Articles Posted in Constitutional Law

by
The Supreme Court affirmed the district court’s denial of Defendant’s motion to suppress drug evidence law enforcement officers discovered after searching a car Kimberly Motley was driving and in which Defendant was a passenger, holding that the facts available to the officers when Motley consented to the search were sufficient to warrant a person of reasonable caution to believe Motley had authority over the passenger floorboard and zipper bag on the floorboard. The search of the passenger floorboard of the car revealed a black zipper bag, inside of which were methamphetamine, marijuana, and drug paraphernalia. The officers later learned the zipper bag belonged to Defendant. Defendant was convicted of possession of drugs and drug paraphernalia. On appeal, Defendant argued that the district court erred in denying her motion to suppress because it was unreasonable for the officers to believe that Motley’s consent extended to the search of the zipper bag. The Supreme Court disagreed, holding that when Motley gave her consent, it was objectively reasonable for the officers to believe Motley had authority over the zipper bag. View "State v. Boggess" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court held that although the Prairie Village Police Department (PVPD) violated Kan. Stat. Ann. 22-2401a(2) when it conducted two controlled buys from J.O., a juvenile, at her residence, the district court did not err when it decided not to suppress the evidence. On appeal, J.O. argued that the district court should have suppressed the evidence because it had found that the PVPD willfully and repeatedly violated section 22-2401a, which generally authorizes city law enforcement officers to act within the city’s limits or on property under the control of the city. The Supreme Court disagreed, holding that the district court properly denied J.O.’s motion to suppress because (1) the district court took other action to deter future violations of the statute; (2) J.O. did not allege a constitutional violation or otherwise state a cognizable injury to her substantial rights; and (3) section 22-2401a did not vest J.O. with an individual right. View "In re J.O." on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the court of appeals affirming Defendant’s convictions for possession of marijuana with intent to sell and failure to pay the Kansas drug tax stamp, holding that there was reasonable suspicion to support the seizure of an intercepted UPS package. Defendant filed a motion to suppress the evidence resulting from the detention of the intercepted UPS package, arguing that law enforcement seized the package in violation of his constitutional rights because reasonable suspicion was lacking where there was nothing unusual about the package’s appearance. The district court denied the motion. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the government had reasonable suspicion to seize the package; and (2) the court of appeals did not err when it held that Defendant had not preserved his argument that the authorities detained his package for an unreasonable length of time. View "State v. Ton" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court held that a law enforcement officer lacked an articulable and reasonable suspicion that the unidentified driver of a car stopped at a traffic stop did not have a valid driver’s license, and therefore, the district court properly granted Defendant’s motion to suppress evidence obtained during the stop. The officer in this case stopped the car because he assumed the driver was the registered owner, whose driver’s license had been revoked. Defendant, the driver, filed a motion to suppress, arguing that the officer lacked a reasonable suspicion of illegal activity when he stopped the car. The district court denied the motion. The court of appeals reversed, holding that reasonable suspicion can arise because an officer may presume the owner is the driver absent contrary information. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the court of appeals’ owner-is-the-driver presumption is invalid because it implicitly requires applying and stacking unstated assumptions that are unreasonable without further factual basis and relieves the State of its burden of proving that the officer had particular and individualized suspicion that the registered owner was driving the vehicle. View "State v. Glover" on Justia Law

by
Defendant had a reasonable expectation of privacy in Alexis Tracy’s apartment at the time the apartment was searched by law enforcement officers, and therefore, Defendant had standing to challenge the search. Law enforcement officers failed to find Defendant in a search of Tracy’s apartment but did find Defendant’s safe, which contained methamphetamine. The State charged Defendant with possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine and no drug tax stamp. Defendant moved to suppress the evidence, arguing that the search exceeded the scope of Tracy’s consent. The district court suppressed the evidence. The court of appeals reversed, concluding that Defendant lacked standing to challenge the search because he was not present at the time of the search and therefore was not a current guest at Tracy’s apartment. The Supreme Court remanded to the court of appeals for further proceedings, holding that Defendant was a welcomed social guest at Tracy’s apartment and did not lose any reasonable expectation of privacy the moment he left the apartment. View "State v. Dannebohm" on Justia Law

