Articles Posted in Kentucky Supreme Court

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the circuit court sentencing him to twenty years’ imprisonment for first-degree robbery, receiving stolen property, and other offenses. The court held (1) the trial court did not err by permitting the victim to make an in-court identification of Defendant; (2) the trial court properly refused to give an instruction for the lesser-included offense of facilitation to first-degree robbery; (3) Defendant’s conviction for receiving stolen property based on a stolen handgun was not manifestly unjust; and (4) the Commonwealth’s questioning of Defendant regarding his violent past did not constitute palpable error. View "Fairley v. Commonwealth" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the court of appeals ruling in favor of Appellee in this prison discipline case and reinstated the trial court’s order denying Appellee’s pro se declaration of rights action in which she argued that the disciplinary proceeding violated her Fourteenth Amendment right to due process. Appellee was disciplined as a result of an injury to a Corrections officer after a fight between Plaintiff and another inmate. The circuit court found that Appellee had received due process. The court of appeals remanded the case to the trial court for further proceedings. The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the court of appeals, holding that Appellee’s procedural due process rights were not violated. View "Warden v. Lawless" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the circuit court convicting Defendant of murder and first-degree arson and sentencing him to two concurrent terms of life imprisonment. Contrary to Defendant’s arguments on appeal, the Supreme Court held (1) Defendant was not entitled to a directed verdict based upon the “inherent unbelievability” of the Commonwealth’s principal witness; (2) because Defendant failed to demonstrate prejudice, the trial court did not err by denying Defendant’s motion for a mistrial based on a news report broadcast by a television station about the trial; and (3) the trial court properly addressed the prosecutor’s improper comment during closing argument. View "Ross v. Commonwealth" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the court of appeals affirming the judgment of the circuit court convicting Defendant of manslaughter in the second degree and tampering with physical evidence. The court held (1) the trial court and the court of appeals erred in their respective applications of the adoptive admission exception to the hearsay rule, leading those tribunals to the erroneous conclusion that Defendant’s silence was an adoptive admission of guilt, but the error was harmless; and (2) the prosecutor improperly explained to the jury the adoptive admission rule, but no manifest injustice resulted from the error. View "Moss v. Commonwealth" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the circuit court affirming the district court’s dismissal of this action filed by Big Sandy Regional Jail Authority against the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government seeking reimbursement for the cost of housing prisoners held pursuant to warrants issued by Fayette County courts. The district court dismissed the case after finding that the Urban County Government was entitled to sovereign immunity. The circuit court affirmed without addressing the issue of sovereign immunity, finding, rather, that the county of arrest controls responsibility for incarceration costs. The Supreme Court affirmed, but on different grounds, holding that the Urban County Government was not responsible for the costs of incarcerating prisoners not in its possession. View "Big Sandy Regional Jail Authority v. Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the circuit court convicting Defendant of robbery in the first degree, first-degree possession of a controlled substance, and use of drug paraphernalia. The court held (1) the trial court did not err in denying Defendant’s motion in liming to exclude eyewitness identification testimony that was not the product of state action; (2) the trial court did not abuse its discretion by denying Defendant’s last-minute motion for a continuance; and (3) the joint trial of Defendant’s robbery and drug-related charges was not prejudicial. View "Jeter v. Commonwealth" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the opinion of the court of appeals affirming the circuit court’s order denying Appellants’ separate motions to suppress evidence. As grounds for their motions, Appellants claimed that law enforcement officers violated the curtilage of their apartment when they entered the back patio enclosure and that the officers lacked any exigencies to enter the apartment and conduct the search. The trial court ruled that the protective sweep exception, the emergency aid exception, and the plain view exception all justified the warrantless search. The court of appeals affirmed on different grounds, concluding that none of the exceptions relied upon by the trial court excused the warrantless search but that a second search was conducted pursuant to Appellants’ valid consents, thus purging the taint of the officers’ initial illegal search. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the officers’ initial warrantless search of Appellants’ apartment was illegal; (2) the officers were unlawfully located on Appellants’ patio when they viewed marijuana baggies; and (3) Appellants’ consent to a subsequent search was not an act of free will sufficient to dissipate the taint of the initial illegal search. View "Pace v. Commonwealth" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the court of appeals affirming the judgment of the trial court finding Appellant guilty of escape and fleeing or evading police and finding him to be a first-degree persistent felony offender. The trial court sentenced Appellant to fifteen years’ in prison. On appeal, the court of appeals rejected Appellant’s argument that the trial court erred in failing to strike a juror for cause. The Supreme Court reversed and remanded the matter to the circuit court for further proceedings, holding that the trial court abused its discretion by denying Appellant’s motion to strike the juror at issue for cause. View "Morrison v. Commonwealth" on Justia Law

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The issue in this case was created by a 2016 amendment of the look-back period in Ky. Rev. Stat. 189A.010, Kentucky’s principal driving under the influence of alcohol (DUI) statute. The amendment increased the look-back period from five years to ten years. In separate prosecutions, Defendants were charged with DUI, fourth offense, for offenses that occurred after the newly-amended version of section 189A.010 became effective. Both defendants had prior convictions for DUI offenses beyond the five-year look-back period of the former law but within the ten-year look-back period of the current law. The circuit court concluded that the convictions exceeding the former five-year look-back period could not be used to elevate the current DUI charges to DUI, fourth offense because doing so would violate contractual rights established in Defendants’ plea agreements. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the trial court erred by excluding Defendants’ 2009 and 2011 offenses from use as enhancing prior DUI convictions because (1) plea agreement contract principles do not bar application of the new rules; and (2) the alternative grounds relied upon by Defendants for affirming the trial court’s decision were unavailing. View "Commonwealth v. Jackson" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the circuit court’s order denying Appellant’s Ky. R. Civ. P. 60.02 motion filed after Appellant was found guilty of three counts of murder, first-degree burglary, and first-degree robbery. In his Rule 60.02 motion, Appellant argued that several of the Commonwealth’s witnesses gave perjured testimony and that the prosecutor committed fraud upon the court. The Supreme Court affirmed the circuit court’s denial of the motion, holding (1) Appellant’s claims of witnesses’ perjury did not entitle him to Rule 60.02 relief because the named witnesses did not commit perjury, and even they had committed perjury, there was no reasonable certainty that the result would have been different; and (2) the prosecutor did not commit fraud, and even if he had, Appellant’s defense was not impeded. View "Meece v. Commonwealth" on Justia Law