Justia Kansas Supreme Court Opinion Summaries

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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant's convictions of child abuse and felony murder with the underlying felony of child abuse but vacated the imposition of lifetime postrelease supervision, holding that the trial court did not err in convicting Defendant but erred in imposing lifetime postrelease supervision. Specifically, the Court held (1) the evidence provided sufficient proof to show that Defendant's action was knowingly done and cruel as required by Kan. Stat. Ann. 21-5602(a)(3); (2) the court did not err in instructing the jury "If you have no reasonable doubt as to the truth of each of the claims required to be proved by the State, you should find the defendant guilty"; and (3) the court improperly ordered lifetime postrelease supervision. View "State v. Gibson" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law
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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant's grid-sentence, holding that, under two of this Court's recent opinions, Defendant failed to establish that the district court imposed an illegal sentence for purposes of Kan. Stat. Ann. 22-3504. In 1999, Defendant was convicted of capital murder, aggravated robbery, aggravated burglary, and two counts of felony theft. The district court imposed a hard forty sentence for Defendant's capital murder conviction, an off-grid crime, and to upward departure sentences on the grid crimes. The Supreme Court vacated Defendant's upward durational departure sentences for his grid crimes under Apprendi v. New Jersey, 530 U.S. 466 (2000) and resentenced Defendant. Defendant later filed a motion to correct na illegal sentence challenging his hard forty sentence. The district court denied the motion. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that State v. Murdock, 439 P.3d 307 (Kan. 2019), and State v. Weber, 442 P.3d 1044 (Kan. 2019), foreclosed Defendant's challenge. View "State v. Bradford" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law
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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant's convictions for driving under the influence and illegal transportation of liquor, holding that "manifest necessity" is the correct measure for declaring a jury deadlocked under the United States Supreme Court's double jeopardy caselaw when the defendant does not object or consent to the mistrial. Defendant's first trial ended in a mistrial without Defendant's consent because of a jury deadlock. After a second jury trial, Defendant was convicted. Defendant appealed, arguing (1) his second trial violated his constitutional right against double jeopardy, and (2) the jury instruction on the State's burden of proof improperly discouraged the jury from exercising its nullification power. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) when a trial sua sponte declares a jury deadlocked and orders a mistrial when the defendant does not object or consent to the mistrial, retrial should be permitted only when there was a manifest necessity for the court's action, and the holding in State v. Graham, 83 P.3d 143 (Kan. 2004), to the contrary is overruled; (2) the district court properly declared a mistrial under the circumstances of this case based on the manifest necessity standard; and (3) Defendant's jury instruction challenge is rejected. View "State v. Kornelson" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law
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In this personal injury case arising from a bar fight at the San Lo Leyte VFW Post #7515 in Clyde, Kansas (VFW) between Plaintiff and a third party patron of the bar the Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the court of appeals reversing the district court's summary judgment in favor of the VFW, holding that there were still necessary questions of fact left unanswered, and therefore, summary judgment was not appropriate. On appeal, Plaintiff argued that despite the injury occurring off VFW-owned premises, the VFW's duty to protect Plaintiff from the assault, and the breach of that duty, arose while Plaintiff and the third party were still inside the bar. The court of appeals agreed, concluding that negligence could have arisen when all parties were on the VFW's premises. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that questions of fact existed regarding the foreseeability of Plaintiff's injury and whether a breach of duty occurred, precluding summary judgment. View "Hammond v. San Lo Leyte VFW Post #7515" on Justia Law

Posted in: Personal Injury
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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant's convictions for first-degree murder, attempted distribution of a controlled substance, attempted aggravated robbery, aggravated assault, and criminal possession of a firearm, holding that any error resulting from the district court's exclusion of certain testimony was harmless. Specifically, the Supreme Court held (1) Defendant's convictions were not multiplicitous; (2) Defendant's argument that the State committed prosecutorial error when it made certain comments during its cross-examination of a certain witness was in essence an evidentiary question not properly preserved for appeal; (3) the district court's error in upholding a witness's invocation of his Fifth Amendment privilege and excluding his testimony, if any, was harmless; and (4) the cumulative doctrine did not apply. View "State v. George" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgments of the lower courts determining that a condominium owner's consent was not required before a proposed grocery store could be constructed, holding that the district court properly granted summary judgment. In 1997, the owner of two adjacent properties (the Borders Parcel and the Development Parcel) in Lawrence executed and recorded an Operation and Easement Agreement (OEA) that restricted the building footprints and prohibited either property from being occupied or used for the sale of groceries. Ownership for the two parcels was subsequently split between two entities. In 2010, a condominium was built on the Development Parcel, and Brian Russell bought a unit in the building. In the instant dispute, the owner of the Borders Parcel sought to construct a building that would exceed the OEA's footprint restriction and contain a grocery store. Russell brought this action claiming that the OEA could not be amended without condominium owner consent. The district court granted summary judgment for the parcel owners. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the OEA's language gave the property owners authority to amend the OEA without Russell's consent; and (2) the property owners could amend the OEA to allow for the proposed changes to the Borders Parcel. View "Russell v. Treanor Investments LLC" on Justia Law

