Articles Posted in Kansas Supreme Court

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The Supreme Court affirmed the order denying Appellant's motion for postconviction relief without an evidentiary hearing, holding that the district court did not abuse its discretion in imposing consecutive, rather than concurrent, sentences. Defendant pleaded guilty to first-degree felony murder, attempted aggravated kidnapping, and aggravated robbery. The trial court imposed a life sentence with the possibility of parole after twenty-five years for the felony murder conviction and 100 months' imprisonment for the attempted aggravated kidnapping, ordering it to run consecutive to Defendant's sentence for felony murder. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that, under the circumstances of this case, this district court did not abuse its discretion in imposing consecutive, rather than concurrent, sentences under Kan. Stat. Ann. 21-6819(b). View "State v. Darrah" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant's conviction for first-degree felony murder, holding that there was sufficient evidence to support the conviction. Defendant was convicted of first-degree felony murder after a jury trial and sentenced to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole for fifteen years. On appeal, Defendant argued that the evidence showed he had consensual sex with the victim and then left before any alleged robbery, kidnapping, or murder occurred. Therefore, he argued, the State failed to offer sufficient evidence to support any of the underlying felonies. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that there was sufficient evidence to support the convictions. View "State v. Rucker" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant's convictions of first-degree murder under theories of premeditation and felony murder, attempted first-degree murder, and other offenses, holding that the district court did not err in the proceedings below. Specifically, the Court held (1) the district court did not err in concluding that Defendant was not entitled to a change of venue under Kan. Stat. Ann. 22-2616; and (2) the district court did not violate Defendant's Fifth Amendment rights when it denied Defendant's motion to suppress his confession because Defendant knowingly and intelligently waived his previously invoked right to counsel and because the confession was voluntary. View "State v. Palacio" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the court of appeals affirming the judgment of the district court denying Defendant's motion to correct an illegal sentence, holding that Defendant's sentence, which was legal when it was imposed, was not illegal due to subsequent changes in the law. Defendant pleaded guilty to one count of attempted rape. At sentencing, the district court determined that Defendant had a criminal history score of B in part due to a prior California robbery conviction, which the Kansas court classified as a person felony. Defendant later filed a motion to correct an illegal sentence, arguing that the district court incorrectly calculated his criminal history score by classifying his California conviction as a person felony contrary to recent changes in the law. The district court denied the motion. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that where Defendant's sentence was legal when it was pronounced, it was not illegal because the law subsequently changed. View "State v. Newton" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the court of appeals affirming the judgment of the district court denying Defendant's motion to suppress evidence on the ground that incriminating evidence was obtained as the result of an unlawful seizure, holding that officers unlawfully detained Defendant and conducted an illegal search. Defendant was seated in a car lawfully parked in an apartment complex parking lot when two officers approached the car. Defendant's hands were clenched and held in front of him, and one officer commanded Defendant to open his hand. Defendant opened his hand and dropped a small bag of cocaine. Defendant moved to suppress the evidence, but the district court denied the motion, finding that the encounter was voluntary. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed and remanded for further proceedings, holding that the detention was unlawful because the officer lacked reasonable suspicion of criminal activity to detain Defendant, and therefore, the evidence obtained as a result must be suppressed because it was tainted by an unlawful seizure. View "State v. Andrade-Reyes" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the court of appeals ruling that the district court's error in denying Defendant's request for an instruction on imperfect self-defense voluntary manslaughter was harmless, holding that the error was reversible because there was a reasonable probability that it affected the trial's outcome. Defendant, who had schizophrenia, killed a man who entered his apartment to exterminate bugs because he felt irrationally threatened by the victim. At issue during trial was whether Defendant's mental condition precluded him from forming a culpable mental state. The jury found Defendant guilty of reckless second-degree murder. The court of appeals affirmed, holding that the district court erred when it failed to give a voluntary manslaughter instruction - an intentional killing done with the unreasonable but honest belief that circumstances existed justifying the deadly force - but that the instructional error was harmless under the so-called "skip rule." The Supreme Court reversed and remanded for a new trial, holding that the trial court's error in failing to give an imperfect self-defense voluntary manslaughter instruction was reversible because the jury could have reasonably convicted Defendant of voluntary manslaughter. View "State v. Barrett" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the district court's denial of Defendant's motion to correct an illegal sentence, holding that the sentencing court properly classified Defendant's 1976 Michigan conviction as a person crime in accordance with State v. Murdock, 439 P.3d 307 (Kan. 2019). Defendant pleaded guilty to a 2007 attempted robbery. A presentence investigation (PSI) revealed that Defendant had two prior convictions - a 1976 Michigan conviction for assault with intent to commit criminal sexual conduct and a 1979 Michigan conviction for criminal sexual conduct. The previous convictions were scored as person felonies, giving Defendant a criminal history score of B. In 2014, Defendant filed his motion to correct an illegal sentence, arguing that both Michigan convictions should have been scored as nonperson felonies based on recent changes in law. The district court denied the motion. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed in accordance with Murdock, which holds that a sentence that was legal when pronounced does not become illegal if the law subsequently changes. View "State v. Weber" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the court of appeals majority's decisions to reverse the district judge's decision to suppress evidence and appropriate instructions for her further action on remand but altered the court's instructions to match those suggested in the dissent, holding that when a district judge's legal ruling in favor of the defense on a motion to suppress is infected with an obviously incorrect assessment of the State's evidence that is equivalent to an arbitrary disregard of a portion of the evidence, the district judge should have another change to review the record and explain himself or herself. Defendant was charged with drug related offenses. Defendant filed a motion to suppress the evidence, which the district court granted. A majority of the reviewing court of appeals panel reversed and remanded with instructions to deny the motion to suppress. Dissenting Judge Thomas E. Malone concurred in the reversal and remand but argued that the district judge should be permitted to reconsider the motion with a corrected understanding of the evidence before her. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district judge should not be directed to deny Defendant's motion but to reconsider it in light of a corrected understanding of the evidence before her. View "State v. Douglas" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed in part and vacated in part the sentence imposed by the district court in connection with Defendant's no contest plea to felony murder, aggravated assault, and criminal possession of a firearm, holding that the sentencing judge lacked jurisdiction to set restitution later and that there were aspects of Defendant's sentence that were ambiguous and illegal. Specifically, the Supreme Court affirmed Defendant's consecutive sentences on his convictions for felony murder and aggravated kidnapping, vacated the portions of the district court's judgment and nunc pro tunc order indicating restitution will be imposed at a later date and imposing post release supervision on Defendant's hard twenty-five life sentence, and affirmed the district court's order that Defendant's criminal possession sentence be served concurrently with his sentences for felony murder, aggravated kidnapping, and aggravated assault, holding that the district court erred as regard to certain aspects of Defendant's sentencing. View "State v. Johnson" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the court of appeals affirming the judgment of the district court summarily dismissing Defendant's pro se motion for jail credit, holding that the lower courts correctly concluded that they lacked jurisdiction to consider Defendant's motion. On appeal, Defendant argued that the district court and appellate courts had jurisdiction under the nunc pro tunc provision in Kan. Stat. Ann. 22-3504(2), which states that clerical mistakes in judgments or other parts of the record may corrected by the court at any time. The Supreme Court held (1) the words "at any time" generally means that Kansas courts have jurisdiction to determine whether a clerical error occurred even after the time for an appeal has passed, which means courts can consider Defendant's motion; but (2) Defendant failed to meet his burden to set forth facts supporting an allegation that a clerical error occurred. View "State v. Smith" on Justia Law