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News Releases

04/23/14: Leavenworth County Chief Judge King to sit with Kansas Supreme Court
04/23/14: Johnson County Judge Elliott to sit with Kansas Supreme Court
04/23/14: Sumner County Judge McQuin to sit with Kansas Supreme Court
04/21/14: Supreme Court accepting public comment on videoconferencing recommendations
04/18/14: Supreme Court issues statement on Senate Substitute for House Bill 2338
04/18/14: Court of Appeals Chambers Counsel receives Topeka Bar Association award
04/16/14: Justice Marla Luckert receives Warren W. Shaw Distinguished Service Award
04/11/14: Kansas Court of Appeals to hear arguments April 15 at Washburn Law
04/02/14: Court requires universal use of offender assessment tool to break cycle of repeat crimes
03/11/14: Kansas Court of Appeals to hear arguments in Leavenworth March 18
03/07/14: Supreme Court issues opinion in public education financing case
02/28/14: Supreme Court to Present 2014 Justice Award to Robert Guenthner
02/06/14: Kansans Targeted by Court Scams
01/31/14: Kansas Supreme Court establishes Chief Judges’ Council to fill advisory role
01/17/14: Douglas County Judge Malone to sit with Kansas Supreme Court
01/13/14: Hearing panel recommends informal admonition for Sarah Peterson Herr
01/02/14: Chief Justice to give State of the Judiciary January 22

See the Archives for new releases dating back to 1997


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: April 23, 2014

For more information
contact Lisa Taylor
785-296-4872

Leavenworth County Chief Judge King to sit with Kansas Supreme Court

Chief Judge David J. King
Chief Judge David J. King Leavenworth County District Court

TOPEKA — Leavenworth County District Court Chief Judge David J. King has been appointed to sit with the state Supreme Court Thursday, May 1, to hear oral arguments in six cases.

After hearing oral arguments, King will join Supreme Court justices in their deliberations and opinion drafting.

King has been a Leavenworth County District Court judge since 1986 and the district’s chief judge since 1991. Before he was appointed judge, he was the assistant Leavenworth County attorney and also in private practice.

King is a graduate of the University of Kansas School of Law.

All Supreme Court oral arguments are webcast live through the Watch Supreme Court Live! link in the right-hand column of the Kansas Judicial Branch website at http://www.kscourts.org.

The six cases King will hear beginning at 9 a.m. Thursday, May 1, are as follows:

Appeal No. 106,894: State v. Quartez Brown

Sedgwick County: (Criminal Appeal) Brown was convicted of felony murder, second-degree murder, aggravated burglary, and aggravated assault, and sentenced to a hard-20 term. He appeals. Issues are whether the district court erred granting someone's withdrawal of Brown's motion for new counsel without sufficient inquiry, erred in failing to give a lesser included offense instruction of voluntary manslaughter, and erred in failing to give lesser included offense instructions on reckless second-degree murder and involuntary manslaughter. Also, whether there was sufficient evidence to find Brown guilty of aggravated burglary beyond a reasonable doubt, whether there was sufficient evidence to find Brown guilty of felony murder beyond a reasonable doubt, and whether there was sufficient evidence to find Brown guilty of aggravated assault beyond a reasonable doubt. Whether the case must be remanded to the district court for a nunc pro tunc order to correct the error in the journal entry of judgment.

Appeal No. 108,218: State v. Kevin L. Brown, Jr.

Sedgwick County: (Criminal Appeal) Brown was convicted by jury of felony murder, aggravated burglary, and aggravated assault, and sentenced to a hard-20 term with a consecutive 120-month term. He appeals. Issue are whether district court had jurisdiction to convict Brown of felony murder and aggravated burglary because he was not bound over for aggravated assault against Otis Bolden as the underlying intent element of aggravated burglary. Whether evidence exists to support the alternative means instruction, whether aiding and abetting the commission of a criminal act is a separate and distinct crime from acting as the principal in the commission of a criminal act, and whether the instructions given to the jury regarding the felony murder charge and the underlying felony were flawed. Also, whether Brown’s convictions for felony murder and burglary are invalid due to the state's failure to amend the information and for the district court's unwarranted narrowing of the charges in the jury instructions.

Appeal No. 108,586: State v. Kiara M. Williams

Sedgwick County: (Criminal Appeal) Williams was convicted of felony murder, aggravated burglary, and aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, and sentenced to a hard-20 term. She appeals. Issues are whether the trial court erred giving an instruction on sympathy and prejudice pursuant to PIK Crim.3d 51.07, whether the trial court abused its discretion by giving PIK Crim.3d 51.07 and not giving the mere association or presence instruction as requested by the defense, and whether defense counsel imposed a guilt-based defense by telling the jury that Williams was morally and ethically wrong. Also, whether cumulative error prevented Williams from having a fair trial.

Appeal No. 105,695: State v. Allen R. Julian

Rice County: (Petition for Review of Court of Appeals Decision) Julian was arrested for possession of marijuana, possession of a handgun, and no proof of insurance after a traffic stop. Julian moved to suppress all evidence seized as a result of the traffic stop. The state appealed, and the Court of Appeals reversed and remanded (Judge Henry W. Green Jr., concurring in part and dissenting in part). The Supreme Court granted Julian's petition for review. Issues are whether the search of Julian's vehicle was in violation of his right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures under the 4th Amendment to the United States Constitution and Section 15 of the Kansas Constitution Bill of Rights, and whether the search of his vehicle was lawful under K.S.A. 22-2501 which, at the time, allowed limited searches to areas within a person's immediate presence and only for the purposes of protecting an officer or preventing escape.

Appeal No. 109,836 and 111,126: In the Matter of Miriam Rittmaster

Original Proceeding in Attorney Discipline: (Recommended Temporary Suspension of Law License with Reinstatement Hearing) These disciplinary actions were docketed separately but consolidated by the Supreme Court for hearing. On April 1, 2013, respondent and the disciplinary administrator entered into a joint motion for temporary suspension that the Supreme Court granted. Respondent remains suspended during the pendency of the disciplinary proceedings.

