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  • 21 Dec 2021 3:44 PM | Executive Director (Administrator)

    One Heart Kansas hosted its Annual Volunteer and Partner banquet on Tuesday, December 7. The Honorable Darian P. Dernovish was recognized and received an award as One Heart's 2021 "MVP Gamechanger" for his work with the justice-involved and at-risk youth in Topeka, Kansas.

    In 2021, many youth in Shawnee County have been equipped with jobs, pro-social skills, and mentor relationships needed to navigate life successfully.

    One Heart is inspired by Judge Dernovish’s commitment to creating lasting change in the lives of one of the world's most invisible and underserved populations.

    The One Heart Project is an evidence-based, comprehensive collective impact solution to equip youth with the skills, tools, and healthy relationships necessary to navigate life successfully. One Heart Project is operational in four states and multiple counties, serving justice-involved and at-risk youth, ages 13-22, primarily from urban core areas in the U.S. For more information, visit www.oneheart.com.

    Judge Dernovish is a District Judge in the Third Judicial District, Shawnee County and has been on the bench presiding over juvenile offender cases since August 2018.

    Thank you and congratulations to Judge Dernovish.

  • 21 Dec 2021 3:42 PM | Executive Director (Administrator)

    Appeal No. 120,329: Dawn Herington, individually, and as mother and next friend of B.D.J.L., minor child and Heir-at-Law of Troy Lanning II, Deceased, and as Special Administrator of the Estate of Troy Lanning II, Deceased v. City of Wichita and City of Wichita Police Department Officer Randy Williamson, individually

    Appeal No. 120,329 archived oral argument

     Reviewing Kansas' res judicata doctrine, the Kansas Supreme Court overruled Stanfield v. Osborne Industries, Inc., 263 Kan. 388, 949 P.2d 602 (1997), and Rhoten v. Dickson, 290 Kan. 92, 223 P.3d 786 (2010) and reversed the judgment of the Sedgwick County District Court. In a unanimous opinion written by Justice Melissa Standridge, the Supreme Court determined that state law governs the claim-preclusive effect of a federal court disposition of a state law claim rendered in a case in which the federal court exercised supplemental jurisdiction over the state law claim. Applying Kansas' res judicata rules—which are readily distinguishable from the federal rules—the court held that where a federal court declines to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over state law claims and dismisses those claims without prejudice, there has been no final judgment on those state law claims, and a litigant is not precluded from bringing those claims in state court.

    Appeal No. 121,815: Ronell Williams v. State of Kansas

    Appeal No. 121,815 archived oral argument

     A jury found Williams guilty of two counts of premeditated murder, one count of aggravated robbery, and one count of aggravated burglary for acts he committed when he was 14 years old. The Wyandotte County District Court sentenced Williams to two concurrent life sentences without the possibility of parole for 50 years. Years later, Williams filed a collateral action challenging the sentences as cruel and unusual punishment under the Eighth Amendment and Miller v. Alabama, 567 U.S. 460, 470, 132 S. Ct. 2455, 183 L. Ed. 2d 407 (2012), in which the United States Supreme Court held that mandatory life-without-parole sentences for juvenile offenders violate the Eighth Amendment. The Court of Appeals agreed, ruling that the hard 50 sentence is the functional equivalent of life without parole. In an opinion written by Justice Eric Rosen, the Kansas Supreme Court reversed the Court of Appeals decision. It ruled that, under Jones v. Mississippi, 593 U.S.__, 141 S. Ct. 1307, 209 L. Ed. 2d 390 (2021), Miller was inapplicable because the sentence, in this case, was discretionary. It affirmed the district court's decision denying Williams's motion for collateral relief.

    Appeal No. 122,961: State of Kansas v. Michael J. Pearce

    Appeal No. 122,961 archived oral argument

     On direct appeal, the Kansas Supreme Court affirmed Pearce's Miami County District Court convictions and sentences for first-degree felony murder, criminal threat, and distribution of methamphetamine. In a unanimous opinion written by Justice Melissa Standridge, the court held there was no extraordinary intervening event that worked to sever the causal connection between the victim's death and Pearce's participation in the underlying felony of methamphetamine distribution. The Supreme Court also rejected Pearce's claim that the district court violated his common-law right to a jury trial under section 5 of the Kansas Constitution Bill of Rights by making judicial findings of his prior convictions to establish his sentence.

