The following case summaries are provided by Stacey L. Schlimmer. For complete case opinions visit kansascourts.org. All cases are individual and in no way do these cases reflect every case.
State of Kansas v. Sean Bird, 103,855, Nov. 22, 2013
The Kansas Supreme reversed the Court of Appeals decision that vacated the district court’s imposition of a downward durational departure sentence. The defendant was convicted of robbing a Taco John’s, criminal threat, possession of marijuana, possession of cocaine and possession of drug paraphernalia. At sentencing the trial court granted a durational departure from the guidelines based on the following factors:
1) the nature of the crime;
2) the nature of the harm and safety to the public in the future;
3) the issue of non-injury, and;
4) the acceptance of responsibility by the defendant.
Because the departure was granted on the drug charges, the Court of Appeals held that the nature of the harm and safety to the public in the future and the issue of non-injury were not supported by substantial competent evidence. The Court of Appeals rejected the other two remaining factors—nature of the crime and acceptance of responsibility—because they were not consistent with the principles of the Kansas Sentencing Guidelines. The Kansas Supreme Court reversed and held that the nature of the crime and acceptance of responsibility by the defendant are both factors that may serve as a substantial and compelling reason to depart from a presumptive sentence. The Kansas Supreme Court also points to case law that holds evidence that a defendant is peaceful, mild-mannered, and non-violent supports the conclusion that a defendant is not a threat to society.