In 109,836, respondent accepted a retainer in a domestic matter but repeatedly failed to respond to her client's requests for information. Respondent and the client failed to appear at a hearing on temporary orders despite respondent's notice from the court to appear. Respondent lied to her client about scheduled hearing dates. The client terminated representation and filed a complaint with the disciplinary administrator. Respondent failed to cooperate in the investigation, but the day before the scheduled disciplinary hearing filed an answer in which she admitted the factual allegations and the rule violations. The hearing panel found violations of the Kansas Rules of Professional Conduct and recommended a six-month suspension from the practice of law, with a reinstatement hearing. Respondent has not taken exceptions.

In 111,126, respondent accepted representation to attempt to set aside a divorce decree. She failed to appear at a hearing, filed motions without taking steps to have them set for hearing, failed to communicate with the client, and failed to follow up when representation was terminated. Respondent answered the disciplinary complaint and entered into stipulations. The hearing panel found violations of the Kansas Rules of Professional Conduct and recommended suspension for one year, retroactive to April 1, 2013, with a reinstatement hearing. Respondent has not taken exceptions.


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: April 23, 2014

For more information
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Johnson County Judge Elliott to sit with Kansas Supreme Court

Judge Gerald T. Elliott
Judge Gerald T. Elliott Johnson County District Court

TOPEKA — Johnson County District Court Judge Gerald T. Elliott has been appointed to sit with the state Supreme Court Tuesday, April 29, to hear oral arguments in five cases.

After hearing oral arguments, Elliott will join Supreme Court justices in their deliberations and opinion drafting.

Elliott has been a district court judge in Johnson County since 1990. Before that, he was a Merriam Municipal Court judge for 18 years. He also served as city prosecutor for Mission Hills, as a judge pro tem in the Johnson County District Court and had a private law practice.

After Elliott graduated from the University of Kansas School of Law in 1964, and before he entered private practice, he worked as a law clerk for federal district court Judge Arthur J. Stanley, Jr.

All Supreme Court oral arguments are webcast live through the Watch Supreme Court Live! link in the right-hand column of the Kansas Judicial Branch website at http://www.kscourts.org.

The five cases Elliott will hear beginning at 9 a.m. Tuesday, April 29, are as follows:

Appeal No. 106,111: State v. Keaira Brown, a/k/a Keaire Brown

Wyandotte County: (Criminal Appeal) Brown was convicted of felony murder and attempted aggravated robbery, and sentenced to a hard-20 term. She appeals. Issues are whether the district court erred instructing the jury that it could convict Brown of felony murder if it found, beyond a reasonable doubt, that she had killed the victim in "flight from attempting to commit aggravated robbery." Also, whether both convictions must be vacated on alternative means grounds, whether the district court erred authorizing adult prosecution, and whether the prosecutor committed misconduct during her closing argument. Also, whether the Kansas sentencing scheme that requires a district court to sentence a juvenile to life in prison without possibility of parole for 20 years, and gives a judge no discretion to depart, is unconstitutional.

Appeal No. 103,881: State v. Kenneth Crawford

Barton County: (Petition for Review of Court of Appeals Decision) Crawford was convicted of aggravated kidnapping, aggravated indecent liberties, and criminal threat, and sentenced to a controlling term of 337 months. He appealed, and the Court of Appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court granted Crawford's petition for review only for issue two. Issue on review is whether the prosecutor committed prejudicial misconduct by: improperly suggesting to jurors they would have to answer to the state for their verdict; misdefining the state's burden of proof by analogy to a jigsaw puzzle; and arguing facts not in evidence during closing argument.

Appeal No. 106,210: State v. Christina Mika Isabel Ortega

Finney County: (Appeal on Petition for Review of Court of Appeals Decision) Ortega was convicted by jury of attempted aggravated interference with parental custody of her daughter and disorderly conduct. The district court imposed a 10-month prison sentence. Ortega appealed, and the Court of Appeals affirmed (Chief Judge Thomas Malone, dissenting). The Supreme Court granted Ortega's petition for review. Issues on review include whether the district court erred by failing to instruct the jury on the affirmative defense of ignorance or mistake. Whether the prosecutor violated an order in limine in his opening statement when he referred to irrelevant prior bad acts, and, in his closing argument, the prosecutor also improperly vouched for the state's witnesses and misstated the law. Whether the prosecution presented sufficient evidence that Ortega performed an overt act toward taking her child out of state, a requisite to attempted aggravated interference with parental custody. Whether the district court erred when it did not instruct the jury on the lesser offense of attempted interference with parental custody. Whether the jury convicted Ortega of attempting to lead, take, carry, decoy, or entice V.O. away. Whether the district court's instruction on reasonable doubt improperly advised the jury that they could find Ortega guilty if they had "no reasonable doubt as to the truth of any of the claims required to be proved by the state," rather than each of the claims required to be proved by the state. Whether cumulative error deprived Ortega of a fair trial.

Appeal No. 107,158: State v. William D. Holt, II

Shawnee County: (Criminal Appeal) Holt was convicted by jury of first-degree murder and aggravated burglary. He was sentenced to a hard-50 term for the murder and appeals that conviction and sentence. Issues are whether prosecutor's appeals to sympathy and misstatements of the law were reversible misconduct, whether the district court erred giving a reasonable doubt instruction that lowered the state's burden of proof, and whether, because the prosecutorial misconduct and the error in the jury instructions both go to the burden of proof, cumulative error also dictates reversal. Also, whether there was sufficient evidence that Holt knowingly or purposely created a risk of death to more than one person to warrant imposition of a hard-50 sentence. Supplemental briefing was filed on the constitutionality of Holt’s hard-50 sentence in light of Alleyne v. United States.

Appeal No. 111,125: In the Matter of Trey Thomas Meyer

Original Proceeding in Attorney Discipline: (Recommended Temporary Suspension of Law License With Reinstatement Hearing) This disciplinary proceeding arises out of two complaints filed against the respondent. In the first, respondent was retained to seek a declaratory judgment regarding real property. He failed to respond to discovery requests, failed to meet the deadline to exchange witness and exhibit lists, and failed to communicate adequately with the client. Respondent also was admitted to an attorney diversion program but failed to comply with the agreement. In the second complaint, respondent accepted representation in a divorce action but failed to file in a timely manner, causing the client to lose significant advantages when her husband filed first. The hearing panel found violations of Kansas Rules of Professional Conduct and recommended suspension from the practice of law for six months with a reinstatement hearing. Respondent has not taken exceptions.


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: April 23, 2014

For more information
contact Lisa Taylor
785-296-4872

Sumner County Judge McQuin to sit with Kansas Supreme Court

Judge R. Scott McQuin
Judge R. Scott McQuin Sumner County District Court

TOPEKA — Sumner County District Court Judge R. Scott McQuin has been appointed to sit with the state Supreme Court Monday, April 28, to hear oral arguments in four cases.

After hearing oral arguments, McQuin will join Supreme Court justices in their deliberations and opinion drafting.

McQuin has been a district court judge in Sumner County since 1993. Before that, he was a magistrate judge in Barber County from 1987 to 1993. Before becoming a judge, McQuin was Barber County Attorney and also had a private law practice in Medicine Lodge.

McQuin is a graduate of the Kansas University School of Law.

All Supreme Court oral arguments are webcast live through the Watch Supreme Court Live! link in the right-hand column of the Kansas Judicial Branch website at http://www.kscourts.org.

The four cases McQuin will hear beginning at 9 a.m. Monday, April 28, are as follows:

Appeal No. 109,208: In the Interest of N.A.C.

Sedgwick County: (Petition for Review) N.A.C. was born on the street in Wichita on November 2, 2011, and placed in police protective custody the same day. Kansas Social Rehabilitation Services (now Kansas Department for Children and Families) placed the child with foster parents. Maternal cousins from Idaho expressed interest in adopting the child. Parental rights were terminated in 2012, and the child became available for adoption. On the foster parents' motion, the district court found that SRS had failed to make reasonable efforts or progress toward finding an adoptive placement, removed the child from SRS custody, and granted custody to the foster parents with court approval to adopt. The maternal cousins appealed, and the Court of Appeals reversed the district court's finding regarding reasonable efforts, vacated the court's orders regarding custody, and remanded while SRS proceeds with and finalizes adoption placement [Chief Judge Thomas E Malone, dissenting]. The Supreme Court granted the foster parents' petition for review. [In a separate proceeding, a final decree of adoption was granted in favor of the foster parents while this appeal was pending.] Issues on review include whether the Court of Appeals erred finding that it had jurisdiction to hear the appeal and in finding that the district court decision is not supported by substantial competent evidence in the record.

Appeal No. 106,299: State v. Bobby D. Edwards

Sedgwick County: (Petition for Review of Court of Appeals Decision) Edwards was charged with aggravated burglary, aggravated robbery, and attempted murder. At his first trial, he was acquitted of aggravated burglary and attempted murder. The second trial resulted in a mistrial. At his third trial, he was convicted of aggravated robbery. He appealed, and the Court of Appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court granted Edward's petition for review. Issues on review are whether there was sufficient evidence to convict Edwards of aggravated robbery and whether his constitutional right to effective assistance of counsel was violated. Also, whether the district court erred by refusing to inform the jury that the underlying theft could not be incidental to the crime, erred by not instructing the jury that the threat of force must precede or be contemporaneous with the taking, erred in allowing the state to present an expert witness without following K.S.A. 60-226, and erred in limiting Edwards’ attorney’s examination of Dr. Goodman. And, whether this combination of errors denied Edwards’ constitutional right to a fair trial.

Appeal No. 105,603: State v. Monh Suady

Johnson County: (Cross-Petition for Review After Court of Appeals Remand to District Court) Suady was convicted of aggravated robbery, aggravated battery, and attempted aggravated robbery, and sentenced to a controlling 290-month prison term. He appealed. The Court of Appeals affirmed in part, reversed in part, dismissed in part, and remanded. Suady petitioned for review, and the state cross-petitioned. The Supreme Court denied the petition for review but granted the cross-petition. Issue on cross-petition for review questions whether, since the Kansas robbery statute is plain and unambiguous, an appellate court may speculate about the legislative intent behind it and read into the statute an element not readily found in it, such as lack of facilitation to commit another crime.

Appeal No. 109,355: In the Matter of A.M.M.-H

Johnson County: (Petition for Review of Court of Appeals Decision) Respondent was charged with three felonies and entered into a stipulation to two of them before being placed on Extended Jurisdiction Juvenile Prosecution. He was sentenced to 24 months with 24 months’ aftercare. The adult sentence was ordered to be concurrent terms of 59 months and 18 months. Respondent was remanded to the juvenile correctional facility and later placed on conditional release. The state moved to revoke the juvenile sentence and impose the adult sentence, following alleged violations of the conditional release contract. The district court found violations of the sentence and sustained the motion to impose the adult sentence. Respondent appealed, and the Court of Appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court granted respondent's petition for review. Issue on review is whether technical violations of a juvenile's conditional release constitute violations of the court's sentence.


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: April 21, 2014

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Supreme Court accepting public comment on videoconferencing recommendations

TOPEKA—The Kansas Supreme Court has made available for public comment recommendations it recently received from its committee proposing standards, best practices and procedures for increased videoconferencing use in court settings.

The report, Recommendations for Videoconferencing in Kansas Courts, is based on extensive evaluation of legal and logistical issues by a 16-member committee appointed in late 2012. The committee included attorneys from private practice and government service, appellate and district court judges, information technology staff, and district court clerks.

Chief Judge Wendel W. Wurst
Chief Judge Wendel Wurst 25th Judicial District

“Increased use of videoconferencing technology in court proceedings will lead to cost savings for the court, reduced costs for civil litigants, and increased convenience for lawyers and witnesses,” said Wendel Wurst, chief judge of the 25th Judicial District and chair of the committee. “What we seek to establish is the foundation for that to occur.”

