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Kansas Supreme Court Selected Opinion Summaries - March 6, 1998

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 52 opinions. The full text of most of these decisions may be found on the Kansas Cases web site.

Today's filings include:

Docket No. 80,223: State of Kansas ex rel. Nick A. Tomasic, Wyandotte County District Attorney, v. The Unified Government of Wyandotte County/Kansas City, Kansas

The court, in a unanimous decision authored by Justice Bob Abbott, upholds the constitutionality of a 1996 legislative enactment and follow-up consolidation plan that consolidated the governments of Wyandotte County and the City of Kansas City, KS. (See also a separate news release concerning the decision).

Appeal No. 77,143: State v. Kenneth A. Gardner

The court, in a unanimous decision authored by Justice Bob Abbott, affirms the defendant's Wyandotte County convictions of first-degree murder, aggravated robbery, aggravated burglary, and arson, for which he received a controlling sentence of life (with no parole for at least 25 years) plus 130 months imprisonment. The convictions arose from the murder of Vernon Flynn, who was murdered in May 1995 at his Kansas City, KS home.

Appeal No. 75,862: State v. Michael P. Davidson

The court, in a unanimous decision authored by Justice Tyler C. Lockett, affirms the defendant's Johnson County conviction of first-degree murder, which arose from the February 1995 disappearance of Al Shalamar Harris, Olathe. The decedent's body was found April 12, 1995, on a farm in Miami County. The victim had been partially burned, stabbed, beaten, and shot.

Appeal No. 77,097: State v. Aaron Smallwood

The court, in a unanimous decision authored by Justice Tyler C. Lockett, affirms the defendant's Montgomery County conviction of felony murder based on the underlying offense of child abuse, but set aside his conviction of a separate count of child abuse, holding that since there was only one act of child abuse that count merged with the felony murder charge. (Killed by a blow to the head was Kaine M. Smallwood, three and a half month old son of the defendant and Amber Smallwood, Coffeyville. He died November 4, 1993.)

Appeal No. 77,966: State v. Jerome Edwards

The court, in a unanimous decision authored by Justice Robert E. Davis, affirms the defendant's Shawnee County convictions of first-degree murder, aggravated robbery, and conspiracy to possess hallucinogenic drugs with intent to sell. The convictions arose from the February 1996 murder and robbery of Donnie Smart at his Topeka residence.

Docket No. 79,816: In Re: Jerry L. Berg

The court disbars a Wichita attorney who the court found had engaged in inappropriate sexual behavior with numerous clients who were very vulnerable.

Docket No. 78,964: In Re: David W. Stephens

The court suspends a Garden City attorney's law license for one year after determining that he violated provisions of an order placing his law license on probation that was entered October 31, 1997. (A minority of the court would have imposed indefinite suspension of his license.)

Docket No. 80,111: In Re: Robert L. Morse

The court orders a two-year probationary period for an Olathe attorney for two violations of the Model Code of Professional Conduct that arose from his handling of a bankruptcy.

Docket No. 80,076: In Re: Robert C. Wooton

The court indefinitely suspends the law license of a Kansas City attorney based upon numerous violations of the Model Rules of Professional Conduct arising from matters involving six different clients.

Being held over for decision later are:

Appeal No. 79,358: In Re: BMB
Appeal No. 78,509: Smith v. State
Appeal No. 79,533: LCC v. Department of Administration
Appeal No. 78,548: CURB v. Kansas Corporation Commission
Appeal No. 79,214: State v. McCown
Appeal No. 78,269: Fettke v. City of Wichita
Appeal No. 74,124: State v. Hills
Appeal No. 78,725: Deisher v. Department of Transportation
Appeal No. 73,410: In Re: Wendell Betts
Appeal No. 74,415: State v. Hardyway
Appeal No. 78,074: Brock v. Cemetery
Appeal No. 79,440: State v. Hon. Steven Becker
Appeal No. 75,834: York v. Intrust Bank
Appeal No. 78,383: State v. Lueker