Articles Posted in Kansas Supreme Court

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After a jury trial, Defendant was convicted of premeditated first-degree murder and sentenced to life imprisonment. On appeal, Defendant argued, among other things, that that two prosecutors who made arguments to the jury misstated the law by suggesting that premeditation could occur after a homicidal act. The Supreme Court affirmed the conviction, holding (1) although the prosecutors misstated the law, it was not reasonably probable that the prosecutors’ misstatements of law affected the outcome of the trial, and therefore, reversal of Defendant’s convictions was not warranted; and (2) the trial judge did not abuse his discretion when he admitted into evidence two jailhouse letters written by Defendant. View "State v. Huddleston" on Justia Law

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Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company issued an automobile insurance policy, which included uninsured motorist coverage, to Melvin Briggs. After Nationwide sent Briggs a notice of nonrenewal of the policy, Briggs was involved in a collision with an uninsured motorist. Briggs's children filed a claim under the Nationwide policy for uninsured motorist benefits, which Nationwide denied. Nationwide subsequently sued Briggs’s children, seeking a declaratory judgment that it had nonrenewed Briggs’s policy before the automobile accident. The U.S. district court granted summary judgment for Nationwide, concluding that it had complied with statutory and policy requirements for notice of nonrenewal. On appeal, the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals certified a question of law to the Kansas Supreme Court, which answered the certified question as follows: Notice to nonrenew an insurance policy that complies with the procedure set out in Kan. Stat. Ann. 40-3118(b) and a consistent provision in the policy itself is sufficient to force a lapse of coverage, regardless of whether a proper substantive basis for nonrenewal exists under Kan. Stat. Ann. 40-276a(a) and consistent policy language. View "Nationwide Mut. Ins. Co. v. Briggs" on Justia Law

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After a jury trial, Defendant was convicted of two counts of aggravated indecent liberties with a child under fourteen years of age. Defendant was sentenced to two concurrent life sentences. Defendant appealed, arguing, among other things, that the evidence was insufficient to support the jury’s verdict that he had the specific intent to arouse or satisfy his sexual desires, the sexual desires of the children, or both. The Supreme Court (1) affirmed the convictions, holding that sufficient evidence supported the finding that Defendant engaged in the lewd fondling or touching of the two children with the specific intent to arouse or satisfy his sexual desires, the desires of the children, or both; but (2) vacated the sentences in part, holding that the sentencing court erred in imposing lifetime postrelease supervision and lifetime electronic monitoring. Remanded. View "State v. Clark" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs filed a wrongful death action against a hospital and its employee after Plaintiffs’ son died from a punctured bowel. The district court dismissed the lawsuit for lack of jurisdiction, concluding (1) the hospital was a municipality as defined by section 12-105a(a); and (2) Plaintiffs failed to comply with the notice requirements under Kan. Stat. Ann. 12-105b(d). The Supreme Court affirmed the district court’s dismissal for lack of jurisdiction, holding (1) compliance with section 12-105b(d) is not achieved when a claimant’s notice fails to provide any statement of monetary damages; (2) the provision in section 12-105b(d) giving a municipality 120 days to investigate and review a claim is a statutory condition precedent to filing a lawsuit, and a claimant’s premature filing of a lawsuit leaves a court without subject matter jurisdiction; and (3) in this case, even if Plaintiffs substantially complied with section 12-105b(d) by providing the hospital with a statement of damages, the district court properly dismissed their case because they prematurely filed it. View "Sleeth v. Sedan City Hosp." on Justia Law

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Defendant appealed his convictions and sentences in two cases. The first case, which was tried to a jury, involved sex offenses against a thirteen-year-old, and the second case arose from an unrelated incident involving burglary and theft that was tried to the bench on stipulated facts while the jury in the first case deliberated. The Supreme Court affirmed the convictions and sentences in both cases, holding (1) prosecutor improperly opined on the credibility of a witness during the trial on the sex crime charges, but the mistake did not require reversal of Defendant’s sex crime convictions; (2) Defendant’s trial counsel did not provide him with ineffective assistance; (3) sufficient evidence supported Defendant’s sex crime convictions; and (4) Defendant’s argument that the district court’s failure to make on-the-record findings on Defendant’s departure motion rendered his sentences in the burglary and theft case illegal was without merit. View "State v. Dull" on Justia Law

