Justia Kansas Supreme Court Opinion Summaries

By
The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant’s sentence of life imprisonment for felony murder but concluded that no enforceable restitution judgment existed against Defendant. Defendant appealed the summary denial of three pro se motions, arguing that his sentence was illegal and that restitution was wrongfully collected during his imprisonment. The court held (1) no enforceable restitution judgment existed against Defendant, and the wrongful collection of restitution likely arose from a clerical error; (2) Defendant’s offenses were properly classified as person felonies; and (3) Defendant’s sentence was not illegal. The court remanded for a hearing and correction of the clerical mistake. View "State v. Bailey" on Justia Law
By
Posted in:
Updated:

By
A jury convicted Defendant of two alternative counts of capital murder based on either the rape or the kidnapping of eight-year-old A.I., an alternative count of premeditated first-degree murder, and rape. The Supreme Court affirmed the district court’s judgment with the exception of Defendant’s rape conviction, which the court reversed. The court held (1) there was sufficient evidence to support the jury’s determination that Defendant premeditated A.I.’s killing; (2) prosecutorial error in closing argument did not require reversal; (3) the district court did not err in denying Defendant’s motion to suppress his confession; (4) there was no error in the omission of additional unanimity language in the jury instructions; and (5) because rape is an element of Defendant’s conviction for capital murder, he is punished for it to the extent the capital conviction stands. View "State v. Davis" on Justia Law

By
The Supreme Court affirmed the district court’s denial of Bryon Kirtdoll’s motion to correct an illegal sentence. In 2004, Kirtdoll was convicted of first-degree murder. Kirtdoll was sentenced to a term of imprisonment of life without possibility of parole for fifty years. The conviction and sentence were affirmed on appeal. In 2013, Kirtdoll filed a pro se motion to vacate sentence, arguing that Alleyne v. United States, 570 U.S. __ (2013) rendered his judicially enhanced life sentence illegal. The district court analyzed the merits of Kirtdoll’s motion under both Kan. Stat. Ann. 22-3504 and Kan. Stat. Ann. 60-1507 and dismissed the motion. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) Alleyne cannot be retroactively applied to cases that were final when Alleyne was decided; and (2) consequently, Kirtdoll could not obtain relief in a section 60-1507 collateral attack. View "Kirtdoll v. State" on Justia Law
By
Posted in:
Updated:

By
The Supreme Court affirmed the district court’s denial of Michael Brown’s motion to correct an illegal sentence. In 1999, Brown was convicted of first-degree murder. Brown was sentenced to a term of life without possibility of parole for forty years. The conviction and sentence were affirmed on appeal. In 2013, Brown filed this motion to correct an illegal sentence under Kan. Stat. Ann. 22-3504(1), arguing that Alleyne v. United States, 570 U.S. __ (2013) rendered his judicially enhanced life sentence illegal. The district court found that Alleyne did not apply retroactively to cases that were final when it was decided. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that a claim that a sentence was imposed in violation of the constitutional holding in Alleyne does not fit within the definition of an illegal sentence that may be addressed with a section 22-3504(1) motion to correct an illegal sentence. View "State v. Brown" on Justia Law
By
Posted in:
Updated:

By
After a jury trial, Defendant was convicted of felony murder, aggravated robbery, burglary, and theft. The district court sentenced Defendant to life without the possibility of parole for twenty years plus 102 months. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the district court did not err in instructing the jury on the State’s alternative theories of first-degree murder; (2) any shortcoming in the jury instruction on the force element of robbery was invited by the defense; (3) the district court did not abuse its discretion in finding Defendant competent to stand trial; (4) any abuse of discretion on the part of the district court failing to independently consider the merits of Defendant’s objection to blood spatter evidence was harmless; and (5) the cumulative effect of any errors in this case was harmless. View "State v. Stewart" on Justia Law
By
Posted in:
Updated:

By
After a jury trial, Defendant was convicted of first-degree murder. The district court imposed a hard twenty-five life sentence. Defendant appealed, arguing, among other things, that the trial court erred by denying his efforts to obtain a venue due to pretrial publicity. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the pretrial publicity did not create an atmosphere in Barton County that jeopardized Defendant’s right to a fair trial; and (2) there was not a reasonable probability that the prosecutor’s question about a certain text message affected the trial’s outcome, and therefore the trial court did not commit prejudicial error by permitting the State to cross-examine Defendant about the text message. View "State v. Chapman" on Justia Law
By
Posted in:
Updated:

By
After a jury trial, Appellant was convicted of two counts of premeditated first-degree murder. The sentencing judge did not specifically state that Appellant was sentenced to life imprisonment on Count II, but the journal entry reflected a life sentence on each count. The Supreme Court affirmed. Thereafter, Appellant filed a Kan. Stat. Ann. 60-1507 motion arguing that he was actually sentenced to only one life sentence regardless of what the journal entry showed. The district court denied relief. The Court of Appeals reversed and remanded the case for resentencing, concluding that Appellant’s sentence for the second murder count was ambiguous, rendering it illegal. On remand, a different district court judge resentenced Appellant to life imprisonment on each count, with the sentences to run consecutively. Appellant appealed, arguing that the life sentence for count II cannot be run consecutive to Count I. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Appellant’s argument failed for lack of pertinent authority or an argument showing why his position is sound despite the lack of supporting authority. View "State v. Angelo" on Justia Law
By
Posted in:
Updated:

By
This case arose from a mortgage foreclosure petition filed by FV-I, Inc. The dispute in this case was between FV-I and Bank of the Prairie (BOP), a bank with junior mortgages on the same property. The parties agreed to sell the property and place the proceeds in escrow pending resolution of this case. Summary judgment was initially granted in favor of BOP. The Court of Appeals reversed and remanded for a trial to determine whether FV-I had possession of the promissory note underlying the mortgage at the time it filed the mortgage foreclosure. After a trial, the district court concluded that FV-I lacked standing to file the petition because it did not have possession of the original note prior to filing its petition and that BOP’s mortgages were superior to FV-I’s mortgage. The Court of Appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that evidentiary rulings excluding endorsements on the promissory note require a remand for a rehearing regarding standing and the panel’s priority determination. Remanded. View "FV-I, Inc. v. Kallevig" on Justia Law

By
After a jury trial, Defendant was convicted of distribution of methamphetamine. Defendant appealed, arguing that an audio recording of a nontestifying informant’s statements were improperly admitted into evidence because the informant’s statements were testimonial and thus violated Defendant’s right to confront witnesses under the Sixth Amendment and Crawford v. Washington. The Court of Appeals affirmed, concluding that, under the circumstances, the informant’s statements were not testimonial in nature. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the informant’s statements qualified as testimonial, but the error in admitting the informant’s testimonial evidence was harmless. View "State v. Williams" on Justia Law

By
After a jury trial, Defendant was found guilty of one count of first-degree murder and one count of attempted first-degree murder. The crimes were committed in October 1994. In June 1995, the district court sentenced Defendant to a hard twenty-five life imprisonment for first-degree murder and a consecutive 134 months’ imprisonment for attempted first-degree murder. Approximately twenty years later, Defendant filed two motions to correct an illegal sentence. The district court denied the motions. Defendant filed a pro se motion for reconsideration arguing that his sentence was illegal because the hard twenty-five sentence authorized by statute did not come into effect until July 1995. The district court denied Defendant’s motion. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the hard twenty-five sentencing statute applies to certain crimes committed on or after July 1, 1994 and therefore applied to the crimes Defendant committed in October 1994. View "State v. Clark" on Justia Law
By
Posted in:
Updated: