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  • 29 Sep 2023 1:14 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Appeal No. 124,972: State of Kansas v. Richard Allen Goens

    Appeal No. 124,972 archived oral argument

    The Supreme Court affirms Goens’ convictions of felony murder and other crimes after a "drug deal gone wrong" resulted in a shooting death. At trial, the prosecution's evidence relied largely on accomplice and witness testimony. Justice Caleb Stegall, writing for a unanimous Supreme Court, held the Riley County District Court did not err when it did not give an accomplice testimony credibility instruction in addition to the general credibility instruction. Additionally, even though the district court did not provide a lengthy explanation for its decision, it did not abuse its discretion by ordering Goens to serve his sentences consecutively.

  • 11 Aug 2023 10:45 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Appeal No. 122,156: State of Kansas v. Michael Wayne Couch

    Appeal No. 122,156 archived oral argument

     The Supreme Court affirmed all of Couch's convictions in Finney County District Court except for aggravated kidnapping. In 2018, Couch broke into the home of a woman, attacked her while holding a knife, and then raped and sodomized her. A jury convicted Couch of aggravated burglary, aggravated battery, aggravated kidnapping, rape, and multiple counts of aggravated criminal sodomy.

    In a decision written by Justice K.J. Wall, a majority of the Court held there was insufficient evidence to support Couch's aggravated kidnapping conviction. To secure a conviction for that offense, a prior Supreme Court decision, State v. Buggs, 219 Kan. 203, 547 P.2d 720 (1976), required the State to show the crimes of rape or sodomy were facilitated by a confinement separate and distinct from the force used to carry out the sex crimes. The majority held the State failed to make this evidentiary showing and thus reversed Couch's aggravated kidnapping conviction. But the Court unanimously held Couch's other claims of trial error did not warrant reversal of his other convictions, including Couch's claim that the district court improperly denied his pretrial request to represent himself. The Court held the record showed Couch had engaged in extremely disruptive behavior before his trial, and the behavior provided a lawful basis for denying his request for self-representation.

    Justice Caleb Stegall filed a dissenting opinion, which Chief Justice Marla Luckert and Justice Evelyn Wilson joined. Justice Stegall would have overruled State v. Buggs and affirmed Couch's conviction for aggravated kidnapping


    Appeal No. 123,742: State of Kansas v. Richard Chantez Butler

    Appeal No. 123,742 archived oral argument

    A Court of Appeals panel reversed Butler's aggravated kidnapping conviction under the three-part test set out in State v. Buggs, 219 Kan. 203, Syl. ¶ 10, 547 P.2d 720 (1976). In a decision written by Justice K.J. Wall, a majority of the Supreme Court reaffirmed its holding in State v. Burden, 275 Kan. 934, Syl. ¶ 3, 69 P.3d 1120 (2003), which held that the Buggs test applies only to kidnappings committed with the intent to facilitate the commission of another crime. Because Butler had committed the kidnapping with the intent to inflict bodily harm or terrorize a person, the Court held the Buggs test was inapplicable, so it reversed the panel's decision. Justice Caleb Stegall concurred in the judgment but would have overruled the Buggs test altogether. Chief Justice Marla Luckert and Justice Evelyn Wilson joined him.
  • 07 Aug 2023 2:52 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Appeal No. 122,660: State of Kansas v. Ron Richard Larsen Jr.

