Justia Kansas Supreme Court Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Criminal Law
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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court judge denying Defendant's motion for a new trial on the basis of DNA testing results, holding that the district judge did not abuse her discretion by concluding that there was no "reasonable probability" the DNA results would have changed the original trial's outcome. Defendant was convicted of first-degree murder, conspiracy to possess with intent to sell hallucinogenic drugs, and aggravated robbery. Approximately a dozen years later, Defendant filed a request for DNA testing on some items found at the crime scene. The district judge granted the request. Defendant filed a motion to set aside his conviction or grant him a new trial in light of the DNA test results. The district judge denied the motion, concluding that the new DNA evidence was "not reasonably probable to lead to a jury reaching a different result." The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district judge did not abuse her discretion in denying relief. View "State v. Edwards" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law
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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant's convictions for first-degree felony murder, criminal discharge of a firearm, aggravated battery, and criminal threat, holding that any error during the proceedings below was harmless. On appeal, Defendant argued that the district court erred by (1) declining to give his proffered instruction clarifying the definition of aiding and abetting, and (2) erred in granting the State's motion to consolidate his charges for trial. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) any possible error in failing to give Defendant's requested jury instruction on aiding and abetting was harmless; and (2) the district court did not abuse its discretion in consolidating Defendant's charges for trial. View "State v. Carter" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law
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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant's convictions for, among other things, possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute and possession of oxycodone, holding that the trial court's admission of Kan. Stat. Ann. 60-455 was evidence was not error and that sufficient evidence supported Defendant's possession of oxycodone conviction. On appeal, Defendant argued (1) the trial court erred in admitting section 60-455 evidence related to two prior methamphetamine sales to undercover detectives approximately one week before his arrest, (2) the trial court clearly erred in instructing the jury on possession of oxycodone, and (3) his conviction for possession of oxycodone was supported by insufficient evidence. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the district court did not err in admitting the prior crimes evidence; (2) invited error precluded Defendant's jury instruction claim; and (3) sufficient evidence supported Defendant's conviction for possession of oxycodone. View "State v. Brazzle" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law
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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant's grid-sentence, holding that, under two of this Court's recent opinions, Defendant failed to establish that the district court imposed an illegal sentence for purposes of Kan. Stat. Ann. 22-3504. In 1999, Defendant was convicted of capital murder, aggravated robbery, aggravated burglary, and two counts of felony theft. The district court imposed a hard forty sentence for Defendant's capital murder conviction, an off-grid crime, and to upward departure sentences on the grid crimes. The Supreme Court vacated Defendant's upward durational departure sentences for his grid crimes under Apprendi v. New Jersey, 530 U.S. 466 (2000) and resentenced Defendant. Defendant later filed a motion to correct na illegal sentence challenging his hard forty sentence. The district court denied the motion. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that State v. Murdock, 439 P.3d 307 (Kan. 2019), and State v. Weber, 442 P.3d 1044 (Kan. 2019), foreclosed Defendant's challenge. View "State v. Bradford" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law
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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant's convictions of child abuse and felony murder with the underlying felony of child abuse but vacated the imposition of lifetime postrelease supervision, holding that the trial court did not err in convicting Defendant but erred in imposing lifetime postrelease supervision. Specifically, the Court held (1) the evidence provided sufficient proof to show that Defendant's action was knowingly done and cruel as required by Kan. Stat. Ann. 21-5602(a)(3); (2) the court did not err in instructing the jury "If you have no reasonable doubt as to the truth of each of the claims required to be proved by the State, you should find the defendant guilty"; and (3) the court improperly ordered lifetime postrelease supervision. View "State v. Gibson" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law
