Justia Criminal Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Kansas Supreme Court
by
The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the district court summarily denying Defendant's postsentence motion to modify sentence, holding that no legal avenue existed for the relief requested by Defendant.Defendant was convicted of premeditated first-degree murder and three counts of aggravated assault. The district court sentenced Defendant to a hard forty life sentence on the murder charge and added thirteen additional months in prison for the aggravated assault charges. On appeal, the Supreme Court remanded for resentencing on the murder charge. On remand, Defendant was again sentenced to a hard forty life time for first-degree murder. The Supreme Court affirmed. Defendant later filed a pro se motion seeking to have his hard forty life sentence modified to require no mandatory term of imprisonment, arguing that his sentence violated the Sixth Amendment because the trial judge and not a jury made the factual findings necessary for sentence enhancement. The district judge denied the motion. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Alleyne v. United States, 570 U.S. 99 (2013), and State v. Soto, 322 P.3d 334 (2014), did not operate retroactively to provide a remedy in this case and that Kan. Stat. Ann. 21-6628(c) did not apply. View "State v. Coleman" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court reversed Defendant's conviction of first-degree premeditated murder, holding that the district court erred in not instructing the jury on self-defense and that the error was reversible.At the close of the evidence, Defendant requested jury instructions on self-defense and involuntary manslaughter. The court declined to give the requested instructions, finding that the evidence failed to support either instruction. On appeal, Defendant argued that the district court committed reversible error when it refused to give his requested instructions. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that Defendant's testimony sufficed to make a self-defense instruction factually appropriate and that the district court's error in refusing to give the instruction was reversible. View "State v. Keyes" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the court of appeals reversing Defendant's convictions on two counts of aggravated criminal sodomy, holding that Defendant received deficient representation pretrial and at trial and that Defendant was prejudiced as a result.After Defendant's conviction was affirmed on direct appeal he filed a Kan. Stat. Ann. 60-1507 motion alleging that trial and appellate counsel provided ineffective assistance. The court of appeals concluded that Defendant's counsel had not met the constitutional standard for effective assistance of trial or appellate counsel and that Defendant was prejudiced as a result. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that trial counsel's decision to drop a pretrial challenge to the admissibility of Defendant's incriminating statements and counsel's failure to object to certain evidence being admitted at trial constituted ineffective assistance of counsel. View "Khalil-Alsalaami v. State" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the court of appeals affirming the judgment of the district court ordering Defendant to register as a violent offender under the Kansas Offender Registration Act (KORA), Kan. Stat. Ann. 22-4901 et seq., holding that the district court's notice to Defendant concerning his obligation to register did not violate Defendant's right to due process.Defendant was convicted and sentenced for aggravated burglary. The district court ordered Defendant to register as a violent offender under KORA. On appeal, Defendant argued that the district court's failure to notify him of his registration obligation at the time of his plea and conviction violated his right to procedural due process under the Fourteenth Amendment. The Supreme Court disagreed, holding that the notice provided to Defendant was constitutionally sound and that Defendant was not deprived of his opportunity to be heard. View "State v. Juarez" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the court of appeals reversing Defendant's conviction of one count of criminal threat under Kan. Stat. Ann. 21-5415(a)(1), holding that there was no basis for this Court to discern whether the jury concluded the State had proved beyond a reasonable doubt that Defendant committed criminal threat intentionally.On appeal, the court of appeals concluded that the trial court erred by rejecting defense counsel's proposed jury instruction on workplace defense. The State sought review. While review was pending, the Supreme Court held in State v. Johnson, 450 P.3d 790 (Kan. 2019), that the provision in section 21-5415(a)(1) allowing conviction if a threat of violence was made in reckless disregard for causing fear was unconstitutionally overbroad. The Supreme Court affirmed the court of appeals' judgment as right for the wrong reason, holding that, based on Johnson, Defendant's conviction cannot stand. View "State v. Lindemuth" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant's conviction of felony murder, aggravated assault, felony discharge of a firearm, and aggravated endangering of a child, holding that no reversible error occurred.Defendant was convicted of felony murder based on the underlying inherently dangerous felonies of criminal discharge of a firearm at an occupied dwelling and aggravated endangering of a child. The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant's conviction and sentence for felony murder, holding (1) the underlying felonies supported Defendant's convictions and sentences; and (2) Defendant's claims that the trial judge erred in instructing the jury lacked merit. View "State v. Pattillo" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court convicting Defendant of first-degree premeditated murder, aggravated burglary, and arson, holding that no error required reversal.Specifically, the Supreme Court held (1) the district court judge did not err by refusing to give a voluntary intoxication instruction or a voluntary manslaughter instruction; (2) Defendant failed to preserve for appeal his argument that the district judge erred in admitting a videotaped interrogation of him into evidence because law enforcement agents repeatedly challenged his honesty and truthfulness during that interrogation; and (3) the district judge did not err in refusing to give a cautionary instruction on informant testimony. View "State v. Green" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant's conviction for first-degree premeditated murder, holding that there was no reversible error in the proceedings below.Specifically, the Supreme Court held (1) even if a challenged remark by the prosecutor constituted prosecutorial error, there was no possibility that it contributed to the verdict; (2) the district court did not err in admitting cell tower maps and accompanying testimony; (3) the district court did not commit clear error in failing sua sponte to instruct the jury on intentional second-degree murder as a lesser included offense of premeditated first-degree murder; and (4) the district court's failure to give any lesser included instructions did not violate Defendant's due process rights. View "State v. Timley" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the Court of Appeals reversing the judgment of the district court denying Defendant's motion to suppress drug-related evidence, holding that that the Court of Appeals correctly denied the motion to suppress.Defendant was charged with possession of methamphetamine and possessing drug paraphernalia. Defendant filed a motion to suppress, arguing that she was unlawfully detained. In response, the State argued that the attenuation doctrine legitimized the seizure. The Court of Appeals reversed, holding that the investigatory detention of Defendant exceeded the scope of the initial welfare check. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) where the police officer had no reasonable suspicion that Defendant was committing, had committed, or was about to commit a crime the officer's conduct constituted an unlawful seizure and consequent search; and (2) the facts of this case rendered application of the attenuation doctrine inappropriate. View "State v. Ellis" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant's convictions for first-degree premeditated murder and other crimes, holding that the prosecutor did not err during closing arguments by saying, "The defense has speculated about other peoples [sic] motives, but the State has actually presented evidence."On appeal, Defendant argued that the prosecutor impermissibly shifted the burden of proof from the State to the defense and infringed on his constitutional protections against compulsory self-incrimination. The Supreme Court disagreed, holding that the prosecutor's comments did not offend Defendant's constitutional right to a fair trial and did not fall outside the wide latitude afforded prosecutors to conduct the State's case. View "State v. Martinez" on Justia Law