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  • 02 Sep 2021 3:00 PM | Amanda Kohlman (Administrator)

    The Kansas Supreme Court announced today it will conduct its September docket by videoconference despite earlier plans that it would be in person.

    The court had announced August 9 it would resume in-person oral arguments beginning with its September 13–17 docket. Today, Chief Justice Marla Luckert mentioned the court’s ability to adapt as COVID-19 conditions change.

    “As much as we looked forward to resuming in-person oral arguments, videoconferencing is a valuable tool that allows us to hear appellate oral arguments efficiently and safely,” Chief Justice Marla Luckert said.   

    For an in-person docket, cases are normally heard back-to-back beginning at 9 a.m. each day the court is in session. When the court hears cases by videoconference, it schedules multiple start times throughout the day, usually at 9 a.m., 11 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.

    The appellate court clerk worked with attorneys who are scheduled to argue cases on the September docket to coordinate their start times. An updated docket is posted on the Supreme Court Dockets webpage

    The Supreme Court has heard oral arguments by videoconference since shortly after the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. The court livestreams all oral arguments on its YouTube channel at www.YouTube.com/KansasSupremeCourt.   

  • 30 Aug 2021 11:03 AM | Amanda Kohlman (Administrator)

    Appeal No. 121,328: City of Shawnee v. Asnake H. Adem

    Appeal No. 121,328 archived oral argument

     In a 5-2 decision, the Kansas Supreme Court ruled Adem’s conviction in Shawnee Municipal Court of sexual battery, as defined by the Shawnee Municipal Code, required him to register as a sex offender under the Kansas Offender Registration Act. Under the Act, registration is required for certain offenses defined by state statute and for comparable offenses. In a decision written by Justice Dan Biles, the Supreme Court ruled the municipal sexual battery conviction triggered the registration requirement under that rule. A violation of the Kansas sexual battery statute requires registration, and the Shawnee ordinance is identical to the statute. Justices Melissa Standridge and Eric Rosen dissented, arguing the Legislature did not intend for the Act to apply to municipal prosecutions.

    Appeal No. 121,108: Almario V. Chalmers v. Brittany Burrough

    Appeal No. 121,108 archived oral argument

     A Florida court ordered Chalmers to pay support for his child. When he later wished to modify the amount of that order, he attempted to register the order in a Kansas district court where his child was living, pursuant to the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act (UIFSA). The Sedgwick County District Court temporarily modified the order. Burrough moved to set the modification aside. Chalmers subsequently realized he had failed to include a copy of the Florida order with his registration materials pursuant to UIFSA requirements and moved the court to allow him to add the Florida order to the record. Burrough then moved to vacate the temporary order and dismiss the case, arguing that Chalmer's failure to include the Florida order meant the district court never had jurisdiction over the case. The district court agreed with Burrough, vacated the temporary modification, and dismissed the case. A majority of a Court of Appeals panel affirmed, holding the failure to substantially comply with the registration requirements of the UIFSA meant the district court never obtained subject matter jurisdiction over the out-of-state order. In a decision written by Justice Eric Rosen, the Supreme Court reversed the Court of Appeals. It held the registration requirements in the UIFSA are not prerequisites to a district court's subject matter jurisdiction over an out-of-state support order. It remanded the case to the district court so it could proceed with the case and consider Chalmers's motion to add to the record and Burrough's motion to set aside the modification.

    Appeal No. 122,237: State of Kansas v. David Clayton Montgomery 

    Appeal No. 122,237 archived oral argument

    In a case originating in Johnson County, the Supreme Court affirmed the Court of Appeals decision to vacate Montgomery's sentence and remanded for resentencing. The court unanimously held the sentencing court erred when it departed from the presumptive sentence set out by the Kansas Sentencing Guidelines Act because it wrongfully relied on a nonstatutory mitigating factor by improperly considering the dissimilar character of Montgomery's current domestic violence offense and his past nonviolent offenses.

     Justice Caleb Stegall, writing for the court, examined the Guidelines' purposes and design, which includes accounting for crime seriousness and criminal history while promoting public safety, reducing sentence disparities, and establishing proportional and easily understood presumptive sentences. This purpose-based rationale led the court to conclude the Guidelines already correctly accounted for past convictions and determined that differences in past convictions alone cannot constitute a mitigating factor supporting a departure sentence.

  • 25 Aug 2021 10:39 AM | Amanda Kohlman (Administrator)

    All Criminal Divisions in the Third Judicial District are requiring face masks to be worn in both their offices and courtrooms. Face masks are currently also required to be worn in the Clerk of the Court office and Court Services offices. 

