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  • 05 Aug 2022 10:58 AM | Executive Director (Administrator)

    Appeal No. 122,039: State of Kansas v. Johnny C. White

    Appeal No. 122,039 archived oral argument

    The Supreme Court affirmed White's conviction for aggravated indecent liberties with a child. White argued four grounds for reversal on appeal: First, that his right to present a defense was violated by the Sedgwick County District Court's exclusion of the fact that he took a polygraph; second, that the district court abused its discretion when it permitted the State to amend the date range of his offense based on the victim's trial testimony; third, that the admission of a videotaped confession White gave in 2014 regarding a prior similar crime was reversible error; and lastly that cumulative error denied him a fair trial. Justice Stegall, writing for a unanimous Court, agreed with the Court of Appeals that even if admission of the videotaped confession was an error, it was harmless given the other evidence presented at trial. The Court found no other trial errors and affirmed White's conviction.


    Appeal No. 124,415Mark A. Bruce v. Laura Kelly, in her official capacity as governor of the State of Kansas; Will Lawrence, in his individual capacity as Chief of Staff to Governor Laura Kelly; and Herman T. Jones, in his official and individual capacities as Superintendent of the Kansas Highway Patrol

    Appeal No. 124,415 archived oral argument

    The Supreme Court heard this case on a special evening docket April 6 in Great Bend.

    The Supreme Court answered two certified questions arising from a federal lawsuit filed by former Kansas Highway Patrol Superintendent Bruce against Gov. Kelly, Kelly's chief of staff, and the current Kansas Highway Patrol superintendent. Bruce claims he was forced to resign from the Kansas Highway Patrol after his term as superintendent ended, even though a Kansas statute, K.S.A. 74-2113, granted him the right to continued employment at his former rank of major. The defendants moved to dismiss Bruce's lawsuit, arguing Bruce had no right to continued employment with the Kansas Highway Patrol.

    The U.S. District Court for the District of Kansas determined the merits of the motion to dismiss turned on two legal questions for which there was no controlling Kansas precedent, and thus certified those two questions to the Kansas Supreme Court. First, because only employees in classified positions in the Kansas civil service have a right to continued employment, the federal district court asked whether K.S.A. 74-2113 defines the rank of major within the Kansas Highway Patrol as a classified or unclassified position. Second, because employees serving a probationary period do not have a right to continued employment, the federal district court asked whether a Kansas administrative regulation, K.A.R. 1-7-4, would have required Bruce to serve a probationary period upon returning to his former rank of major.  

    In a decision written by Justice K.J. Wall, the Court held that K.S.A. 74-2113 defines the rank of major as within the classified service. The Court also held that if Kansas Highway Patrol employees attain permanent status in the classified service before being appointed to superintendent or assistant superintendent, then K.A.R. 1-7-4 does not require them to serve another probationary period after returning to their former rank and classification under K.S.A. 74-2113. Chief Justice Marla Luckert concurred in the result.


    Case No. 124,867: In the Matter of Joseph R. Borich III

    Case No. 124,867 archived oral argument

    Borich, an attorney residing in Leawood, Kansas, represented a couple in prosecuting claims against their homebuilder for alleged defects in the construction of their new house. Litigation, including mediation, arbitration, actions in both federal and state district court, and attempted appeals to the Kansas Court of Appeals, went on for over a decade, and the defendant eventually prevailed in all forums. Following a complaint to the Disciplinary Administrator, a disciplinary hearing panel found, among other violations, that Borich failed to represent the plaintiffs competently, charged the plaintiffs unreasonable fees, failed to account for how the fees were generated, and engaged in dishonest communications with his clients. The panel recommended suspension for 90 days and reimbursement to his clients of $21,900 in attorney fees. Borich filed no exceptions to the panel’s report.

    The Supreme Court disagreed with the hearing panel’s recommended discipline and imposed a one-year suspension from the practice of law. The Court also ordered Borich to refund $47,000 in attorney fees to his clients. The Court provided for a stay on the suspension if Borich repays the fees within 90 days of the suspension.

