Justia Kansas Supreme Court Opinion Summaries

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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant's conviction of ten counts of criminal conduct, including attempted capital murder, holding that a single error occurred in the proceedings below, and the error was harmless.Specifically, the Supreme Court held (1) there was no support for Defendant's claims that the district court impermissibly participated in plea negotiations and imposed consecutive sentences as "the product of judicial vindictiveness"; (2) the prosecutor made an incorrect statement during closing arguments, but the State met its burden to demonstrate that the error did not affect the trial's outcome beyond a reasonable doubt; and (3) the district court did not err in its response to a jury question. View "State v. Bowser" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant's conviction of attempted capital murder, aggravated robbery, and other offenses, holding that there was no error during Defendant's trial.Specifically, the Supreme Court held (1) there was sufficient evidence presented by the State to support Defendant's convictions; (2) Defendant failed to designate a sufficient record to support his claim that the district court erred when it admitted the contents of his cell phone; (3) the district court did not err when it admitted Defendant's jail phone calls; (4) the district court properly admitted Kan. Stat. Ann. 60-455 prior crimes evidence; and (5) the district court properly admitted two timelines as evidence. View "State v. Meggerson" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law
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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant's convictions of first-degree murder and other offenses, holding that there was no error in the proceedings below.Specifically, the Supreme Court held (1) the State charged Defendant with an alternative means crime, and sufficient evidence supported both alternative means articulated in the court's jury instructions; (2) the district court did not err when it admitted into evidence Defendant's incriminating statements to police; and (3) Defendant failed to preserve for appellate review his argument that the district court erred by excluding evidence that Defendant delayed treatment for his injuries; (4) the prosecutor did not commit misconduct during voir dire; and (5) there was no inconsistency with the sentencing journal entry and the district court's oral pronouncement at the sentencing hearing. View "State v. Davis" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law
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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the court of appeals affirming Defendant's conviction of two counts of aggravated robbery, holding that the court of appeals did not err in holding that the convictions would not result in a subsequent prosecution and that Defendant was not twice put in jeopardy.Defendant took the property of three individuals in one incident. Defendant was convicted of two counts of aggravated robbery and one count of theft, each count relating to a different victim. On appeal, Defendant argued that the State divided one criminal offense into three crimes in violation of double jeopardy protections. The court of appeals reversed Defendant's theft conviction and otherwise affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the charges arose from unitary conduct; (2) the State did not violate double jeopardy protection by prosecuting Defendant a second time for aggravated robbery after his theft conviction had been affirmed; and (3) Defendant's aggravated robbery convictions were not multiplicitous. View "State v. Dale" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the court of appeals panel that used a harmless error analysis to save a district court's denial of Defendant's motion to withdraw his plea even though the panel concluded that the court applied the wrong legal standard, holding the court of appeals erred in engaging in a harmless error analysis under the circumstances.Defendant pleaded no contest to robbery and aggravated assault. Before sentencing, Defendant filed a pro se motion to withdraw his plea, asserting ineffective assistance of counsel. The district court denied the motion. The panel concluded that the district court erred in using the Strickland test rather than the "lackluster advocacy" standard specified in State v. Aguilar, 231 P.3d 563 (Kan. 2010) but that the error was harmless. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the analysis of the court of appeals was incorrect. View "State v. Herring" on Justia Law

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In this driver's license suspension case, the Supreme Court affirmed the conclusions of the district court and the court of appeals that the implied consent advisory substantially complied with the applicable statute and that any defects in the statute that make the advisory coercive did not prejudice Defendant.Defendant's driver's license was suspended after he refused to submit to a breath test after he was arrested for driving under the influence. On appeal, Defendant argued that evidence of his test refusal should have been suppressed because of an unlawful encounter with law enforcement officers. The court of appeals affirmed without addressing whether the law enforcement encounter was unlawful. The Supreme Court applied the holding of State v. Jarvis, __ P.3d __ (this day decided), and reversed in part and affirmed in part, holding (1) Defendant may argue that his suspension order is invalid and should be set aside under Kan. Stat. Ann. 8-1020(o)-(q); and (2) the implied consent advisory substantially complied with the applicable statute, and any defects in the statute did not prejudice Defendant. View "Whigham v. Kansas Department of Revenue" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court held that, on judicial review under Kan. Stat. Ann. 8-1020(p) of a hearing officer's order suspending a driver's license, a court may consider any constitutional issue, including the lawfulness of the law enforcement encounter, and that, under section 8-1020(o)-(q), a court may set aside a driver's license suspension order if the driver meets the burden of establishing that the encounter was unlawful.Defendant was arrested for driving under the influence. When Defendant refused to provide a breath sample his driver's license was suspended. A district court judge set aside the suspension based on his determination that the law enforcement encounter was unlawful. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the stop was unlawful and violated Defendant's constitutional rights, and therefore, the district court did not err in setting aside the suspension of Defendant's driver's license. View "Jarvis v. Kansas Department of Revenue" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant's convictions for first-degree murder and battery, holding that there was no reversible error on the part of the district court.After a jury trial, Defendant was found guilty of first-degree murder and battery. The district court imposed a hard fifty sentence for the murder conviction and a concurrent six-month sentence for the battery conviction. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) Defendant's challenges to certain jury instructions were unavailing; (2) several statements made by the prosecutor challenged by Defendant on appeal fell within the broad discretion afforded prosecutors; (3) the trial court did not abuse its discretion in admitting certain evidence; and (4) there was no sentencing error. View "State v. Willis" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law
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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the district court summarily denying Defendant's postsentence motion to modify sentence, holding that no legal avenue existed for the relief requested by Defendant.Defendant was convicted of premeditated first-degree murder and three counts of aggravated assault. The district court sentenced Defendant to a hard forty life sentence on the murder charge and added thirteen additional months in prison for the aggravated assault charges. On appeal, the Supreme Court remanded for resentencing on the murder charge. On remand, Defendant was again sentenced to a hard forty life time for first-degree murder. The Supreme Court affirmed. Defendant later filed a pro se motion seeking to have his hard forty life sentence modified to require no mandatory term of imprisonment, arguing that his sentence violated the Sixth Amendment because the trial judge and not a jury made the factual findings necessary for sentence enhancement. The district judge denied the motion. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Alleyne v. United States, 570 U.S. 99 (2013), and State v. Soto, 322 P.3d 334 (2014), did not operate retroactively to provide a remedy in this case and that Kan. Stat. Ann. 21-6628(c) did not apply. View "State v. Coleman" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law
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In this case about the enforceability about a mortgage clause the Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the court of appeals reversing the decision of the district court dismissing this action, holding that any language in the mortgage agreement between the mortgagor and mortgagee that would give the mortgagee the ability to take possession of the property was unenforceable in light of the Supreme Court's historical interpretation of Kan. Stat. Ann. 58-2301.The mortgage clause at issue granted to the mortgagee/lender the right to immediate and exclusive possession of the mortgaged property upon the event of the mortgagor/borrower's default. In reliance on the clause the mortgagee took possession of the property and filed a foreclosure action. The district court granted judgment in favor of the mortgagee. The mortgagor filed suit, asserting that, before the court order authorized the mortgagee's possession of the property, the mortgagee's possession was wrongful. The district court dismissed the action on the basis of the mortgage remedies provision and the mortgagor's default. The court of appeals reversed, concluding that the mortgagee's reliance on the provisions of executory agreements was unsupported by Kansas law. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that there was no support in state law for the mortgagee's reliance on the provisions of the executory agreements. View "Fairfax Portfolio LLC v. Carojoto LLC" on Justia Law