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Defendant was convicted of rape in violation of Kan. Stat. Ann. 21-3502(a)(1)(A), which defines rape as sexual intercourse with a person who does not consent to the sexual intercourse under circumstances when “the victim is overcome by force or fear.” On appeal, Defendant argued that the phrase “force or fear” establishes alternative means of committing rape, and because the State failed to present evidence establishing the victim was overcome by fear, there was insufficient evidence to support the rape conviction. The court of appeals affirmed, concluding that the issue of alternative means did not need to be decided definitively in this case because the evidence established that the victim was overcome by both force and fear. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) including the language “force or fear” in the jury instruction on rape did not make this an alternative means case because the phrase “force or fear” merely presents options within a means; and (2) sufficient evidence was presented at trial that the victim was overcome by force when Defendant had nonconsensual sex with him. View "State v. Nunez" on Justia Law

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Appellant was convicted of first-degree murder after he admitted stabbing his mother to death. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) one comment by the prosecutor during closing arguments was improper, but the misconduct did not deny Appellant a fair trial; (2) the district court did not err by refusing to instruct the jury on the lesser included offense of reckless second-degree murder; (3) the district court did not err in excluding evidence about Appellant's auditory hallucinations prior to the killing; (4) the district court did not err in determining for sentencing purposes that Appellant was not “mentally retarded” under Kan. Stat. Ann. 21-4634; and (5) the district court did not err in refusing to commit Appellant to the state security hospital rather than prison. View "State v. Maestas" on Justia Law

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Defendant was convicted of rape, blackmail, and breach of privacy. The court of appeals reversed Defendant’s convictions for rape and breach of privacy, concluding that the evidence was insufficient to support the convictions. The Supreme Court reversed the court of appeals’ decision reversing Defendant’s rape conviction, holding (1) the court of appeals did not err in concluding that the phrase “force or fear” in Kan. Stat. Ann. 21-3502(a)(1)(A) establishes a single means of committing rape; and (2) the court of appeals erred in interpreting the term “fear” and in determining that insufficient evidence was presented at trial to show that the victim did not consent to the sexual intercourse because she was overcome by fear. View "State v. Brooks" on Justia Law

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Bank loaned money to Debtor to purchase a vehicle. The loan was secured by a security interest in the vehicle that was recorded in the Kansas Department of Revenue’s (KDOR) digital records and noted on an electronic certificate of title issued in Debtor’s name. Debtor later defaulted on its loan. That same year, Debtor’s former employer (Company) obtained a money judgment against Debtor in an unrelated action and obtained a court order authorizing the attachment of the vehicle. Purchaser, the sole owner of Company, subsequently purchased the vehicle at auction. Thereafter, Bank filed suit against Company and Purchaser (collectively, Defendants), seeking, among other things, a declaratory judgment that its perfected purchase money security interest was superior to any interests held by Defendants. The district court granted summary judgment for Bank and awarded Bank the proceeds of the sale of the vehicle. The court of appeals affirmed in relevant part. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the court of appeals correctly considered and applied perfection and priority rules under the Uniform Commercial Code to conclude that Purchaser did not take free and clear of Bank’s security interest. View "Stanley Bank v. Parish" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed suit against Doctor and Doctor’s employer (Employer), alleging that Doctor touched her inappropriately and made sexually charged comments during her office visits. Plaintiff settled with Doctor, and the case proceeded against Employer. The district court held that Plaintiff’s claims against Employer were barred by Kan. Stat. Ann. 40-3403(h), which past decisions of the Supreme Court interpreted to cover a covered health care provider’s vicarious liability and any other responsibility, including independent or direct liability, for claims caused by the professional services of another health care provider. The court of appeals affirmed. On appeal, Plaintiff argued that the lower courts erred in relying on the cases interpreting the statute because the cases were wrongly decided, were distinguishable, or had been effectively overruled. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that section 40-3403(h) barred Employer’s liability, and the district court did not err in granting summary judgment. View "Cady v. Schroll" on Justia Law