  • 01 Aug 2022 9:48 AM | Executive Director (Administrator)

    Appeal No. 121,014: State of Kansas v. Daniel Earl Genson III

    Appeal No. 121,014 archived oral argument

    A Kansas Supreme Court majority affirmed decisions from a Court of Appeals majority and the Riley District Court, after Genson appealed his conviction for violating the Kansas Offender Registration Act by failing to register. On the sole issue the Supreme Court granted for review, Genson argued that K.S.A. 2020 Supp. 21-5203(e) unconstitutionally impaired his substantive due process rights by making his failure to register under the Kansas Offender Registration Act a strict liability felony. Nestled within the same issue, Genson also challenged the Court of Appeals majority refusal to consider two newly raised claims under the Kansas Constitution Bill of Rights. The Supreme Court majority found the Court of Appeals majority did not abuse its discretion in refusing to consider these newly raised claims. The Supreme Court majority also concluded that the Legislature's criminalization of failure to register under the Kansas Offender Registration Act on a strict liability basis satisfied the rational basis test and was, therefore, constitutional.


    Appeal No. 121,269: State of Kansas v. Thomas Earl Brown Jr.

    Appeal No. 121,269 archived oral argument

    A jury convicted Brown of first-degree murder and other crimes arising from the shooting death of Tiffany Davenport-Ray hours after her marriage. The Court rejected Brown’s argument that the Shawnee County District Court committed reversible error by admitting maps created by a police detective showing cell towers and locations of cell phones associated with Brown and a coconspirator on the night of the murder. The maps were cumulative of other evidence not challenged on appeal. The Court agreed with Brown that the prosecutor erred during closing argument by making statements that exceeded the wide latitude afforded prosecutors. But the Court ultimately concluded any errors were individually and cumulatively harmless. The State met its burden of establishing beyond a reasonable doubt that evidentiary and prosecutorial errors did not affect the jury's verdict. The Court affirmed the convictions in a unanimous decision written by Chief Justice Marla Luckert.


    Appeal No. 122,128: State of Kansas v. Carlos R. Bates

    Appeal No. 122,128 archived oral argument

    In a unanimous decision written by Chief Justice Marla Luckert, the Supreme Court affirmed the Sedgwick County District Court's denial of a defendant's motion to suppress evidence. Police had responded to a report of suspicious activity in a neighborhood late at night and found the defendant sitting in his van in a darkened alley. Officers searched the vehicle after smelling marijuana and arrested the defendant. The defendant filed a motion to suppress, arguing that the initial seizure of his vehicle was unlawful because officers did not have reasonable suspicion of criminal activity. The Court held that the totality of circumstances in this case supported a finding of reasonable suspicion necessary to justify the investigative stop by officers as required under the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution and affirmed the district court's denial of Bates's motion to suppress evidence of the search.


    Appeal No. 122,268: State of Kansas v. Dexter Betts

    Appeal No. 122,268 archived oral argument

    The Supreme Court reversed the Sedgwick County District Court's grant of statutory immunity and remanded the case to the district court for further proceedings. While securing the interior of a family home during a domestic violence investigation, Betts, a Wichita police officer, fired two gunshots in quick succession at a fast-approaching dog he thought was attacking him. He missed, and bullet fragments struck a young girl sitting nearby. The State charged Betts with reckless aggravated battery for injuring the girl. Betts moved to dismiss the charge before trial. He argued state law immunizes his use of deadly force in self-defense, even if he acted recklessly and regardless of who got hurt. The district court agreed with him and dismissed the case. The Court of Appeals affirmed.

    In a unanimous decision written by Justice Dan Biles, the Court reversed the lower courts' decisions. In doing so, the Court recognized Betts' case presented facts that it has not considered before. The Court noted that in the typical self-defense immunity case, the State charges a defendant with an intentional crime committed against a person claimed to be the aggressor. But here, the crime charged involved an innocent bystander, the little girl, who was unintentionally injured during Betts' allegedly reckless conduct while engaging in self-defense.

    Relying on the plain language of the immunity statute, K.S.A. 2021 Supp. 21-5231(a), and the self-defense statute, K.S.A. 2021 Supp. 21-5222, the Court held the statutory grant of immunity is confined to the use of force, or deadly force, against a person or thing reasonably believed to be an aggressor. The Court, therefore, concluded our immunity statute does not extend its immunity to a defendant's reckless act while engaging in self-defense that results in unintended injury to an innocent bystander.

