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Supreme Court releases for July 27, 2018

27 Jul 2018 11:17 AM | Tiffany Fisher (Administrator)

The Kansas Supreme Court released the following published decisions today:  

The first case is from the April 2018 special session at Colby High School in Colby: 

Appeal No. 115,434: LCL v. Falen v. Rice County Abstract & Title Co.

Archived oral argument video

Third-party plaintiff (the Falens), successors in interest to the Mary Louise Falen-Olsen Trust, appealed Rice County District Court's decision to grant Rice County Abstract & Title Co.'s motion for summary judgment. The Falens had asserted claims of negligence and breach of fiduciary duty, but the district court judge concluded the statute of limitations had expired on the Falens' claims.

The Falens' claims arose out of Rice County Abstract & Title Co.'s 2008 omission of a reserved mineral interest in a deed and its handling of a 2014 conveyance of the same property. The omission was not discovered until 2014.

The district judge granted summary judgment after concluding the Falens suffered an injury in 2008 when the deed was recorded and the injury was reasonably ascertainable because recording the deed constituted constructive notice.

On appeal, the Court of Appeals reversed the granting of summary judgment, and Rice County Abstract & Title Co. petitioned the Supreme Court for review. The court affirmed and held whether a substantial injury is reasonably ascertainable is a question of fact, not resolvable as a matter of law under the constructive notice statute. The filing and recording of a deed is only one piece of relevant evidence to be considered by the fact-finder in deciding whether a substantial injury caused by the deed's omission of a seller's reserved mineral interest is reasonably ascertainable.

Appeal No. 106,741: State of Kansas v. Thomas Eugene Jenkins

Archived oral argument video

In a unanimous decision written by Justice Eric Rosen, the Supreme Court upheld Jenkins' convictions in Saline County District Court for first-degree murder, two counts of aggravated burglary, theft, three counts of criminal threat, two counts of domestic battery, and criminal restraint. The court held the evidence was sufficient to support the convictions; the district court had not abused its discretion when it found there had been no juror misconduct; and a retrospective competency hearing was feasible.

Appeal No. 113,220: State of Kansas v. Hai That Ton

Archived oral argument video

In a unanimous decision written by Justice Eric Rosen, the Supreme Court affirmed the Court of Appeals decision affirming Ton's convictions in Johnson County District Court for possession of marijuana with intent to sell and failure to pay the Kansas drug stamp tax. Ton challenged the district court's denial of his motion to suppress evidence of a package mailed to him containing marijuana. Law enforcement officials removed the package from a shipping facility. The court concluded the law enforcement officials had reasonable suspicion to seize the package. The court declined to consider Ton's argument that officials held the package for an unreasonable length of time because, in his motion to suppress, Ton had affirmatively narrowed the scope of his argument to whether the officials had reasonable suspicion to seize the package. 

Appeal No. 116,446: State of Kansas v. Charles Glover

Archived oral argument video

Glover was stopped for driving with a revoked license. The officer did not confirm Glover's identity before initiating the stop; rather, he assumed Glover was the driver because a records check of the vehicle's license plate indicated Glover was the registered owner and had a revoked driver's license. Douglas County District Court suppressed evidence from the stop because it was unreasonable to believe the registered owner was driving with a revoked license based solely on the observation the vehicle was being driven. The State appealed, and the Court of Appeals reversed the district court decision, ruling an officer may initiate a traffic stop if the officer knows the registered owner has a suspended license and is unaware of any facts suggesting the registered owner is not the driver. The Supreme Court reversed the Court of Appeals, rejecting the owner-is-the-driver presumption because it rests on a series of assumptions that are unreasonable without further evidentiary support. The court further explained that the presumption draws inferences in favor of the State based on a lack of evidence and impermissibly shifts the State's burden of proof to the defendant.

Appeal No. 116,954: In the Matter of J.O.

Archived oral argument video

The Prairie Village Police Department violated a Kansas statute when it orchestrated two controlled drug buys in Shawnee, outside its territorial limits. J.O., the juvenile target of the buys, moved to suppress the evidence obtained in violation of state statute. The Supreme Court rejected J.O.'s argument because suppression of evidence is a deterrent measure, not a personal right. Its application is restricted to those situations that effectively advance its remedial purpose. Here, Johnson County District Judge Thomas Foster took other actions to deter future violations of the statute when he warned Prairie Village Police Department officers they acted as private citizens by engaging in the controlled buys outside their statutory authority and reminded them of their Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination.

Appeal No. 117,167: In the Matter of the Petition for a Writ of Habeas Corpus by Clay Snyder

Archived oral argument video

In an opinion written by Justice Caleb Stegall, the court unanimously denied Snyder's petition for habeas relief. In 2012, Saline County District Court found Snyder not competent to stand trial because of his intellectual disability. For the next few years, Snyder cycled through competency detainment and involuntary commitment. Most recently in November 2016, the district court found Snyder was still not competent to stand trial and ordered the State to initiate civil commitment proceedings against him Snyder petitioned for habeas relief, seeking release from confinement and dismissal of his criminal charges with prejudice based on federal speedy trial and due process violations. The court held delays attributable to Snyder's incompetency to stand trial did not infringe on his Sixth Amendment speedy trial rights. Furthermore, the court found no due process violation under Jackson v. Indiana, 406 U.S. 715, 92 S. Ct. 1845, 32 L. Ed. 2d 435 (1972), on the present showing. In a related case published the same day, In re Care & Treatment of Snyder, ___ Kan. ___, ___ P.3d ___ (2018) (No. 117,512, filed July 27, 2018), the court also upheld Snyder's most recent civil commitment. 

Appeal No. 117,512: In the Matter of the Care and Treatment of Clay Robert Snyder

Archived oral argument video

In an opinion written by Justice Caleb Stegall, the court unanimously affirmed Pawnee County District Court's order to involuntarily commit Snyder under the Kansas Care and Treatment Act for Mentally Ill Persons, K.S.A. 59-2945 et seq. After Saline County District Court found Snyder not competent to stand trial, the Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services initiated involuntary commitment proceedings against him. Pawnee County District Court held an evidentiary hearing, found Snyder was mentally ill and dangerous, and ordered him to be committed for care and treatment. Snyder appealed this order, alleging equal protection and due process violations and challenging the sufficiency of the evidence.

The court held the Care and Treatment Act as applied via K.S.A. 2017 Supp. 22-3303 does not violate the Equal Protection Clause or Due Process Clause of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and the evidence was sufficient to involuntarily commit Snyder. The court found a rational basis existed under K.S.A. 2017 Supp. 22-3303 to distinguish between Snyder and others who share his diagnosis based on his off-grid felony charge. The court also held the Due Process Clause does not obligate the State to release individuals from civil commitment who have been properly found to be mentally ill and dangerous simply because they cannot be successfully treated for their afflictions.

Kansas Court of Appeals decisions released today.

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