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Chief Judge to sit with Kansas Supreme Court May 28
new slt MUST johnson
Steve Johnson

TOPEKA — Chief Judge Steve Johnson of the 20th Judicial District will sit with the Kansas Supreme Court to hear and help decide one case on the court’s May 28 docket that will take place by videoconference.

“The Supreme Court looks forward to Chief Judge Johnson hearing this case with us. He will read the case materials, prepare for oral argument, and deliberate with the court on its decision,” said Chief Justice Marla Luckert. “We thank him for helping us, especially because we know he already has a significant caseload in his judicial district to handle.”

Johnson was appointed chief judge of the 20th Judicial District in January. The 20th Judicial District is composed of Barton, Ellsworth, Rice, Russell and Stafford counties.

“I appreciate this opportunity and honor to serve with the Supreme Court in this small way,” Johnson said. “I am sure it will be an enriching experience that will give me valuable insight to use in my district judge position. I don’t believe you can really understand a process until you have had the opportunity to participate in it.” 

Johnson was elected district judge in 2012. He grew up in Gove County and graduated from Healy High School, Fort Hays State University, and Washburn University School of Law. He was in private practice in Great Bend from 1985 to 2012.

The case

All cases on the May 24–28 docket will be heard by videoconference and livestreamed on the Supreme Court YouTube channel.

Johnson will join justices by videoconference at 11 a.m. Friday, May 28, to hear oral arguments in Appeal No. 121,866: State of Kansas v. Luqman Yusuf Keys; Shawnee County Criminal Appeal.

Keys arranged to purchase marijuana from Cole Gilbert. Arden King, who was Gilbert’s friend and an acquaintance of Keys, was present for the planned transaction. Keys brought the only gun to the meeting. While in Gilbert’s apartment, Keys shot King once in the chest, killing him. At his first trial, the jury acquitted Keys of burglary and hung on felony murder and robbery. A second jury convicted Keys of both felony murder and aggravated robbery. The court sentenced Keys to a “Hard 25” life sentence for felony murder and consecutive and concurrent sentences for aggravated robbery and criminal possession of a firearm, respectively.

Issues on appeal include whether: 1) the second superseding indictment was fatally defective and denied Keys due process and notice; 2) the district court erred in denying Keys’ motion to dismiss, violating his equal protection rights; 3) the district court violated Keys’ right to confrontation; 4) the district court’s errors relating to jury instructions on self-defense violated Keys’ state and federal constitutional rights; and 5) cumulative error denied Keys a fair trial.