BY SUSAN THACKER
Barton County Attorney Douglas Matthews argued a case before the state Court of Appeals, Tuesday in Topeka.
Matthews is appealing a ruling by Barton County District Judge Ron Svaty, who tossed out a case in which Delbert Adams Jr. was charged with driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Svaty had ruled there was no probable cause for the traffic stop or the subsequent arrest of Adams in 2008.
The traffic stop was made after a witness notified law enforcement, claiming to have seen Adams driving erratically. The officer located the vehicle and stopped the driver for a minor traffic infraction. The officer then reported smelling alcohol on the driver’s breath.
After filing the paperwork for an appeal to Svaty’s ruling, Matthews secured a court date in Topeka. Expecting inclement weather and an early spot on the docket, he drove there Monday night. Oral arguments are limited to 15 minutes each for the appellant and appellee, so he was on the road and headed back to Great Bend on Tuesday morning. While presenting a case to the Court of Appeals was interesting, Matthews said the most exciting part of the day came as he drove north on U.S. 281 from Pratt to Great Bend during blizzard conditions.
The Court of Appeals sits in panels of three at locations throughout the state, including its primary courtroom in the Kansas Judicial Center in Topeka. According to the state website, more than 1,700 appeals are filed yearly in this court. Court of Appeals judges ordinarily do not conduct trials. Rather, they decide an appealed case by reading the record of the trial and written briefs filed by the parties, and hearing oral arguments of lawyers. They research and review the law involved in the case and then write an opinion.