    Case No. 123818: In the Matter of Brent L. Winterberg

    Case No. 123,818 archived oral argument

     A hearing panel found that Winterberg violated the Kansas Rules of Professional Conduct requiring diligence and communication and prohibiting misconduct involving dishonesty or misrepresentation and misconduct that is prejudicial to the administration of justice. The panel recommended suspension from the practice of law for 90 days. After argument on these findings and recommendation, the Kansas Supreme Court entered an administrative order suspending the respondent from the practice of law because he had not paid the attorney registration fee, fulfilled the minimum continuing legal education requirements, or paid the continuing legal education non-compliance fee. Based on these failures, the disciplinary administrator recommended a six-month suspension with a required reinstatement hearing before reinstatement to the practice of law. The Supreme Court agreed. Winterberg is therefore suspended for six months from practicing law in Kansas.

  • 13 Dec 2021 9:21 AM | Executive Director (Administrator)

    Appeal 123,111: State of Kansas v. Boston Cole Boswell

    Summary calendar; no oral argument

    In an opinion written by Justice K.J. Wall, the court unanimously affirmed a Ford County District Court's denial of a motion by Boswell to depart from the presumptive sentence for premeditated first-degree murder, life imprisonment with no chance of parole for 50 years. The Supreme Court held that the district court did not abuse its discretion when it found that Boswell's age, lack of criminal history, and mental health issues did not establish a substantial and compelling reason to depart to a lower sentence.

    Case 123,855:In the Matter of David Phillip Leon

    Archived oral argument

    In an original proceeding in attorney discipline, the Kansas Supreme Court ordered indefinite suspension for Leon for his violations arising from representation of two clients in criminal cases and a client in a child custody matter. The Supreme Court found that Leon’s conduct violated Kansas Rules of Professional Conduct and Kansas Supreme Court Rules regarding competence, diligence, attorney fees, safekeeping property, expediting litigation, cooperation with the tribunal, and professional misconduct. The court rejected Leon's request for probation, holding that probation was not appropriate for the seriousness of the violations and that the attorney's proposed plan of probation was not substantial or detailed and that Leon had failed to put the proposed plan of probation into effect, as required by court rules, and that probation was not in the best interests of the legal profession and the citizens of Kansas.

    Case No. 123,993, In the Matter of Corey Michael Swischer

    Archived oral argument

    In an original proceeding in attorney discipline, the Kansas Supreme Court suspended Swischer's Kansas law license for one year, effective December 10, 2021. The Disciplinary Administrator and Swischer filed a summary submission agreement where Swischer stipulated to violating several Kansas Rules of Professional Conduct—including KRPC 1.1 (competence), KRPC 1.3 (diligence), KRPC 3.3 (candor toward the tribunal), and KRPC 8.3(a) (reporting professional misconduct)—and Kansas Supreme Court Rules 207 and 221(b). These violations stem from Swischer's failure to report to the Disciplinary Administrator's office an indefinite suspension of his Missouri law license, which was imposed by the Missouri Supreme Court in September 2019. The Kansas Supreme Court held that a one-year suspension of his Kansas law license was appropriate. However, it further held that before Swischer could reinstate his license, he must prove that his Missouri law license has been reinstated.

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

    Summary calendar; no oral argument

    The Supreme Court issued a revised opinion to address Euler’s motion for rehearing. On August 6, 2021, the Supreme Court affirmed the Johnson County District Court, holding that the venue was proper and affirming defendant's conviction for identity theft. On August 25, 2021, Euler made a motion for rehearing claiming that the court's analysis of Kansas general/specific offense case-law doctrine had ignored the statutory doctrine in K.S.A. 2016 Supp. 21-5109(d).

    The Supreme Court declined to rule on the issue, noting that while Euler may have had a viable statutory claim per K.S.A. 2016 Supp. 21-5109(d), they failed to invoke or even cite to the statute and therefore the issue was never properly before the court.
  • 29 Nov 2021 5:09 PM | Executive Director (Administrator)

    Appeal No. 121,682: State of Kansas v. J'Mario D. Roberts

    Archived oral argument

    The Kansas Supreme Court ruled as a matter of first impression that a criminal defendant who fails to object at or before sentencing to the constitutional validity of certain prior convictions used to enhance the defendant's current sentence, based on a claim of the absence of counsel without a valid waiver, has the burden of proving that the prior convictions are invalid. This is true regardless of whether the defendant's constitutional challenge to the allegedly uncounseled prior convictions is brought for the first time on direct appeal or in a post-sentencing proceeding collaterally attacking the current sentence enhancement.

