Articles Posted in Kansas Supreme Court

by
After a jury trial, Defendant was convicted of more than sixty offenses, including two counts of first-degree murder. Defendant was sentenced to life imprisonment plus 123 to 355 years. The Supreme Court affirmed. Defendant subsequently filed several motions for postconviction relief, including a motion for a new trial, which was the subject of this appeal. The district court summarily dismissed Defendant's motion, which was filed sixteen years after his convictions, as successive and untimely. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the motion for a new trial was untimely, and therefore, the district court did not abuse its discretion in summarily dismissing the motion. View "State v. Holt" on Justia Law

by
After a jury trial, Defendant was convicted of possession of marijuana, possession of marijuana with no tax stamp affixed, and possession of drug paraphernalia. The court of appeals affirmed Defendant's convictions, concluding, among other things, that Defendant's convictions of possession of marijuana and possession of marijuana with no tax stamp were not multiplicitous. The Supreme Court reversed Defendant's conviction for possession of marijuana, holding that Defendant's convictions of possession of marijuana and possession of marijuana with no tax stamp violated Kan. Stat. Ann 21-3107(2)(b)'s prohibition against a person being convicted of both a greater and a lesser crime. View "State v. Hensley" on Justia Law

by
Iron Mound, LLC and ASC Group, LLC entered into an operating agreement for the creation of ASC Midwest, LLC. Neuterra Healthcare Management, LLC was the successor-in-interest to the ASC Group. After ASC Midwest was dissolved, Iron Mound brought this breach of contract action against Nueterra, alleging that under the operating agreement, Iron Mound was entitled to receive a percentage of the gross fees earned by Nueterra under a management agreement entered into after the operating agreement had expired. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of Nueterra. The court of appeals reversed. The Supreme Court reversed the court of appeals and affirmed the district court, holding that the unambiguous terms of the operating agreement rendered it inapplicable to the fees received by Nueterra under the management agreement. View "Iron Mound, LLC v. Nueterra Healthcare Mgmt., LLC" on Justia Law

by
The taxpayers in this case were out-of-state natural gas marketing companies, out-of-state local distribution companies that were certified as public utilities in their states, and out-of-state municipalities. Each taxpayer bought natural gas from producers or other marketers then delivered it to pipelines under contracts allowing the taxpayers to withdraw equivalent amounts of gas at a later time from out-of-state distribution points. The taxpayers filed requests for ad valorem tax exemption, claiming the natural gas was exempt under Kan. Const. art. 11, 1, which exempts merchants' inventory from ad valorem taxation but does not exempt tangible personal property owned by a public utility. The Kansas Court of Tax Appeals determined the natural gas was not exempt because the taxpayers were public utilities pursuant to Kan. Stat. Ann. 79-5a01. The Supreme Court held (1) the taxation at issue did not violate the Commerce Clause or the Due Process Clause of the U.S. Constitution; (2) section 79-5a01 was constitutional as applied to the out-of-state local distribution companies; but (3) section 79-5a01 was unconstitutional as applied to the out-of-state natural gas marketing companies and those taxpayers that were out-of-state municipalities because those entities were not public utilities under the meaning of the statute. View "In re Property Valuation Appeals of Various Applicants" on Justia Law

by
After Defendant was charged with rape and other crimes, the district court appointed an attorney from the public defender's office to represent Defendant. The appointed attorney subsequently filed three motions to withdraw as Defendant's counsel. The first two motions were due to conflicts of interest. The district court forced defense counsel to represent Defendant at trial, after which the attorney/client relationship deteriorated to the point that all communication ceased. After the jury convicted Defendant of all charges but before sentencing, defense counsel filed a third motion to withdraw on the ground of prejudice and bias. The district court ordered the conflicted attorney to continue representing Defendant. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the district court's complete disregard for Defendant's right to effective assistance of counsel during his criminal prosecution was reversible error. Remanded. View "State v. Stovall" on Justia Law

