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Kansas Supreme Court Selected Opinion Summaries - January 30, 2009

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: keefover@kscourts.org.

The Supreme Court today filed decisions in the following cases today. The full text of these decisions may be found at www.kscourts.org.

Appeal No. 98,840: State v. Merle S. Vaughn

The Court, in a unanimous decision authored by Chief Justice Robert E. Davis, reverses and remands for further proceedings a Wyandotte County decision dismissing two counts of official misconduct and one count of conspiracy to commit official misconduct against Vaughn allegedly hiding records of two persons accused of DUI in his capacity as chief of the Edwardsville Police Department.

Appeal No. 98,394: State v. Eric D. Hoffman

The Court, in a unanimous decision authored by Justice Eric S. Rosen, affirms the defendant’s Greenwood County convictions of first-degree murder, aggravated burglary, and aggravated battery, for which he received terms of life plus consecutive sentences of 41 and 32 months.  The Court rejected his contentions of insufficient evidence to support felony murder, failure to give a lesser-included instruction on voluntary manslaughter, admission of evidence that he had fought the decedent prior to the day of the murder, admission of autopsy photographs and cumulative error.

Appeal No. 98,026: State v. Christopher D. Gant

The Court, in a unanimous decision authored by Justice Eric S. Rosen, affirms the defendant’s Sedgwick County convictions of felony murder and attempted aggravated robbery for which he received a sentence of life plus 34 months imprisonment.  Gant unsuccessfully contended he was denied a fair trial because his rights under the Miranda decision were violated, a police witness was allowed to sit for an unspecified period of time at the prosecutor’s table, and that a jury should have determined his sentence under the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Apprendi v. New Jersey.

Appeal No. 98,563: State v. Christopher M. Trotter

The Court, in a unanimous decision authored by Justice Marla J. Luckert, affirms Trotter’s Wyandotte County capital murder conviction, but reverses a second conviction of premeditated first-degree murder after determining it to be multiplicitous with the capital murder count.  (His sentence of the hard-50 plus 111 months imprisonment is unaffected by today’s decision.)

Docket No. 100,218: In Re: William M. Nelson

The Court orders a six-month suspension of an Overland Park attorney’s law license based on his continued practice of law after being administratively suspended for non-payment of his attorney registration fee.

Docket No. 100,543: In Re: J. Gregory Swanson

The Court orders a two-year suspension of a Liberal attorney’s law license based upon his violation of nine rules of the Kansas Rules of Professional Conduct.