Team at Bath & Edmonds, garners Kansas Supreme Court wins in four cases over five years

2016—State charged a retailer with several counts of promoting obscenity. Bath & Edmonds moved to dismiss complaint against this corporate defendant on statutory speedy trial grounds, citing Bollacker, which had applied statutory speedy trial to an individual who had appeared by summons. District Court agreed. State appealed. Court of Appeals affirmed the dismissal. State petitioned for review to answer the novel question of whether statutory speedy trial could be applied to grant relief to a corporate defendant who had been ordered to appear on a summons. The Supreme Court affirmed the dismissal, finding that, despite overruling Bollacker, the defendant’s right to a dismissal under then-existing law vested upon dismissal and the subsequent law change could not be applied.

2017—Defendant was charged with stabbing a man with an antique sword that defendant says was a weapon-of-last-resort, for which he reached in self-defense. District Court granted motion to dismiss on self-defense immunity grounds. State appealed. Court of Appeals reversed the District Court, reasoning that evidence at self-defense immunity hearing must be viewed in light most favorable to State. Defendant petitioned for review. In this case of first impression (along with Hardy decided the same date), the Supreme Court affirmed the District Court, holding that the State’s evidence was not owed deference at a self-defense immunity hearing and that the District Court properly dismissed the case where the State had not established probable cause demonstrating that the use of force was unjustified.

2019—In a sale of narcotics case that began with a (video-recorded) police encounter in an empty parking lot in the middle of the night where the officer repeatedly warned defendant “not to f#$k with” him, defendant argued that he was effectively in custody when he made pre-Miranda statements and that any post-Miranda statements were the result of threatening words and conduct by police. The District Court denied his motion to suppress both sets of statements—though it suppressed one statement that came while he was handcuffed but before he was read Miranda—and any evidence recovered as fruit of the unlawful conduct. Bath & Edmonds appealed. The Court of appeals denied the appeal as to the pre-Miranda statements (finding them to be non-custodial) but granted as to the post-Miranda statements (finding that police words and conduct rendered the statements involuntary). The Court of Appeals was unable to do a harmless error analysis because the State failed to include a trial transcript in the record. The Court set aside the convictions and ordered a new trial. The State petitioned for review as to the post-Miranda statements. The defense cross-petitioned as to the pre-Miranda statements. The Supreme Court affirmed the Court of Appeals as to the post-Miranda statement, agreeing that a “confession” extorted by fear is not voluntary. The Supreme Court reversed the Court of Appeals as to the pre-Miranda statements, reasoning that the defendant’s 5th Amendment right against self-incrimination was violated when he was questioned in a setting where—due in large measure to the same police hostility that drove the rest of the Court’s decision—the defendant did not feel free to terminate the encounter and was, for all practical purposes, in custody.

2020—Police saw client sitting in his car inside his garage after responding to a call about erratic driving in the area. Police illegally entered client’s garage without a warrant. Client was ultimately arrested for DUI and asked to submit to alcohol testing. He refused. His driver’s license was administratively suspended in relation to the alcohol test refusal. The administrative hearing officer declined to hear or consider evidence that the arrest and subsequent refusal were fruits of illegal police conduct. Bath & Edmonds petitioned for judicial review by the District Court. The District Court likewise declined to hear evidence of the illegal police conduct that initiated the encounter. Bath & Edmonds appealed. The Court of Appeals affirmed the District Court. Bath & Edmonds petitioned for review. The Supreme Court reversed the District and Appeals courts. This was another case of first impression, which held, along with Jarvis, decided the same date, that on judicial review of an administrative driver’s license hearing, the District Court may consider any constitutional issues and may invalidate a suspension order upon a finding that the contact with police was unlawful.