Articles Posted in Criminal Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the summary denial of Appellant’s motion to correct illegal sentence, holding that Appellant’s motion to correct illegal sentence was without merit. Appellant was sentenced to a hard twenty-five life sentence after pleading no contest to rape of a child under the age of fourteen. Several years later, Appellant filed a pro se motion to correct illegal sentence. The district court judge dismissed the motion without holding a hearing. On appeal, Appellant conceded that summary denial of his motion was appropriate but that he was nevertheless entitled to relief. For the first time, Appellant argued that the handling of his pre-plea competency issue deprived the district court of jurisdiction to sentence him. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that a motion to correct illegal sentence was an improper vehicle for Appellant’s new challenge. View "State v. Roberts" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court convicting Defendant of first-degree murder and aggravated assault for stabbing her ten-year-old son to death while suffering from a psychotic episode, holding that there was one instance of prosecutorial error in this case, but it was harmless. On appeal, Defendant challenged the jury instructions concerning her mental disease or defect disease, alleged several instances of prosecutorial error, and claimed that cumulative error warranted reversal of her convictions. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) Defendant failed to establish instructional error because the instructions did not prevent the jury from considering how Defendant’s mental disease or defect otherwise affected her ability to premeditate; (2) the single instance of prosecutorial error was harmless; and (3) the single error in this case was insufficient to support reversal under the cumulative effect rule. View "State v. Blansett" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the court of appeals affirming Defendant’s convictions, holding that the district court did not clearly err by failing to instruct on voluntary intoxication in determining Defendant’s guilt on charges of criminal trespass and interference with law enforcement. On appeal, the court of appeals concluded that a voluntary intoxication instruction was not legally appropriate for the criminal trespass and interference with law enforcement charges. The Supreme Court affirmed but on different grounds, holding (1) it was error for the judge not to instruct on voluntary intoxication as a potential defense with respect to both crimes; but (2) the judge’s error in failing to give the voluntary intoxication instruction did not rise to clear error. View "State v. Murrin" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the district court denying Defendant’s motion to withdraw his plea, holding that the district court did not abuse its discretion. Defendant into an agreement with the State to plead no contest to felony murder. Defendant later moved to withdraw his plea, asserting that he was innocent of the crime to which he had pleaded guilty and that he was pressured by the time deadlines to enter into the plea. The district court denied the motion after reviewing the factors set forth in State v. Edgar, 127 P.3d 986 (2006), and finding that none of them supported allowing Defendant to withdraw his plea. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that there was no abuse of discretion in denying Defendant’s motion to withdraw his plea. View "State v. Woodring" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Supreme Court vacated Defendant’s sentence imposed on remand after a successful criminal appeal, holding that Defendant’s due process rights were violated when he received more prison time upon resentencing. Defendant was originally sentenced to 360 months’ imprisonment after pleading no contest to one count of aggravated sodomy. The court of appeals vacated Defendant’s sentence on appeal. On remand, the same judge sentenced Defendant to 372 months of imprisonment. The court of appeals affirmed the longer sentence, concluding that no presumption of vindictiveness applied. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that twelve months of Defendant’s prison term was an artifact of his success on his first appeal. View "State v. Brown" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the court of appeals affirming Matthew Cone’s involuntary commitment under the Kansas Sexually Violent Predator Act (SVPA), Kan. Stat. Ann. 59-29a01 et seq., holding that there was no error or abuse of discretion in the proceedings. On appeal, Cone asserted that the district court abused its discretion in finding that the Static-99R and Static-2002R actuarial tools used to estimate sex offenders’ risk of reoffending met the Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, Inc., 509 U.S. 579 (1993), standard for admissibility of expert testimony and that the evidence was insufficient to support the jury’s verdict that he was a sexually violent predator under the SVPA. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the district court did not err in admitting the results of the Static-99R test and Static-2002R test as meeting the reliability standard under Daubert; and (2) there was sufficient evidence to support the jury’s verdict. View "In re Care & Treatment of Cone video" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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In this appeal to the Supreme Court after a remand to the district court for a hearing to determine whether Defendant was denied his Sixth Amendment right to counsel, the Supreme Court affirmed Defendant’s convictions for sex crimes, holding that Defendant received effective assistance of counsel and that cumulative errors did not require reversal. The Supreme Court remanded the case for a hearing under State v. Van Cleave, 716 P.2d 580 (1986), to determine whether Defendant was denied effective assistance of counsel either because his trial counsel was not constitutionally conflict-free or was not constitutionally competent. The district court found that Defendant was not prejudiced by defense counsel’s actions relating to a potential exculpatory witness. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) Defendant failed to establish that any conflict adversely affected his attorney’s performance; and (2) Defendant failed to meet his burden of establishing that his attorney’s performance with regard to the potential exculpatory witness was deficient. View "State v. Moyer" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the district court denying Defendant’s motion for a new trial and sustained the portion of the State’s cross-appeal arguing that Defendant’s crimes were not statutorily eligible for DNA testing, holding that Defendant was not entitled to a new trial and was not entitled to DNA testing under Kan. Stat. Ann. 21-2512(a). Defendant was convicted of aggravated robbery and aggravated assault. Years later the district court granted Defendant’s motion for DNA testing under section 21-2512. Defendant subsequently filed a motion for a new trial, claiming that the DNA test results would have changed the original trial’s outcome. The district court denied relief, and the court of appeals affirmed. Defendant appealed, and the State cross-appealed. The Supreme Court held (1) the district court did not abuse its discretion in determining that the test results would not have changed the original trial’s outcome; (2) Defendant was in state custody for purposes of section 21-2512(a; and (3) Defendant was not entitled to DNA testing under section 21-2512(a) based on the punishment imposed for his convicted offenses, and State v. Cheeks, 310 P.3d 346 (2013), is overruled to the extent it served as the district court’s basis for its order. View "State v. LaPointe" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the district court denying Defendant’s motion to correct an illegal sentence, holding that the motion was not the appropriate procedural vehicle to raise the constitutional claim. Defendant was convicted of aggravated kidnapping and sentenced to life with the possibility of parole. Defendant later filed his motion to correct an illegal sentence, arguing that his sentence violated the Eighth Amendment because he was only sixteen years old when he committed the crimes. The district court summarily denied the motion, reasoning that it had not jurisdiction to consider the claim in a motion to correct illegal sentence under Kan. Stat. Ann. 22-3504(1). The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Defendant’s constitutional claims did not implicate the sentencing court’s jurisdiction. View "State v. Donahue" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed in part and vacated in part the decision of the district court granting Defendant’s motion to correct an illegal sentence but then modifying the duration and concurrent nature of one of Defendant’s legal, nonbase sentences, holding that the district court may only correct the illegal sentences. Following Defendant’s motion to correct an illegal sentence, the district court found that one of Defendant’s multiple sentences was illegal. The court proceeded to modify Defendant’s unchallenged sentences. The Supreme Court reversed and remanded for resentencing, that the district court did not have the authority at resentencing to modify the original legal sentences but did have the authority to modify the original illegal sentences. View "State v. Jamerson" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law