  • 15 Jul 2022 10:21 AM | Executive Director (Administrator)

    Appeal No. 124,047: State of Kansas v. Jeffrey Scott Collier

    Summary calendar; no oral argument

    The Supreme Court affirmed Collier's hard-15 life sentence with lifetime parole for his first-degree murder conviction and a consecutive 97-month prison term for an aggravated robbery conviction. In a majority opinion written by Justice Dan Biles, the Court rejected Collier's claim that the applicable law required 24 months of postrelease supervision instead of lifetime parole, because the aggravated robbery should have been designated as the primary crime for sentencing purposes. In so doing, the Court interpreted the controlling statute, K.S.A. 1993 Supp. 21-4720(b), and determined that under subsection (b)(1), Collier's primary crime is first-degree murder, and under subsection (b)(2), his first-degree murder conviction can be used when deciding the postrelease supervision term—but not the base sentence. The Court concluded the Sedgwick County District Court correctly sentenced Collier under the language of K.S.A. 1993 Supp. 21-4720(b).

    Justice Rosen dissented by interpreting the controlling statute differently from the majority. He claims Collier's murder conviction cannot be used for deciding the postrelease supervision term, and therefore the robbery conviction should have been used for that purpose


    Case No. 124,958: In the Matter of David S. Whinery

    Case No. 124,958 archived oral argument

    The Supreme Court, per curiam, found that Whinery violated Kansas Rules of Professional Conduct 1.2, 1.3, 8.4(d), and 8.4(g). The Court found Whinery failed to appropriately define the scope of his representation and failed to diligently give notice to appropriate parties that he had been granted power of attorney for one of his clients, revoking the previous power of attorney arrangement with a third party. A majority of the Court also held that Whinery's use of profanity and physical aggression against his client while in the jury box constituted conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice and adversely reflected on the lawyer's fitness to practice law. The Court accepted the summary submission agreement under Rule 223 and imposed a one-year suspension from the practice of law, though the Court stayed that suspension and placed Whinery on probation for 18 months.

  • 08 Jul 2022 10:35 AM | Executive Director (Administrator)

    Appeal No. 121,503: State of Kansas v. Michael Glen Mulleneaux II

    Appeal No. 121,503 archived oral argument

    Police discovered a pipe with suspected drug residue during a search incident to arrest Mulleneaux. After the Geary County District Court suppressed evidence confirming the presence of drug residue, the State moved to dismiss the case without prejudice. The district court denied the State's motion and dismissed the case with prejudice. The Supreme Court concluded the district court erred by dismissing the case with prejudice but that any error was harmless because the State conceded it lacked evidence necessary to prove the case to the jury without the suppressed evidence. The Supreme Court affirmed the district court's dismissal in a unanimous decision written by Chief Justice Marla Luckert.

    Appeal No. 122,582: Delaware Township and High Prairie Township v. City of Lansing, Kansas, and Leavenworth County Board of Commissioners

    Appeal No. 122,582 archived oral argument

    The Supreme Court reversed the Leavenworth County District Court and held that the City of Lansing's notice of termination of the interlocal agreement was effective. Justice Stegall, writing for a unanimous Supreme Court, held that K.S.A. 19-3601 et seq. (the Fire Protection Act) and K.S.A. 12-2901 et seq. (the Interlocal Cooperation Act) should be interpreted in pari materia and that termination of the interlocal agreement by its own terms did not end the existence of the fire district. The Court also held that the legal continuation of the fire district absent an interlocal agreement did not create a public policy concern.

    Case No. 124,868: In the Matter of Bradley A. Pistotnik

    Case No. 124,868 archived oral argument

    In an original proceeding in attorney discipline, the Supreme Court suspended Pistotnik of Wichita, Kansas, from the practice of law for one year for violations of the Kansas Rules of Professional Conduct related to conduct resulting in his conviction for three federal class A misdemeanor violations of 18 U.S.C. § 3, accessory after the fact in relation to 18 U.S.C. § 875(d). The Court also ordered that Pistotnik undergo a reinstatement hearing before any petition for reinstatement will be considered.