The committee’s recommendations expand on ideas posed by the Kansas Supreme Court’s Blue Ribbon Commission, during Project Pegasus. They reflect the group’s objective analysis of practical issues related to increased videoconferencing use, as well as legal considerations raised by the Supreme Court Research Clinic at the University of Kansas School of Law.

“In the end, we will have statewide standards that make efficient use of our courts’ limited financial and personnel resources while maintaining constitutional protections for people charged with crimes,” Wurst said.

In criminal cases that could result in incarceration, videoconferencing will be used only to the extent it does not interfere with the defendant’s right to confront his or her accuser. However, some criminal defendants are already appearing by videoconference for procedural hearings, which saves courts transportation and security costs.

In civil cases, it will allow certain witnesses to appear by videoconference from another location, saving the witness time and parties to the case money. According to the recommendations, video testimony is generally allowed, but the opposing party has the opportunity to contest it.

For lawyers arguing before the Kansas Court of Appeals, the opportunity to appear by videoconference means no need to travel to Topeka or another location where a three-judge panel has convened. This means considerable savings for the lawyers’ clients.

Chief Justice Lawton R. Nuss
Chief Justice Lawton Nuss

“The committee has wisely taken more than a year to thoroughly review this complex topic,” said Chief Justice Lawton R. Nuss. “While videoconferencing has the potential to save resources for many, we agree with the committee that the people of Kansas should have an opportunity to read the report and make suggestions.”

The Judicial Branch Videoconferencing Committee recommendations are available in the What’s New section of the Kansas Judicial Branch website. Public comment may be made by June 21, 2014, to Kathy Porter at porterk@kscourts.org.





FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: April 18, 2014

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Supreme Court issues statement on Senate Substitute for House Bill 2338

TOPEKA—The Supreme Court of Kansas released this statement on learning Senate Substitute for House Bill 2338 was signed by the governor.

“The Supreme Court of Kansas has strongly opposed this bill since its creation. We are troubled now that it has been signed by the governor.

“It weakens the centralized authority of the Kansas unified court system in exchange for money to pay our employees and keep courts open. And the money it provides still may fall short of even doing that.

“This is a poor trade. We have very serious concerns about what will happen to the administration of justice in Kansas.

“We believe Kansans deserve better.”


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: April 18, 2014

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Court of Appeals Chambers Counsel receives Topeka Bar Association award

TOPEKA—Kansas Court of Appeals Chambers Counsel Doug Shima received the Honorable E. Newton Vickers Professionalism Award from the Topeka Bar Association at the group’s annual meeting April 9.

Shima has worked for the Kansas Judicial Branch since he graduated from the Washburn University School of Law in 1994. He currently serves as Chambers Counsel for Judge G. Joseph Pierron, Jr., of the Kansas Court of Appeals.

Doug Shima
Doug Shima

“I am extremely honored and humbled to receive the Newt Vickers Professionalism Award. Professionalism starts with how you treat people. It’s the relationships you build, the people you meet, and your involvement with other attorneys and in your community, that make life enjoyable and worthwhile,” Shima said. The Topeka Bar Association gives the Honorable E. Newton Vickers Professionalism Award to recognize a member who, by his or her conduct, honesty, integrity and courtesy, best exemplifies, represents and encourages other lawyers to follow the highest standards of the legal profession, including those contained in the Topeka Bar Association Creed of Professional Courtesy.

Shima received the Topeka Bar Association’s Outstanding Young Lawyer Award in 1997. He was president of the Topeka Bar Association in 2008/2009, and he currently co-chairs the membership committee. He is a regular contributor to the association’s monthly newsletter, TBA Briefings.

Shima has been active in the Sam A. Crow American Inn of Court ever since graduating from Law School and currently serves as the Inns' secretary/treasurer.

Shima is also a longstanding volunteer in the community. For the last 15 years, he has organized two corporate routes for Meals on Wheels of Shawnee and Jefferson Counties. In 2013, he was given the Reuter Award for distinguished service to Meals on Wheels.


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: April 16, 2014

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Justice Marla Luckert receives Warren W. Shaw Distinguished Service Award

TOPEKA—Justice Marla Luckert became the third Kansas Supreme Court justice to receive the Warren W. Shaw Distinguished Service Award when it was presented to her by the Topeka Bar Association at the group’s annual meeting April 9.

The first time the award was presented, it was to retired Chief Justice David Prager in 1996. Chief Justice Kay McFarland received the award in 2008.

Justice Marla Luckert
Justice Marla Luckert

“I am grateful to the Topeka Bar Association membership for this honor and flattered to join rank with the distinguished group who received this award before me,” said Luckert.

The Topeka Bar Association presents the Warren W. Shaw Distinguished Service Award to recognize a lawyer or judge for exemplary service to the legal profession and to the association. A recipient must devote time to a law-related project with accomplishments above and beyond what is expected, or have made a significant contribution to the goals of the legal profession, the Topeka Bar Association, or the public.

This is the second award presented to Luckert by the Topeka Bar Association. She received the Honorable E. Newton Vickers Professionalism Award in 2004 for exemplifying high standards in the legal professionalism.

Luckert is a 1980 graduate of the Washburn University School of Law. She was appointed to the Third Judicial District Court by Gov. Joan Finney in 1992 and to the Kansas Supreme Court by Gov. Bill Graves in 2003.

Luckert served as president of the Kansas Bar Association, the Topeka Bar Association, the Kansas District Judges Association, the Kansas Women Attorneys Association, the Sam A. Crow Inn of Court, and the Women Attorneys Association of Topeka.

Her involvement with the Topeka Bar Association includes serving as chair of their publications and Law Day committees. She also served on several other committees, including alternative dispute resolution, continuing legal education, medical-legal, bench-bar, young lawyer, family law, and naturalization.

The Topeka Bar Association website has a list of past recipients of the Warren W. Shaw Distinguished Service Award.


