Kansas Supreme Court Decisions, November 10, 2022

10 Nov 2022 2:47 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

Appeal No. 122,764State of Kansas v. Harold Glen Ford Jr.

Appeal No. 122,764 archived oral argument

In 1993, Ford pleaded guilty to first-degree murder and related charges in Johnson County District Court. His convictions were vacated, and his case remanded for trial in 2016 because it was unclear whether he received a requested competency hearing before his guilty plea and a retrospective hearing was not possible. A jury found Ford guilty of first-degree premeditated murder, aggravated robbery, and aggravated burglary. On appeal to the Supreme Court, Ford argued that his convictions should be vacated because the delay between the original charge and his 2019 trial violated his constitutional right to a speedy trial. In an opinion written by Justice Eric Rosen, the Court affirmed Ford's convictions. It ruled Ford's constitutional right to a speedy trial detached upon his first conviction and remained so while he stood convicted. Consequently, none of the delay accumulated during that time could be considered in a speedy trial analysis. Because Ford made no argument the delay that accumulated outside of the time, he stood convicted independently violated his speedy trial right, his appeal failed.

Appeal No. 123,077State of Kansas v. Richard I. Moler II

Appeal No. 123,077 archived oral argument

The Supreme Court heard this case on a special evening docket October 3 in Parsons.

The Supreme Court reversed Moler's two counts of violating the Kansas Offender Registration Act, which makes it a crime for a person subject to its provisions to fail to register "any vehicle owned or operated by the offender, or any vehicle the offender regularly drives, either for personal use or in the course of employment." K.S.A. 2021 Supp. 22-4903(a) (criminalizing registered offender's noncompliance with the act's provisions); K.S.A. 2021 Supp. 22-4907(a)(12) (automobile registration requirement).

Moler did not register another person's vehicle he drove only once. A Court of Appeals panel divided on how to interpret the statute. The State argued the statute covers vehicles the offender drives one time. In a unanimous opinion written by Justice Biles, the court held the registration directive in K.S.A. 2021 Supp. 22-4907(a)(12) is ambiguous. Under the legislative history and the rule of lenity, which favors the accused when a criminal statute is ambiguous, the Court held the statute's mandate does not require an offender to register a vehicle of unknown ownership when the offender has driven it only one time.
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