Justia Civil Rights Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Kansas Supreme Court
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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the court of appeals affirming the judgment of the district court denying Defendant's motion to suppress evidence obtained during a search that led to the State charging Defendant with possession of drugs and drug paraphernalia with the intent to distribute, holding that the district court properly denied the suppression motion.This appeal arose after police officers detained Defendant while he sat in a minivan in an alleyway. Defendant filed a motion to suppress the evidence obtained during the search, arguing that the seizure of the minivan violated his constitutional rights. The district court concluded that the detention was reasonable and justified under the public safety exception to the warrant requirement. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the seizure of the minivan was reasonable under the Fourth Amendment and section 15 of the Kansas Constitution Bill of Rights. View "State v. Bates" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the court of appeals reversing the decision of the trial court judge dismissing this case with prejudice after suppressing evidence as a discovery sanction, holding that, under the circumstances, the district court did not abuse its discretion in dismissing the case with prejudice.Defendant was charged with drug-related offenses. The district court ultimately dismissed the charges with prejudice after suppressing certain evidence as a discovery sanction. The court of appeals reversed and remanded hte case, concluding that the district court abused its discretion by dismissing the case with prejudice for a discovery failure. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the judge infringed on the prosecutor's discretion by not leaving to the prosecutor the decision of whether to proceed to trial; and (2) the error was harmless. View "State v. Mulleneaux" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part the judgment of a panel of the court of appeals affirming Defendant's conviction of possession of more than 3.5 grams of methamphetamine with intent to distribute, possession of a firearm within ten years of a prior felony conviction, and two counts of drug paraphernalia possession, holding that insufficient evidence supported Defendant's firearm possession conviction.On appeal, Defendant raised six allegations of error. The Supreme Court reversed in part, holding (1) the panel erred when it refused to consider for the first time on appeal the legal appropriateness of an intent-to-distribute instruction and the instruction's permissive inference was legally inappropriate, but this error was not prejudicial; (2) Defendant's constitutional challenges failed; (3) there was insufficient evidence to support Defendant's firearm conviction; and (4) Defendant was not entitled to relief on his remaining claims of error. View "State v. Valdez" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the lower court finding the legislative reapportionment in the map colloquially known as "Ad Astra 2" constitutionally deficient as a partisan and racial gerrymander, holding that Plaintiffs did not prevail on any of their claims that Ad Astra 2 violates the Kansas Constitution.The district court held that Sub. SB 355 violates the Kansas Constitution as both a partisan and a racial gerrymander. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) this Court had jurisdiction to hear Plaintiffs' claims; (2) claims of excessive partisan gerrymandering are nonjusticiable in Kansas; and (3) Plaintiffs did not establish the elements of their race-based claims. View "Rivera v. Schwab" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant's convictions of felony possession of methamphetamine, misdemeanor possession of drug paraphernalia with intent to use, and misdemeanor theft, holding that the district court did not err in denying Defendant's motion to suppress.Defendant was detained at Walmart for trying to leave the store without paying for merchandise. Defendant was arrested and taken to jail, where a booking deputy conduct an inventory search of Defendant's possessions. Upon discovering illicit drugs the deputy did a strip search of Defendant's person, discovering more illicit drugs. Defendant moved to suppress the drugs and paraphernalia based on an illegal misdemeanor arrest. The motion was denied, and Defendant was convicted. On appeal, Defendant argued that the evidence should have been suppressed because the officer illegally arrested her rather than issuing her a notice to appear. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the officer had probable cause to believe Defendant committed misdemeanor theft and would not be apprehended. View "State v. Goodro" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court denying Defendant's pro se motion to correct an illegal sentence, holding that the district court did not err in summarily denying Defendant's motion.A jury convicted Defendant of aggravated burglary, aggravated kidnapping, rape, and two counts of aggravated sodomy. Defendant later filed a pro se motion to correct an illegal sentence under Kan. Stat. Ann. 22-3504, arguing that his sentence was illegal because he was denied his statutory right to a speedy trial and his right to allocution at sentencing. The district court denied the motion without holding an evidentiary hearing. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that neither of Defendant's claims was properly before the court in a motion to correct an illegal sentence. View "State v. Mitchell" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant's conviction of first-degree premeditated murder and aggravated robbery and his resulting sentences, holding that there was no reversible error.Defendant was found guilty by a jury of committing first-degree premeditated murder and aggravated robbery when he was fifteen years old. Defendant was sentenced life imprisonment for the murder conviction and a consecutive sixty-one months' term of imprisonment for the robbery conviction. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the district court did not err by not giving an instruction on voluntary manslaughter-heat of passion; (2) Defendant failed to show that the prosecutor erred; and (3) Defendant's sentence did not violate the Eighth Amendment's prohibition of cruel and unusual punishment under the principles announced in Miller v. Alabama, 567 U.S. 460 (2012). View "State v. Gulley" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the panel of the court of appeals that applied the 2018 amendments to Kan. Stat. Ann. 8-1567, the driving under the influence (DUI) statute, to Defendant, who committed a DUI before, but was sentenced after, the amendments came into effect, holding that the court of appeals erred.The Supreme Court clarified the general rule established in State v. Reese, 333 P.3d 149 (Kan. 2014), that courts should apply the DUI sentencing provisions in effect at the time of sentencing but holding that a sentencing court should apply the version of section 8-1567 in effect at the time of sentencing unless the Legislature amended the statutory provisions after the offense was committed and that amendment increases the defendant's penalty. The Court remanded the matter to the district court for resentencing under the sentencing provisions in effect when Defendant committed the DUI, holding that applying the 2018 amendments to Defendant at sentencing would increase his punishment in violation of the Ex Post Facto Clause. View "State v. Patton" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant's death sentence imposed in connection with his conviction for capital murder, holding that Defendant was not entitled to relief on the penalty phase issues before the Court on remand from the United States Supreme Court in Kansas v. Carr, 477 U.S. 108 (2016).In its previous decision, the Supreme Court affirmed Defendant's conviction but vacated his death sentence, concluding that the trial court violated Defendant's Eighth Amendment right to an individualized sentencing determination by refusing to sever the trial's penalty phase from that of his codefendant brother. On remand, the Supreme Court affirmed Defendant's death sentence, holding (1) the record supported the findings that one or more aggravating circumstances existed and that any mitigating circumstances were insufficient to outweigh the aggravating circumstances; and (2) Defendant received a fair trial. View "State v. Carr" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant's sentence of death imposed in connection with his conviction for capital murder, holding that the sentence was not "imposed under the influence of passion, prejudice or any other arbitrary factor." See Kan. Stat. Ann. 21-6619(c)(1).Defendant was convicted of capital murder and sentenced to death. The Supreme Court affirmed the convictions but vacated the death sentencing, holding that the failure to sever the penalty phase violated Defendant's right to an individualized sentencing determination under the Eighth Amendment. However, in Kansas v. Carr, 477 U.S. 108 (2016), the United States Supreme Court held that the trial court's failure to Defendant's penalty phase did not implicate either the Eighth Amendment or the Due Process Clause. On remand, the Supreme Court addressed penalty phase issues that remained unresolved. The Court then affirmed Defendant's sentence, holding that Defendant received a fair trial and that any mitigating circumstances were insufficient to outweigh the aggravating circumstances. View "State v. Carr" on Justia Law