     Roberts claimed for the first time on direct appeal that his sentence enhancement was illegal because the state failed to prove at his Sedgwick County District Court sentencing that three of his prior misdemeanor convictions—which were converted to enhance his current sentence—were counseled or that Roberts validly waived his right to counsel. Although Roberts failed to object to his enhanced criminal history score and admitted at sentencing that his criminal history was correct, he claimed that the state never satisfied its initial burden at sentencing under K.S.A. 21-6814(a). The court disagreed and found that the state met its burden when it submitted Roberts' criminal history to the district court and Roberts failed to challenge that history below. The court reasoned that the burden-shifting scheme in K.S.A. 21-6814(c) was triggered when Roberts challenged his sentence enhancement for the first time on appeal. In other words, Roberts' argument on appeal became a "later challenge" as conceived of in the statute, and the burden accordingly shifted to him to prove the invalidity of those prior challenged convictions. The court further found that its prior holdings in State v. Youngblood, 288 Kan. 659, 206 P.3d 518 (2009), and State v. Hughes, 290 Kan. 159, 224 P.3d 1149 (2010), remained undisturbed as those cases were distinguishable from Roberts' case.

    Appeal No. 123,120:  State of Kansas v. Anthony D. Grable

    Summary calendar, no oral argument

    The Kansas Supreme Court affirmed Grable's convictions for first-degree premeditated murder, attempted first-degree premeditated murder, three counts of aggravated assault, two counts of aggravated robbery, and burglary of a dwelling. In a unanimous decision written by Justice Dan Biles, the court rejected Grable's argument that the Johnson County District Court erred when it imposed the statutory default sentence of life without the possibility of parole for 50 years. Grable argued that his mental health issues and other mitigating circumstances combined to provide substantial and compelling reasons for a departure down to a hard 25 sentence. The court held the district court carefully considered all the mitigating circumstances, including his mental health issues, and weighed them against the case's facts, and accordingly, it did not err.

    Case No. 123,994: In the Matter of Mandee Rowen Pingel

    Archived oral argument

    The Kansas Supreme Court ordered a one-year suspension of Pingel, stayed pending 12-month probation. The parties stipulated that Pingel engaged in various misconduct when representing her client in the Missouri child custody modification case. Pingel was sanctioned in the same matter in Missouri where she was indefinitely suspended, with the suspension staying while she was on probation for 18 months. In its unanimous decision, the court adopted the parties' stipulation.

  • 08 Nov 2021 8:37 AM | Executive Director (Administrator)

    Appeal No. 121,916: State of Kansas v. Janet M. Allen

    Archived oral argument

    The Kansas Supreme Court affirmed Allen’s conviction in Clay County District Court for forgery, felony theft, and misdemeanor theft. The Court of Appeals reversed the convictions, ruling that Allen’s right to a speedy trial was violated when the trial was delayed without a hearing where Allen could object the delay. The Court of Appeals also held this violated Allen’s constitutional right to be present at critical stages of the prosecution. In a unanimous decision written by Justice Dan Biles, the Supreme Court concluded that the Court of Appeals should not have addressed these claims, since Allen did not raise them before the trial court, and they involved unresolved facts that could not be determined on an appeal.

    Appeal No. 120,845: State of Kansas v. Jeremy L. Dailey

    Summary calendar, no oral argument

    Dailey pleaded guilty to criminal trespass and theft and the Sedgwick County District Court ordered him to pay $17,278.92 in criminal restitution. The Court of Appeals ruled that substantial competent evidence did not support the amount of the order, and remanded the case for another evidentiary hearing on restitution. In an opinion written by Justice Eric Rosen, the Kansas Supreme Court affirmed the Court of Appeals decision to vacate the order and remand the case to the district court, but it held the State could not offer new evidence to support its restitution request. The Supreme Court directed the district court to impose a new restitution order that is supported by competent evidence from the existing record.

  • 01 Nov 2021 10:39 AM | Executive Director (Administrator)

    Appeal No. 123,708: In the Matter of Mitchell B. Christians

    Archived oral argument

    In an original proceeding in attorney discipline, the Supreme Court suspended Christians from the practice of law for 90 days for violations of the Kansas Rules of Professional Conduct regarding competence, diligence, communication, and responsibilities regarding nonlawyer assistance. The Court also ordered that Christians undergo a reinstatement hearing where he must submit a probation plan for appropriate supervision and support for the resumption of his practice of law.

