Kansas Supreme Court Decisions, August 11, 2023

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.
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