by
Defendant pled guilty to possession of cocaine, and, after a jury trial, was convicted of criminal threat and theft. Defendant filed a motion for a downward durational and dispositional departure. After a sentencing hearing, the district court concluded that substantial and compelling reasons justified a departure from the sentencing guidelines for Defendant's conviction for cocaine possession but refused to depart from the sentence on Defendant's remaining convictions. The court of appeals panel vacated the departure sentence. The Supreme Court reversed the panel's decision and affirmed the district court's departure sentence, holding that substantial competent evidence supported at least two of the mitigating factors found by the district court and that those factors, when considered together, constituted substantial and compelling reasons to depart. View "State v. Bird" on Justia Law

by
Plaintiffs were two Kansas residents who entered into an agreement with an out-of-state limited liability company (LLC) to assist them in managing their consumer debt and in dealing with their creditors. Plaintiffs brought an action against the LLC, its managing member, and other entities in federal court for alleged violations of the Kansas Credit Services Organization Act (KCSOA) and the Kansas Consumer Protection Act (KCPA). The U.S. district court certified two questions to the Kansas Supreme Court regarding the application of KCSOA and KCPA to attorneys and law firms. The Supreme Court answered by holding (1) If an attorney who is licensed to practice law in Kansas and who is acting within the course and scope of his or her practice is exempt from the provisions of the KCSOA, the attorney's law firm is also exempt; and (2) attorneys are not inherently exempt from the reach of the KCPA by virtue of the doctrine of separation of powers, but certain statutory remedies may be unconstitutional if they encroach on the traditional exclusive powers of the court, especially the powers relating to issuing and regulating the license to practice law. View "Hays v. Ruther" on Justia Law

by
After a jury trial, Defendant was convicted of several offenses, including the crime of forgery in violation of Kan. Stat. Ann. 21-3710(a)(2). Defendant appealed his forgery conviction, which was based upon his attempt to cash a $350 check at CheckSmart. Defendant argued that the terms "issuing or delivering" in section 21-3710(a)(2) established alternative means of committing forgery and that the State did not present sufficient evidence that Defendant issued the forged check. The court of appeals upheld the forgery conviction. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the legislature did not intend to create alternative means of committing forgery, and consequently, the State did not have to present evidence that Defendant both issued the check and delivered the check; and (2) the substantial competent evidence that established that Defendant delivered a fraudulent check knowingly and with intent to defraud was sufficient to support Defendant's forgery conviction. View "State v. Foster" on Justia Law

by
After a jury trial, Defendant was convicted of first-degree murder, arson, and aggravated burglary. On appeal, Defendant unsuccessfully challenged the district judge's denial of his motion to suppress a videotape of his interview with law enforcement. Defendant subsequently filed several motions, including a motion to correct an illegal sentence, raising issues related to the use of his statements to law enforcement. A later motion was also entitled motion to correct illegal sentence and contained arguments similar to those Defendant raised earlier. The motions were denied by the district court. Defendant appealed the summary denial of his motion to correct an illegal sentence. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the lack of an evidentiary hearing below did not preclude the Court's meaningful review; and (2) res judicata applied in this case. View "State v. Robertson" on Justia Law

by
After a jury trial, Defendant was convicted of capital murder for the intentional and premeditated killing of Rachel Dennis in the commission of, or subsequent to the commission of, attempted rape. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding, among other things, that (1) the prosecutor did not commit reversible misconduct by commenting on the defense expert's compensation or in drawing inferences from forensic evidence during closing argument; (2) the trial judge did not err in allowing the prosecution to introduce evidence of Defendant's prior, premarital sexual relationship because the evidence was relevant, not prohibited by Kan. Stat. Ann. 60-447, and not unduly prejudicial; (3) the trial judge did not err in admitting opinion testimony of a lay witness regarding Defendant's state of mind; and (4) sufficient evidence supported Defendant's conviction. View "State v. Lowrance" on Justia Law