  • 18 Oct 2021 10:29 AM | Executive Director (Administrator)

    The 3rd Judicial District Nominating Commission will convene via telephone conference at 9 a.m. Tuesday, October 19, to discuss the nomination process to fill a district judge vacancy. 

    The vacancy will be created when Chief Judge Richard Anderson retires December 11. 

    The 3rd Judicial District is composed of Shawnee County.

    Public access

    The meeting is open to the public. To listen:

    call 1-877-400-9499; and

    enter conference code 2199381974

    Any person with disability who requires accommodation to access the nominating commission meeting should notify the judicial branch ADA coordinator as early as possible:

    ADA Coordinator

    TTY at 711

    Eligibility requirements
    A nominee for district judge must be:

    • at least 30 years old;
    • a lawyer admitted to practice in Kansas and engaged in the practice of law for at least five years, whether as a lawyer, judge, or full-time teacher at an accredited law school; and
    • a resident of the judicial district at the time of taking office and while holding office.

    The nominating commission seeks nominations and then meets to interview nominees. Interviews are open to the public.  

    Nominees to governor
    The nominating commission will select from three to five people whose names will be submitted to the governor to fill the position according to statutory qualification and residency requirements. The governor has 60 days after receiving the names to decide whom to appoint.
    If there are not three nominees
     who reside in the judicial district who are deemed qualified by the commission, the commission may consider nominees who reside outside the district.

    Term of office
    After serving one year in office, a new judge must stand for a retention vote in the next general election to remain in the position. If retained, the incumbent will serve a four-year term.

    Nominating commission
    The 3rd Judicial District Nominating Commission consists of Justice Caleb Stegall as the nonvoting chair; Toby McCullough, Rossville; Daniel Crow, Thomas Lemon, Randall Phillips, Rebecca Sanders, and Eric Stafford, all of Topeka.

  • 18 Oct 2021 10:27 AM | Executive Director (Administrator)

    Appeal No. 112,572: State v. Taylor Arnett

    Summary calendar; no oral argument

    The Supreme Court affirms the judgment of the Court of Appeals and the Wyandotte County District Court, finding that Arnett's ordered restitution does not violate her right to a jury under the Sixth Amendment of the United States Constitution and, upon severance of certain criminal restitution statutes, it does not violate section 5 of the Kansas Constitution Bill of Rights.

    Appeal No. 120,753: State v. Owens

    Archived oral argument
    A jury convicted Owens of first-degree felony murder and aggravated burglary in connection with the shooting death of his ex-girlfriend in Sedgwick County. In an opinion written by Justice KJ Wall, the Supreme Court unanimously affirmed Owens' convictions and a majority affirmed the district court's order for Owens to pay restitution.

    On appeal, Owens argued that the district court erred by admitting text messages and other hearsay testimony describing comments attributed to Owens. The Court, however, found that the district court judge analyzed the evidence under the correct legal framework and did not abuse his discretion in admitting the evidence at trial.

    Owens also claimed the district court judge should have granted a mistrial based on the State's failure to disclose testing a detective performed before trial and the State's failure to redact an audio recording of a conversation with Owens' mother. The Court concluded that these events either did not constitute a fundamental failure in the proceedings or that they did not make it impossible to continue the trial without injustice to Owens.

    Owens also claimed that he was entitled to a new trial due to prosecutorial error. And while the prosecutor did err by referring to facts not in evidence during closing argument, the Court confirmed that this error was harmless and did not affect the verdict at trial. The Court rejected Owens' other claims of trial error, including claims that the district court gave an erroneous jury instruction and that cumulative error deprived him of a fair trial.

    Finally, Owens argued that the statutory scheme governing criminal restitution violated section 5 of the Kansas Constitution Bill of Rights. The Court agreed that the statutory provisions that converted judicially determined criminal restitution into civil judgments implicated section 5 but, based on State v. Arnett, a majority held that the proper remedy was to sever the problematic statutory provisions rather than vacate Owens' restitution order. Justice Eric Rosen dissented from this part of the opinion and would have vacated Owens' restitution order.

