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State v. Lewis

July 13, 2007

STATE OF KANSAS, APPELLEE,
v.
CONQUAL D. LEWIS, APPELLANT.



Appeal from Sedgwick District Court; BENJAMIN L. BURGESS, judge.

SYLLABUS BY THE COURT

1. Generally, this court will affirm and adopt a district court's factual findings so long as the findings are supported by substantial competent evidence within the record. In reviewing the factual findings, an appellate court does not weigh conflicting evidence or evaluate the credibility of witnesses. Nevertheless, the ultimate legal conclusion to be drawn from the factual findings is subject to unlimited appellate review.

2. In order to establish a prima facie violation of the fair cross-section requirement for selecting a jury, the defendant must show (1) that the group alleged to be excluded is a "distinctive" group in the community; (2) that the representation of this group in venires from which juries are selected is not fair and reasonable in relation to the number of such persons in the community; and (3) that this under-representation is due to systematic exclusion of the group in the jury selection process.

3. A party is not entitled to a jury panel that mirrors the community at large or closely reflects the various distinctive groups within the population. Taylor v. Louisiana, 419 U.S. 522, 538, 42 L. Ed. 2d 690, The opinion of the court was delivered by: Rulon, C.J.

Affirmed in part and dismissed in part.

Before RULON, C.J., GREENE, J., and KNUDSON, S.J.

Defendant Conqual D. Lewis appeals his convictions for voluntary manslaughter and criminal possession of a firearm, arguing the venire panel was unconstitutionally comprised, the State improperly exercised one of its peremptory challenges, and the district court abused its discretion in denying the defendant's motion for a downward sentencing departure. We affirm in part and dismiss in part.

The parties are aware of the underlying facts of the case, and we will limit our discussion of the facts to those necessary to address the legal issues raised in this appeal.

MOTION TO DISCHARGE JURY PANEL

The defendant's primary contention on appeal involves the district court's denial of his motion to discharge the jury panel based upon a perceived systematic discrimination in Sedgwick County's jury selection procedure. In challenging the implemented procedure, the defendant admits that Sedgwick County employs a random, race-neutral procedure for obtaining a pool of prospective jurors. However, the defendant contends that Sedgwick County does not enforce jury service, which results in a disparity in the representation of African-Americans on juries.

Both parties claim the applicable standard of review is de novo because the issue involves statutory interpretation. Although research revealed no Kansas cases citing the applicable standard for reviewing a district court's denial of a motion to discharge a jury, K.S.A. 22-3407 imposes an affirmative duty upon the party seeking discharge of the jury to prove the jury selection was improper. The district court's ruling on a motion to discharge a jury, therefore, involves mixed findings of fact and conclusions of law.

Generally, this court will affirm and adopt a district court's factual findings so long as the findings are supported by substantial competent evidence within the record. In reviewing the factual findings, an appellate court does not weigh conflicting evidence or evaluate the credibility of witnesses. See Evenson Trucking Co. v. Aranda, 280 Kan. 821, 836-37, 127 P.3d 292 (2006) (stating general scope of appellate review of district court's findings of fact); State v. Corbett, 281 Kan. 294, 304, 130 P.3d 1179 (2006) (discussing standard of review for admission of eyewitness identification). Nevertheless, the ultimate legal conclusion to be drawn from the factual findings is subject to unlimited appellate review. See Corbett, 281 Kan. at 304; cf. United States v. Allen, 160 F.3d 1096, 1101 (6th Cir. 1998) (noting that review of a challenge to fair cross-section representation within the jury is a mixed question of fact and law but indicating an appellate court has de novo review).

"In order to establish a prima facie violation of the fair-cross-section requirement, the defendant must show (1) that the group alleged to be excluded is a 'distinctive' group in the community; (2) that the representation of this group in venires from which juries are selected is not fair and reasonable in relation to the number of such persons in the community; and (3) that this under-representation is due to systematic exclusion of the ...


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