  • 01 Jul 2022 8:24 AM | Executive Director (Administrator)

    Appeal No. 121,053: State of Kansas v. Joseph Miguel Valdez

    Appeal No. 121,053 archived oral argument

    The Supreme Court affirmed Valdez's Saline County District Court convictions for possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute and two counts of drug paraphernalia possession. The Court reversed Valdez's conviction for unlawful possession of a firearm within 10 years of a prior felony. The drugs, paraphernalia, and firearm were discovered after Valdez was shot inside his Salina home.

    In an opinion written by Justice Dan Biles, the Court held that the jury instructions at Valdez's trial incorrectly informed the jury it could conclude he intended to distribute the drugs based on the amount possessed because that instruction conflicted with state law requiring the jury to presume intent based on the amount. However, the conviction was affirmed because the error did not influence the jury's verdict. Justice Caleb Stegall wrote a concurring opinion, arguing Valdez failed to show the instruction was incorrect.

    The Court unanimously reversed the firearm conviction for lack of sufficient evidence. Valdez stipulated a prior conviction at trial, but the stipulation was not detailed enough for the jury to determine the prior conviction barred Valdez from possessing a firearm at the time of his arrest.

    Appeal No. 122,162: In the Matter of the Equalizations Appeals of Wal-Mart Stores, Inc; Wal-Mart Real Estate Business Trust; Sam’s Real Estate Business Trust; and TMM Roeland Park Center, L.L.C., for the year 2016 in Johnson County; and Wal-Mart Real Estate Business Trust and Sam’s Real Estate Business Trust for the year 2017 in Johnson County

    Appeal No. 122,162 archived oral argument

    The Supreme Court reversed a Board of Tax Appeals order determining the fair market values of 11 Johnson County Walmart and Sam's Club stores for property tax purposes for the 2016 and 2017 tax years. The Board of Tax Appeals imposed values significantly lower than the Johnson County appraisals.

    At the Board of Tax Appeals hearing, the County presented expert testimony from appraisers who relied on data from build-to-suit leases to estimate the properties' fair market rental values. Build-to-suit leases are arrangements in which a developer builds a store to the retailer's unique specifications, then leases the completed store to the retailer. The County's appraisers testified that their use of data from these leases was consistent with generally accepted appraisal practices.

    The Board of Tax Appeals disregarded this evidence, relying on a 2012 Kansas Court of Appeals decision, In re Prieb Properties, LLC. That case held that "rental rates contained in or reflected by commercial build-to-suit leases are not reflective of market conditions and may not be utilized for purposes of the income approach or the sales comparison approach []es to value for ad valorem tax purposes in Kansas without a disentanglement by adjustments . . ." Among the reasons for its decision, the Prieb court asserted that "such a lease is essentially a financing agreement between a lessor and lessee, and the rental rates therein are based in large part upon the revenue needed to amortize the investment required for the required construction—plus a measure of profit—over the lease term or extensions thereof."

    In a unanimous opinion written by Justice Dan Biles, the Court overruled the Prieb decision and remanded the case to the Board of Tax Appeals to fully consider the County's evidence in determining the properties' values. The Court acknowledged the "unique appraisal problems" presented by big-box retail properties, but said, "Prieb represents a judicial attempt to address these concerns by simply announcing a rule of law." And that rule of law "invade[d] BOTA's longstanding province as the fact-finder in the statutory process of appraising real property at its fair market value."

    Appeal No. 124,156: City of Olathe v. City of Spring Hill and James Hendershot

    Appeal No. 124,156 archived oral argument

    In 2006, the cities of Spring Hill and Olathe signed a written agreement to restrict their future growth by establishing boundaries for annexing land adjacent to the two cities. The agreement had no time limitations and was to remain in effect unless the two cities mutually agreed to terminate it. But in the spring of 2021, Spring Hill announced its intention to break the agreement by annexing land on Olathe’s side of the agreed boundary. The purpose of the annexation was to pursue a commercial site development. Olathe took Spring Hill and its City Administrator to court to get a restraining order and injunctions to prevent the annexation. The district court ruled against Olathe but stayed its order while the case was being appealed to the Court of Appeals. The Supreme Court assumed jurisdiction over the case at Olathe’s request.

