The Kansas Supreme Court will hear oral arguments from 6:30 to about 8:30 p.m. on Monday in the Beach/Schmidt Performing Arts Center located in Sheridan Hall on the Fort Hays State University campus at 600 Park Street in Hays. The court will greet the public in an informal reception following oral arguments. A live video stream of the proceedings will be available through the Fort Hays State University website at www.fhsu.edu/homepage/Events/Kansas_Supreme_Court/. Archived recordings of the proceedings will be available the week following the hearings on the Kansas Supreme Court Archived Oral Arguments page.
Cases to be heard on April 13, docket:
Appeal No. 102,256 and 102,257: State of Kansas v. Heather Page Hilton
Ellis County: (Petition for Review) In Ellis County District Court, Heather Page Hilton pleaded no contest to criminal damage to property for sinking another person’s motorboat. She was granted 12 months’ probation, with an underlying prison sentence of 10 months to be served if she failed to complete the terms of her probation, including paying restitution to the boat owner. When the 12 months’ probation was about to end, the court extended it for 24 months because Hilton still owned $15,484 in restitution. While still serving that probation, Hilton committed a new felony – attempted reckless aggravated battery – for which she was granted 12 months’ probation with an underlying prison sentence of eight months to be served if she did not complete the terms of her probation. Hilton and the state reached a written plea agreement on the new charge. At a joint hearing to determine the sentence to be imposed in the attempted reckless aggravated battery case, and whether to revoke her probation and send her to prison in the property damage case, the district court entered written orders in both cases. The order in the property damage case noted that Hilton’s probation term would run consecutive to the probation in the battery case. The order in the battery case made a similar note. The next month, Hilton admitted to her probation officer she had been drinking in a bar in violation of her probation. The district court revoked her probation in both cases and ordered her to serve the underlying consecutive prison sentences. The district court rejected Hilton’s argument that the court had authority to revoke only the first of the two consecutive probation terms. Hilton appealed and the Court of Appeals affirmed the district court’s ruling, concluding that the judge could revoke both probations. The Supreme Court granted Hilton’s petition for review.
Issue on review is whether the court erred by revoking probation in both cases, instead of only in the property damage case.
Appeal No. 109,796: City of Atwood v. Richard David Pianalto
Rawlins County: (Petition for Review) Richard David Pianalto was convicted of driving under the influence in Atwood Municipal Court, which he appealed to Rawlins County District Court. In district court, Pianalto filed a motion to suppress, challenging whether the officer had reasonable suspicion to initiate a traffic stop. The arresting officer stopped him for driving 28 miles an hour on a stretch of road with a 20 mile an hour speed limit, but the sign showing the speed limit had been knocked down. The officer was unaware the sign was knocked down. The officer noted Pianalto had been drinking and arrested him. An evidentiary breath test at the Atwood Police Department revealed a blood alcohol concentration of .148. The district court denied Pianalto’s motion to suppress, determining the officer’s mistake regarding the speed limit was one of fact, not law, because the officer did not know the speed limit sign had been knocked down. Pianalto argued he had not exceeded the speed limit because under K.S.A. 2013 Supp. 8-1558, a speed limit reverts to 30 miles per hour in the absence of a properly positioned speed limit sign. The district court found Pianalto guilty of DUI, but the court’s ruling did not mention the speeding violation. Pianalto appealed and the Kansas Court of Appeals found that the district court did not err in denying Pianalto’s motion to suppress. The Supreme Court granted Pianalto’s petition for review.
Issue on review is whether the district court erred in finding that the officer’s mistake about the proper speed limit — in the absence of a properly positioned traffic control device — was a mistake of fact rather than a mistake of law.
Appeal No. 105,183: State of Kansas v. Steve Kelly Moyer
Sherman County: (Criminal Appeal) A Sherman County jury convicted Steve Kelly Moyer of five sex offenses, including criminal sodomy, aggravated criminal sodomy, and aggravated indecent liberties with a child. He was sentenced to a hard-25 term plus 116 months. He appeals.
Issues on appeal are whether the district court erred: when it denied his motion for an independent physical examination of the alleged victim; by refusing to grant a mistrial after the jury mistakenly saw part of the alleged victim’s interview that had been redacted; in its limiting instruction on evidence of prior acts; and in assessing attorney fees without considering his ability to pay. Other questions are whether the prosecutor committed reversible misconduct in closing argument by injecting facts not in the record and a personal opinion on the strength of evidence. Also, whether Moyer was denied his Sixth Amendment right to counsel because an impermissible conflict of interest rendered defense counsel ineffective, whether the combined errors deprived Moyer his right to a fair trial, and whether his life sentence is disproportionate and violates the Eighth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and Section 9 of the Kansas Constitution Bill of Rights.