Articles Posted in Kansas Supreme Court

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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant’s convictions for child abuse and felony murder, holding that the instances of prosecutorial error in this case did not require reversal, either individually or cumulatively. Specifically, the Court held that the prosecutor exceeded the wide latitude afforded to prosecutors on three occasions during closing argument, but the State proved beyond a reasonable doubt that the error did not affect the trial’s outcome in light of the entire record. Further, the Court held that the cumulative effective of the claimed errors did not deprive Defendant of a fair trial. View "State v. Anderson" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the Court of Appeals to dismiss Defendant’s appeal of the district court’s failure to modify his guideline sentence upon revocation of his probation and remanded to the Court of Appeals to reinstate the appeal, holding that the Court of Appeals erred in dismissing the appeal based on an incorrect determination that it lacked jurisdiction. Defendant was convicted of unlawful possession of hydrocodone. About halfway through his probation period, the State filed a motion to revoke Defendant’s probation. Prior to the hearing on that motion, Defendant filed a motion for resentencing upon revocation. The district court revoked probation, denied Defendant’s motion to modify his sentence, and imposed the original underlying sentence. The Court of Appeals dismissed Defendant’s appeal, concluding that it lacked jurisdiction to revise the district court’s decision on probation revocation disposition because the sentence imposed was a presumptive sentence. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the Court of Appeals did have jurisdiction to hear Defendant’s appeal because the district court’s decision to deny Defendant’s motion for modification at that probation revocation hearing, leaving the original presumptive sentence in place, was appealable. View "State v. Weekes" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant’s jury trial convictions for premeditated first-degree murder, attempted premeditated first-degree murder, and other crimes, holding that the error in the proceedings below did not require reversal because Defendant’s right to a fair trial was not violated. On appeal, the Supreme Court identified three instances of prosecutorial error and also found that Defendant’s statutory right to be present at the hearing on his motion in limine was violated and that the district court erred in refusing to redact a video recording of Defendant’s law enforcement interview to remove references to a fifty-year sentence and the statements implying that Defendant had previously been in prison. The Supreme Court held that the errors, both in isolation and cumulatively, did not deprive Defendant of a fair trial. View "State v. Lowery" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant’s conviction of premeditated first-degree murder on retrial and his hard-twenty-five life sentence, holding that Defendant was not prejudiced by any errors so as to deny him a fair trial. In 2005, Defendant was convicted of premeditated first-degree murder. In 2012, the Court of Appeals granted Defendant's motion for postconviction relief and ordered a new trial. Upon retrial, a new jury also convicted Defendant of premeditated first-degree murder. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) Defendant failed to demonstrate that actual prejudice from pretrial publicity mandated a reversal of his conviction; (2) Defendant failed to establish he was prejudiced by the trial court’s denial of his for-cause challenges to ten prospective jurors; (3) any error in the prosecutor’s violation of a limine order prohibiting any mention of pornography was harmless; and (4) Defendant was not substantially prejudiced by the cumulative effect of multiple errors. View "State v. Miller" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court vacated Defendant’s sentence for driving under the influence (DUI) based on two prior convictions for DUI, holding that a prior municipal court conviction for DUI under a Wichita ordinance prohibiting operation of a vehicle under certain circumstances cannot be used to enhance a sentence for a DUI conviction under Kan. Stat. Ann. 8-1567. The Supreme Court already addressed the issue in this case in State v. Gensler, 423 P.3d 488 (Kan. 2018). Here, the Supreme Court held that because the Wichita ordinance prohibits a broader range of conduct than the Kansas statute, Defendant’s prior municipal DUI convictions could not be used for sentencing purposes for her current DUI prosecuted under section 8-1567. The Court remanded this case for resentencing. View "State v. Lamone" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the court of appeals affirming the district court’s modification of its originally ordered period of postrelease supervision after the original term of supervision had ended and vacated Defendant’s sentence, holding that Defendant was entitled to be discharged from custody. The Court held that because the original sentence had been completely served when the district court purported to correct Defendant’s sentence, the imposition of a new sentence was precluded by the double jeopardy provisions of the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution and section 10 of the Kansas Constitution Bill of Rights. The Court remanded this case with directions to discharge Defendant. View "State v. Lehman" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the court of appeals affirming the district court’s revocation of Defendant’s probation and order to serve his underlying prison sentence, holding that the district court failed to follow the applicable statutory provisions governing probation revocation. On appeal, Defendant argued that the district court erred in applying the intermediate sanctions to his second probation violation and that the court of appeals erred in determining that the district court had made the particularized findings required to permit it to bypass intermediate sanctions under Kan. Stat. Ann. 22-3716. The Supreme Court agreed, holding that the record reflected a failure to set forth the reasons an intermediate sanction would have been a public safety issue or contrary to Defendant’s welfare. The Court remanded the matter for a new dispositional hearing to comply with section 22-3716. View "State v. Clapp" on Justia Law

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At issue was the legal limits of a district judge’s sentencing power after probation revocation. The Supreme Court held in this appeal and in a similar case decided today, State v. Sandoval, __ P.3d __ (this day decided), that (1) after revoking a criminal defendant’s probation, a district judge may choose to sentence anew, even if some aspect of the original sentence was illegal due to a failure to match a mandatory statutory minimum; and (2) if a new sentence is pronounced from the bench after probation revocation, the original illegality no longer exists and, therefore, the new sentence is not subject to correction or challenge under Kan. Stat. Ann. 22-3504. View "State v. Roth" on Justia Law

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At issue was the legal limits of a district judge’s sentencing power after probation revocation. The Supreme Court held in this appeal and in a similar case decided today, State v. Roth, __ P.3d __, that (1) after revoking a criminal defendant’s probation, a district judge may choose to sentence anew, even if some aspect of the original sentence was illegal due to a failure to match a mandatory statutory minimum; and (2) in the alternative, a judge may require the defendant simply to serve the original sentence. The Court further held (1) if a new sentence is pronounced from the bench after probation revocation, the original illegality no longer exists and, therefore, the new sentence is not subject to correction or challenge under Kan. Stat. Ann. 22-3504; and (2) if the judge, in the alternative, requires the defendant to serve the original sentence, any original illegality continues to exist and is subject to correction or challenge under section 22-3504. View "State v. Sandoval" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court vacated Defendant’s hard twenty-five life sentence specified by Jessica’s Law under Kan. Stat. Ann. 21-6627, holding that the district court abused its discretion by relying on factual determinations not properly established by an evidentiary record. This was Defendant’s second appeal from a denial of his motion for downward departure from his hard twenty-five life sentence. The district court here denied the motion after concluding that the asserted mitigating circumstances did not justify departure. The court based its reasoning in part on information gathered from a probable cause affidavit filed by the State with the initial complaint and from unsworn statements made by the victim’s family at sentencing. The Supreme Court vacated the sentence, holding that the district court abused its discretion by relying on factual determinations not properly established by an evidentiary record. View "State v. Atkisson" on Justia Law