noninformant witness who is, nonetheless, testifying in exchange for benefits from the State. Similarly, the Supreme Court affirmed the district court's denial of Dean's new trial motion because Dean failed to provide allegedly new documents detailing the witness' federal plea deal. Moreover, the witness testified he hoped to receive a reduced sentence for his testimony. The Supreme Court also held the State presented sufficient evidence of premeditation and evidence of Dean's gang affiliation was admissible. Finding no error, the Supreme Court held the cumulative error doctrine did not apply.

    Kansas Court of Appeals decisions released today


  • 14 Oct 2019 11:39 AM | Amanda Kohlman (Administrator)

    The Kansas Supreme Court released the following published decision October 11:

    Appeal No. 116,883: JoeAnn Williams, et al. v. C-U-Out Bail Bonds LLC, et al.

    Summary calendar; no oral argument 

    Williams and others present in her home sued C-U-Out Bail Bonds LLC and the City of Overland Park after agents of C-U-Out forced their way into Williams' private home looking for an individual they were seeking. The plaintiffs' suit against Overland Park, in particular, was based on allegations police officers who responded to Williams' 911 call had a duty to investigate and intervene once they arrived on the scene and spoke to C-U-Out's agents but not Williams. A Johnson County District Court judge dismissed Overland Park as a defendant, ruling the plaintiffs failed to state a valid cause of action. On appeal, a Court of Appeals panel affirmed the dismissal. On review, the Supreme Court reversed the Court of Appeals decision and reversed the district court's dismissal of Overland Park as a defendant. The court concluded the plaintiffs' petition in district court alleged sufficient facts to support potential intentional illegal conduct on the part of the bail bondsmen, a police undertaking of a duty to investigate owed to the plaintiffs individually, and no immunity for Overland Park under the Kansas Tort Claims Act.

    Kansas Court of Appeals decisions released 

  • 14 Oct 2019 11:17 AM | Amanda Kohlman (Administrator)

    The Kansas Supreme Court released the following published decision October 4:

    Appeal No. 112,449: State of Kansas v. Dustin Dean Perkins

    Archived oral argument video

    The Supreme Court affirmed Perkins' conviction in Ellis County District Court for driving under the influence. The court found that although the breathalyzer test results were the product of a nonconsensual and unconstitutional search following the court's holdings in State v. Ryce, 303 Kan. 899, 368 P.3d 342 (2016), and State v. Nece, 303 Kan. 888, 367 P3d 1260 (2016), the officer's good-faith belief that the statute, as it existed at the time of the arrest, that authorized the search was constitutional permitted the State to use the test results to convict the motorist.

    Kansas Court of Appeals decisions released.

  • 27 Sep 2019 11:02 AM | Amanda Kohlman (Administrator)

    The Kansas Supreme Court released the following published decisions today:

    Appeal No. 120,875: In the Matter of Kevin P. Shepherd

    Archived oral argument video

    Shepherd, of Topeka, was suspended from the practice of law for two years for violating the Kansas Rules of Professional Conduct on competence; diligence; communication; safekeeping property; preserving client funds; withdrawing from representation; making a false statement in connection with a disciplinary matter; engaging in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation; and engaging in conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice

    Appeal No. 120,924: In the Matter of Joshua T. Mathews

    Archived oral argument video 

    The Supreme Court today ordered Mathews, of Leawood, who was admitted to practice law in Kansas in April 2008, be censured and that the censure be published in the Kansas Reports. The court agreed with a recommendation from a panel of the Kansas Board of Discipline of Attorneys and the Disciplinary Administrator's Office that Mathews should be disciplined for misconduct in reporting his continuing legal education credits information to the Kansas Continuing Legal Education Commission in 2017. The court found he engaged in misconduct including dishonesty by falsely denying to the commission he had viewed online CLE courses while attending an in-person CLE program, and inaccurately stating on an affidavit that he completed one hour of ethics credit.

    Kansas Court of Appeals decisions released today


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