Articles Posted in Constitutional Law

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Defendant, who was convicted of drug offenses committed in 2010, challenged the 2011 amendments to the Kansas Offender Registration Act (KORA), arguing that the requirement that she register was illegal because the retroactive imposition of registration requirements ran afoul of the Ex Post Facto Clause of the United States Constitution. The court of appeals held that the duty to register is a civil penalty, not punitive, and therefore, retroactive application of the amendments to drug offenders did not violate the Ex Post Facto Clause. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Defendant was unable to satisfy the “clearest proof” standard because the record below was not sufficiently developed. View "State v. Hill" on Justia Law

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Defendant was convicted of failing to register and placed on supervised probation. The State later moved to revoke Defendant’s probation. Prior to the revocation hearing, Defendant filed a motion to correct his underlying sentence for a felony drug conviction. Defendant argued in part that because he had not been required to register under the Kansas Offender Registration Act (KORA) at the time of his drug conviction, his sentence for failing to register was illegal because the retroactive imposition of registration requirements ran afoul of the Ex Post Facto Clause of the United States Constitution. The district court denied the motion. The court of appeals affirmed the district court’s denial of the motion to correct illegal sentence. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the lower courts had jurisdiction to hear and consider Defendant’s motion as a motion to correct an illegal sentence, but (2) because Defendant’s motion advanced no meritorious argument demonstrating that his sentence was illegal, his claim failed on the merits. View "State v. Kilpatrick" on Justia Law

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Defendant, who challenged the registration requirements of the Kansas Offender Registration Act (KORA) as applied to drug offenders, was unable to satisfy the “clearest proof” standard because the record had not been sufficiently developed. Defendant pled no contest to one count of distribution of cocaine. By the time Defendant was released from prison, the legislature had changed KORA by lowering the time an offender must register upon change of residence from ten days to three days. Defendant was subsequently charged with failing to timely update his registration. A jury convicted Defendant of violating KORA for failing to report a change of residence within three business days. On appeal, Defendant argued that applying the KORA amendments to him violated the Ex Post Facto Clause of the United States Constitution. The court of appeals affirmed, concluding that registration is not punishment, and therefore, the amendments could be applied retroactively to Defendant. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Defendant failed to satisfy the clearest proof standard to override legislative intent and transform what has been denominated a civil remedy into a criminal penalty. View "State v. Burdick" on Justia Law

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Defendant pleaded guilty to one count of possession with intent to sell, deliver, or distribute methamphetamine. Before Defendant entered his plea, the legislature amended the Kansas Offender Registration Act (KORA), raising the time Defendant was required to register as a drug offender from ten years to fifteen years. The district court imposed a fifteen-year registration period, finding that the amendments applied retroactively. The court of appeals affirmed. Defendant appealed, arguing that retroactively applying the amendments to him violated the Ex Post Facto Clause. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Defendant was unable to satisfy the “clearest proof” standard because the record had not been sufficiently developed. View "State v. Hirschberg" on Justia Law

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Based on the record below, Defendant was unable to establish that the effect of the registration requirements set forth by the Kansas Offender Registration Act (KORA) constitute punishment. Defendant pleaded guilty to robbery and aggravated burglary. The district court ordered Defendant to register as a violent offender under KORA after finding that he used a deadly weapon to commit those offenses. Defendant appealed, arguing that the registration requirement violated the Booker/Apprendi rule because the jury did not find beyond a reasonable doubt that he used a deadly weapon. The court of appeals rejected Defendant’s Apprendi claims. The Supreme Court affirmed the registration order, holding (1) because there was no evidentiary basis supporting Defendant’s argument that KORA requirements are punishment as applied to violent offenders, the court could not conduct the appropriate analysis to determine KORA’s alleged punitive effects on violent offenders such as Defendant; and (2) because the registration requirements did not increase Defendant’s punishment under the law of this case, it was not necessary that Defendant’s use of a deadly weapon be found by a jury. View "State v. Huey" on Justia Law

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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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While Defendant was imprisoned for drug offenses, the legislature amended the Kansas Offender Registration Act (KORA) by adding certain drug offenders, such as Defendant, to the list of those required to register. After Defendant was released from prison, he pled no contest to one count of failing to register. The district court subsequently revoked, reinstated, and extended Defendant’s probation multiple times. When the State moved to revoke Defendant’s probation a fourth time, Defendant filed a motion to correct his underlying sentence for failing to register, arguing that because he had not been required to register at the time of his drug conviction, his subsequent sentence was illegal. The court of appeals held that it did not have jurisdiction to consider Defendant’s ex post facto claim because “the definition of an illegal sentence does not include a claim that the sentence violates a constitutional provision.” The Supreme Court affirmed the outcome below, albeit for different reasons, holding (1) according to the court’s decisions in State v. Wood, 393 P.3d 631 (2017), and State v. Reese, 393 P.3d 599 (2017), the lower courts had jurisdiction to hear and consider Defendant’s motion as a motion to correct an illegal sentence; but (2) Defendant’s claim failed on the merits. View "State v. Kilpatrick" 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