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: April 11, 2014

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Kansas Court of Appeals to hear arguments April 15 at Washburn Law

TOPEKA—A three-judge panel of the Kansas Court of Appeals will hear oral arguments Tuesday, April 15, in the Robinson Courtroom at the Washburn University School of Law, 1700 SW College, in Topeka.

Judge Michael B. Buser will be the presiding judge for the panel that also includes Judge Caleb Stegall and Senior Judge John J. Bukaty.

Attorneys for each side of a case are allotted time to present their arguments and judges can ask questions. The court will then take each case under consideration. Written decisions are issued later, usually within about 60 days.

Following are summaries of two cases to be heard:

9 a.m. — April 15, 2014

Case No. 110,130: State of Kansas v. Miles E. Theurer

On May 7, 2013, Miles E. Theurer pled no contest to two counts of involuntary manslaughter while driving under the influence of alcohol. The sentences for these offenses, as provided by the Kansas Sentencing Guidelines, called for presumptive imprisonment. The district court granted Theurer’s request for a downward dispositional departure. He was sentenced to underlying concurrent terms of 41 months’ imprisonment, ordered to serve 60 days in jail, and granted 36 months’ probation under house arrest. The state appeals the district court’s granting of Theurer’s downward dispositional departure motion.

1:30 p.m. — April 15, 2014

Case No. 108,301: State of Kansas v. Stephen Alan Macomber

Stephen Alan Macomber was involved in a dispute that resulted in the shooting death of Ryan Lofton on June 7, 2010. A jury convicted Macomber of second-degree murder and criminal possession of a firearm. On appeal, Macomber, who maintains the shooting was accidental, contends the trial court should not have admitted evidence that he later shot a law enforcement officer in Marshall County, or a coroner’s opinion that the cause of Lofton’s death was homicide. In addition to arguing the inadmissibility of other evidence, Macomber challenges the accuracy of the jury instructions, the propriety of the prosecutor’s conduct, and the constitutionality of the criminal possession of a firearm conviction.

The full docket is as follows:

9 a.m. — April 15, 2014

Case No. 110,130: State of Kansas v. Miles E. Theurer
Case No. 110,094: Glassman Corporation v. Champion Bldrs, LLC
Case No. 109,313: State of Kansas v. Breonna M. Wilkins

1:30 p.m. — April 15, 2014

Case No. 108,301: State of Kansas v. Stephen Alan Macomber
Case No. 109,118: State of Kansas v. Santine White
Case No. 109,688: State of Kansas v. Mathew Scott Evertson
Case No. 110,315: Kite’s Bar & Grill, Inc. d/b/a Kite’s Grille & Bar v. Kansas Department of Revenue Alcoholic Beverage Control Division

Note: Reporters who want to cover the oral arguments using video, photo, or audio recording devices, as spelled out in Court Rule 1001, must contact Lisa Taylor at 785-296-4872 or taylorl@kscourts.org no later than noon Monday, April 14.


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: April 2, 2014

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Court requires universal use of offender assessment tool to break cycle of repeat crimes

TOPEKA—The Kansas Supreme Court decided late last week that it will require court services officers statewide to use the Level of Service Inventory-Revised (LSI-R) assessment tool to evaluate the type and level of supervision each misdemeanor and felony offender needs to reduce future criminal activity.

The requirement applies to all felony offenders who enter supervision on or after July 1, 2014, and all misdemeanor offenders who enter supervision on or after January 1, 2015, or 60 days after an electronic version of the tool becomes available late this year, whichever is later. Kansas Judicial Branch court services officers supervise about 38,000 adult offenders statewide per year. Roughly two-thirds are supervised for misdemeanor crimes, while the remaining third are for felony offenses.

Chief Justice Lawton R. Nuss
Kansas Chief Justice Lawton R. Nuss

“When we show people who are convicted of crimes how to live in our communities without breaking our laws, we all benefit with increased public safety,” said Chief Justice Lawton Nuss.

The LSI-R is an internationally recognized assessment tool based on more than 30 years of research. It focuses on factors criminal justice professionals have identified as indicators for repeat criminal behavior, like criminal history, education, current employment, financial well-being, connections to family and friends, and alcohol and drug use. How an offender scores in each area reveals to the court services officer where the offender’s risk to reoffend resides and where more in depth evaluation may be warranted.

Chris Mechler
Chris Mechler Court Services Officer Specialist

“These are standardized, evidence-based assessments that give us a statistically valid way to say what factors could lead a person to reoffend,” said Chris Mechler, Court Services Officer Specialist. “It allows us to target our efforts where we can have the greatest impact and prevent repeat criminal behavior.”

When the Kansas Judicial Branch starts using an electronic version of the LSI-R assessment tool late this year, it will greatly expand its ability to collect uniform data statewide. Currently, all assessments are recorded on paper.

Most court services officers have used the tool to some extent in the past, but the court’s requirement makes its use universal.

In 2011, with input and guidance from the Court Services Officer Advisory Board, 213 court services officers from the state’s 31 judicial districts were trained to administer the LSI-R assessment. Continuing education is required annually.

Training is provided by the University of Cincinnati, a recognized expert in LSI-R assessment, and is paid for using probation supervision fees paid by offenders. Probation fees are also being used to develop the electronic assessment tool that will launch late this year.


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: March 11, 2014

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Kansas Court of Appeals to hear arguments in Leavenworth March 18

A three-judge panel of the Kansas Court of Appeals will hear oral arguments in three cases Tuesday, March 18, at the Leavenworth Justice Center at 601 South 3rd Street in Leavenworth.

Judge Henry W. Green Jr. will be the presiding judge for the panel that also includes Judge G. Joseph Pierron Jr. and Judge Caleb Stegall.

Attorneys for each side of a case are allotted time to present their arguments and judges can ask questions. The court will then take each case under consideration. Written decisions are issued later, usually within about 60 days.

Following are summaries of the cases to be heard:

9 a.m. — March 18, 2014

110,192 Jonathon M. Moore v. Cimarex Energy Co., Inc and Liberty Mutual Insurance Co.

