Justia Civil Rights Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Kansas Supreme Court
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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant's conviction of identity theft, holding that an employee can commit identity theft by using the social security number of another to deceive an employer and induce the employer to rely on the deception and provide employment and its benefits.Defendant's conviction arose from allegations that he was using the social security number of someone else with the intent to defraud his employer so he could receive a benefit. Defendant appealed, arguing that there was insufficient evidence to support his conviction and that the identity theft statute is unconstitutionally vague. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the evidence was sufficient to support the conviction; and (2) the identity theft statute is not unconstitutionally vague. View "State v. Valdiviezo-Martinez" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the court of appeals reversing the judgment of the district court denying Defendant's motion filed under Kan. Stat. Ann. 60-1507 seeking a new trial based on allegations of ineffective assistance of both trial and appellate counsel, holding that Defendant was not entitled to relief on his claims.Defendant was convicted of two counts of aggravated criminal sodomy. His conviction was affirmed on direct appeal. Thereafter, Defendant brought this motion seeking a new trial based on allegations of ineffective assistance of both his trial counsel and appellate counsel. The district court denied the motion. The court of appeals reversed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the district court's findings of fact were supported by substantial competent evidence; (2) the findings of fact supported the district court's legal conclusion; and (3) Defendant received effective assistance of counsel during both his trial and during appellate proceedings. View "Khalil-Alsalaami v. State" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant's conviction for premeditated first-degree murder, along with his hard fifty sentence, holding that there was no reversible error.Specifically, the Supreme Court held (1) the district court did not err by telling the venire that the trial was "not a capital punishment case"; (2) the jury instruction on aiding and abetting was both legally and factually appropriate, and therefore, there was no error in submitting this instruction to the jury; (3) the prosecutor committed error in several portions of closing arguments, but the errors did not require reversal, either individually or cumulatively; and (4) the district court did not abuse its discretion by refusing to depart from the presumptive hard fifty sentence. View "State v. Blevins" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed in part and dismissed in part Defendant's convictions of first-degree felony murder, aggravated kidnapping, abuse of a child, aggravated endangering a child, aggravated assault, and criminal damage to property, holding that Defendant was not entitled to relief on his claims of error.Specifically, the Supreme Court held (1) the district court did not err in providing to the jury Instruction No. 15, the jury instruction on aggravated kidnapping with intent to facilitate a crime; (2) Instruction No. 9, the aiding and abetting instruction, did not misstate the law, was legally appropriate, and was constitutional; (3) Defendant's argument that his convictions for felony murder and aggravated child endangerment must be reversed because his convictions for those crimes were logically impossible was without merit; (4) Defendant's constitutional challenge to Kan. Stat. Ann. 22-2302(c) was without merit; (5) assuming without deciding that the prosecutor erred in saying that the victim's eyes were gone, the error was harmless; and (6) Defendant's challenge to the constitutionality of Kan. Stat. Ann. 21-5408(a)(3) is dismissed for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. View "State v. Bodine" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the court of appeals affirming the ruling of the district court granting Defendant's motion to suppress the fruits of a vehicle search conducted by the Kansas Highway Patrol, holding that the suppression motion was improperly granted.The vehicle search in this case was based on a drug dog alert that occurred following a highway patrol trooper's processing of Defendant's traffic offense. The district court concluded that the duration of Defendant's detention to await the drug dog was unlawful and excessive. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the trooper acted diligently under the circumstances; and (2) the continued detention was not excessive or unlawful. View "State v. Arrizabalaga" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant's conviction on multiple drug charges, holding that the district court did not err in denying Defendant's motion to suppress drug evidence seized during a traffic stop.At issue on appeal was whether the arresting officer had the requisite reasonable suspicion to extend the traffic stop to ask questions about two items that were hanging out of a partially opened safe on the rear floorboard of the vehicle Defendant was driving. In denying Defendant's motion to suppress the district court found that the officer had reasonable suspicion to extend the traffic stop. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that, viewing the totality of the circumstances, the court of appeals properly concluded that the law enforcement officers had reasonable suspicion that criminal activity was afoot. View "State v. Cash" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the district court denying Defendant's motion to withdraw his guilty plea to first-degree murder, holding that the district court did not abuse its discretion when it found that Defendant failed to establish good cause and denied his motion to withdraw plea.In his motion to withdraw his plea, Defendant argued that his counsel was ineffective for failing to investigate a voluntary intoxication theory of defense because Defendant had told counsel that he was on antidepressants at the time of the murder. The trial court denied the motion, finding counsel's investigation of Defendant's medication legally sufficient to support a finding of competent representation. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court did not abuse its discretion. View "State v. Barber" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the court of appeals holding that no exceptions extended the statutory speedy trial period in this case and that Defendant must be discharged from liability on the charges against him, holding that the State violated Defendant's statutory speedy trial rights.Defendant was charged with premeditated first-degree murder and two counts of attempted first-degree murder. The State did not bring Defendant to trial until 153 days after his arraignment. After he was convicted, Defendant appealed, arguing that the State violated his statutory right to a speedy trial. The Supreme Court agreed and reversed Defendant's convictions, holding that, under Kan. Stat. Ann. 22-3402(a), Defendant's right to a speedy trial was violated. View "State v. Queen" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court reversing Defendant's conviction of aggravated battery, rape, and aggravated kidnapping on the grounds that a conflict of interest existed between Defendant and his counsel that adversely affected the representation.In his Kan. Stat. Ann. 60-1507 motion for relief from his convictions Defendant argued that his counsel had a personal and financial conflict of interest that adversely affected his performance in Defendant's case. The district court agreed and set aside Defendant's convictions without determining whether prejudice resulted from the conflict of interest. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Defendant's convictions must be reversed based on the financial conflict of interest of his trial counsel. View "Ellie v. State" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant's convictions for possession of marijuana, methamphetamine, and drug paraphernalia, holding that the trial court erred in admitting evidence that a syringe was found by police during a search that violated Defendant's Fourth Amendment rights but that the error was harmless.On appeal, the State conceded that the district court should have granted Defendant's motion to suppress on the syringe, admitting that the search incident to arrest exception for a warrantless search did not apply to this particular search. The court of appeals affirmed, accepting the State's concession that the syringe discovery was the product of an illegal search but without determining whether the evidence was harmless beyond a reasonable doubt. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding the court's admission of the syringe evidence was harmless beyond a reasonable doubt. View "State v. Thornton" on Justia Law