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Kansas Supreme Court Selected Opinion Summaries - July 13, 2001

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 full text of these decisions may be found at www.kscourts.org. Today's filings include:

Appeal No. 84,258: State v. Gregory D. Lessley
The court, in a unanimous decision authored by Justice Bob Abbott, affirms Lessley's Sedgwick County convictions of premeditated first-degree murder and aggravated assault, which arose from the January 1999 shooting death of Lisa Sears, a former girlfriend, and threatening of a passing motorist. All seven justices affirm the murder conviction, but Justice Donald L. Allegrucci dissents from the assault conviction and the imposition of the hard 40 sentence.

Appeal No. 86,127: Fred W. McCraw v. City of Merriam
The court, in a unanimous decision authored by Justice Edward Larson, reverses a Johnson County District Court decision that would have required an election for the City of Merriam to undertake a $5.3 million renovation and expansion project for its city offices building. The court also rejected a contention that the project violates the Kansas cash basis law. (Unanimous, affirming in part and reversing in part the Johnson County District Court.)

Appeal No. 83,923: State v. Curtis Lee Coleman Jr.
The court, in a unanimous decision authored by Justice Donald L. Allegrucci, affirms the defendant's convictions of first-degree murder and three counts of aggravated assault, as well as his prosecution as an adult. (He was 15 at the time he was sentenced as an adult.) The charges arose from a drive-by shooting in Kansas City, KS. In affirming the defendant's convictions, the court upholds the constitutionality of the statute authorizing the prosecution of 14, 15, 16, and 17-year-olds as an adult, but remands the case to the district court for reconsideration of the hard 40 sentence because the trial court considered two aggravating factors that were not specified in the hard 40 statute. The lower court is now directed to reweigh the aggravating and mitigating factors concerning the hard 40 portion of his sentences.

Appeal No. 84,876: State v. Ronnie Dale Branning
The court, in a unanimous decision authored by Justice Edward Larson, affirms the defendant's Saline County convictions of first-degree felony murder, aggravated robbery, aggravated burglary, and criminal destruction of property. The charges arose from a September 1998 residential robbery in which Jarold Johnson in which Johnson was beaten to death by Branning and four others who went to the residence to collect some money allegedly owed to the defendant.

Appeal No.84,615: State v. Wimbley
The court, in a unanimous decision authored by Justice Robert E. Davis, affirms the defendant's Sedgwick County convictions of premeditated first-degree murder and criminal possession of a firearm, which arose from the shooting death of Tina Cooper, whose body was found February 10, 1999, next to a bike path at 12th and Mathewson, in Wichita. The court rejected his contentions of insufficient evidence, juror misconduct, improper admission of evidence of his prior discordant relationship with the victim, alleged illegal search and seizure of evidence from an uncle's house, and alleged improper closing arguments by the state.

Appeal No. 84,429: State v. Michael L. Kraus
The court, in a unanimous decision authored by Justice Bob Abbott, affirms the defendant's Wyandotte County convictions of felony murder and aggravated kidnaping, which arose from the murder of Michael High, whose body was found in the bed of a pickup truck parked at a Kansas City, KS, residence.

Docket No. 83,897: In Re: Thomas Caleb Boone
The court dissolves an order to show cause why a Hays attorney's law license probationary period should not be revoked in discipline imposed and, instead continues it for three additional years.

Docket No. 09131: In Re: Michael J. Friesen
The court orders the temporary suspension of a Garden City attorney's law license pending the outcome of disciplinary proceedings arising from his handling of a conservatorship.

Docket No. 86,609: In Re: Megan J. Cramer
The court disbars a Kansas City, MO, woman who was licensed in Kansas based upon her disbarment in Missouri.

Docket No. 86,610: In Re: James A. Cleland
The court disbars an attorney whose last registration address is Durango, Colo., based upon disciplinary actions in Colorado that resulted in his disbarment there.

Being held over for decision later are:

#84,360 State v. Holmes
#85,098 State v. Graham
#81,804 State v. Plaskett
#82,662 Rebarchek v. Farmers Coop.
#83,302 Moore v. Bird Engineering
#83,147 State v. Hill
#84,076 Smith v. Amoco
#84,292 Nold v. Binyon
#86,280 State v. Bank of America
#85,063 Irvin v. Smith
#79,948 State v. Garcia
#80,920 State v. Kleypas
#86,022 Barrett v. USD 259
#82,678 State v. Robbins
#84,338 Connelly v. State
#84,449 State v. Deiterman
#85,352 Ward v. Ward
#86,384 In re: Swarts