Moore appeals the Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board denial of benefits, arguing the board misinterpreted the law defining an ordinary disease of life and aggravating a pre-existing condition, and that the benefits denial was unreasonable and not supported by substantial evidence.

109,377 State of Kansas v. Melvin Lee

A Wyandotte County jury convicted Lee of aggravated burglary and criminal damage to property (PlayStation 3) valued at less than $500. Lee appeals, arguing the state’s evidence wasn’t sufficient to convict him of aggravated burglary because the jury instructions listed the wrong address for the house he was accused of entering. Lee also argues the state’s evidence was insufficient to convict him of criminal damage to property because the jury instructions listed one roommate (Brown) as the PlayStation 3 owner, when it really belonged to Brown’s roommate (Cobb).

1:30 p.m. — March 18, 2014

110,508 Betty Turner v. State of Kansas and State Self-Insurance Fund

Turner applied for workers compensation benefits after she fell and hurt her shoulder at work. The administrative law judge determined Turner was entitled to compensation for a 16 percent permanent partial impairment for her shoulder injury. The judge also determined that Turner failed to prove a neck injury was caused by her work accident. The Workers Compensation Appeals Board affirmed the administrative law judge’s decision. On this appeal, Turner argues the board erred determining she failed to prove her neck injury was caused by her work accident and also in calculating her average weekly wage.

Note: Media that want to cover the oral arguments using video, photo or audio recording devices, as spelled out in Court Rule 1001, must contact Lisa Taylor at 785-296-4872 or taylorl@kscourts.org no later than noon Monday, March 17.


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: March 7, 2014

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Supreme Court issues opinion in public education financing case

Appeal No. 109,335: Luke Gannon, et al v. State of Kansas

TOPEKA—The Supreme Court today issued its unanimous opinion in a dispute over K-12 public education financing. The court declared certain school funding laws fail to provide equity in public education as required by the Kansas Constitution and returned the case to Shawnee County District Court to enforce the court's holdings. The court further ordered the three-judge panel that presided over the trial of the case to reconsider whether school funding laws provide adequacy in public education – as also required by the constitution.

The plaintiffs in Gannon v. State of Kansas are four public school districts and 31 individuals. Each district lost funding beginning in fiscal year 2009, after the Legislature reduced appropriations for various categories of school funds, including base state aid per pupil, capital outlay state aid, and supplemental general state aid. The plaintiffs claimed continued reductions in school funding violated the education article of the Kansas Constitution—Article 6—which directs the Legislature to "make suitable provision for finance of the educational interests of the state." The plaintiffs also claimed they were denied equal protection and due process.

The Supreme Court dismissed the individual plaintiffs for lack of legal standing and determined the school districts could not pursue equal protection or due process claims. But the court ruled the districts had standing to bring claims under Article 6 of the Kansas Constitution. The court reasoned the districts sufficiently alleged the funding reductions had undermined their ability to perform the districts' constitutional duty to "maintain, develop, and operate local public schools."

The court also rejected the state's argument that the court had no authority to decide whether the Legislature had underfunded K-12 education because it is strictly a political question, rather than a constitutional mandate. The court ruled that the judiciary has both the duty and the authority to review whether acts of the Legislature comply with constitutional standards. "The judiciary is not at liberty to surrender, ignore, or waive this duty," the court said.

The court's decision also clarified that the Kansas Constitution contains at least two separate components for public education: adequacy and equity. The adequacy requirement is met when the structure and implementation of the state's K-12 public education financing system is "reasonably calculated" to have all students meet or exceed certain minimum educational standards. The court also said the three-judge panel's test for adequacy was incorrect because it exclusively focused on cost studies. Therefore, the court reversed and remanded the adequacy issue to the panel so it can apply the proper test and make appropriate findings.

Regarding equity, the court said Article 6 does not require absolute funding equality among districts, but it emphasized that "school districts must have reasonably equal access to substantially similar educational opportunity through similar tax effort." Applying this test, the court concluded the state had established unconstitutional funding disparities among districts when it withheld capital outlay state aid payments and reduced supplemental general state aid payments to which certain districts with less property wealth were otherwise entitled in fiscal years 2010, 2011, and 2012.

The court set a July 1, 2014, deadline to give the Legislature an opportunity to provide for equitable funding for public education. If by then the Legislature fully funds capital outlay state aid and supplemental general state aid as contemplated by present statutes, i.e., without withholding or prorating payments, the panel will not be required to take additional action on those issues. But if the Legislature takes no action by July 1, 2014, or otherwise fails to eliminate the inequity, the panel must take appropriate action to ensure the inequities are cured.


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: February 28, 2014

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Supreme Court to Present 2014 Justice Award to Robert Guenthner

TOPEKA--The Kansas Supreme Court will present the 2014 Justice Award to Wichita attorney Robert I. Guenthner in a public ceremony at 2 p.m. Friday, March 7, in recognition of his contributions to the advancement of justice in Kansas throughout his career.

The ceremony will take place in the Supreme Court courtroom on the second floor of the Kansas Judicial Center, 301 SW 10th Avenue, Topeka, and it will be webcast live through the Watch Supreme Court Live! link in the right-hand column of the Kansas Judicial Branch website at http://www.kscourts.org.

Chief Justice Lawton R. Nuss
Kansas Chief Justice Lawton R. Nuss

“Robert Guenthner is the ideal recipient for this award,” said Chief Justice Lawton Nuss. “He has given more than 30 years of extended, dedicated service to justice, especially as it relates to the Kansas Board for Discipline of Attorneys.”

Guenthner was chairman of the Kansas Bar Association committee that developed rules on disciplinary enforcement and was the principal draftsman of rules adopted by the Supreme Court that established the office of the Disciplinary Administrator. He continues to serve on the Review Committee that studies complaints and investigative reports to determine whether probable cause exists to believe an attorney has violated disciplinary rules.