  • 24 Aug 2021 12:57 PM | Amanda Kohlman (Administrator)

    The Kansas Supreme Court is accepting public comment on amendments to Supreme Court Rules 700-726: Rules Relating to the Admission of Attorneys.

    Comment may be made by email to scrulespubliccomment@kscourts.org until noon September 8. The subject line must read “Rules 700-726.”

    The proposed amendments to Rules 700-726: Rules Relating to the Admission of Attorneys are to align them with other Supreme Court rules and to better reflect how an application moves through the attorney admissions process. The amendments also incorporate procedures to create a new online application process, as well as clarify the attorney admissions process, remove outdated requirements, and codify existing practices.

    Amendments include the following substantive changes:

    • Eliminating outdated provisions that prevent admission based on an applicant’s failure to achieve a passing score on a prior bar examination, impose a limit on the number of times an applicant could take the bar examination, and required termination of a single-employer restricted license when an applicant did not receive a passing score on the bar examination;
    • Allowing an applicant for admission by examination to take the examination while the applicant’s character and fitness investigation is still pending;
    • Increasing the timeframe for an applicant to apply for admission by Uniform Bar Examination score transfer from 36 months to 60 months;
    • Making the unauthorized practice of law a consideration during a character and fitness investigation instead of an absolute bar to admission by reciprocity;
    • Clarifying the standard of review during a character and fitness hearing; and
    Renumbering and moving former Rule 712B regarding pro bono service to the Rules Relating to Access to Justice.


  • 23 Aug 2021 7:45 AM | Amanda Kohlman (Administrator)

    The Kansas Sentencing Commission adopted new risk and needs assessment tools for use with adult offenders beginning July 1, 2021.

    K.S.A. 74-9101(b)(21) requires the Kansas Sentencing Commission to periodically review statewide supervision and placement cutoff decisions based on risk levels and needs of offenders. The Women’s Risk Needs Assessment (WRNA) replaced the LSI-R for females. The Level of Service/Case Management Inventory (LS/CMI) assessment replaced the LSI-R for males.

    The Kansas Sentencing Commission released a memorandum, New Probation Placement Tools and Criteria, which has useful information for administering these new tools.

    To prepare for the change, court services officers participated in training to learn about these new tools, as well as gender-responsive and trauma-informed care. Court services officers now use the new risk-needs tools with people who commit crimes on or after July 1, 2021.

    As a result of this change, the Supreme Court amended Rule 110B, now renumbered to Rule 1802.


    Questions

    If you have questions, contact:

    Spence Koehn

    Court Services Officer Specialist
    koehns@kscourts.org 


  • 20 Aug 2021 10:34 AM | Amanda Kohlman (Administrator)

    Appeal No. 122,812: State of Kansas vs. Jamion D. Wimbley

    Archived oral argument video
    Wimbley appealed his Sedgwick County District Court conviction for murder for aiding and abetting a shooter, claiming error in the instructions given to the jury that convicted him. The Supreme Court held that it was not error for the trial court to decline to include extra language in the aiding and abetting jury instruction telling the jury that mere presence at the scene of a crime is insufficient to establish guilt, despite being an accurate statement of law. The language in the jury instruction that was given, which explained that mere association with a bad actor is insufficient for guilt, fully and accurately explained the law to the jury and did not mislead the jury. Therefore, failure to include the additional language was not error.

  • 13 Aug 2021 12:46 PM | Amanda Kohlman (Administrator)

    Appeal No. 122,739: State of Kansas v. Justin Eugene Thurber

    Summary calendar; no oral argument

     The Supreme Court reversed the Cowley County District Court’s denial of Thurber’s motion to appoint counsel in connection with his petition for postconviction DNA testing under K.S.A. 2020 Supp. 21-2512. The district court had concluded that because Thurber's direct appeal was still ongoing, Thurber's convictions had not become "final," so an attempt to seek relief under K.S.A. 2020 Supp 21-2512 was premature. On review, the Supreme Court determined that K.S.A. 2020 Supp. 21-2512 does not require that a petitioner's conviction reach a state of finality on direct appeal before the petitioner may initiate proceedings under the statute. The Supreme Court further concluded that K.S.A. 2020 Supp. 21-2512 constitutes a special legislative exception to the general rule that a district court loses jurisdiction once a matter has been docketed for appeal. Consequently, the Supreme Court reversed the district court's decision and remanded the matter back for further proceedings under K.S.A. 2020 Supp. 21-2512, independently of the ongoing litigation surrounding Thurber's direct appeal of his convictions.

