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  • 01 Feb 2021 11:43 AM | Amanda Kohlman (Administrator)

    Appeal No. 120,017: State of Kansas v. Ronald D. Morley

    Archived oral argument video

    The Kansas Supreme Court affirmed a Court of Appeals decision reversing Shawnee County District Court's ruling Morley was entitled to a dispositional departure to probation from a presumptive sentence of imprisonment. Morley was found guilty of securities fraud and acting as an unregistered issuer agent in connection with a high-risk investment scheme that cost four Kansas investors $845,900 in combined losses. In a unanimous opinion written by Justice Dan Biles, the Supreme Court agreed with the Court of Appeals the district court abused its discretion when finding Morley's no contest plea and his voluntary agreement to pay statutorily imposed restitution together constituted a substantial and compelling reason to depart.


    Appeal Nos. 120,747 and 121,048: State of Kansas v. Thomas C. Griffin II

    Summary calendar; no oral argument 

    The Kansas Supreme Court upheld Griffin's conviction for methamphetamine possession, which he challenged on the grounds he was not brought to trial quickly enough. Shortly after the State charged Griffin, he began serving an earlier sentence in a Department of Corrections facility. Griffin sought to expedite the trial of the methamphetamine possession case under the Kansas Uniform Disposition of Detainers Act, which generally requires a trial to occur within 180 days after the court receives an incarcerated defendant's request to expedite and a certificate from the Secretary of Corrections containing information about the incarceration. In a unanimous decision written by Justice Dan Biles, the court held Griffin failed to demonstrate the trial occurred too late when he claimed the time limit elapsed 180 days from his request, rather than the later date on which the Secretary of Corrections' certificate was received.



  • 22 Jan 2021 12:12 PM | Amanda Kohlman (Administrator)

    Appeal No. 120,033: In the Matter of the Estate of Thelma J. Taylor

    Archived oral argument video

    The Kansas Supreme Court today upheld a judgment ordering the executor of an estate to repay the amount of money taken from the estate and an additional penalty equal to the amount taken. Before a court case was opened in Atchison County District Court to administer the estate, the individual who would become the executor removed cash from a safe deposit box that belonged to the decedent. In a unanimous opinion written by Justice Dan Biles, the Supreme Court held the Kansas statute requiring the penalty when property is taken from a decedent did not contain an exception for property taken before estate proceedings began.


    Appeal No. 122,332: In the Matter of Amy J. Ahrens, Respondent

    Archived oral argument video

    The Kansas Supreme Court today indefinitely suspended Ahrens from the practice of law for violations of Kansas Rules of Professional Conduct (KRPC) 8.l(b) (failure to cooperate with disciplinary authority), KRPC 8.4(c) (dishonest conduct), KRPC 8.4(d) (conduct prejudicial to administration of justice), KRPC 8.4(g) (conduct adversely reflecting on respondent's fitness to practice law), and Kansas Supreme Court Rule 207(b) (cooperation). The suspension is effective December 20, 2019.


  • 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.



  • 11 Jan 2021 10:22 AM | Amanda Kohlman (Administrator)

    Chief Justice Marla Luckert issued a new administrative order today continuing to suspend statutes of limitation, statutory time standards, deadlines, and time limitations started under earlier orders in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

    Luckert's action to issue Administrative Order 2021-PR-001 follows the State Finance Council's January 6 decision extending the COVID-19 state of disaster emergency from January 11 through January 26.

    Luckert said the health and safety of jurors, witnesses, litigants, members of the public, law enforcement officials, court employees, and judges drove her decision to continue the suspensions.

    For all court actions related to the pandemic, visit Kansas courts response to COVID-19.


  • 08 Jan 2021 10:22 AM | Amanda Kohlman (Administrator)

    Please note the following changes to the Shawnee County District Court traffic dockets through the month of January.

    1. Tuesday morning Traffic Dockets at 8:00 a.m. and 10:00 a.m. are cancelled through January 31, 2020. Afternoon traffic hearings and trials will be held as scheduled.