Robert I. Guenthner
Robert I. Guenthner

“Kansans can be proud of the work of the Board of Discipline in effectively dealing with ethics complaints made against attorneys,” said Guenthner. “It is gratifying for me to be recognized by the Supreme Court for my work on the board.”

Guenthner graduated with highest distinction from the University of Kansas School of Law and has been with the law firm Morris, Laing, Evans, Brock & Kennedy, Chartered, in Wichita, since 1967, where his practice concentrates on business, banking, probate, trust and tax law. He’s been active in the business community and has served on several Wichita bank boards, as well as the boards of civic and nonprofit organizations. He also served as a director and vice chair of the Kansas Development Finance Authority.

His professional involvements include serving on several committees with the Wichita, Kansas and American Bar associations. He wrote a chapter of a Kansas Bar Association’s Estate Administration Handbook and was the 2013 recipient of the Kansas Bar Association’s professionalism award.

The Supreme Court presents the Justice Award to recognize individuals or organizations that have made significant contributions to the improvement of justice in Kansas. As a recipient, Guenthner will receive a plaque and a $500 stipend, and his name will be added to the permanent list of recipients displayed outside the Supreme Court courtroom in the Judicial Center.

The award stipend comes from earnings on a $10,000 check awarded by the Foundation for the Improvement of Justice to the Supreme Court for its program to shorten the amount of time it takes to dispose of a case through Kansas courts. Kansas was the first state to establish specific time standards for each of five major case categories.

Any Kansan or Kansas organization is eligible to receive the Justice Award, except Supreme Court justices, their personal staff and members of the Justice Award Nominating Committee.

The Justice Award has been given 16 times since its inception in 1989. The most recent recipients include: Professor James Concannon (2012); Gerald L. Goodell (2007); and the Hon. David Prager (2001).


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: February 6, 2014

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contact Lisa Taylor
785-296-4872

Kansans Targeted by Court Scams

TOPEKA—Kansas residents who receive unusual phone calls or emails from a person claiming to be affiliated with a Kansas court need to be aware they might be the target of a scam.

In one scam, residents report they received a phone call from someone claiming to be affiliated with a local court or sheriff’s office who demands the person pay a fine for failing to report for jury duty. Anyone who receives a call of this type should hang up immediately and report it to local law enforcement.

In another scam, residents report receiving an email from a Kansas court that encourages them to click on a link to confirm a court complaint was filed. It is believed the link is used to deliver a virus onto the recipient’s computer when it is clicked. Anyone who receives an email of this type should delete it immediately.

A person who receives an unusual communication that does not fit the profile of either of these scams can contact a local court official to confirm whether it’s valid.


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: January 31, 2014

For more information
contact Lisa Taylor
785-296-4872

Kansas Supreme Court establishes Chief Judges’ Council to fill advisory role

TOPEKA—Chief Justice Lawton Nuss signed an order this month creating a seven-member Chief Judges Council to provide additional first-hand expertise and ground-level perspective on current and future issues facing Kansas courts.

Chief Justice Lawton R. Nuss
Kansas Chief Justice Lawton R. Nuss

“Council members represent the broad diversity of Kansas courts and I look forward to hearing what’s most important to them and why,” Nuss said. “It will allow me to provide informed leadership on topics that affect our local courts in different ways based on caseloads, staffing and community needs.”

Nuss noted the council will give input for the 31 chief judges who preside over the state’s judicial districts. As chief judges, their perspectives may occasionally differ from those of the Kansas District Judges’ Association and the Supreme Court values ideas from both groups.

The council’s first order of business was to select Chief Judge David A. Ricke of the 13th Judicial District as its chairperson. It will next provide feedback on strategies offered by the Court Budget Advisory Council to reduce the number of days courts will close if an $8.25 million shortfall in Judicial Branch funding for fiscal year 2015 is not resolved by the Legislature.

Although Nuss says he will ask the council for input when he needs it, he also expects the council to decide on its own issues it wants to bring to the Supreme Court.

“Chief judges manage their courts with general oversight from Supreme Court justices, so I expect this to be, for the most part, a self-directed group,” Nuss said. “What the council provides is an established venue to discuss what’s important and a structure for continuous information sharing with the Supreme Court that will help us work more effectively toward our common goals.”

Appointed to one-year terms that expire Dec. 31, 2014, are:

Chief Judge Patricia Macke Dick of the 27th Judicial District, who has served since January 1989 as district judge in Division Four of the Reno County District Court. Dick is a native of Plainville and a graduate of Kansas State University and the University of Kansas School of Law. She currently serves as treasurer of the Kansas District Judges’ Association.

Chief Judge David A. Ricke of the 13th Judicial District, who has served since November 2004 as district judge presiding over cases in Butler, Greenwood, and Elk Counties. Ricke is a resident of Rose Hill and a graduate of Wichita State University and the University of Kansas School of Law.

Appointed to two-year terms that expire Dec. 31, 2015, are:

Chief Judge Edward E. Bouker of the 23rd Judicial District, who has served since 1993 as district judge presiding over cases in Ellis, Gove, Rooks, and Trego Counties. Bouker is a resident of Hays and a graduate of Fort Hays State University and the Kansas University School of Law. He currently serves on the Kansas Judicial Council’s Pattern Instructions for Kansas Committee and is chair of the Kansas Supreme Court’s Access to Justice Committee.

Chief Judge Kim W. Cudney of the 12th Judicial District, who has served since November 2006 as district judge presiding over cases in Cloud, Jewell, Lincoln, Mitchell, Republic, and Washington Counties. Cudney is resident of Greenleaf and a graduate of Kansas State University and Washburn Law School. She served on the Blue Ribbon Commission and the Kansas Supreme Court Judicial Needs Assessment Committee. She currently serves on the board of directors of the Kansas District Judges’ Association.

Chief Judge R. Wayne Lampson of the 29th Judicial District, who has served since 2008 as district judge presiding over cases in Wyandotte County. Lampson is a native Kansan and a graduate of Emporia State University and the University of Tulsa School of Law.

