Articles Posted in Kansas Supreme Court

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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

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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

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The Supreme Court reversed the portion of the court of appeals’ decision holding that relevant statutes required that the district court impose certain expenses as “court costs” but affirmed the portion of the decision affirming the district court’s order taxing Appellant for those expenses as court costs, holding that the statutes here authorized the district court to tax appellant for the disputed expenses but did not mandate the imposition of the expenses. Appellant pleaded no contest to one count of second-degree murder. Thereafter, the State requested that the district court order Appellant to reimburse the State for witnesses expenses and trial exhibits. The district court ordered Appellant to pay all of the fees and expenses requested by the State. On appeal, Appellant argued that the district court had no authority to tax him for the trial exhibit expenses. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court held (1) the expenses the State incurred in preparing the trial exhibits were properly taxable as court costs; but (2) the court of appeals erred in concluding that the district court was mandated to assess these expenses against Appellant. View "State v. Alvarez" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant’s sentences for capital murder and other felonies and vacated the Board of Indigents’ Defense Services (BIDS) fee imposed on Defendant, holding that the district judge erred by failing explicitly to consider Defendant’s financial resources when he assessed the BIDS fee. During trial, because he was indigent, Defendant was appointed to a public defender. At sentencing, the district judge assessed a $1,000 BIDS fee against Defendant. Defendant appealed, arguing, among other things, that the district court improperly failed to consider, on the record, his ability to pay the BIDS fee assessed against him. The Supreme Court agreed and remanded this case for reconsideration of that fee, holding (1) the district judge did not follow the proper procedure in assessing the BIDS fees against Defendant; and (2) the district court did not abuse its discretion in imposing on-grid sentences consecutive to Defendant’s sentence of life imprisonment without the possibility of parole. View "State v. Ayers" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the district court’s denial of Appellant’s postconviction motion to compel discovery, holding that Kan. Stat. Ann. 60-237 did not authorize the relief Appellant sought. Appellant was convicted of capital murder and sentenced to life imprisonment without parole plus 247 additional months. Appellant later filed a pro se “motion to compel exculpatory discovery” pursuant to section 60-237, arguing that the State had withheld “Brady/Giglio” information. The district court denied the motion in part because it concluded that Appellant had not cited authority for relief. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that nothing in the statute permits a postconviction motion to compel discovery in a criminal case. View "State v. Robinson" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the district court’s summary denial of Appellant’s motion to correct an illegal sentence, holding that this motion was not the appropriate procedural vehicle for Appellant to raise his claim. Appellant filed his motion to correct an illegal sentence approximately nineteen years after he was convicted of second-degree murder. In his motion, Appellant argued that his sentence of life imprisonment with a mandatory ten-year term violated the Eighth Amendment because he was under the age of eighteen when he committed the crime. The district court summarily denied the motion. The Supreme Court affirmed, thus declining to overrule long-established caselaw codified into statute that a motion to correct an illegal sentence cannot raise claims that the sentence violates a constitutional provision. View "State v. Samuel" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the court of appeals affirming the district court’s denial of Defendant’s motion to suppress the fruits of a vehicle search, holding that the general search of Defendant’s vehicle was an unconstitutional warrantless search. The vehicle Defendant was driving was stopped by a law enforcement officer to investigate whether the vehicle had any connection to a recent bank robbery. After seizing a digital scale from the back seat, the officer searched the vehicle. After a second trial, Defendant was convicted of possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed and remanded the matter for a new trial, holding (1) the search of the box that contained the digital scale retrieved from the vehicle’s back seat was unlawful, and the district court erred in refusing to suppress the evidence of the digital scale; and (2) the district court erred in finding that the automobile exception to the warrant requirement applied to the search of the entire vehicle in this case. View "State v. Doelz" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the Court of Appeals holding that the trial court abused its discretion in not granting Defendant a new trial because of the State’s exercise of a peremptory strike that removed an individual with a Spanish surname from the jury panel, holding that Defendant failed to establish that the trial court abused its discretion in denying Defendant’s motion for new trial. The district court determined that the state had a race-neutral reason for striking the potential juror. Because one of the State’s reasons was race-neutral, the district court denied Defendant’s objection to the State’s peremptory strike. After Defendant was convicted, the Court of Appeals determined that the circumstances showed the peremptory strike was not race-neutral. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the trial court properly found that the State honestly believed the factual basis it first offered as the reason for its strike and that the reason was not a pretext. Therefore, Defendant failed to meet his burden of establishing that the State exercised its peremptory strikes based on purposeful racial discrimination. View "State v. Gonzalez-Sandoval" on Justia Law