    2. Please contact the District Attorney’s Office at (785) 251-4525 or by email to datraffic@snco.us – subject line “Traffic”. They are working diligently to resolve cases without requiring court appearances.

    3. Monday DUI dockets will continue as scheduled.

    4. Please consult the Shawnee County District Court website at 
    www.shawneecourt.org (http://www.shawneecourt.org) for further information.


  • 08 Jan 2021 10:19 AM | Amanda Kohlman (Administrator)

    Appeal No. 117,725: Howard Johnson III v. U.S. Food Service

    Archived oral argument video

    The Kansas Supreme Court reversed the Court of Appeals and affirmed the decision of the Workers Compensation Board. In an opinion written by Justice Caleb Stegall, the Supreme Court applied the rule of constitutional avoidance and held a 2013 amendment to the Kansas Workers Compensation Act did not change the essential legal standard for determining functional impairment under the statute, which must still be established by competent medical evidence.

    Appeal No. 119,881: State of Kansas v. Rodney J. Hooks

    Summary calendar; no oral argument 

    The Kansas Supreme Court remanded Hooks' appeal of the denial of his motion to correct an illegal sentence and K.S.A. 60-1507 motion to Sedgwick County District Court. Hooks filed the motions in 2017. The district court denied Hooks' motions. Hooks filed an untimely notice of appeal. In response to a show cause order, Hooks argued the Supreme Court should maintain jurisdiction under the "unique circumstances doctrine." The Supreme Court reaffirmed the "unique circumstances doctrine" is not an acceptable source of jurisdiction for Kansas appellate courts. Instead, the Supreme Court held that while other due process concerns may entitle Hooks to an untimely appeal, a district court must first make factual findings establishing Hooks' eligibility for consideration of an untimely notice of appeal.


    Appeal No. 120,390: State of Kansas v. David Patrick McNabb

    Summary calendar; no oral argument 

    The Kansas Supreme Court affirmed McNabb's four criminal convictions, including two counts of first-degree premeditated murder. In an opinion written by Justice Caleb Stegall, the Supreme Court held Linn County District Court did not abuse its discretion when it denied McNabb's motion for a downward durational sentencing departure. Further, the Supreme Court held the district court did not abuse its discretion when it ordered McNabb's two hard-50 life sentences to run concurrently.




  • 07 Jan 2021 3:25 PM | Amanda Kohlman (Administrator)

    Press Release Regarding Jury Trials

    Due to health and safety concerns related to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the Shawnee County District Court will not conduct any jury trials before April 5, 2021.  The Court is committed to ensuring the health and safety of jurors, defendants, court staff, and attorneys.



  • 07 Jan 2021 11:46 AM | Amanda Kohlman (Administrator)

    The Kansas Supreme Court appointed Judge David Bruns to complete an unexpired term on the Kansas Board of Law Examiners.

    Bruns has served on the Kansas Court of Appeals since 2011. He succeeds Melissa Taylor Standridge, who was appointed a Kansas Supreme Court justice in November. Standridge previously was a Court of Appeals judge.

    Bruns will serve through June 30, 2023.

    Before his appointment to the Court of Appeals, Bruns was a district court judge in the 3rd Judicial District, composed of Shawnee County, and a private practice lawyer.

    The 10-member Kansas Board of Law Examiners is composed of lawyers and judges. They oversee all matters relating to applications for admission, character and fitness, testing accommodations, temporary permits to practice, and legal intern permits.

    Other members of the board are:

    • Carol Park, chair, a lawyer at Schwartz & Park, Hays;

    • Molly Wood, vice chair, a lawyer at Stevens & Brand, Lawrence;

    • David Cooper, a partner at Fisher Patterson Sayler & Smith, Topeka;

    • Christina Holland, chief counsel for the Internal Revenue Service, Kansas City, Missouri;

    • Patrick Hughes, a lawyer at Adams Jones, Wichita;

    • Jacy Hurst, a lawyer and partner at Kutak Rock, Kansas City, Missouri;

    • Peter Johnston, a lawyer at Clark Mize & Linville, Salina;

    • Larkin Walsh, a lawyer at Sharp Law, Prairie Village; and

    • Edward Watson, a lawyer and partner at Foulston Siefkin, Wichita.