by
The law enforcement officer in this case conducted a constitutional search under the United States Supreme Court’s holding in Arizona v. Gant, 556 U.S. 332 (2009), relating to a search-incident-to-lawful-arrest exception in a vehicle context. Defendant sold methamphetamine to a confidential informant (CI). The CI paid for the methamphetamine with $220 cash provided by law enforcement officers who had recorded each bill’s serial number. Defendant entered a nearby apartment and then got in the passenger seat of a car and left. A law enforcement officer pulled over the car. Another officer formally arrested Defendant and searched the car, finding $200 of the recorded money. Defendant moved to suppress the evidence seized in the car search, arguing that the officer conducted an illegal, warrantless search without probable cause or a reasonable basis to believe the money at issue would be in the car rather than the apartment. The district court denied the motion. The court of appeals appealed, concluding that the search fell within the automobile and search-incident-to-lawful-arrest exceptions to the warrant requirement. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that, under Gant, the car was validly searched as a search incident to a lawful arrest. View "State v. Torres" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant’s convictions of aggravated burglary and first-degree felony murder. Defendant was charged with aggravated burglary and first-degree felony murder. A jury convicted Defendant of aggravated burglary but failed to reach a verdict on the felony-murder charge. The jury hung after a second trial. A third jury convicted Defendant of felony murder. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the district judge erred by communicating with jurors, outside Defendant’s presence, during the third trial about notes found in the jury room, but there was no reasonable possibility that the error affected the verdict; (2) the district judge erred by shredding notes found in the jury room without first showing the notes to Defendant and his attorney, but Defendant did not show reversible error; (3) the district judge did not err during the third trial by admitting evidence of Defendant’s interview with law enforcement officers because Defendant voluntarily waived his Miranda rights; (4) the district judge did not err in its response to a jury question asked during the first trial; and (5) reversal was not required under the cumulative error doctrine. View "State v. Walker" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant’s conviction for felony murder, holding that sufficient evidence supported the conviction even where the State charged Defendant as the killer but the trial evidence established that his cousin fired the fatal shot. The Court held (1) because the trial record provided sufficient evidence that Defendant participated in the crime of an aggravated burglary during which an individual was killed, and because the issue of whether Defendant was the triggerman bore no relevance to that determination, a rational factfinder could have found Defendant guilty of felony murder beyond a reasonable doubt; (2) the felony-murder elements instruction was not overly broad; and (3) any alleged error in the felony-murder elements instruction was harmless. View "State v. Robinson" on Justia Law

by
At issue was whether the State’s remedial legislation, the Kansas School Equity and Enhancement Act (KSEEA), enacted by 2017 Senate Bill 19, met the adequacy requirement of Kan. Const. art. VI, 6(b). In Gannon v. State, 402 P.3d 513 (Kan. 2017) (Gannon V), the Supreme Court held that the State had not met its burden of showing that KSEEA met the adequacy and equity requirements of Article 6. The Court stayed its mandate until June 30, 2018 to give the State ample time to satisfactorily demonstrate that its additional remedial legislation brought the K-12 public education financing system into constitutional compliance. Although the State has still not met the adequacy requirement in Article 6, the Court held that the State has corrected the Gannon V constitutional infrmities and created no others. The Court retained jurisdiction and stayed the issuance of today’s mandate until June 30, 2019, or until further order of the court. Therefore, KSEEA will remain in temporary effect. View "Gannon v. State" on Justia Law

by
The district court properly suppressed drug-related evidence discovered in a vehicle search following a traffic stop because the officer improperly prolonged the traffic stop. The district court found the initial traffic stop was lawful and that the stop ended when the officer gave Defendant a warning citation and his documents and told him he was free to leave. The court concluded that a consensual encounter then occurred but ended when the officer told Defendant to sit down inside the police car and that there was no probable cause to justify the vehicle search. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the officer did not have reasonable suspicion to detain Defendant after the traffic stop, and therefore, the State did not meet its burden to show that the challenged seizure was lawful. View "State v. Lowery" on Justia Law