KS Court of Appeals to hold sessions at WSU

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WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – Constitution Day may be on September 17, but the Kansas Court of Appeals is set to commemorate the day at Wichita State today.

There will be a session starting at 9 a.m. and another at 1:30 p.m. at WSU’s Campus Activity Center Theatre.

The constitution was signed on September 17, 1787 and in its honor, congress directed federally funded schools to host educational events about the U.S.

Constitution either on or close to September 17 each year.

Today, three judges will make up the panel with one presiding judge for the hearings.

Attorneys for each side will have an opportunity to present arguments to the judges, who will then have the chance to ask questions.

After the hearings the court will consider each case and issue a written decision within 60 days.

It’s an educational opportunity for students who will be able to stick around and ask questions after the oral arguments are finished.

In a press release, Stephen D. Hill, the presiding judge explained the reason for picking the cases that will be heard today.

“Since this docket is to observe Constitution Day, we chose cases that present everyday constitutional questions our courts must decide,” Hill said.”They demonstrate the importance of recognizing our constitutional rights under a variety of challenges and circumstances.”

Here are the cases being heard today:

9 a.m.

Appeal No. 113,228: State of Kansas v. Daquantrius S. Johnson

Sedgwick County: Johnson was convicted of criminal possession of a firearm, aggravated assault, and felony criminal discharge of a firearm. Issues on appeal include whether: 1) Johnson’s convictions must be reversed because the trial judge dozed off during a portion of the trial; 2) Johnson’s convictions must be reversed because the bailiff gave a legal instruction to the jury during the evidentiary portion of the trial; 3) reversible error was committed when the trial judge allowed the bailiff to orally answer a jury question during jury deliberations outside the presence of Johnson and both trial counsel; 4) Johnson’s convictions must be reversed because appearances were not entered on the record reflecting that Johnson was present during critical stages of the trial; 5) the district court erred by failing to secure a jury trial waiver before accepting a stipulation on one element of a charged crime; 6) the district court erred by refusing to instruct the jury on misdemeanor criminal discharge of a firearm; 7) cumulative errors deprived Johnson of a fair trial; 8) the Offender Registration Act is unconstitutional; 9) the sentencing court needed to make an explicit finding that Johnson used a deadly weapon to impose an offender registration requirement; and 10) the district court erred by entering a lifetime registration requirement on Johnson’s journal entry of judgment.

Appeal No. 114,120: State of Kansas v. Alberto Grado

Sedgwick County: Officers were dispatched to a motel to investigate possible prostitution activity. After speaking with Grado, one of the officers suspected Grado was transporting illegal drugs. Grado signed a waiver form, and based upon the items found during the search, the state charged Grado with one count of possession of methamphetamine with the intent to distribute and one count of possession of paraphernalia. After the district court denied Grado’s motion to suppress, a jury convicted him. Although the district court denied Grado’s motion for a dispositional departure to probation, it granted his request for a durational departure and sentenced him to a prison term of 98-months. Issues on appeal are whether the: 1) district court erred when it denied Grado’s motion to suppress; 2) prosecutor committed reversible misconduct during closing arguments; and 3) district court erred by denying Grado’s request for a dispositional departure or, alternatively, by not sentencing him to a shorter prison sentence.

Appeal No. 114,940: State of Kansas v. Marla Criqui

Reno County: Criqui worked at the Hutchinson Correctional Facility as an employee of a food service company. Prison officials received anonymous letters accusing Criqui of engaging in sexual conduct with an inmate. Agents investigated the allegations of misconduct and asked Criqui to come to the office for questioning. When she did, two agents conducted the interview in a conference room with the door closed. The agents never informed Criqui of her Miranda rights and never told her she was free to leave at any time. Criqui admitted to having sexual intercourse with an inmate. The state charged her with unlawful sexual relations with an inmate while employed at the prison. The district court suppressed Criqui’s confession and the state brings this interlocutory appeal. Issue on appeal is whether the district court erred when it suppressed Criqui’s confession after concluding she was in custody when she was interviewed and should have been given Miranda warnings.

1:30 p.m.

Appeal No. 114,326: State of Kansas v. Mark Steadman

Sedgwick County: Early in the morning, a police officer saw Steadman’s vehicle traveling slowly, intermittently braking, and driving in the extreme right hand portion of the lane with the tires almost in the gutter. As the officer’s vehicle approached Steadman’s vehicle, Steadman signaled and began to turn into a parking lot of a closed business. While turning into the parking lot, Steadman drove over the curb. The officer arrested Steadman for driving under the influence. Steadman filed a motion to suppress challenging whether the officer had reasonable suspicion to stop him. The district court determined the officer had reasonable suspicion and denied the motion. Steadman was convicted of driving under the influence and impeding normal traffic by slow speed. Steadman appeals the denial of his motion to suppress. Issue on appeal is whether the district court erred by finding the officer had reasonable suspicion to stop the vehicle and, thus, erroneously denied the motion to suppress.

Appeal No. 115,218: State of Kansas v. Dakota R. Joy

Reno County: A law enforcement officer responded to a disturbance call and encountered Joy. Joy and the officer spoke next to the officer’s vehicle for about half an hour. The officer eventually arrested Joy for an outstanding warrant. In the patrol vehicle, the officer told Joy that he would face additional charges. Joy responded with incriminating statements. The officer never gave Joy any Miranda warnings. Before trial, Joy moved to suppress all statements he made to the officer. The district court granted Joy’s motion, and the state appeals. Issues on appeal are whether the district court erred when it found Joy was subject to on-scene custodial interrogation and suppressed the statements Joy made to the law enforcement officer and whether the statements Joy made inside the patrol vehicle were the result of interrogation, or given voluntarily.

Appeal No. 115,531: Lori Leann Manley, et. al v. Steven B. Hallbauer & Kathie M. Hallbauer

Labette County: Manley was driving a car that collided with a vehicle driven by Patton at an unsigned intersection of two gravel roads. Manley was killed. Manley’s family sued the Hallbauers, who own property at the corner where the accident occurred. At the time of the accident, the trees and vegetation growing on the Hallbauers’ property obstructed the view of drivers as they approached the intersection. The district court granted summary judgment to the Hallbauers because it found that under Kansas law, landowners do not owe a duty to drivers to maintain visibility at highway intersections by trimming the trees on their property. The issue on appeal is whether landowners owe a duty to drivers to maintain visibility at highway intersections by trimming trees and vegetation on their property.

Appeal No. 114,337: Carlos Chavez-Aguilar, Jr. v. State of Kansas

Sedgwick County: A jury convicted Chavez-Aguilar of second-degree murder, involuntary manslaughter, and aggravated battery. The district court sentenced him to 268-months in prison. Chavez-Aguilar filed a habeas corpus petition, under K.S.A. 60-1507, arguing that his trial was unfair because his trial counsel was ineffective. He claimed the lawyer failed to properly inform him about a plea offer, allowed a video of the crime to be played at an accelerated speed, and failed to cross-examine a witness at trial about prior inconsistent statements. The district court denied Chavez-Aguilar’s motion. The issues on appeal are whether: 1) counsel failed to inform Chavez-Aguilar of a plea offer from the state; 2) counsel failed to object to how the video was played at trial, and if so, did that affect the outcome of the trial; and 3) the trial could have come out differently if the defense had cross-examined one of the trial witnesses.

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