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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant's convictions for driving under the influence and illegal transportation of liquor, holding that "manifest necessity" is the correct measure for declaring a jury deadlocked under the United States Supreme Court's double jeopardy caselaw when the defendant does not object or consent to the mistrial. Defendant's first trial ended in a mistrial without Defendant's consent because of a jury deadlock. After a second jury trial, Defendant was convicted. Defendant appealed, arguing (1) his second trial violated his constitutional right against double jeopardy, and (2) the jury instruction on the State's burden of proof improperly discouraged the jury from exercising its nullification power. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) when a trial sua sponte declares a jury deadlocked and orders a mistrial when the defendant does not object or consent to the mistrial, retrial should be permitted only when there was a manifest necessity for the court's action, and the holding in State v. Graham, 83 P.3d 143 (Kan. 2004), to the contrary is overruled; (2) the district court properly declared a mistrial under the circumstances of this case based on the manifest necessity standard; and (3) Defendant's jury instruction challenge is rejected. View "State v. Kornelson" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law
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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant's convictions for first-degree murder, attempted distribution of a controlled substance, attempted aggravated robbery, aggravated assault, and criminal possession of a firearm, holding that any error resulting from the district court's exclusion of certain testimony was harmless. Specifically, the Supreme Court held (1) Defendant's convictions were not multiplicitous; (2) Defendant's argument that the State committed prosecutorial error when it made certain comments during its cross-examination of a certain witness was in essence an evidentiary question not properly preserved for appeal; (3) the district court's error in upholding a witness's invocation of his Fifth Amendment privilege and excluding his testimony, if any, was harmless; and (4) the cumulative doctrine did not apply. View "State v. George" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant's convictions of several sex offenses involving two children but vacated the district court's order of lifetime postrelease supervision, holding that the district court erred in ordering two different forms of supervision once Defendant finishes serving his prison sentence. Defendant was convicted of five counts of aggravated criminal sodomy, one count of rape, and other sexual offenses. Defendant was sentenced to a term of imprisonment and to two supervision terms - lifetime parole for Defendant's off-grid offenses and lifetime postrelease supervision for his on-grid crime. On appeal, Defendant argued that the district court abused its discretion by allowing the jury to hear evidence that he had sexually abused three other children. The Supreme Court disagreed, holding (1) the risk of undue prejudice did not substantially outweigh the probative value of the evidence; and (2) the district court's imposition of lifetime postrelease supervision must be vacated. View "State v. Satchell" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law
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The Supreme Court reversed the order of the court of appeals dismissing as moot Appellant's appeal from the revocation of his probation following an out-of-state arrest, holding that the court of appeals erred in relying on the Kansas Adult Supervised Population Electronic Repository (KASPER) as evidence to find that Appellant had completed his sentence. On appeal, Appellant argued that the district court improperly relied on hearsay testimony to support probation revocation in violation of his due process rights. The court of appeals dismissed the case as moot, relying on a KASPER printout and the State's description of an alleged phone call confirming the KASPER information to find that Appellant had been released from custody. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the court of appeals erred to the extent that it relied on KASPER and the State's hearsay assertions; and (2) based on State v. Roat, __ P.3d __ (No. 113.531, this day decided), before dismissing a case as moot, a court must exercise caution and give due consideration to any assertion of affected rights. View "State v. Yazell" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law
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The Supreme Court remanded this case to the court of appeals for consideration of State v. Roat, __ P.3d __ (No. 113,531, this day decided), holding that because the court of appeals did not have the advantage of Roat when it dismissed Defendant's appeal as moot, remand was required. In 2013, Defendant pleaded no contest to one count of criminal threat and two counts of assault against the victim. The district court later revoked Defendant's probation. While Defendant was serving his second round of probation, he committed acts that led to his later conviction for criminal threat. Defendant later filed Kan. Stat. Ann. 60-1507 motion, which the court summarily dismissed. Defendant appealed, characterizing his original motion as both a section 60-1507 motion and a motion to correct an illegal sentence. The court of appeals dismissed the appeal as moot because Defendant had completed his sentence. The Supreme Court remanded the case, holding that, under Roat, the completion of a sentence does not necessarily render a case moot, and courts must carefully analyze whether dismissal would affect an asserted right. View "State v. Ward" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law