Articles Posted in Constitutional 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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The district court erred when it refused Defendant’s initial pretrial request for a new attorney without any inquiry, and the presiding judge erred in making on-the-record observations about Defendant’s interactions with his attorney when Defendant was not present, but the errors were harmless. Defendant was convicted of felony murder and aggravated robbery. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the district court abused its discretion by cutting off any dialogue after being told that Defendant wanted to move for new counsel and objected to any further proceedings, but the error was harmless; (2) Defendant’s constitutional and statutory rights were violated when the judge made the on-the-record remarks, but the error did not require reversal; and (3) the felony murder instruction appropriately stated the law. View "State v. McDaniel" 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

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A jury convicted Defendant of two alternative counts of capital murder based on either the rape or the kidnapping of eight-year-old A.I., an alternative count of premeditated first-degree murder, and rape. The Supreme Court affirmed the district court’s judgment with the exception of Defendant’s rape conviction, which the court reversed. The court held (1) there was sufficient evidence to support the jury’s determination that Defendant premeditated A.I.’s killing; (2) prosecutorial error in closing argument did not require reversal; (3) the district court did not err in denying Defendant’s motion to suppress his confession; (4) there was no error in the omission of additional unanimity language in the jury instructions; and (5) because rape is an element of Defendant’s conviction for capital murder, he is punished for it to the extent the capital conviction stands. View "State v. Davis" on Justia Law

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After a jury trial, Defendant was convicted of distribution of methamphetamine. Defendant appealed, arguing that an audio recording of a nontestifying informant’s statements were improperly admitted into evidence because the informant’s statements were testimonial and thus violated Defendant’s right to confront witnesses under the Sixth Amendment and Crawford v. Washington. The Court of Appeals affirmed, concluding that, under the circumstances, the informant’s statements were not testimonial in nature. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the informant’s statements qualified as testimonial, but the error in admitting the informant’s testimonial evidence was harmless. View "State v. Williams" on Justia Law

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Adam Pener was the trustee and personal representative of a trust and estate that owned property condemned by the Kansas Department of Transportation for a highway improvement project. The district court found the damages from the taking were $295,702. Defendant appealed, arguing (1) the district court gave insufficient weight to the replacement value for a fence and to a comparable sale when it calculated the property’s value, and (2) the district court should have awarded him attorney fees and expenses. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the compensation award was supported by substantial evidence; and (2) the district court did not err in denying attorney fees and expenses. View "Pener v. King" on Justia Law

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Defendant was charged with driving under the influence and unlawful exhibition of speed. Defendant moved to suppress the evidence of his driving under the influence, arguing that the officer lacked reasonable suspicion to conduct the traffic stop. The district court denied the motion and convicted Defendant. The court of appeals reversed, concluding (1) Kan. Stat. Ann. 8-1565, which prohibits an unlawful “exhibition of speed or acceleration,” was unconstitutionally vague and indefinite, and the good faith exception was inapplicable; and (2) alternatively, the officer lacked reasonable suspicion to conduct a traffic stop. The Supreme Court (1) affirmed the court of appeals’ decision that the district court erroneously denied the motion to suppress on the grounds that reasonable suspicion did not exist to conduct the traffic stop; (2) summarily vacated the court of appeals’ determination that section 8-1565 is unconstitutionally vague as applied to Defendant; and (3) reversed Defendant’s convictions and vacated his sentences and fines. View "State v. Sharp" on Justia Law

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After a jury trial, Defendant was convicted of first-degree premeditated murder, aggravated kidnapping, and aggravated robbery. The district court imposed a hard fifty sentence for first-degree murder under Kan. Stat. Ann. 21-4635 without fact-finding by the jury. The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant’s convictions but vacated his hard fifty sentence, holding that Defendant was sentenced in violation of the Sixth Amendment because the district court, rather than the jury, found the existence of aggravating factors by a preponderance of the evidence, rather than beyond a reasonable doubt, in violation of Alleyne v. United States. Remanded for resentencing. View "State v. Mattox" on Justia Law