    Appeal No. 119,584: State of Kansas v. Jose Armando Contreras

    Appeal No. 119,584 archived oral argument

    The Supreme Court reversed and remanded the Court of Appeals decision and affirmed in part the Scott County District Court judgment. Contreras was convicted of two counts of rape, two counts of aggravated criminal sodomy, and one count of aggravated intimidation of a victim, for which he was sentenced to life in prison. In his defense, Contreras attempted to offer the testimony of the victim's father who had previously pled guilty and been convicted of sex crimes against the victim; however, the father invoked his Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination and refused to testify at trial. The Supreme Court found that based on the record presented to the district court, the father had presented "substantial competent evidence" of the basis of his privilege that Contreras did not refute. The court reversed the Court of Appeals decision, which improperly made factual findings based on evidence outside of the original district court record. The Supreme Court remanded the case to the Court of Appeals to decide other issues raised by Contreras on appeal.

    Appeal No. 122,861: State of Kansas v. Nathaniel L. Hill  

    Summary calendar; no oral argument

     The Supreme Court affirmed in part and vacated in part Hill's sentence. The Montgomery County District Court properly denied Hill's motion for sentence modification and that judgment is affirmed. Likewise, Hill is serving a legal sentence which does not require a remand for resentencing. But Hill's off-grid sentence is followed by parole and not postrelease supervision, so the lifetime postrelease supervision shown in Hill's journal entry of judgment is vacated.

    Appeal No. 123,682: In the Matter of Roy T. Artman 

    Appeal No. 123,682 archived oral argument

     In an original proceeding in attorney discipline, the Supreme Court disbarred Artman from the practice of law in Kansas, effective November 27, 2019, for violations of Kansas Rules of Professional Conduct 8.4(b) (2021 Kan. S. Ct. R. 427) (committing a criminal act that reflects adversely on the lawyer's honesty, trustworthiness, or fitness as a lawyer), 8.4(c) (engaging in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation), and 8.4(d) (engaging in conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice).

  • 10 Aug 2021 9:13 AM | Amanda Kohlman (Administrator)

    The Kansas Supreme Court plans to resume in-person oral arguments for its September 13-17 docket.

    The Kansas court was among the first supreme courts nationwide to use videoconferencing technology for its oral arguments. Since the beginning of the pandemic, the court has conducted its dockets virtually.

    “We learned that we can quickly shift from an in-person proceeding to one that can be conducted through videoconferencing,” Chief Justice Marla Luckert said. “Now we look forward to welcoming attorneys, parties, and the public back to the Judicial Center for oral arguments.”

    When in-person oral arguments resume, safety will be a priority. All visitors to the Kansas Judicial Center are required to follow minimum standard health protocols to enter the building, which include:

    • answering screening questions about symptoms of or exposure to COVID-19;
    • wearing a face mask or face covering in public areas of the building; and
    • maintaining 6 feet of physical distance from others, unless a physical barrier provides separation, or the person and all others nearby are fully vaccinated and no one objects.

    Throughout the pandemic, videoconferencing has allowed state courts to continue to provide access to justice while protecting the health and safety of court users, staff, and judicial officers. Even as in-person proceedings resumed statewide, hearings by videoconference continued to be a valuable tool for expedient case processing.   

     The Supreme Court has provided a live video stream of its oral arguments since 2012, and oral arguments will continue to be livestreamed when the court returns to in-person oral arguments in September. Watch online at www.YouTube.com/KansasSupremeCourt.

  • 06 Aug 2021 11:03 AM | Amanda Kohlman (Administrator)

    Appeal No. 120,387: In the Matter of the Appeal of River Rock Energy Company for the Year 2016 in Labette, Neosho, and Wilson Counties

    Appeal No. 120,387 archived oral argument

    The Supreme Court agreed with the Board of Tax Appeals decision to uphold the county appraisers' application of the Kanas Oil and Gas Appraisal Guide in valuing River Rock Energy Company's wells.

    River Rock raised a multijurisdictional dispute over valuation given for the 2016 tax year to its working interests in 203 gas wells and related equipment. State law mandates county appraisers adhere to the Kansas Oil and Gas Appraisal Guide developed by the Kanas Department of Revenue's Property Valuation Division unless "just cause" is shown for deviation. River Rock claimed the Guide produced inflated values for their producing gas leases by capping operating expense allowances to arrive at what is known as a "working interest minimum lease value." In deciding its challenge, the Board and the Court of Appeals disagreed about applying the Guide's working interest minimum lease values for River Rock's wells. In a decision written by Justice Dan Biles, the Supreme Court agreed with the Board and upheld the validity of the Guide.