Chief Judge Nicholas M. St. Peter of the 19th Judicial District, who has served since October 2004 as district judge presiding over cases in Cowley County. St. Peter is a native of Winfield and a graduate of Fort Hays State University and Washburn Law School. He serves on the Kansas Commission on Judicial Qualifications and the Access to Justice Committee.

Chief Judge Wendel W. Wurst of the 25th Judicial District, who has served since October 2009 as district judge presiding over cases in Finney, Kearny, Hamilton, Greeley, Wichita, and Scott Counties. Wurst is a native of Sterling and a graduate of Kansas State University and Kansas University Law School. He is the current chairperson of the Supreme Court Videoconferencing Standards Committee.

Chief Judge Patricia Macke Dick Chief Judge David A. Ricke Chief Judge Edward E. Bouker
Chief Judge Patricia Macke Dick
Chief Judge David A. Ricke
Chief Judge Edward E. Bouker
Chief Judge Kim W. Cudney Chief Judge R. Wayne Lampson Chief Judge Nicholas M. St. Peter Chief Judge Wendel W. Wurst
Chief Judge Kim W. Cudney
Chief Judge R. Wayne Lampson
Chief Judge Nicholas M. St. Peter
Chief Judge Wendel W. Wurst

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: January 17, 2014

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contact Lisa Taylor
785-296-4872

Douglas County Judge Malone to sit with Kansas Supreme Court

Judge Michael Malone
District Court Judge Michael Malone

TOPEKA—Douglas County District Court Judge Michael Malone will sit with the Kansas Supreme Court Thursday, Jan. 30, to hear oral arguments in a case the court remanded to the Johnson County District Court in 2011.

The Supreme Court appointed Judge Malone to join them to hear oral argument in Appeal No. 101,054: State of Kansas v. John Henry Horton. Malone was sitting with the court when it heard the appeal that resulted in the remand to district court.

Horton was convicted of first degree murder in October 2003. On appeal, the Supreme Court reversed the conviction, holding that the district court erroneously admitted evidence of Horton’s prior crimes, but it did not preclude future prosecution on new charges.

In March 2007, the state brought new charges against Horton, alleging he committed first-degree murder, or felony murder in the alternative. While the jury was deliberating, defense counsel asked the case be continued and to allow defense to present emerging evidence that had the potential to impact the jury’s view of the case. The court denied the request, stating it lacked authority, and Horton was convicted of felony murder.

Horton appealed the felony murder conviction on the premise that the district court abused its discretion by not reopening evidence.

In July 2011, the Supreme Court suspended the appeal to remand the case back to district court on the narrow issue of whether the district court should have reopened evidence presentation to allow the jury to hear evidence related to a recording of an inmate witness’ telephone conversation and any rebuttal evidence offered by the state.

On remand, the district court determined it “should not and would not have reopened the case” to allow the additional evidence.

The issue before the Supreme Court is whether the district court committed reversible error deciding to not reopen the case.

Malone has been on the Douglas County bench since 1982. He served as chief judge of the district from 1989 to 2003. He was an adjunct professor at The University of Kansas School of Law for 33 years and he served on the Patterned Jury Instructions and the Criminal Law Advisory committees to the Kansas Judicial Council. He has been appointed to sit with the Supreme Court a number of times during his career.


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: January 13, 2014

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contact Lisa Taylor
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Hearing panel recommends informal admonition for Sarah Peterson Herr

TOPEKA—In a final hearing report final hearing report issued today, a three-judge hearing panel recommended Sarah Peterson Herr be informally admonished for violating Kansas Rules of Professional Conduct.

The hearing panel determined Herr violated Kansas Rules of Professional Conduct by misrepresenting the law and facts when she predicted via her personal Twitter account that an attorney appearing in a disciplinary hearing before the Kansas Supreme Court would be disbarred for seven years, without having a legal or factual basis for making such a prediction.

The panel determined the prediction also was prejudicial to the administration of justice and it represented professional misconduct to imply she had a degree of influence she did not have.

Herr was an employee of the Kansas Court of Appeals when she made the prediction Nov. 15, 2012.

In making its recommendation that she be informally admonished, the panel noted Herr had no prior disciplinary history, her motive was not dishonest or selfish, there was no pattern of misconduct, she publicly apologized for her conduct, she self-reported the possible violation, she cooperated with the investigation, and she has little experience practicing law.

The Kansas Supreme Court appointed the three-judge panel that included the Hon. Robert J. Fleming, who presided over the hearing, Hon. Edward Larson and Hon. Mary Thrower.


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: January 2, 2014

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contact Lisa Taylor
785-296-4872
taylorl@kscourts.org

Chief Justice to give State of the Judiciary January 22

Chief Justice Lawton R. Nuss
Kansas Chief Justice Lawton R. Nuss

TOPEKA—Chief Justice Lawton R. Nuss will give his State of the Kansas Judiciary address at 12:30 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 22, from the courtroom of the Supreme Court in the Kansas Judicial Center, Topeka.

He will give the address to an invited audience that will include Kansas legislators, Judicial Branch employees and key constituent groups.

Chief Justice Nuss’ State of the Judiciary address is believed to be the first in Kansas’ 153-year history to be delivered from the courtroom of the Supreme Court.

Nuss decided to speak from the courtroom in part to make it available via webcast to address the public’s heightened interest in an $8.25 million shortfall in the Judicial Branch base budget in fiscal year 2015, which begins July 1, 2014. Ninety-six percent of the Judicial Branch’s budget is for salaries and wages. If the shortfall isn’t solved, court employees will be sent home without pay—closing courts and impacting Kansans statewide.

Kansas law requires Nuss, as chief justice of the Supreme Court, to provide a written report at the beginning of the legislative session to the governor and to the judiciary committees of both houses of the Legislature. The written report will be delivered in addition to his State of the Kansas Judiciary address.

The public can access a live webcast of the State of the Judiciary address by following the Watch Supreme Court Live! link in the right-hand column of the Kansas Judicial Branch website at http://www.kscourts.org. The address will be recorded for viewing afterward by anyone unable to attend in person or watch it live online.