Kansas Supreme Court Decisions, December 30, 2022

30 Dec 2022 2:10 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

Appeal No. 123,096: State of Kansas v. Barbara Marie Frantz

Appeal No. 123,096 archived oral argument

The Supreme Court affirmed Frantz's Leavenworth County District Court conviction for first-degree premeditated murder. Her conviction arose out of the 2017 shooting death of her estranged husband outside an apartment complex in the city of Leavenworth. Frantz defended herself at trial by suggesting her son was responsible for the murder.

Through counsel, Frantz raised several claims of error on appeal, including the district court erred by denying her motion for judgment of acquittal at the close of the State's case; there was insufficient evidence to support her conviction; and the district court violated her confrontation rights under the Sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution by limiting her cross-examination of her son. Representing herself, Frantz also raised numerous other claims of error.

In an opinion written by Justice K.J. Wall, the Supreme Court held the district court did not err by denying Frantz's motion for judgment of acquittal at the close of the State's evidence. The Court recognized that under Kansas caselaw, Frantz likely waived any claim of error regarding the denial of that motion because she presented evidence in her defense that refuted elements of the State's case. Because neither party had addressed the potential waiver on appeal, the Court reached the merits of Frantz's claim and held the State presented sufficient evidence of Frantz's guilt in its case-in-chief and so she was not entitled to a judgment of acquittal. Likewise, the Court held there was sufficient evidence to support Frantz's conviction when looking at the evidence as a whole. The Court also held that while the district court prevented Frantz from asking her son certain questions while he was testifying, those court-imposed limitations did not violate Frantz's right of confrontation because they complied with Kansas evidentiary rules and did not otherwise prevent Frantz from effectively cross-examining her son. Finally, the Court rejected all claims of error Frantz had raised on her own.

Justice Stegall concurred with the result but would have abrogated the rule that defendants waive the right to challenge the denial of a motion for judgment of acquittal made at the close of the State's evidence whenever they present defense evidence refuting elements of the State's case. Chief Justice Luckert and Justice Rosen joined the concurrence.

Appeal No. 124,737: State of Kansas v. Meka Richardson

Summary calendar; no archived oral argument

The Supreme Court affirmed the Wyandotte County District Court’s denial of defendant Richardson's postconviction discovery request of the ballistics report from her case. The Court unanimously found that the Court of Appeals did not abuse its discretion because Richardson's discovery request failed to allege any reason why the ballistics report may be relevant in pursuing a challenge to her conviction.  
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