Articles Posted in Kentucky Supreme Court

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The Supreme Court vacated Defendant's conviction and twenty-seven-year sentence for the murder of her mother and remanded this case for a new trial, holding that the trial court's application of principles in Ake v. Oklahoma, 470 U.S. 68 (1985), in this case led to errors that entitled Defendant to a new trial. Specifically, the Court held (1) the trial court erred by failing to grant Defendant's request for funds to hire a mental health professional for a defense examination pursuant to Ake and instead ordering that a criminal responsibility examination be conducted by the Kentucky Correctional Psychiatric Center (KCPC); (2) the fruits of the erroneous trial court that resulted in a criminal responsibility report prepared by the KCPC should be excluded upon retrial; and (3) testimony elicited by the Commonwealth KCPC staff member regarding Defendant's appreciation of the consequences of her acts was improper. View "Conley v. Commonwealth" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the court of appeals concluding that the trial court lacked jurisdiction over Defendant's motion for shock probation, holding that the Commonwealth waived its ability to raise that issue on appeal by failing to object during the trial court proceedings. Defendant pled guilty to two counts of distribution of matter portraying a sexual performance by a minor and twenty counts of possession of matter portraying a sexual performance by a minor. While serving his sentence, Defendant filed a motion for shock probation. The Commonwealth did not object to the trial court's exercise of jurisdiction over that motion, and the trial court granted the motion. For the first time on appeal, the Commonwealth argued that the trial court was without jurisdiction to entertain Defendant's motion. The court of appeals agreed and reversed. The Supreme Court reversed and remanded the case, holding that the Commonwealth's issue was not reviewable by the Supreme Court because the Commonwealth never objected to the trial court's exercise of jurisdiction over Defendant's motion. View "Martin v. Commonwealth" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court held that an offender placed on post-incarceration supervision does not receive a constitutionally sufficient final revocation hearing before the Kentucky Parole Board under the current procedures. David Wayne Bailey was convicted of first-degree sexual abuse, and after serving a sentence, was released to a period of post-incarceration supervision (supervision). When Bailey failed to complete sex offender treatment as directed, a final revocation hearing was held. Bailey was not provided notice of the time and place of the hearing, did not have counsel to represent him, and was not able to present witnesses or further testimony on the alleged violations. After the hearing, the Parole Board revoked Bailey's post-incarceration supervision. Bailey filed a petition for a writ of mandamus challenging the Board's procedures on due process grounds. The circuit court dismissed the petition for failure to state a claim. The court of appeals reversed. The Supreme Court (1) affirmed the reversal of the order of dismissal, holding that Bailey's due process rights were violated but that Ky. Rev. Stat. 31.110 does not provide an offender a statutory right to counsel at a revocation hearing; and (2) reversed the appellate court's holding regarding due process requirements and section 31.110. View "Jones v. Bailey" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the ruling of the trial court denying Defendant's motion to suppress blood test results obtained via a court order directing the hospital at which Defendant was treated after an accident to test Defendant's blood for drugs and alcohol, holding that the trial court properly denied Defendant's motion to suppress. Defendant was driving while intoxicated when she struck and killed two pedestrians standing on a sidewalk. After Defendant was transported to the hospital to be treated for minor injuries, the hospital tested Defendant's blood. In her motion to suppress Defendant argued that the testing violated her Fourth Amendment rights because the court order was not a search warrant. The trial court denied the motion, and Defendant pled guilty to second-degree manslaughter. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the court order was for all intents and purposes a valid search warrant and that no violations of Defendant's Fourth Amendment rights occurred. View "Whitlow v. Commonwealth" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the court of appeals concluding that Appellee's aggregate sentence for three separate crimes could be separated into discrete parts and that, after completion of a portion of the sentence he received for a violent offense Appellee was entitled to work credit on the remaining portion of his sentence attributable to nonviolent crimes, holding that a violent offender's aggregate sentence cannot be separated into discrete violent and nonviolent components for the purposes of awarding work-time sentence credit. Appellee was an inmate serving an aggregate sentence for both violent and nonviolent offenses. Appellant initiated an administrative review of his sentence, arguing that because the sentence for his only violent offense had been served, he was entitled to work-time credit. The Department of Corrections denied the credit, concluding that Appellee's total combined sentence was not partition able by offense and, as a violent offender, Appellee was not allowed work-time credit under Ky. Rev. Stat. 197.047. The court of appeals reversed, concluding that Appellee was entitled to work-time credit on his nonviolent offense sentences. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the disallowance of work-time sentence credit to a violent offender in section 197.047 applies to the single, continuous sentence. View "Kentucky Department of Corrections v. Dixon" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the circuit court finding Defendant guilty of multiple counts of sexual abuse and sodomy, holding that the circuit court did not abuse its discretion in the proceedings below. On appeal, Defendant argued that the trial court erred when it allowed the government to present evidence under Ky. R. Evid. 404(b), when it did not allow the defense to present evidence under Ky. R. Evid. 412, and when it allowed Facebook messages into evidence because they were not properly authenticated. The Supreme Court disagreed, holding (1) the trial court did not err in admitting the Rule 404(b) evidence; (2) the trial court did not err when it excluded evidence that one of the alleged victims made prior allegations of sexual misconduct against another person; and (3) any error in the authentication of the Facebook messages was waived by Defendant. View "Leach v. Commonwealth" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the trial court convicting Appellant of four counts of first-degree sodomy and two counts of first-degree sexual abuse and accepting Appellant's Alford plea as to other severed counts and sentencing Appellant to thirty years' imprisonment, holding that there was no reversible error in the proceedings below. Specifically, the Court held (1) the trial court did not abuse its discretion in admitting evidence pursuant to Ky. R. Evid. 404(b); (2) the trial court did not abuse its discretion in denying Appellant's motion for mistrial after a bystander gestured to a witness; and (3) the Commonwealth did not violate Moss. v. Commonwealth, 949 S.W.2d 579 (Ky. 1997) when questioning Appellant. View "Graham v. Commonwealth" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the portion of the trial court’s judgment that contained Defendant’s first-degree murder conviction and affirmed the remainder of the judgment, holding that errors made by the trial court affected the propriety of Defendant’s murder conviction and mandated reversal of this conviction. Defendant was found guilty of first-degree murder, first-degree burglary, second-degree possession of a controlled instance, third-degree possession of a controlled substance, and possession of a controlled substance not in its original container, holding (1) the trial court erred by allowing certain testimony into evidence; (2) the trial court abused its discretion in the handling of the characterization of missing evidence in this case; (3) the trial court did not abused its discretion when it restricted the testimony of Defendant’s false confession expert witness; (4) the trial court erred when it refused to consider certain evidence in determining whether to suppress Defendant’s confession; (5) the trial court erred when it prevented Defendant from testifying about certain out of court statements; and (6) as to all of Defendant’s conviction excluding his first-degree murder conviction, the trial court’s errors were harmless, but as to the murder conviction, they were not harmless. View "Tigue v. Commonwealth" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the circuit court sentencing Defendant to twenty-five years for first-degree robbery, reckless homicide, and tampering with evidence, holding that there was no error in Defendant’s sentencing proceedings. Defendant was initially convicted for several convictions, including first-degree assault. Following the guilt phase of trial, Defendant waived jury sentencing and entered into a plea agreement as to sentencing. The trial court sentenced Defendant to twenty-five years in accordance with the agreement. On appeal, the Supreme Court reversed the first-degree assault conviction. On remand, the trial court again sentenced Defendant to twenty-five years. The Supreme Court affirmed the new sentence, holding (1) by entering a plea agreement, Defendant waived his right to jury sentencing; (2) the plea agreement constituted a contract between Defendant and the Commonwealth, but there were no ambiguities; and (3) the reversal of the assault conviction affected neither Defendant’s total sentence nor his parole eligibility. View "Hammond v. Commonwealth" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the circuit court convicting Defendant of first-degree sodomy, possession of a handgun by a convicted felon, and being a persistent felony offender in the first degree, holding that there was no prejudicial error in the proceedings below. Specifically, the Court held that the trial court (1) did not err by denying Defendant’s motion to suppress the handgun or the victim’s testimony; (2) did not err by applying the protection of the Rape Shield Law to exclude evidence that the victim had previously engaged in prostitution; (3) did not err by allowing evidence that the victim was seventeen at the time the crime was committed; (4) did not err by ruling that the admission of the victim’s age at the time of the offense did not open the door to evidence of the victim’s prior prostitution; (5) erred by refusing to allow Defendant to stipulate that he was a convicted felon, but the error was harmless; and (6) did not err by failing to sever Defendant’s possession of a handgun by a convicted felon charge for a separate trial. View "Ward v. Commonwealth" on Justia Law