    Writing for a unanimous Supreme Court, Justice Eric Rosen affirmed the Johnson County District Court. The Court relied on the longstanding rule that elected governing bodies may not compel future elected officials to follow general policy decisions. It would undermine democratic principles if a city council could take away from future voters the power to elect city councils that could pursue their own policies. The Court concluded that the 2006 agreement cannot be enforced against the 2021 Spring Hill city council. The Court upheld the district court decision and lifted the stay on the district court’s order.

  • 21 Jun 2022 10:11 AM | Executive Director (Administrator)

    Appeal No. 125,092: Faith Rivera et al., Tom Alonzo et al., and Susan Frick et al., v. Scott Schwab, Kansas Secretary of State, in His Official Capacity, and Michael Abbott, Wyandotte County Election Commissioner, in His Official Capacity, and Jamie Shew, Douglas County Clerk, in His Official Capacity.

    Appeal No. 125,092 archived oral argument

    Reversing the district court’s ruling that Substitute for Senate Bill 355 (Ad Astra 2) was unconstitutional under the Kansas Constitution. Justice Stegall, writing for a majority of the Kansas Supreme Court, held that partisan gerrymandering claims were nonjusticiable under section 2 of the Kansas Constitution. The court also held that Ad Astra 2 was not a product of racial gerrymandering, because the Plaintiffs did not establish that race was the predominant factor used by the Legislature in redistricting decisions. Lastly, the court held that the Plaintiffs did not establish a claim of constitutional vote dilution because they failed to present evidence that the minority group is sufficiently large and geographically compact to constitute a majority in a single member district.

    Justice Biles, joined by Justice Rosen and Justice Standridge, concurred in part, and dissented in part. These three justices would have affirmed the district court and concluded Ad Astra 2 violates the Kansas Constitution, though providing a different rationale than the district court. Justice Rosen wrote separately to explain why the equal protection guarantees in section 2 of the Kansas Bill of Rights provide broader protections than those in the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution.

    Documents filed in this case are at www.kscourts.org/125092/Congressional-districts.

    Original Action No. 125,083: In the Matter of the Petition of Derek Schmidt, Attorney General to Determine the Validity of Substitute for Senate Bill 563, holding the Legislature’s reapportionment of state senatorial and representative districts to be valid.

    No. 125,083 archived oral argument

    Article 10, section 1 of the Kansas Constitution requires the Kansas Supreme Court to review state reapportionment legislation for compliance with state and federal law. Justice Stegall, writing for the unanimous court, found that the Legislature followed the correct procedure laid out by the Kansas Constitution in enacting the maps. It also concluded that the maps were substantively valid because they did not contain any constitutional errors and they complied with the requirements of the federal Voting Rights Act.

    Documents filed in this case are at www.kscourts.org/125083/Reapportionment.

  • 17 Jun 2022 10:20 AM | Executive Director (Administrator)

    Appeal No. 121,411: State of Kansas v. Darnell Lee Huey

    Appeal No. 121,411 archived oral argument

    In a decision written by Chief Justice Marla Luckert, a majority of the Supreme Court affirmed Huey’s conviction for failing to register in Shawnee County as required under the Kansas Offender Registration Act. Huey was required to register as a violent offender due to his use of a firearm during a robbery. He argued there was not sufficient evidence to support his conviction because the State only presented evidence that he lived in Shawnee County two months before the date he was required to register but did not present any evidence of where he lived at the time he was required to register. The Supreme Court held that it was a reasonable inference that the defendant lived in Shawnee County at the time he was required to register, and the jury could have found beyond a reasonable doubt all elements of the offense of failing to register as required by the Kansas Offender Registration Act. The dissenting justice would have reversed the conviction because they did not believe that the evidence supported a reasonable inference that the defendant was still living in that same residence two months later.

