Articles Posted in Civil Rights

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Registration for sex offenders mandated by the Kansas Offender Registration Act (KORA) does not constitute punishment under the Ex Post Facto Clause of the United States Constitution. When Appellant was convicted of aggravated indecent liberties with a child, KORA required him to register for ten years. Before Appellant’s registration period expired, the Kansas Legislature amended KORA by adding a tolling provision tolling the registration period of an offender who was imprisoned or noncompliant with KORA. During the decade following his conviction, Appellant was noncompliant for at least four years and two months, and therefore, his registration period was extended. During the extended period, Appellant committed two additional offender registration violations and pleaded guilty to the offender registration violations. Appellant later moved to withdraw his plea because he was not required to register at the time of the alleged violations. The district court denied the motion. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that registration pursuant to KORA for sex offenders is not punishment and that the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying Appellant’s motion to withdraw his plea. View "State v. Reed" on Justia Law

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The Kansas Legislature intended the Kansas Offender Registration Act (KORA) to be a civil, nonpunitive remedial scheme, and therefore, the retroactive imposition of KORA’s fifteen-year registration period on Appellant, as a drug offender, did not violate the Ex Post Facto Clause of the United States Constitution. At the time Appellant committed his qualifying drug offense, KORA required him to register for ten years. Subsequent amendments made to KORA extended Appellant’s registration period to fifteen years. Appellant filed a motion for clarification on the status of his need to register. The district court filed a nunc pro tuna entry of judgment erroneously stating that Appellant’s registration period was for ten years rather than fifteen years. The court of appeals affirmed and remanded the case to the district court to correct the length of registration error. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) KORA registration for sex offenders is not punishment, and therefore, retroactive application of KORA”s tolling provision to sex offenders does not violate the Ex Post Fact Clause; and (2) Appellant was subject to the current fifteen-year registration requirement. View "State v. Meredith" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the court of appeals’ reversal of the judgment of the district court rejecting Defendant’s motion to suppress a gun found on his person during a police patdown, holding that the court of appeals applied the incorrect test to evaluate the reasonable suspicion supporting the frisk of Defendant under Terry v. Ohio, 392 U.S. 1 (1968). Defendant was charged with criminal carrying of a firearm in the lobby of apartments on the campus of Wichita State University. The trial judge denied the motion to suppress, concluding that the patdown was within the scope of Terry because the officers had reasonable suspicion that Defendant was carrying a gun and thus were entitled to search him to ensure officer safety. The court of appeals reversed, concluding that there was no evidence the officers were actually, subjectively concerned for their safety or the safety of others. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the court of appeals applied the incorrect test to evaluate reasonable suspicion supporting the Terry frisk of Defendant. The court remanded the case for reconsideration under the correct legal standard. View "State v. Bannon" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court convicting Defendant of premeditated first-degree murder and sentence of life imprisonment without the possibility of parole for twenty-five years. The court held (1) the State presented sufficient evidence from which a rational jury could find, beyond a reasonable doubt, that Defendant committed premeditated first-degree murder; (2) the prosecutor did not commit reversible error during closing argument; and (3) the district court did not violate Defendant’s right to present a defense by excluding photographs. View "State v. Banks" on Justia Law

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In State v. Cheever, 284 P.3d 1007 (Kan. 2012), the Supreme Court held that Defendant did not waive his privilege against self-incrimination under the Fifth Amendment by presenting a voluntary intoxication defense to capital murder charges. The United States Supreme Court vacated the Kansas Supreme Court’s decision, holding that the rebuttal testimony presented by the State in the form of expert opinion was admissible. On remand, the Kansas Supreme Court addressed whether the testimony the expert gave exceeded the scope of rebuttal allowed by the Fifth Amendment or by Kansas evidentiary rules. The court affirmed Defendant’s convictions and sentences, holding (1) the expert’s testimony did not exceed the proper scope of rebuttal, either constitutionally or under state evidentiary rules; and (2) none of the remaining issues raised on appeal required reversal or remand. View "State v. Cheever" on Justia Law

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In State v. Ryce, 368 P.3d 342 (Kan. 2016), (Ryce I) the Supreme Court held that Kan. Stat. Ann. 8-1025 was facially unconstitutional because it punishes an individual for withdrawing his consent to a search even the right to withdraw consent has been recognized in cases applying the Fourth Amendment to the federal Constitution and section 15 of the Kansas Constitution Bill of Rights. After the court issued its decision in Ryce I, the State filed a motion to stay the mandate until the United States Supreme Court issued its decision in Birchfield v. North Dakota, 579 U.S. __ (2016), which held that warrantless breath tests are reasonable as searches incident to lawful arrest but that blood test may not be administered as a search incident to a lawful arrest for drunk driving. After considering additional arguments and the effect of Birchfield on Ryce I, the court again determined that section 8-1025 is facially unconstitutional and that nothing in the Birchfield decision altered the ultimate basis for Ryce I. View "State v. Ryce" on Justia Law

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Defendant was convicted of 105 counts of sexual exploitation of a child. The convictions stemmed from the police discovering child pornography on Defendant’s computer while investigating the homicide of Defendant’s mother. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the trial court did not err in denying the evidence because it was properly within the scope of various search warrants issued during the homicide investigation; and (2) the district court’s finding that Defendant’s victims were under fourteen years old did not expose him to an increased penalty within the meaning of Apprendi v. New Jersey, 530 U.S. 466 (2000), and therefore, there was no constitutional violation when that fact was found by the court. View "State v. Hachmeister" on Justia Law

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After a bench trial on stipulated facts, Defendant was convicted of first-degree murder, aggravated robbery, aggravated kidnapping, aggravated assault, and criminal possession of a firearm. The Supreme Court affirmed on direct appeal. Thereafter, Defendant filed a pro se Kan. Stat. Ann. 60-1507 motion collaterally attacking his conviction and sentence, alleging that appointed counsel had a conflict of interest and provided deficient representation. The district court denied the motion. The court of appeals affirmed, concluding that Defendant was barred by res juicata from relitigating his claims and that his newly asserted claim of ineffective assistance of counsel failed on the merits. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the court of appeals erred as a matter of law when it determined that Defendant’s ineffective assistance of counsel claim was barred by the doctrine of res judicata because it was not litigated on direct appeal; but (2) the court of appeals correctly held that Defendant’s claim failed on the merits because he could not demonstrate any prejudice. View "Bogguess v. State" on Justia Law

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Defendant was convicted of possession of methamphetamine and possession of drug paraphernalia. Defendant appealed the district court’s denial of his motion to suppress, arguing that the warrantless search of his backpack violated the Fourth Amendment. The district court concluded that the officers did not have probable cause to conduct a warrantless search of Defendant’s backpack but that the evidence was nonetheless admissible because it would have been discovered through a valid inventory search. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that an unconstitutional search occurred and that the State did not prove by a preponderance of the evidence that the contraband would have been inevitably discovered through a valid inventory search of Defendant’s backpack. View "State v. Baker" on Justia Law

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Defendant was found guilty by a jury of first-degree murder, aggravated burglary, and theft. The trial court sentenced Defendant to a hard fifty life sentence for murder. The Supreme Court affirmed the convictions and sentences, holding (1) the district court did not commit reversible error when it excluded evidence of the victim’s other computer dating contacts; (2) the prosecutor did not engage in error during closing argument; (3) the evidence was sufficient to prove the conviction for aggravated burglary; (4) the district court’s limitation of voir dire questioning did not deprive Defendant of his constitutional right to a fair trial; and (5) the State provided Defendant with constitutionally satisfactory notice that it would seek a hard fifty sentence. View "State v. Robinson" on Justia Law