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KANSAS CRIMINAL CASES 3/13/20: Kansas Supreme Court rules on three cases involving voluntariness of statements.

Posted by Adam Stolte | Mar 13, 2020 | 0 Comments



Following an administrative hearing, the Kansas Department of Revenue (KDR) suspended Jerry Strickert's driving privileges after finding that he refused to submit to a breath test on August 28, 2017. Strickert filed a petition with the district court seeking review of that administrative decision. After conducting a de novo bench trial, the district court upheld the administrative suspension. On appeal, Strickert challenges the district court's findings regarding the lawfulness of the initial stop, the extension of the initial stop, his arrest, and the request that he submit to an evidentiary breath test. Finding no error, we affirm the district court's decision.

1. K.S.A. 2019 Supp. 8-259(a) requires the district court to review an agency's decision to suspend a driver's license by trial de novo to the court.

2. An appellate court reviews a district court's decision in a driver's license suspension case to determine whether it is supported by substantial competent evidence. Substantial competent evidence is legal and relevant evidence that a reasonable person could accept as being adequate to support a conclusion.

3. A routine traffic stop is a seizure within the meaning of the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution; therefore, to comply with its strictures, the officer conducting the stop must have a reasonable and articulable suspicion that the driver has committed, is committing, or is about to commit a crime. Courts evaluate the existence of a reasonable suspicion under a totality of the circumstances analysis that requires a caseby-case assessment.

4. A traffic infraction provides police with the reasonable suspicion necessary to initiate a traffic stop. The scope and duration of a stop must be strictly tied to and justified by the circumstances that rendered it proper and must last no longer than is necessary to effectuate the purpose of the stop. To extend a traffic stop beyond the time necessary to address the traffic violation, an officer must have a reasonable suspicion to believe that the person was or is involved in additional criminal activity. Reasonable suspicion requires more than just a hunch; the officer must be able to state a particularized and objective basis for believing the person stopped is engaged in criminal activity.

5. Suspension of a driver's license is proper if (1) the law enforcement officer had reasonable grounds to believe the driver operated a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol, (2) the driver was arrested for an alcohol-related offense and there was probable cause to effectuate that arrest, (3) the driver was presented with the required oral and written notices, and (4) the driver refused to submit to the requested breath test.

6. Probable cause is the reasonable belief, drawn from the totality of information and reasonable inferences available to the arresting officer, that the defendant has committed or is committing a specific crime. In the context of the driver's license suspension statute, the reasonable grounds standard is essentially the same as the probable cause standard.

7. In determining whether substantial competent evidence supports the district court's findings, appellate courts must accept as true the evidence and all the reasonable inferences drawn from the evidence which support the district court's findings and must disregard any conflicting evidence or other inferences that might be drawn from it. Appellate courts are expected to give deference to the fact-finder who was in the courtroom when the testimony was given and where the inferences from the facts were reached


STATE V. GALLOWAY, NO. 117941: Change of Venue, Involuntary Statements, Public Trial, Mitigating Circumstances.

The sentence was vacated because the district court refused to consider the lack of criminal history as a mitigating factor to reduce the sentence.

1. Generally, a defendant may obtain a change of venue only upon showing that publicity has displaced the judicial process entirely or that the judge is unable to control courtroom proceedings so as to provide a fair trial.

2. A statement is not involuntary simply because a defendant was tired or under the influence of drugs; the condition must have rendered the defendant confused, unable to understand, unable to remember what had occurred, or otherwise unable to knowingly and voluntarily waive the right to remain silent.

3. Both the United States Constitution and Kansas statutory law guarantee a criminal defendant the right to a public trial. The concept of a public trial implies that doors of the courtroom be kept open and that the public, or such portion thereof as may be conveniently accommodated, be admitted, subject to the right of the court to exclude objectionable characters.

4. A constitutional issue generally requires a specific challenge at trial in order to preserve it for appeal.

5. An appellant bears the burden of designating a record that affirmatively shows prejudicial error. Without such a record, an appellate court presumes the action of the trial court was proper.

STATE V. PARKER, NO. 118349: Motion to Suppress Statements. Miranda need not be read aloud.

1. Statements made during a custodial interrogation must be excluded under the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution unless the State demonstrates it used procedural safeguards, i.e., Miranda warnings, to secure the defendant's privilege against self-incrimination.

2. The voluntariness of a defendant's Miranda rights waiver can be implied under the circumstances. Certain factors may contribute to a finding of voluntariness, such as the defendant explicitly saying that he or she understood his or her rights and then proceeding to answer questions.

3. There is no requirement that Miranda rights be read aloud in order to obtain a legally sufficient waiver of the right to remain silent.

STATE V. SESMAS, NO. 119862: Voluntariness of Statements. Reference to Invocation of Rights.

Miranda challenges differ from 5th Amendment due process voluntariness challenges.  State v. Swindler, 296 Kan. 670, 677-78, 294 P.3d 308 (2013).

1. Legal analysis of Miranda violation questions about criminal defendant confessions to law enforcement is distinct from legal analysis of Fifth Amendment voluntariness questions.

2. Under the totality of circumstances reflected in the record, the defendant in this case voluntarily confessed to detectives, and her incriminating statements were admissible at trial.

3. The State is not permitted to impeach a defendant's version of events at trial with the defendant's post-Miranda silence. A fleeting violation of that rule in this case was harmless error, because the defendant's credibility was already thoroughly impeached by the State's evidence.

About the Author

Adam Stolte

Adam D. Stolte's journey toward becoming an attorney began when he was young. Growing up Adam always had a knack for problem-solving and researching solutions. It was this sense of curiosity and problem-solving that led to him becoming a cryptologic technician in the U.S. Navy. During his time in...


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