    Appeal No. 120,903: State v. Robert James Robison III

    Archived oral argument

    The Supreme Court affirms the judgment of the Court of Appeals and the Lyon County District Court, finding that Robison's ordered restitution does not violate his right to a jury under the Sixth Amendment of the United States Constitution and, upon severance of certain criminal restitution statutes, it does not violate section 5 of the Kansas Constitution Bill of Rights.

    Appeal No. 123,145: State v. Andrew Wallace Ellington

    Summary calendar; no oral argument
    The Supreme Court affirms Sedgwick County District Court’s denial of defendant Ellington's untimely motion to withdraw his guilty plea for first-degree murder. The Court found that Ellington failed to plead facts amounting to the required "excusable neglect" in order to extend the one-year state statute of limitations for plea withdrawals. The Court found that all of Ellington's pled reasons for filing late—including his lack of criminal history and experience with the criminal justice system—amounted to only "ignorance of the law," which cannot establish excusable neglect.

  • 18 Oct 2021 9:56 AM | Executive Director (Administrator)

    The Kansas Supreme Court announced today it has selected Gayle Larkin to serve as disciplinary administrator and lead the office responsible for investigating attorney misconduct complaints.   

    Larkin’s appointment takes effect October 3. She will succeed Stan Hazlett, who retired September 3 after 24 years in the position.

    “Gayle is well-versed in the attorney discipline process, and she has practical experience managing the Disciplinary Administrator’s Office,” said Chief Justice Marla Luckert. “She’s also a skilled leader who has worked with countless attorneys who volunteer their time in support of the attorney discipline function. We appreciate she is willing to take on this new role, and we look forward to a smooth transition for this office.” 

    Larkin has served as counsel to the Kansas Board for Discipline of Attorneys since 1999. In that role she drafted more than 500 final hearing reports in attorney discipline cases. She also helped the disciplinary administrator carry out administrative duties related to managing the office, including personnel matters, budgeting, and contracts.

    Larkin has also overseen character and fitness investigations of bar applicants and she has presented more than 60 cases before the Kansas Board of Law Examiners. 

    “I am thrilled for the opportunity to serve the Supreme Court, the people of Kansas, and my profession in this new capacity,” Larkin said. “I have dedicated my career to the Kansas attorney discipline system. As disciplinary administrator, my goals are to be part of the solution, to provide guidance to attorneys, and to protect members of the public.”

    In her years with the attorney discipline office, Larkin wrote the 2009, 2017, and 2020 editions of the Kansas Board for Discipline of Attorneys Disciplinary Investigator’s Handbook. She also wrote Attorney Discipline: Rules, Standards and Cases in 2000. She co-wrote chapters on attorney discipline in the 2009 and 2015 editions of the Kansas Ethics Handbook published by the Kansas Bar Association.

    Before joining the Disciplinary Administrator’s Office in 1999, Larkin had a private law practice in Lawrence, served as an assistant attorney general, and served as an assistant district attorney in Douglas County. She has been an adjunct professor at Baker University in Baldwin City, Kansas, since 1998, teaching courses on business, media, and criminal law, criminal investigations, critical thinking, and negotiations.   

    Justice Eric Rosen, who is liaison between the Disciplinary Administrator’s Office and the Supreme Court, said Larkin appreciates the nuanced behaviors that get attorneys into trouble.

    “Gayle understands the distinction between willful indifference to the rules that govern ethical attorney behavior and the distress signal brought about by medical or psychological problems, or substance abuse, which is oftentimes a critical factor in lawyer discipline matters,” Rosen said. “She will be firm but fair, a necessary combination for a successful disciplinary administrator.”

    The Kansas Disciplinary Administrator's Office works under the direction of the Supreme Court. The disciplinary administrator: 

    • reviews and investigates complaints of misconduct against attorneys;
    • ​holds public hearings when appropriate and recommends discipline to the Supreme Court in serious matters; and
    • ​provides education and resources for Kansas attorneys to prevent the occurrence of misconduct.

    An attorney involved in a disciplinary matter can be referred to the Kansas Lawyers Assistance Program, which is a source of confidential help for lawyers with alcohol, drug abuse, or mental health issues.

    Larkin has an undergraduate degree from Baker University, and a law degree from the University of Kansas School of Law. She currently serves as a director of the National Council of Lawyer Disciplinary Boards and she is a member of the National Organization of Bar Counsel and the National Client Protection Organization. She has been a faculty senator at Baker University since April 2021. She lives in Lawrence.

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