    Appeal No. 122,897: State of Kansas v. Melvin Lavon Shields

    Appeal No. 122,897 archived oral argument

    In a direct appeal from Wyandotte County District Court, the Supreme Court affirmed Shields’ convictions for two counts of first-degree premeditated murder. In an opinion written by Justice K.J. Wall, the Court agreed with Shields that the district court should have provided a cautionary instruction to the jury on the reliability of eyewitness testimony. But the Court held that reversal was unwarranted because other procedural safeguards mitigated the error and Shields had not shown that the jury would have reached a different verdict if given the instruction. A majority of the Court rejected the other errors that Shields had alleged. In a concurring opinion, Justice Eric Rosen indicated that he agreed with the outcome of the case but would have concluded that the prosecutor erred during closing arguments.

    Case No. 124,812: In the Matter of Gary W. Long

    Case No. 124,812 archived oral argument

    In an attorney disciplinary proceeding, the Supreme Court indefinitely suspended Long’s law license for violations arising from the representation of two clients in criminal matters as well as a case involving a property title, and mishandling of client funds. The Court found the attorney’s conduct violated Kansas Rules of Professional Conduct and Kansas Supreme Court Rules regarding diligence, communication, safekeeping property, cooperation, and professional misconduct. The attorney had previously been subject to disciplinary sanctions in 1992, 1994, and 1998, and had been disbarred in 1998, but later successfully sought reinstatement of his law license. In part because of this previous conduct, the Court imposed a greater sanction than requested by the Disciplinary Administrator and ordered indefinite suspension of the attorney’s law license. A minority of the Court would have imposed a longer period of definite suspension.

    Case No. 124,869: In the Matter of Bruce W. Beye

    Case No. 124,869 archived oral argument

    In an original proceeding in attorney discipline, the Supreme Court publicly censured Beye for violations of Kansas Rules of Professional Conduct 1.3 (2022 Kan. S. Ct. R. 331) (diligence), 1.4 (2022 Kan. S. Ct. R. 332) (communication), and 1.5(a) and (b) (2022 Kan. S. Ct. R. 372) (safekeeping property).

  • 10 Jun 2022 10:24 AM | Executive Director (Administrator)

    Appeal No. 122,163: State of Kansas v. Jeff Hillard

    Appeal No. 122,163 archived oral argument

    The Supreme Court affirmed Hillard’s Sedgwick County District Court convictions for first-degree murder, aggravated kidnapping, aggravated battery, and rape, but reversed his conviction for conspiracy to distribute a controlled substance.

    Hillard’s charges stem from the 2016 kidnapping, torture, and murder of Scottie Goodpaster Jr., and the kidnapping and rape of Goodpaster’s girlfriend. On appeal, Hillard argued that the district court erred by declining to suppress evidence obtained from his cell phone and his home surveillance system, by admitting transcripts of audio recordings taken from his cell phone, as well as an enhanced version of one of those recordings, and by incorrectly instructing the jury on the elements of his charged offenses and the proper venue for his trial. Hillard also argued there was insufficient evidence to support any of his convictions.

    In a unanimous decision written by Justice K.J. Wall, the Court held there was insufficient evidence to support Hillard’s conviction for conspiracy to distribute a controlled substance. The Court reversed that conviction and vacated the accompanying sentence. The Court rejected Hillard’s other claims of error and affirmed his remaining convictions and sentence for first-degree murder, aggravated kidnapping, aggravated battery, and rape.

    Appeal No. 123,613: State of Kansas v. Brian Bailey

    Summary calendar; no oral argument

    In a unanimous decision written by Chief Justice Marla Luckert, the Supreme Court held that a defendant could not seek to compel post conviction DNA testing of evidence because he had already litigated the issue in two previous appeals. Under a Kansas statute that allows defendants to have post conviction DNA testing of evidence under certain circumstances, Bailey sought testing of evidence related to his 1988 Wyandotte County District Court conviction for aggravated criminal sodomy. This was the third time Bailey had sought DNA testing of the evidence. In two prior appeals, Bailey had been denied relief, in part, because the evidence is no longer in the State’s possession. The Supreme Court held that Bailey could not relitigate this issue based on preclusionary doctrines that prohibit parties from endlessly relitigating matters that have been subject to a final ruling by previous courts.

    Appeal No. 124,134: State of Kansas v. Harvey L. Ross Jr.

