Articles Posted in Kansas Supreme Court

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In this Kansas Sexually Violent Predator Act (KSVPA) case, Kan. Stat. Ann. 59-29a01 et seq., the Supreme Court remanded Thomas Easterberg's action seeking a petition for writ of habeas corpus, holding that there was a fact question for the district court to resolve in order to determine whether Easterberg's writ should be granted. Easterberg pled guilty to kidnapping and aggravated battery. On the sentencing guidelines journal entry of judgment for these convictions, the district court indicated that Easterberg's crimes were not sexually motivated for purposes of the Kansas Offender Registration Act, Kan. Stat. Ann. 22-4902(c)(14). Thereafter, the Attorney General's Office filed a petition seeking to involuntarily commit Easterberg as a sexually violent predator. Easterberg moved to dismiss the action, arguing that the State had no statutory basis to file the petition for his commitment. The district court denied the motion to dismiss. Easterberg then filed this original action. The Supreme Court remanded this case to the district court for a determination of whether the issue of sexual motivation was litigated in Easterberg's criminal case. If so, the State would be estopped from relegating that point in the KSVPA proceeding and Easterberg would not be eligible for involuntary commitment. If not, the KSVPA proceeding would continue. View "In re Care & Treatment of Easterberg" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant's convictions and sentences, holding that the district court did not err. Defendant was convicted of one count of first-degree premeditated murder and one count of arson. The Supreme Court upheld Defendant's convictions but remanded the case for resentencing of Defendant's hard fifty life sentence. After a resentencing hearing, the court sentenced Defendant to a hard twenty-five life sentence. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the district court did not err in denying Defendant's motion to dismiss at the resentencing hearing; (2) Defendant was barred from raising ineffective assistance of trial and appellate counsel claims for the first time on appeal; (3) the district court did not err in denying Defendant's request for exculpatory evidence; and (4) the district court did not engage in judicial misconduct in denying Defendant's right to allocution. View "State v. Salary" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court denying Defendant's motion for a new trial based on newly discovered evidence, holding that the district court correctly held that the motion was untimely filed. Defendant filed his motion under Kan. Stat. Ann. 22-3501, arguing that newly discovered evidence justified a new trial. The district court denied the motion, concluding that, under section 22-3501(1), the motion was out-of-time. On appeal, Defendant argued that the district court erred in holding that the two-year period in which the motion for a new trial must be filed began from the date the Supreme Court mandate was issued. Rather, Defendant argued that the final judgment was when the district conducted a "remand hearing." The Supreme Court disagreed, holding that the mandate was fully determinative of the issues and therefore rendered the judgment final. View "State v. Phillips" on Justia 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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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