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In this extended-jurisdiction juvenile proceeding, the Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the court of appeals dismissing the juvenile's appeal, holding that the court of appeals had jurisdiction to hear the appeal. The district court gave John P., a juvenile offender, both a juvenile sentence and an adult sentence. The adult sentence was stayed on the condition that John substantially comply with the terms of the juvenile sentence and not commit a new offense. A week before John's conditional release supervision ended, the State moved to revoke his juvenile sentence and impose the adult one, citing several alleged violations of conditional-release rules. The district court found that John had violated the terms of conditional release and imposed the adult sentence. The court of appeals dismissed John's appeal, determining that it lacked jurisdiction because Kan. Stat. Ann. 38-2380(b) doesn't authorize the appeal of a later order imposing an adult sentence in an extended-jurisdiction juvenile proceeding. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that Kan. Stat. Ann. 38-2347(e)(4) gives a juvenile offender who is the subject of an extended jurisdiction juvenile prosecution all the rights an adult defendant would have, which includes the right to appeal an adverse judgment such as the one in this case. View "In re J.P." on Justia Law

Posted in: Juvenile Law
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The Supreme Court affirmed the opinion of the court of appeals affirming in part and reversing in part the order of the district court granting summary judgment for the State and Patrick Saleh, a highway patrol trooper, and dismissing Plaintiff's complaint alleging negligence and vicarious liability, holding that genuine issues of material fact existed precluding summary judgment. Plaintiffs, Shelby Montgomery and Scott Bennett, sustained injuries when a Toyota driven by Robert Horton ran a red light and collided with Bennett's truck. Horton was being pursued by Saleh at the time of the collision. Plaintiffs brought this lawsuit, claiming that Saleh was negligent in failing to cease his pursuit of Horton prior to when he did and that the State was vicariously liable. The district court granted summary judgment for Defendants. The court of appeals reversed the district court's finding on proof of causation and remanded for trial. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) a genuine issue of material fact existed as to whether Saleh breached the duty imposed by Kan. Stat. Ann. 8-1506; and (2) a dispute existed as to whether Saleh's conduct was a cause in fact of Plaintiffs' injuries. View "Montgomery v. Saleh" on Justia Law

Posted in: Personal Injury
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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant's convictions of several sex offenses involving two children but vacated the district court's order of lifetime postrelease supervision, holding that the district court erred in ordering two different forms of supervision once Defendant finishes serving his prison sentence. Defendant was convicted of five counts of aggravated criminal sodomy, one count of rape, and other sexual offenses. Defendant was sentenced to a term of imprisonment and to two supervision terms - lifetime parole for Defendant's off-grid offenses and lifetime postrelease supervision for his on-grid crime. On appeal, Defendant argued that the district court abused its discretion by allowing the jury to hear evidence that he had sexually abused three other children. The Supreme Court disagreed, holding (1) the risk of undue prejudice did not substantially outweigh the probative value of the evidence; and (2) the district court's imposition of lifetime postrelease supervision must be vacated. View "State v. Satchell" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law
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The Supreme Court reversed the order of the court of appeals dismissing as moot Appellant's appeal from the revocation of his probation following an out-of-state arrest, holding that the court of appeals erred in relying on the Kansas Adult Supervised Population Electronic Repository (KASPER) as evidence to find that Appellant had completed his sentence. On appeal, Appellant argued that the district court improperly relied on hearsay testimony to support probation revocation in violation of his due process rights. The court of appeals dismissed the case as moot, relying on a KASPER printout and the State's description of an alleged phone call confirming the KASPER information to find that Appellant had been released from custody. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the court of appeals erred to the extent that it relied on KASPER and the State's hearsay assertions; and (2) based on State v. Roat, __ P.3d __ (No. 113.531, this day decided), before dismissing a case as moot, a court must exercise caution and give due consideration to any assertion of affected rights. View "State v. Yazell" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law