    Summary calendar; no oral argument

    On direct appeal, the Supreme Court affirmed the Sedgwick County District Court’s denial of Ross’ post conviction request to reverse his conviction based on allegations that the trial court did not have subject matter jurisdiction over his criminal proceedings. In a unanimous opinion written by Justice Melissa Standridge, the Court held that K.S.A. 22-3201 is not a procedural vehicle to bring a cause of action and that defective complaint claims are not properly raised in a motion to correct an illegal sentence under K.S.A. 22-3504. The Supreme Court affirmed the district court because Ross failed to identify a timely, unexhausted, and proper procedural vehicle for presenting his challenge.

  • 03 Jun 2022 10:27 AM | Executive Director (Administrator)

    Appeal No. 121,866: State of Kansas v. Luqman Yusef Keys

    Appeal No. 121,866 archived oral argument

    The Supreme Court affirmed Keys’ convictions and sentences for felony murder and aggravated robbery. In an opinion written by Justice Melissa Standridge, the Court held that: (1) a grand jury’s issuance of a second superseding indictment after mistrial is not the functional equivalent of State sought amendment of an indictment; (2) Keys’ selective prosecution claim was unsupported by the record; (3) the State made sufficient efforts to establish a witness’s unavailability; (4) no self-defense justification exists for the crimes of distributing a controlled substance or aggravated robbery; and (5) no error existed, so cumulative error was inapplicable. Justice Evelyn Wilson did not participate.

    Appeal No. 123,856: State of Kansas v. Shelbert Smith

    Appeal No. 123,856 archived oral argument

    The Supreme Court dismissed Smith’s second overall attempt to directly appeal the sentences he received in connection with a murder he committed in 1993. Smith’s previous attempt to appeal his sentences, which brought him before the Supreme Court three times, centered on a claim under the third exception to the general rule requiring timely appeals. That exception is set forth in State v. Ortiz¸ 230 Kan. 733, 640 P.2d 1255 (1982). In the previous appeal, the Supreme Court ultimately concluded that Smith could not appeal out of time under the third Ortiz exception. The Court also declined to address two newly raised alternative arguments concerning the timeliness of Smith’s appeal. With no intervening events at the Sedgwick County District Court, Smith again appealed in an attempt to raise these two claims. This time, the Court concluded that Smith could not raise these new claims. The Court held that Smith had previously abandoned one claim early in his litigation of the first appeal and could not resurrect it in a second appeal. The Court also held that Smith’s second claim was precluded in this second appeal under the law-of-the-case doctrine. The Court thus dismissed Smith’s second appeal for lack of appellate jurisdiction.

    Appeal No. 123,959: State of Kansas v. Michael Davidson

    Summary calendar; no oral argument

    Davidson, serving a life sentence for first-degree murder, moved for a new trial based on newly discovered evidence more than 20 years after his conviction became final. The Johnson County District Court summarily dismissed Davidson’s motion because a motion for new trial filed under K.S.A. 22-3501 must be filed within two years of final judgment. The Court affirmed in a unanimous decision written by Chief Justice Marla Luckert.

    Appeal No. 124,028: State of Kansas v. Martin Vasquez

    Summary calendar; no oral argument

    In a unanimous decision written by Chief Justice Marla Luckert, the Supreme Court held that a defendant’s claims of insufficiency of evidence, procedural violations, and false arrest do not fall within the narrow definition of an illegal sentence as is required by the statute that allows a court to correct an illegal sentence. Vasquez filed motions to correct illegal sentences for his multiple life sentences for three convictions of first-degree murder and other crimes, but K.S.A. 22-3504 only allows a sentence to be corrected if it was imposed by a court without jurisdiction, and does not conform to statutory provisions, or is ambiguous regarding the time and manner it is to be served. Because Vasquez’s claims of error did not fall within those parameters, the Court affirmed the Edwards County District Court’s denial of Vasquez’s motions.

  • 27 May 2022 10:30 AM | Executive Director (Administrator)

    Case No. 123,280: In the Matter of Donna L. Huffman

    Case No. 123,280 archived oral argument

    The Supreme Court suspended Huffman from the practice of law for two years, with the possibility of probation after 90 days. The Kansas Board for Discipline of Attorneys found Huffman committed multiple violations of Kansas Rules of Professional Conduct while representing clients in a mortgage dispute.

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