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Kansas Supreme Court Selected Opinion Summaries - October 19, 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 Supreme Court today filed 35 opinions. The full text of these decisions may be found at www.kscourts.org. Today's filings include:

Appeal No. 86,022: Frances Barrett v. Unified School District No. 259 and Dan Johnson

The court, in a unanimous opinion authored by Justice Robert E. Davis, determines in a case of first impression that the recreational use exception of the Kansas Tort Claims Act does not violate the equal protection clause of the state and federal constitutions. Saying the exception for public recreational areas furthers the legislature's goal of encouraging the construction of recreational facilities, the court remanded the case of a Wichita Southeast High School student who died as a result of football practice back to the Sedgwick County District Court for a determination of whether the defendants' actions rose to "gross and wanton" negligence. "In the case at hand, a rational basis exists for distinguishing between injuries which occur on public recreational property and those which do not, even if the same persons are involved. The classification reasonably advances the legitimate goal of encouraging the development of public recreational property," Justice Davis wrote for the court.

Appeal No. 85,471: In the matter of the Care and Treatment of Clayton E. Saathoff

The court, in a unanimous decision authored by Justice Robert E. Davis, dismisses the respondent's appeal from a Johnson County District Court finding that he is a sexually violent predator. Based upon Saathoff's stipulation to the finding at the trial court level, the court has no jurisdiction.

Appeal No. 85,431: State v. Terry Lee Gilbert

The court, in a unanimous decision authored by Justice Edward Larson, affirms the defendant's Saline County convictions of first-degree murder, aggravated robbery, aggravated burglary, and criminal damage to property, rejecting his challenges to admission of statements made after a claimed invocation of right to counsel, refusal to allow cross-examination of a witness as to the reputation of the victim, claimed failure to be provided with a copy of exhibits admitted in evidence, and the trial court's failure to instruct on lesser included offenses of felony murder.

Appeal No. 85,916: Melinda Skov et al. v. Vance Wicker and Mona Wicker

The court, in a unanimous decision authored by Justice Donald L. Allegrucci, determines that statutes authorizing court-ordered visitation for grandparents are constitutional. The court notes that a visitation order is not available to great-grandparents and must be based on findings that it is in the child's best interest and that a substantial relationship with the grandchildren exists. In addition, special weight must be given to the presumption that a fit parent will act in the best interests of the child.

Docket No. 76,403: In Re: Daniel H. Phillips

The court revokes the probation of a Wichita attorney and indefinitely suspends his law license based upon his failure to abide by the conditions of probation by testing positive for cocaine on three occasions.

Docket No. 86,746: In Re: Bradly W. Johnson

The court orders indefinite suspension of an Olathe attorney's law license for five violations of the Kansas Professional Rules of Conduct based upon complaints by two clients involved in a criminal case and a discrimination claim.

Docket No. 86,887: In Re: Fred W. Rausch Jr.

The court suspends the law license of a Topeka attorney for two years based upon six violations of the Kansas Rules of Professional Conduct based upon a pattern of misconduct that included a Shawnee County conviction of deceptive commercial practices.

Docket No. 86,794: In Re: James K. Craig

The court suspends the law license of a Wichita attorney based upon seven violations of the Kansas Rules of Professional Conduct arising from his domestic relations practice.

Being held over for decision later are:

#85,621: State v. Owens
#84,285: State v. Dean
#84,360: State v. Holmes
#85,244: State v. Gholston
#85,469: Creason v. Wyadotte County
#86,855: In re Flack
#80,937: State v. Greene
#82,662: Rebarchek v. Farmers Coop.
#83,302: Moore v. Bird Engineering
#86,522: Yetsko v. Panure
#83,294: State v. Diggs
#86,406: Canaan v. Bartee
#84,275: State v. Leitner
#84,843: State v. Sanders
#80,920: State v. Kleypas
#83,217: State v. McKinney
#84,112: State v. Betts
#86,334: Acosta v. Natl. Beef
#82,471: State v. Verge
#83,165: State v. Bradford