Justia Constitutional Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Kansas Supreme Court
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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the court of appeals affirming Defendant's conviction for driving under the influence, holding that the good-faith exception to the exclusionary rule permits the State to use evidence obtained as a result of Defendant's breath test. Before the court of appeals considered Defendant's appeal the Supreme Court published its decisions in State v. Ryce, 368 P.3d 342 (Kan. 2016) and State v. Nece, 367 P.3d 1260 (Kan. 2016). Those decisions declared Kan. Stat. Ann. 8-1025's criminalization of a driver's refusal to submit to blood alcohol content (BAC) testing to be unconstitutional under the Fourth Amendment. Consequently, a consent to submit to BAC testing after being advised that a refusal was a criminal act rendered the consent unduly coerced and invalid. In Defendant's case, the court of appeals concluded that Defendant's consent to search was invalid but affirmed on the basis that the good-faith exception applied to save the evidence from the exclusionary rule. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the good-faith exception to the exclusionary rule permitted the State to convict Defendant with unconstitutionally obtained evidence. View "State v. Perkins" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the district court's decision reversing the revocation of Brenda Rosendahl's driving privileges but affirmed the district court's finding that the statutorily required $50 fee for an administrative hearing to challenge the suspension of driving privileges is unconstitutional, holding that the district court correctly found that Kan. Stat. Ann. 8-1020(d)(2) is unconstitutional but that this judgment did not impact Rosendahl's suspension. In Creecy v. Kansas Department of Revenue, __ P.3d __ (Kan. 2019), decided on this day, the Supreme Court held that the statutorily required $50 fee for administrative hearing to challenge the suspension of driving privileges is unconstitutional. In the instant case, the Supreme Court held (1) for the reasons set forth in Creecy, the district court here did not err in finding section 8-1020(d)(2) unconstitutional; and (2) the officer not had reasonable grounds to request that Rosendahl submit to an evidentiary breath test, and therefore, the district court erred in finding that the officer did not have reasonable grounds to request a breath test. View "Rosendahl v. Kansas Department of Revenue" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the district court's upholding the suspension of Michael Creecy's driver's license by the Kansas Department of Revenue (KDR) but held that Kan. Stat. Ann. 8-1020(d)(2)'s monetary requirement to obtain a due process hearing, without any exception for the indigence of the licensee, renders that provision facially unconstitutional. On appeal, Creecy challenged the constitutionality of section 8-1020(d)(2), which requires a motorist whose driver's license has been confiscated by a law enforcement officer as a consequence of a driving under the influence arrest to pay a $50 fee to be granted an administrative hearing on the issue of the license deprivation. The court of appeals affirmed the district court. The Supreme Court (1) reversed the court of appeals and the district court on the constitutionality of section 8-1020(d)(2), holding that the provision is unconstitutional and the remedy is a refund of the $50 fee; and (2) affirmed the suspension of Creecy's driver's license, holding that there was no merit of Creecy's other claims. View "Creecy v. Kansas Department of Revenue" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the district court's ruling that a $50 fee mandated by Kan. Stat. Ann. 8-1020(d)(2) to gain administrative review of a driver's license suspension is unconstitutional and affirmed the suspension of Warren Meats' driver's license, holding that Meats was not entitled to relief in this appeal. Meats requested an administrative hearing to challenge the suspension of his driver's license. An ALJ affirmed the suspension. Meats petitioned for de novo review, arguing, inter alia, that the $50 fee required to obtain an administrative hearing was unconstitutional. The district court affirmed the driver's license suspension but ruled that section 8-1020(d)(2)'s requirement as to the fee was unconstitutional. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) this Court considered the constitutional argument in Creecy v. Kansas Department of Revenue, __ P.3d ___ (this day decided), and held that the $50 fee requirement in section 8-1020(d)(2) is facially unconstitutional, but because Meats did not appeal the district court's ruling that the issue was moot as to him, Meats was not entitled to relief in this appeal; and (2) there was no merit to Meats' other claims. View "Meats v. Kansas Department of Revenue" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the court of appeals reversing the district court's summary denial of Defendant's second Kan. Stat. Ann. 60-1507 motion and remanding the case to the district court for an evidentiary hearing on the issue of whether trial counsel was ineffective, holding that the court of appeals applied an incorrect standard to determine whether the district court should have considered a second or successive motion. In his second section 60-1507 motion Defendant argued that trial counsel was ineffective for failing to pursue a defense of mental defect and to request jury instructions regarding the defense of mental defect. The court of appeals reversed and remanded for a hearing on whether trial counsel was ineffective for failing to investigate Defendant's mental defect defense. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the court of appeals erred in holding that the district court did not have to find exceptional circumstances to consider the merits of Defendant's section 60-1507 motion. View "Littlejohn v. State" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the court of appeals affirming Defendant's two criminal threat convictions and his domestic battery conviction and reversing Defendant's aggravated assault conviction, holding that, although the Court's reasoning differed from the court of appeals on Defendant's Brady claim, the court of appeals reached the right result. On appeal, Defendant argued that he was entitled to a new trial because the prosecutor had not timely disclosed a disciplinary report of a deputy sheriff involved in the incident. The court of appeals rejected Defendant's Brady argument in part because the prosecutor had not "suppressed" the report. The Supreme Court held (1) although the court of appeals' reasoning was infirm the court properly rejected Defendant's Brady claim because there was no reasonable probability that Defendant would not have been convicted if the report had been produced to the defense earlier; (2) there was no double jeopardy or multiplicity problem regarding Defendant's two convictions of criminal threat; (3) the prosecutor made an improper statement during closing argument, but the error did not contribute to the verdict; and (4) the district judge did not err by refusing to recall the jury or by denying Defendant's related motion for a new trial. View "State v. Hirsh" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the court of appeals reversing the order of the district court suppressing evidence obtained after police officers unconstitutionally detained Defendant, holding that the court of appeals erred in applying the attenuation doctrine under the facts of this case. In suppressing evidence obtained in a search of Defendant the district court concluded that police officers lacked reasonable suspicion to detain Defendant. The court of appeals agreed but determined that the attenuation doctrine applied. Specifically, the court concluded that the officers' discovery of a preexisting arrest warrant after they seized and search Defendant attenuated the taint of the unconstitutional seizure. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the officers' duty to execute the arrest warrant did not attenuate the taint of the unlawful seizure. View "State v. Sanders" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the court of appeals reversing the judgment of the district court suppressing derived from a search because it found that the search resulted directly from a police officer's unconstitutional seizure of Defendant, holding that this case must be remanded to the district court for further findings of fact. Applying the attenuation doctrine factors set forth by the United States Supreme Court, the district court suppressed the evidence at issue. The court of appeals reversed the district court's ultimate decision, finding that an intervening circumstance attenuated the taint of the unlawful seizure and thus did not invalidate the later search. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the district court erred in failing to consider the officer's discovery of an arrest warrant as a circumstance that intervened between the officer's illegal detention of Defendant and his search of her purse after arresting her; and (2) because there remained unanswered questions of fact, the case is remanded for the district court to make the appropriate findings of fact under the correct legal standard. View "State v. Tatro" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the court of appeals affirming Defendant's convictions and sentences, holding that a police officer's discovery of an expired tag on Defendant's vehicle did not present an intervening circumstance that attenuated the taint of the officer's unconstitutional seizure of Defendant. Defendant was unconstitutionally detained by a police officer. Defendant filed a motion to suppress, arguing that officers obtained incriminating evidence as the result of an unlawful seizure. The district court denied the motion. The court of appeals reversed, finding that Defendant's initial seizure was unsupported by reasonable suspicion but that the United States Supreme Court's attenuation doctrine analysis in Utah v. Strieff, 579 U.S. __ (2016), applied to allow the admission of the evidence. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that there was no attenuation of the taint of the illegal seizure, and therefore, the district court erred by denying Defendant's motion to suppress. View "State v. Christian" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the court of appeals affirming the district court's summary denial of Defendant's Kan. Stat. Ann. 60-1507 motion, holding that summary denial of the section 60-1507 motion was appropriate in this case. On appeal, the court of appeals concluded that the district court erred in elying upon the State attorney's written response to Defendant's pro se motion without first appointing counsel for Defendant but that the error was harmless because the record conclusively established the Defendant was not entitled to relief. The Supreme Court affirmed while disagreeing with the court of appeals' resolution of the right to counsel issue, holding (1) the State's filing of a written response, standing alone, did not trigger Defendant's statutory right to counsel; and (2) the substantive claims Defendant raised in his section 60-1507 motion did not warrant relief. View "Stewart v. State" on Justia Law