    Appeal No. 122,660 archived oral argument

    A jury convicted Larsen of attempted aggravated burglary, aggravated burglary, felony and misdemeanor theft, and kidnapping arising out of three separate incidents in Johnson County. The Supreme Court granted review of Larsen's challenge to his attempted aggravated burglary conviction and affirmed the conviction. Larsen entered the backyard of a home and looked in a window where he saw a person awake. Larsen ran when he realized the person saw him. Because he fled, Larsen argued the State did not prove he intended to enter an occupied home. The Court disagreed, pointing to evidence that Larsen was trying to get cash and a car, and over a few nights, he stole purses, billfolds, and keys from other victims while they were at home. A reasonable jury could conclude Larsen planned to enter homes late at night because he wanted to grab keys, purses, and billfolds that a person would usually have with them when not at home.
  • 14 Jul 2023 10:19 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Appeal No. 123,190: State of Kansas v. Jerry W. Campbell

    Appeal No. 123,190 archived oral argument

    After law enforcement discovered drugs and items associated with the sale of drugs in a car driven by Campbell on two separate occasions, a jury convicted him of two counts of possessing methamphetamine and four counts of possessing drug paraphernalia with intent to use to distribute. At trial, Douglas County District Court allowed the State to introduce detailed evidence relating to Campbell's prior convictions for similar crimes under K.S.A. 2017 Supp. 60-455. On direct appeal, a Court of Appeals panel reversed Campbell's convictions, finding the district court erred by allowing the State to introduce the prior crimes evidence and remanded the case for a new trial. On review, the Supreme Court affirmed the panel's ruling.

    In a unanimous decision written by Justice Melissa Standridge, the Court held the panel erred in failing to review the district court's improper admission of the K.S.A. 60-455 evidence for harmless error. But the Court ultimately affirmed the panel's decision after finding the error was not harmless, given the prejudicial impact on the outcome of the trial resulting from the introduction of the prior crimes evidence and from the district court's instructions to the jury that it could consider the prior crimes evidence. The Court held that although a defendant's use of a controlled substance may be admitted—subject to the requirements of K.S.A. 2022 Supp. 60-455—when such evidence is relevant to prove a disputed material fact, the defendant's use of a controlled substance is not a factor that is automatically admissible as an exception to the specific mandates of K.S.A. 2022 Supp. 60-455. The Court specifically disapproved of any suggestion otherwise by PIK Crim. 4th 57.040 and past Kansas appellate caselaw. Finally, the Court rejected Campbell's argument that the district court abused its discretion in reversing its order suppressing evidence found in Campbell's car because his claims involved technical irregularities that did not affect the validity of the search warrant.
  • 10 Jul 2023 11:47 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Appeal No. 123,823: Dennis D. Pyle and Jennifer J. Pyle v. James N. Gall Jr., Individually and as Trustee of the James N. Gall Family Trust

     Appeal No. 123,823 archived oral argument

    The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the Court of Appeals and affirmed the judgment of the Brown County District Court finding the Pyles acquired a prescriptive easement across a portion of the Galls' land. On review, the Supreme Court concluded the Court of Appeals applied an incorrect test for exclusive use. The Supreme Court clarified that, while both the doctrine of prescriptive easements and the doctrine of adverse possession require exclusive use, the test for exclusivity in prescriptive easement claims is critically different from the test for exclusivity in adverse possession claims. An individual asserting a prescriptive easement exclusively uses a purported prescriptive easement if the landowner fails to prevent them from using the land for the prescriptor's particular purpose. Using the correct test for exclusivity, the Supreme Court held the Pyles acquired a prescriptive easement over the property in question. The Supreme Court also held the Court of Appeals did not erroneously substitute its findings of fact for those of the district court. Finally, the Supreme Court did not consider whether the Pyles sufficiently showed their use of the Galls' land was adverse because the Galls failed to preserve that issue for review.
  • 30 Jun 2023 1:40 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
    Appeal No. 123,063: Kansas Fire and Safety Equipment, A Kansas Corporation, Hal G. Richardson D/B/A Bueno Food Brand, Topeka Vinyl Top, and Minuteman Solar Film v. City of Topeka, Kansas 

    Appeal No. 123,063 archived oral argument

    T
    he Supreme Court affirmed the Court of Appeals judgment holding that the Shawnee County District Court and the Kansas appellate courts lacked subject matter jurisdiction over this case. Kansas Fire and Safety Equipment, Hal G. Richardson d/b/a Bueno Foods Brand and Topeka Vinyl Top, and Minuteman Solar Film were all forced to relocate when the City of Topeka, as part of a public works project, bought the property the businesses leased for their operations. The business tenants sued the City of Topeka in district court for relocation costs under the Eminent Domain Procedure Act. The district court granted summary judgment to the City of Topeka, finding the court lacked subject matter jurisdiction over the dispute. The Court of Appeals affirmed the district court's holding regarding subject matter jurisdiction but reversed and remanded for the district court to enter an order of dismissal instead of entering judgment for the City. 

