The Kansas Supreme Court released the following published decisions today:
Appeal No. 113,362: State of Kansas v. Jeramy A. Zwickl
The Kansas Supreme Court ruled that a Reno County District Court judge was wrong to order suppression of drug evidence discovered in an automobile while executing a search warrant issued by another judge. The court held the drug evidence could be used in Zwickl's the criminal prosecution because officers were acting in objectively reasonable reliance on the search warrant.
The case resulted from a criminal investigation by the Reno County Sheriff's Office into Zwickl's suspected sale of marijuana over a period of time. The investigation included the use of confidential informants and surveillance both using a GPS device on Zwickl's automobile and physical tailing of Zwickl to Colorado, where it was suspected he would periodically purchase marijuana for resale. Three pounds of marijuana were discovered in the vehicle during the execution of the search warrant after the Colorado surveillance.
Reno County District Judge Trish Rose ordered that the drug evidence be suppressed because she determined the search warrant, approved by another judge, was not properly supported by probable cause and the officers should have known the warrant was defective. A Kansas Court of Appeals panel reversed Rose, and the Supreme Court took the case to resolve the conflict between the two lower courts.
In a unanimous opinion written by Justice Dan Biles, the court agreed with the Court of Appeals.
"This case is not one of those unusual circumstances in which there was so little indicia of probable cause in the affidavit that a reasonable law enforcement officer would override the probable cause determination found by the magistrate and refuse to execute the warrant," Biles wrote. The case will now return to Reno County District Court for further proceedings.
Appeal No. 115,978: Cherokee County Commissioners v. Kansas Racing and Gaming Commission
In an opinion written by Justice Caleb Stegall, the Supreme Court affirmed the district court's dismissal of petitions for judicial review filed by the Commissioners of Cherokee County and Castle Rock Casino Resort, LLC, in Shawnee County District Court. After conducting a competitive bidding process involving Castle Rock Casino, Kansas Crossing Casino, L.C., and one other casino, a board formed by statute selected Kansas Crossing to manage the state-owned and operated casino in southeast Kansas. Kansas Crossing proposed to operate a casino in Crawford County, while Castle Rock's proposed site was in Cherokee County. The Kansas Racing and Gaming Commission approved the board's selection, and Castle Rock and Cherokee County filed petitions for judicial review, which were eventually dismissed by the district court. Castle Rock and Cherokee County asked this court to review the district court's decision. The Supreme Court unanimously held that under the circumstances of this case, the district court did not abuse its discretion by denying their several requests to investigate claims of impropriety during the selection process through traditional means of discovery. The court further found that substantial evidence supports the board's selection of Kansas Crossing and that the board did not err as a matter of law when interpreting the standard by which it was to select a casino.
Appeal No. 110,021: State of Kansas v. Jason A. Reese
The Supreme Court unanimously held that a defendant could not use a motion to correct illegal sentence to argue the 2011 amendments to the Kansas Offender Registration Act violate the ex post facto clause of the United States Constitution. After Reese committed the crime, but shortly before he pled no contest to aggravated assault with a deadly weapon in Sedgwick County District Court, the Kansas Legislature amended the act to require offenders such as Reese to register. The district court imposed the registration requirement and, after the time for direct appeal had passed, Reese filed a motion to correct illegal sentence challenging the constitutionality of the 2011 amendments. The district court denied the motion, and a Court of Appeals panel affirmed. The Supreme Court reaffirmed the longstanding rule that an illegal sentence does not include a claim that the sentence violates a constitutional provision.
Appeal No. 111,243: State of Kansas v. Matthew A. Wood
The Supreme Court unanimously held that a defendant could not use a motion to correct illegal sentence to argue the 2011 amendments to the Kansas Offender Registration Act violate the ex post facto clause of the United States Constitution. Several years after Wood pled guilty to one count of attempted indecent liberties with a child in Sedgwick County District Court, the Kansas Legislature amended the act lengthening from 10 years to 25 years the amount of time Wood was required to register. In 2012, Reese filed a motion to correct illegal sentence challenging the constitutionality of the 2011 amendments. The district court denied the motion, and a Court of Appeals panel affirmed. The Supreme Court reaffirmed the longstanding rule that an illegal sentence does not include a claim that the sentence violates a constitutional provision.
Kansas Court of Appeals decisions released today