Justia Kansas Supreme Court Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Constitutional Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the court of appeals affirming Defendant's two criminal threat convictions and his domestic battery conviction and reversing Defendant's aggravated assault conviction, holding that, although the Court's reasoning differed from the court of appeals on Defendant's Brady claim, the court of appeals reached the right result. On appeal, Defendant argued that he was entitled to a new trial because the prosecutor had not timely disclosed a disciplinary report of a deputy sheriff involved in the incident. The court of appeals rejected Defendant's Brady argument in part because the prosecutor had not "suppressed" the report. The Supreme Court held (1) although the court of appeals' reasoning was infirm the court properly rejected Defendant's Brady claim because there was no reasonable probability that Defendant would not have been convicted if the report had been produced to the defense earlier; (2) there was no double jeopardy or multiplicity problem regarding Defendant's two convictions of criminal threat; (3) the prosecutor made an improper statement during closing argument, but the error did not contribute to the verdict; and (4) the district judge did not err by refusing to recall the jury or by denying Defendant's related motion for a new trial. View "State v. Hirsh" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the court of appeals reversing the order of the district court suppressing evidence obtained after police officers unconstitutionally detained Defendant, holding that the court of appeals erred in applying the attenuation doctrine under the facts of this case. In suppressing evidence obtained in a search of Defendant the district court concluded that police officers lacked reasonable suspicion to detain Defendant. The court of appeals agreed but determined that the attenuation doctrine applied. Specifically, the court concluded that the officers' discovery of a preexisting arrest warrant after they seized and search Defendant attenuated the taint of the unconstitutional seizure. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the officers' duty to execute the arrest warrant did not attenuate the taint of the unlawful seizure. View "State v. Sanders" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the court of appeals reversing the judgment of the district court suppressing derived from a search because it found that the search resulted directly from a police officer's unconstitutional seizure of Defendant, holding that this case must be remanded to the district court for further findings of fact. Applying the attenuation doctrine factors set forth by the United States Supreme Court, the district court suppressed the evidence at issue. The court of appeals reversed the district court's ultimate decision, finding that an intervening circumstance attenuated the taint of the unlawful seizure and thus did not invalidate the later search. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the district court erred in failing to consider the officer's discovery of an arrest warrant as a circumstance that intervened between the officer's illegal detention of Defendant and his search of her purse after arresting her; and (2) because there remained unanswered questions of fact, the case is remanded for the district court to make the appropriate findings of fact under the correct legal standard. View "State v. Tatro" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the court of appeals affirming Defendant's convictions and sentences, holding that a police officer's discovery of an expired tag on Defendant's vehicle did not present an intervening circumstance that attenuated the taint of the officer's unconstitutional seizure of Defendant. Defendant was unconstitutionally detained by a police officer. Defendant filed a motion to suppress, arguing that officers obtained incriminating evidence as the result of an unlawful seizure. The district court denied the motion. The court of appeals reversed, finding that Defendant's initial seizure was unsupported by reasonable suspicion but that the United States Supreme Court's attenuation doctrine analysis in Utah v. Strieff, 579 U.S. __ (2016), applied to allow the admission of the evidence. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that there was no attenuation of the taint of the illegal seizure, and therefore, the district court erred by denying Defendant's motion to suppress. View "State v. Christian" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the court of appeals affirming the district court's summary denial of Defendant's Kan. Stat. Ann. 60-1507 motion, holding that summary denial of the section 60-1507 motion was appropriate in this case. On appeal, the court of appeals concluded that the district court erred in elying upon the State attorney's written response to Defendant's pro se motion without first appointing counsel for Defendant but that the error was harmless because the record conclusively established the Defendant was not entitled to relief. The Supreme Court affirmed while disagreeing with the court of appeals' resolution of the right to counsel issue, holding (1) the State's filing of a written response, standing alone, did not trigger Defendant's statutory right to counsel; and (2) the substantive claims Defendant raised in his section 60-1507 motion did not warrant relief. View "Stewart v. State" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the court of appeals affirming the judgment of the district court summarily denying Defendant's fourth Kan. Stat. Ann. 60-1507 motion, holding that there was no error in the proceedings below. The district court summarily denied Defendant's fourth motion as untimely, successive, and an abuse of remedy. The court of appeals affirmed, holding that Defendant's motion was barred as successive and an abuse of remedy because Defendant failed to show exceptional circumstances allowing him to raise his claims in his fourth section 60-1507 motion. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the failure to appoint counsel for Defendant did not violate his due process rights; and (2) the court of appeals did not err in affirming the district court's finding that Defendant failed to establish exceptional circumstances to permit a merits review of his successive section 60-1507 motion. View "Dawson v. State" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the district court issuing a permanent injunction preventing enforcement of an ordinance passed by the City of Topeka making it unlawful for any person to sell cigarettes, electronic cigarettes, tobacco products or liquid nicotine to any person under twenty-one years of age or for any person to buy such items for any person under twenty-one years of age, holding that the ordinance is not preempted and does not conflict with the Kansas Cigarette and Tobacco Products Act, Kan. Stat. Ann. 79-3301 et seq. Specifically, the Supreme Court held (1) the ordinance is a constitutionally valid exercise of the City's home rule power under article 12, section 5 of the Kansas Constitution; and (2) the Act does not preempt cities from regulating tobacco products, and the ordinance does not conflict with the Act by imposing greater restrictions. View "DWAGFYS Manufacturing, Inc. v. City of Topeka" on Justia Law

Posted in: Constitutional Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part the decision of a majority of the court of appeals panel reversing in part and affirming in part the district court's decision on Defendant's motion to suppress evidence, holding that neither Defendant's pre-Miranda statement nor his post-Miranda statement were admissible in evidence. The district court found admissible Defendant's pre-Miranda statement that he had marijuana on his person but suppressed Defendant's pre-Miranda statement that he had marijuana in his car. The district court also ruled that Defendant's post-Miranda statements were admissible because at that point Defendant had voluntarily waived his rights. The court then ruled that Defendant's pre-Miranda statement about the marijuana on his person was admissible and that the doctrines of plain view and inevitable discovery applied to the evidence in Defendant's car. The court of appeals set aside Defendant's convictions and ordered a new trial, holding that the district court erred in denying Defendant's motion to suppress his post-Miranda statement as coerced. The Supreme Court reversed in part, holding (1) the pre-Miranda statement Defendant made surrounding his initial pat-down was not admissible as evidence because he was being interrogated in custody at the time; and (2) Defendant's post-Miranda statement was inadmissible due to implied physical violence toward Defendant. View "State v. Guein" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the court of appeals ruling that Petitioner's pro se motion quoting Kansas Rules of Professional Conduct (KRPC) 1.3 did not trigger the district court's duty to inquire into a potential conflict between Petitioner and his appointed attorney, holding that, assuming error, there was no showing of prejudice. Petitioner was charged with two counts of commercial sexual exploitation of a child. The district court determined that Petitioner was indigent and appointed a public defender to represent him. The jury found Defendant guilty of one count of commercial sexual exploitation of a child. Thereafter, Petitioner filed a motion for a new trial, arguing that the district court erred by failing to inquire into his pro se motions voicing dissatisfaction with counsel. The district court denied the motion on the grounds that Petitioner's pro se documents did not convey a request for new counsel. The court of appeals affirmed, concluding that Petitioner's pro se motions quoting KRPC 1.3 did not allege dissatisfaction with counsel. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that, assuming that the district court abused its discretion when it failed to inquire about Petitioner's dissatisfaction with counsel, Petitioner's alleged conflict with counsel did not prejudice Defendant in any way. View "State v. Bacon" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant's convictions of first-degree murder under theories of premeditation and felony murder, attempted first-degree murder, and other offenses, holding that the district court did not err in the proceedings below. Specifically, the Court held (1) the district court did not err in concluding that Defendant was not entitled to a change of venue under Kan. Stat. Ann. 22-2616; and (2) the district court did not violate Defendant's Fifth Amendment rights when it denied Defendant's motion to suppress his confession because Defendant knowingly and intelligently waived his previously invoked right to counsel and because the confession was voluntary. View "State v. Palacio" on Justia Law