    In a unanimous decision written by Justice K.J. Wall, the Court affirmed the Court of Appeals judgment. The Court held the Eminent Domain Procedure Act does not give displaced persons the right to sue a condemning authority directly in district court. Nor does it authorize district courts to review relocation-benefit determinations in appeals from eminent domain proceedings. The Court held another statutory scheme, the Kansas Relocation Assistance for Persons Displaced by Acquisition of Real Property Act, provides displaced persons an administrative remedy to recover relocation costs and authorizes district court review of the administrative determination. But the Court held that the business tenants' failure to exhaust this administrative remedy deprived the district court of subject matter jurisdiction under the Kansas Relocation Assistance for Persons Displaced by Acquisition of Real Property Act. The Court reversed the order of summary judgment and remanded for the district court to enter an order dismissing the case without prejudice for lack of subject matter jurisdiction.

    Appeal No. 123,100: State of Kansas v. Ronald L. Buchanan

    Appeal No. 123,100 archived oral argument

     In a unanimous decision, the Supreme Court affirmed Buchanan's multiple aggravated arson convictions resulting from a single fire that damaged several occupied units in an apartment building. The court held the aggravated arson statute defines the unit of prosecution as each damaged building or property in which there is a person, therefore a single fire can give rise to multiple convictions. The court also held there was sufficient evidence to support the convictions for attempted first-degree murder and that the Johnson County District Court did not abuse its discretion in denying Buchanan's posttrial request for a new trial based on purported conflicts with counsel.

    Appeal No. 124,064: State of Kansas v. Darrlyn Michael Johnson

    Appeal No. 124,064 archived oral argument

    Johnson pleaded guilty to two counts of sexual exploitation of a child, agreeing to an upward departure from the guidelines sentence based on his stipulation to the existence of two aggravating factors. The Shawnee County District Court approved Johnson's plea agreement with the State but did not advise him of his separate statutory right under K.S.A. 21-6817 to have aggravating factors proved to a jury beyond a reasonable doubt. The district court followed the terms of the plea agreement and sentenced Johnson to 180 months in prison with lifetime post release supervision.

     Johnson appealed, arguing for the first time on appeal that his sentence was illegal under K.S.A. 22-3504 because he did knowingly and voluntarily waive his right to a jury trial on the upward departure factors. A Court of Appeals panel interpreted Johnson's challenge as a constitutional challenge, relied on State v. Duncan, 291 Kan. 467, 470-71, 243 P.3d 338 (2010) as an exception to K.S.A. 22-3504's jurisdictional bar on constitutional questions, and affirmed the district court. The State petitioned for review and the Supreme Court reversed the panel, unanimously holding that a claim challenging the constitutional validity of a waiver relinquishing the statutory right under K.S.A. 21-6817(b) to have a jury determine the existence of upward departure factors falls outside the definition of an illegal sentence. Overruling Duncan, the Supreme Court dismissed the appeal for lack of jurisdiction.

