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Topeka Kansas 66612-1507

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Kansas Supreme Court Selected Opinion Summaries - December 7, 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. 85,197: State v. John S. Hermosillo

The court, in a unanimous decision authored for the court by Justice Fred N. Six, affirms the defendant's Rice County conviction and life sentence for the first-degree murder of John Keeley, who was found dead in his Lyons apartment. In affirming the murder conviction, as well as four counts of forging the decedent's checks, the court rejected Hermosillo's claims of insufficient evidence, failure to instruct on second-degree murder, denial of his motion to suppress statements he made to police and of prosecutorial misconduct.

Appeal No. 83,126 and 83,686: State v. Barry A. Cody

The court, in a unanimous decision authored by Justice Bob Abbott, orders resentencing of Cody for his Sedgwick County guilty pleas to drug possession charges. The court based the resentencing decision on a June 2000 U.S. Supreme Court decision holding that sentences that depart upward from sentencing guidelines must be based upon facts found beyond a reasonable doubt by a jury. (Cody received a controlling sentence of 64 months imprisonment, or double the presumptive sentence.)

Appeal No. 84,311: State v. Genevevo Navarro

The court, in a unanimous decision authored by Justice Bob Abbott, affirms the defendant's Wyandotte County conviction of the first-degree murder of Michael Burkes, who was stabbed to death outside his Kansas City, KS apartment. In affirming the conviction, the court rejected his contentions that the state violated a pretrial order prohibiting testimony that the defendant was a drug dealer, that the state committed prosecutorial misconduct during closing arguments, and that the trial court erred in instructing the jury that it must first consider whether the defendant was guilty of the greater offense before considering any lesser offenses.

Appeal No. 85,544: State v. Grant B. Groschang

The court, in a unanimous decision authored by Justice Tyler C. Lockett, affirms the defendant's Wyandotte County first-degree murder conviction, which arose from the shooting death of Julie Bellaart.

Appeal No. 85,624: State v. Alberto Vasquez

The court, in an opinion authored by Justice Donald Allegrucci, affirms a Ford County decision denying the defendant's motion to set aside his guilty plea to premeditated first-degree murder. The charges arose from the death of Maria Lorena Garcia, who lived with the defendant in Dodge City.

Appeal No. 85,964: State v. Kenneth A. Gardner

The court unanimously affirms a Wyandotte County decision denying the defendant's motion for a new trial, which he based on newly discovered evidence or in the alternative ineffective assistance of counsel. (The purported new evidence is the existence of a police report describing bullet fragments that were embedded in the floor of the victim's residence. The ineffective assistance contention alleged that defense counsel should have made use of the report at trial if he had knowledge of the existence of the report.) Unanimous, writing for the court is Justice Bob Abbott.

Appeal No. 85,244: State v. Corey H. Gholston

The court, in a unanimous decision authored by Justice Tyler C. Lockett, affirms Gholston's Sedgwick County first-degree murder conviction and his hard 40 sentence for the shooting death of a 2-year-old Wichita girl in a convenience store parking lot.

Appeal No. 86,406: Marvin L. Canaan v. Michael Bartee, Allen Bush, and Kelly Jernigan

The court, in a unanimous decision authored for the court by Justice Fred N. Six, reverses a Johnson County decision granting Canaan default judgment in a pro se lawsuit he filed against his court-appointed attorneys and legal investigator alleging malpractice. (The trial court granted default judgment after the defendants failed to respond to Canaan's discover requests for more than two years and with two court orders to do so. The defendants were represented by a former assistant attorney general, who is the subject of a disciplinary case also being filed this date. See No. 87,392 below.)

Docket No. 87,392: In Re: James W. Coder

The court suspends the law license of a Topeka attorney for one year based upon his representation of defendants in an attorney malpractice case as part of his official duties while serving as an assistant attorney general. (See No. 86,406 immediately preceding.)

Docket No. 87,568: In Re: Kelly C. Brown

The court orders published censure of a Topeka attorney based upon his representation in a post-divorce matter.

Being held over for decision later are:

Appeal No. 86,130: State v. Brown
Appeal No. 86,230: State v. Livingston
Appeal No. 83,705: State v. Henry
Appeal No. 86,401: Natl. Compr. Steel v. Wyandotte Co.
Appeal No. 80,937: State v. Greene
Appeal No. 83,302: Moore v. Bird Engineering
Appeal No. 86,347: Empire Mfg. v. Empire Candle
Appeal No. 86,365: Whisler v. State
Appeal No. 84,042: State v. Flournoy
Appeal No. 80,920: State v. Kleypas
Appeal No. 83,186: State v. Crider
Appeal No. 84,269: State v. Banks
Appeal No. 85,709: State v. Finley
Appeal No. 86,334: Acosta v. Natl. Beef
Appeal No. 86,801: Am. Trust v. Sebelius
Appeal No. 85,256: State v. Broyles
Appeal No. 86,769: Doty v. Frontier Comm.
Appeal No. 84,606: State v. Brown