  • 04 Jan 2021 9:00 AM | Amanda Kohlman (Administrator)

    Supreme Court adopts rule changes related to attorney discipline, Lawyers' Fund for Client Protection

     

    The Kansas Supreme Court has adopted changes to the rules relating to the discipline of attorneys and the Lawyers' Fund for Client Protection, effective January 1, 2021.

    Attorney discipline

    The changes to rules relating to attorney discipline are extensive and overhaul the existing rules to align with other Supreme Court rules, increase efficiency, clarify the disciplinary process, and codify existing practices. 

    The changes create separate rules for each subject and reorder the rules to better reflect how a complaint moves through the attorney disciplinary process.

    New provisions in the rules outlined in Administrative Order 2020-RL-134 include:

    • additional definitions for greater clarity;

    • new deadlines for the disciplinary administrator and the respondent to promote an efficient hearing process;

    • a clear process for respondents to request subpoenas to compel witnesses to testify at disciplinary hearings;

    • expanded use of depositions in attorney disciplinary cases;

    • a procedure for parties, by agreement, to submit a disciplinary case directly to the Supreme Court and forgo a hearing before the Kansas Board for Discipline of Attorneys; and

    • a provision that addresses using expert witnesses in disciplinary proceedings.

    The changes also move the Kansas Rules of Professional Conduct from Rule 226 to Rule 240. There are no changes to the Kansas Rules of Professional Conduct.

    Lawyers’ Fund for Client Protection

    Amendments to the rule relating to the Lawyers’ Fund for Client Protection outlined in Administrative Order 2020-RL-135 include:

    • moving the rule from Rule 227 to Rule 241;

    • amendments to transfer administrative duties from the Office of the Clerk of the Appellate Courts to the Office of the Disciplinary Administrator;

    • extensive restyling and retooling amendments to align this rule with other Supreme Court rules; and

    • minor amendments for clarity.

    The changes do not substantively affect the consideration of claims made to the Client Protection Fund Commission, which will now be made to the Office of the Disciplinary Administrator.


  • 23 Dec 2020 2:28 PM | Amanda Kohlman (Administrator)

    Appeal No. 120,310: State of Kansas v. Phillip Jermaine Stanley

    Summary calendar; no oral argument

    On direct appeal, the Kansas Supreme Court affirmed Stanley's first-degree murder conviction. In an opinion written by Justice Caleb Stegall, the Supreme Court held Stanley failed to preserve his claim a witness' "double memories" were a fundamental trial failure because Stanley objected on other grounds at trial. Further, the Supreme Court upheld Johnson County District Court's use of additional language in the premeditation jury instruction as both legally and factually appropriate under State v. Bernhardt, 304 Kan. 460, 372 P.3d 1161 (2016). Moreover, the Supreme Court held premeditated first-degree murder and intentional second-degree murder are not identical offenses and the Kansas premeditated first-degree murder statute is not unconstitutionally vague. Finding no error, the Supreme Court found Stanley's claim of cumulative error meritless.


    Appeal No. 120,481: State of Kansas v. Donnell Stafford

    Summary calendar; no oral argument 

    On direct appeal, the Kansas Supreme Court affirmed Stafford's first-degree murder and two cruelty to animals convictions. In an opinion written by Justice Caleb Stegall, the Supreme Court held additional language in the premeditation jury instruction was legally and factually appropriate under State v. Bernhardt, 304 Kan. 460, 372 P.3d 1161 (2016). Moreover, the Supreme Court held a heat of passion voluntary manslaughter instruction would not have been factually appropriate, so Sedgwick County District Court did not err in refusing to give one. The Supreme Court also held a nurse's testimony did not violate the Confrontation Clause because the statements were for a medical purpose. Finally, finding no error, the Supreme Court held the cumulative error doctrine did not apply.



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