    Appeal No. 124,116: In the Matter of the Marriage of Jon Holliday v. Tamara Holliday

     Appeal No. 124,116 archived oral argument

     The Supreme Court reversed the Court of Appeals decision that the divorced couple's division of marital property judgment expired under the dormancy statute, K.S.A. 2022 Supp. 60-2403, because the former wife failed to timely send the Kansas Public Employees Retirement System a copy of the division judgment within the seven-year period set out in the dormancy statute. By agreeing with the former husband, the Court of Appeals equated this notification as being "a form of execution on that judgment" required by the statute. In a unanimous decision written by Justice Dan Biles, the Court held the dormancy period under the dormancy statute does not run during any period in which the enforcement of the judgment by legal process is stayed or prohibited, and therefore the statute's tolling provision prevented the divorce decree dividing the parties' interests in the former husband's not-yet-payable retirement account with KPERS from becoming dormant until benefits become payable to him.

    Appeal No. 124,529: In the Matter of the Marriage of Lisa Michelle Shafer (nka Webster) v. Jon Francis Shafer

    Appeal No. 124,529 archived oral argument

     The Supreme Court reversed the Court of Appeals decision that the divorced couple's division of marital property judgment was not final because the former husband's retirement plan administrator needed more detail to calculate the former wife's share based on the language in the judgment. In a unanimous decision written by Justice Dan Biles, the Court held the division order was a final judgment subject to the dormancy statute since the order finally decided and disposed of the parties' entire merits on the controversy and reserved no further questions. The Court noted the divorce decree provided all information needed to establish the precise information the plan administrator needed. The Court further held the former wife's motion under the relief-from-judgment statute, K.S.A. 2020 Supp. 60-260, was not applicable because her clarification request under that statute does not require substantive change to the original property division.

    Appeal No. 124,636: State of Kansas v. Brian C. Bailey

    Summary calendar; no oral argument

    Bailey was convicted in 1988 of first-degree felony murder and multiple counts of aggravated robbery. In addition to a life sentence, the Johnson County District Court ordered him to pay restitution of about $38,000. Bailey has challenged his conviction and sentence many times during the following years. After one recent appeal to the Supreme Court, it was determined the State had been wrongly collecting restitution from Bailey’s prison account since 2012 based on a county court clerical error, and the collection of those funds was stopped. Bailey subsequently filed a motion arguing that the restitution order itself was void because it was a dormant order of judgment and no civil actions had been filed to keep it alive. He then appealed the denial of that motion to the Supreme Court.

    Justice Eric Rosen, writing for a unanimous court, held that the Supreme Court is the proper venue for considering challenges to the ongoing validity of the restitution imposed in cases of life sentences and certain off-grid convictions. The Court then held that restitution orders cannot become dormant and the law of the case doctrine precluded Bailey from reasserting claims that the court had previously rejected. The Court affirmed the district court’s decision denying Bailey’s motion for relief.

    Appeal No. 126,125: In the Matter of Marvin S. Robinson Charitable Trust

    Summary calendar; no oral argument

     In response to amendments to federal rules governing tax-exempt nonprofit organizations, the trustees of the Marvin S. Robinson Charitable Trust sought to modify the terms of the trust so it could continue to hold substantial stock in the settlor's family business. The Riley County District Court entered an order retroactively modifying the trust. The trustees appealed this favorable ruling, seeking a decision from the Kansas Supreme Court under Commissioner v. Estate of Bosch, 387 U.S. 456, 87 S. Ct. 1776, 18 L.Ed.2d 886 (1967), which held that the Internal Revenue Service and federal courts defer to decisions of a state's highest court on issues of state law. In a unanimous decision written by Justice K.J. Wall, the Supreme Court affirmed the district court's order under K.S.A. 58a-416, a statute that allows a court to retroactively modify the terms of a trust to achieve the settlor's tax objectives. The Court determined the modifications achieved the settlor's intention of having the trust operate as a tax-exempt nonprofit organization that was not classified as a private foundation and not subject to limits on stock holdings. The Court declined to decide whether the modifications were also authorized under other statutes of the Kansas Uniform Trust Act that the trustees and district court had cited.

