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Kansas Supreme Court Selected Opinion Summaries - January 31, 1997

Summaries and press releases are prepared by Ron Keefover, Office of Judicial Administration, Kansas Judicial Center, 301 West 10th, Topeka, KS 66612-1507 (785-296-2256), e-mail: keefoverr@kscourts.org.

The Supreme Court today filed the following opinions:

Appeal No. 71,971: State v. Jerry D. Rice

The court, in a 4-3 decision, affirms the defendant's Wyandotte County conviction of first-degree murder, which arose from the murder of his wife, Dorlinda "Lindy" Stakely-Rice, who disappeared September 14, 1992, and whose body has never been found. Rice was convicted largely on the basis of circumstantial evidence. The majority, led by Justice Edward Larson, rejected his contention that he was denied effective assistance of counsel because his trial attorney, a Missouri-licensed lawyer, labored under an incorrect understanding of Kansas law which caused Rice to decide not to testify. A dissent authored by Justice Robert E. Davis would order a new trial because Rice's testimony could have resulted in a different outcome. Justice Rice is joined in the dissent by Justices Donald L. Allegrucci and Fred N. Six.

Appeal No. 75,185: State v. Michael L. Bornholdt

The court, in a unanimous decision authored by Justice Edward Larson, affirms the defendant's Sedgwick County convictions of criminal possession of a firearm and first-degree murder, which arose from the shooting death of Jon Dreiling, who was killed August 21, 1993, while in his vehicle waiting for a light at the intersection of Harry and Market Streets in Wichita.

Appeal No. 72,709: Allan Jones v. John Sigg d/b/a John's Used Cars

The court, in a unanimous decision authored by Justice Edward Larson, affirms a Butler County jury verdict awarding Jones $352,957 for damages he sustained during a May 1991 motor vehicle accident on a Butler County highway, reversing a Court of Appeals decision ordering a new trial on the issue of damages due to the Court of Appeals determination that the jury rendered a quotient verdict.

Appeal No. 75,227: The Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railway Co. v. Stonewall Insurance Co. et al.

The court reverses a Shawnee County decision granting summary judgment to Santa Fe in a huge declaratory judgment action against approximately 120 insurance companies that issued liability policies to the railroad between 1945 and 1986. The railroad is seeking declarations that the insurers' liability policies covered payments made by the railroad for several thousand noise-induced hearing loss claims. (Santa Fe has paid out more than $24 million on the claims.)

Appeal No. 74,690: Williams Natural Gas Co. v. Supra Energy Inc.

The court, in a unanimous decision authored by Justice Edward Larson, upholds the constitutionality of several specific provisions of a 1993 enactment (K.S.A. 55-1210) relating to testing to determine if natural gas has migrated outside an underground storage field.