Articles Posted in Constitutional Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decisions of the district court and court of appeals ruling that a search of Defendant’s van, which resulted in the discovery of drugs and a meth pipe, was not in violation of Defendant’s Fourth Amendment rights. Specifically, the Court held that the district court properly denied Defendant’s motion to suppress because assuming, without deciding, that the initial encounter became an investigatory detention, it was supported by reasonable suspicion and was therefore legal, and Defendant’s consent to the search during that time was not tainted. View "State v. Hanke" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the district court’s order that Appellant comply with the Kansas Offender Registration Act (KORA), Kan. Stat. Ann. 22-4901 et seq., holding that the court made the requisite finding on the record that a deadly weapon was used in Appellant’s commission of the person felony for which he was convicted, and the court’s failure to inform Appellant about his registration obligations at the time of conviction was error, but the error was harmless. Appellant pleaded no contest to aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. When convicted, Appellant was not informed of his duty to register. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) based on Kan. Stat. Ann. 22-3602(a), this Court had jurisdiction to decide if Appellant’s registration responsibilities were invalid because Appellant was not challenging his conviction on appeal; (2) because Appellant was convicted of a person felony and the court found he used a deadly weapon, which was supported by the record, Appellant was a violent offender subject to KORA’s registration requirements; and (3) the court’s failure to notify Appellant of his duty to register at the time of his conviction did not excuse Appellant’s KORA registration obligations. View "State v. Marinelli" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the court of appeals’ sua sponte dismissal of Appellant’s appeal from the requirement that he register under the Kansas Offender Registration Act (KORA), Kan. Stat. Ann. 22-4901 et seq., for his lifetime. Appellant pleaded no contest to kidnapping, aggravated kidnapping, and aggravated burglary. At the time of his crimes KORA required ten years’ registration. Statutory amendments between Appellant’s crimes and his plea, however, expanded the requirement to lifetime registration. On appeal, Appellant argued for the first time that his lifetime registration violated the Ex Post Facto Clause of the federal Constitution. The court of appeals held that Appellant’s merits arguments could not be raised for the first time on appeal because they involved both factual and legal matters. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Appellant’s petition for review failed to challenge the lower court’s rulings upon which dismissal was based, and therefore, Appellant was not entitled to relief. View "State v. Pewenofkit" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant’s convictions for multiple counts of rape and aggravated criminal sodomy and one count of aggravated robbery and sentence of 570 months’ imprisonment, holding that there was no reversible constitutional or statutory violations. During trial, the district court admitted law enforcement’s video recording of Defendant in the interrogation room. The recordings were not played for the jury in open court, but the jury was permitted to take the exhibits into the jury room during deliberations. On appeal, Defendant argued that the way the district court handled the video recording violated his constitutional and statutory rights to be present at all critical stages of his trial and his constitutional right to a public trial with an impartial judge. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Defendant did not establish reversible constitutional or statutory error under the law in effect when his crimes were committed. View "State v. Sullivan" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed Defendant’s convictions for two counts of premeditated first-degree murder. The Court held (1) sufficient evidence existed such that a rational fact-finder could have found Defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt of the two murders; (2) the prosecutor committed misconduct by falsely claiming that one of the victims got a protection from abuse order against Defendant from the district court, and this error prejudiced Defendant’s due process right to a fair trial and required reversal; and (3) the prosecutor committed other errors in arguments to the jury and by disobeying a court order. The Court remanded this case to the district court for further proceedings. View "State v. Chandler" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed its holding in State v. Guder, 267 P.3d 751 (Kan. 2012), that the statutory changes to sentencing in the Kansas Sentencing Guidelines Act, Kan. Stat. Ann. 21-4701 et seq. (KSGA), abrogated the common law authority of district courts to modify any sentences that were not vacated on appeal. Defendant’s sentence for his premeditated first-degree murder conviction was held unconstitutional and vacated on appeal. On remand, the district court imposed a hard twenty-five life sentence for that conviction and ran it consecutive to his sentences for his two on-grid crimes. For those crimes, the district court changed Defendant’s two nonvacated sentences in length and sentence. On appeal, Defendant asserted that Guder, together with the KSGA, barred the district court from resentencing on any nonvacated counts. The Supreme Court declined the State’s request to overrule Guder and vacated Defendant’s sentence, holding that, barring the need to alter a nonvacated sentence as a matter of law, the district court may only modify the vacated sentence. The court remanded this case for resentencing. View "State v. Warren" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant’s conviction for unintentional second-degree murder for shooting and killing his friend while they celebrated New Year’s Eve. The Court held (1) contrary to Defendant’s assertion, the statute defining unintentional second-degree murder is not unconstitutionally vague; (2) the evidence supported the jury’s finding that Defendant acted under circumstances manifesting extreme indifference to the value of human life; (3) the district court’s procedure when answering a jury question did not violate Defendant’s right to be present at every critical stage of the trial, and the court’s answer to the question was not an abuse of discretion; and (4) the court’s failure to give a limiting instruction about certain evidence was not in error. View "State v. Gonzalez" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant’s conviction for unintentional second-degree murder for shooting and killing his friend while they celebrated New Year’s Eve. The Court held (1) contrary to Defendant’s assertion, the statute defining unintentional second-degree murder is not unconstitutionally vague; (2) the evidence supported the jury’s finding that Defendant acted under circumstances manifesting extreme indifference to the value of human life; (3) the district court’s procedure when answering a jury question did not violate Defendant’s right to be present at every critical stage of the trial, and the court’s answer to the question was not an abuse of discretion; and (4) the court’s failure to give a limiting instruction about certain evidence was not in error. View "State v. Gonzalez" on Justia Law

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The district court incorrectly sentenced Defendant by misclassifying a 2007 Michigan home invasion conviction as a person felony when calculating Defendant’s criminal history score under the revised Kansas Sentencing Guidelines Act. Defendant was convicted of criminal possession of a firearm and theft. The sentencing court imposed a sentence of eighteen months’ imprisonment. The court of appeals affirmed, holding (1) the prosecutor committed two errors during closing argument, but the errors were harmless; and (2) the district court correctly classified the Michigan conviction as a person felony. The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant’s convictions but vacated his sentence, holding (1) the prosecutorial error in closing argument was harmless; but (2) the Michigan conviction must be scored as a nonperson felony because the Michigan home invasion was not comparable to the Kansas offense of burglary of a dwelling as it existed when Defendant committed the crimes in this case. View "State v. Sturgis" on Justia Law

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The district court erred in holding Defendant in contempt of court for invoking his constitutional right to remain silent. Defendant was convicted of aggravated robbery and sentenced to an eighty-three-month prison sentence. After his trial was completed, the State subpoenaed Defendant to be a witness at a codefendant’s murder trial. The State granted Defendant use immunity for his testimony, and the trial judge ordered Defendant to testify in the codefendant’s trial. Defendant, however, refused the judge’s order to testify. After the codefendant was convicted, a different judge held Defendant in contempt for failing to comply with the order of the court “to appear and testify under oath as a witness.” The judge then found Defendant guilty of direct criminal contempt and sentenced him to 108 months' imprisonment. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the use immunity granted to Defendant was not coextensive with Defendant’s constitutional right against self-incrimination, and therefore, the judge’s order compelling Defendant’s testimony at his codefendant’s trial violated Defendant’s constitutional right against self-incrimination and was unlawful; and (2) the ensuing order finding Defendant in direct contempt of court for refusing to testify was likewise unlawful. View "State v. Delacruz" on Justia Law