  • 23 Jun 2023 2:43 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Appeal No. 125,113: State of Kansas v. David Moncla

    Summary calendar; no archived oral argument

    Moncla, who is serving a hard-40 sentence for first-degree murder, appealed the Sedgwick County District Court's denial of his motion to correct an illegal sentence. Moncla argued his sentence was illegal because the district court's irregular procedures had divested it of jurisdiction to impose restitution to the victim's sister-in-law. In a unanimous decision written by Justice K.J. Wall, the Supreme Court found it had already considered and rejected Moncla's claim in an earlier appeal. Because no later development in the law had undermined the Court's earlier decision, the Court held that Moncla’s claim was barred by a legal doctrine called res judiciata, which generally prevents a person from raising a particular claim after a court has ruled on it.
  • 20 Jun 2023 12:52 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Case No. 125,968: In the Matter of Christopher C. Barnds

    Case No. 125,968 archived oral argument

    In an original proceeding in attorney discipline, the Supreme Court suspended Barnds for three months from the practice of law in Kansas, with the three-month suspension stayed pending successful completion of a two-year probation period, effective from the filing date of the opinion, for violations of Kansas Rules of Professional Conduct 3.4(c) (2023 Kan. S. Ct. R. 394) (knowingly disobey an obligation under the rules of a tribunal except for an open refusal based on an assertion that no valid obligation exists), 4.4(a) (2023 Kan. S. Ct. R. 405) (shall not use means that have no substantial purpose other than to embarrass, delay, or burden a third person), 8.4(a) (2023 Kan. S. Ct. R. 433) (to violate the rules or knowingly assist another to do so), 8.4(d) (engage in conduct that is prejudicial to the administration of justice), and 8.4(g) (engage in any other conduct that adversely reflects on the lawyer's fitness to practice law).


    Case No. 126,105: In the Matter of Mark G. Ayesh

    Case No. 126,105 archived oral argument

    In an attorney disciplinary proceeding, the Supreme Court unanimously ordered Ayesh be indefinitely suspended from the practice of law due to the unauthorized practice of law following a prior suspension of his license. Ayesh entered into a summary agreement in which he admitted various violations of the Kansas Rules of Professional Conduct and stipulated to the findings of fact by the disciplinary panel. Ayesh was engaged by a client to prepare a prenuptial agreement but failed to disclose he was the subject of a pending disciplinary case, and later failed to notify the client his license had been temporarily suspended, as required by Supreme Court Rule 231(a)(1). Ayesh admitted his conduct violated ethics rules prohibiting unauthorized practice of law and conduct involving dishonesty. The Court ordered Ayesh's license be indefinitely suspended.
  • 20 Jun 2023 12:50 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Appeal No. 123,005: State of Kansas v. Edroy D. Taylor Jr.

    Appeal No. 123,005 archived oral argument

    A
    fter Taylor pleaded guilty to aggravated robbery of a vehicle, the Shawnee County District Court ordered him to pay nearly $2,000 in restitution, payable in monthly installments of $15 while he serves a 100-month prison sentence. Taylor appealed, arguing the payment plan was unworkable because no evidence showed he could make the $15 monthly payments while in prison. A panel of the Court of Appeals upheld the restitution plan. In a 4-3 decision written by Justice K.J. Wall, the Supreme Court affirmed the panel's decision. The court held that Taylor had not met his burden under Kansas law of showing the restitution plan was unworkable because he had failed to present any evidence about his ability to make the monthly restitution payments. Justice Melissa Standridge filed a dissenting opinion, which Justices Eric Rosen and Evelyn Wilson joined. Justice Standridge would have held that the district court abused its discretion because no reasonable person would have found the restitution plan workable given the facts of the case.
  • 20 Jun 2023 12:49 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Appeal No. 123,023: Sierra Club v. Janet Stanek

    Appeal No. 123,023 archived oral argument

    The Supreme Court dismissed as moot the appeal regarding wastewater application permits for four swine confined animal feeding operations. Justice Stegall, writing for a unanimous Court, held that because the permits at issue in this appeal had been replaced entirely by new permits with different terms, any decision regarding these permits would be an advisory opinion.

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