     For the remaining issues raised before the court, it affirmed the Board's decision to use the Guide's values for well-site equipment on River Rock's leases. The court also upheld the Court of Appeals' decision that it had jurisdiction to entertain River Rock's challenge to the Board's order refusing to abate filing fees for this multiproperty protest appeal. The court remanded the case to the Board for further proceeding consistent with the Court of Appeals direction on the fee abatement issue.

    Appeal No. 119,764: State of Kansas v. Tommy L. Jones

    Appeal No. 119,764 archived oral argument

     The Supreme Court affirms in part and reverses in part the Court of Appeals decision and affirms in part and reverses in part Sedgwick County District Court judgment after Jones appealed his four convictions for sexual exploitation of a child, which arose following a jury trial. The Supreme Court concluded that jury instructions for two of Jones' four charged counts of sexual exploitation were clearly erroneous based on their use of incorrect statutory language and reversed Jones' convictions on those two counts. The Supreme Court affirmed Jones' remaining convictions, concluding that the district court did not abuse its discretion in permitting the State to present evidence of Jones' prior crimes, that the jury instructions correctly stated under existing Kansas law, that the State was not required to prove that Jones knew the age of the victim, and that Jones failed to preserve for appeal his First Amendment challenge to the constitutionality of K.S.A. 2014 Supp. 21-5510. Based on these conclusions, the Supreme Court declined to reach the parties' remaining arguments.

    Appeal No. 121,105: State of Kansas v. Tria L. Evans 

    Appeal No. 121,105 archived oral argument

    An assailant attacked Evans’ former romantic partner at his mother’s house, shooting the partner and setting the house on fire. Surveillance cameras, GPS data, and witnesses identified Evans, working in cooperation with another woman, as the shooter. A jury convicted Evans of first-degree murder, conspiracy to commit first-degree murder, arson, and aggravated burglary, and the Douglas County District Court sentenced her to a life term of imprisonment without the possibility of parole for 50 years. On appeal, Evans challenged the use of out-of-court statements and evidence that she engaged in prior bad acts, as well as the refusal to order a mental health evaluation before sentencing.

     Writing for a unanimous Supreme Court, Justice Eric Rosen affirmed the conviction and sentence. The court determined that the out-of-court statements satisfied statutory exceptions to the rule prohibiting hearsay evidence. The court further determined the evidence of earlier acts by Evans, including asking other people to kill the victim on her behalf and relaying threats to the victim, was introduced for the legitimate purposes of establishing motive, premeditation, and identity. In all, the court found no abuse of discretion in allowing the jury to consider the challenged evidence. Finally, the court found the district court did not abuse its discretion when it denied Evans’ request for a post-trial mental evaluation, noting that Evans offered no evidence that her mental capacity was in question.

    Appeal No. 119,761: State of Kansas v. Megan Danielle Euler 

    Appeal No. 119,761 archived oral argument

     The Supreme Court affirmed Euler’s conviction for identity theft in Johnson County District Court. The conviction resulted from Euler’s purchase of Worlds of Fun tickets using a coworker’s debit card and home address without the coworker’s knowledge. On appeal, Euler argued the State failed to present evidence she was in Johnson County when the crime occurred and that she should have been convicted for the more specific offense of criminal use of a financial card rather than identity theft. Writing for the Court, Justice Caleb Stegall noted there was enough evidence about Euler’s activities before and after the crime to conclude Euler was in Johnson County at the time the tickets were purchased. Also, while evidence could support a conviction of criminal use of a financial card, the State proved that identity theft occurred because Euler used her coworker’s address when she completed the transaction, and that a financial card belonging to a corporate entity rather than an individual cannot be identity theft because it does not belong to another natural person. Justice Dan Biles concurred with the majority that the conviction and sentence for identity theft should be affirmed, but he disagreed with the majority that Kansas businesses needed to be excluded as potential victims from the more serious crime of identity theft.

  • 02 Aug 2021 3:14 PM | Amanda Kohlman (Administrator)

    Swearing-In Ceremony

    for

     

    Jacy J. Hurst

     

    as a member

    of the

     

    Kansas Court of Appeals

     

    11 a.m.

    Friday

    August 13, 2021

     

    Watch live on the

    Kansas Supreme Court

    YouTube channel


     


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