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Rawlins v. State

May 16, 2008


Appeal from Johnson District Court; STEVE LEBEN, judge.


1. Prisoners in custody under sentence of a court of general jurisdiction claiming the right to be released may collaterally attack their sentence under K.S.A. 60-1507(a).

2. A movant is in custody within the meaning of K.S.A. 60-1507 if he or she is subject to detention, confinement, or restraint on the sentence subject to challenge when the motion is filed. Someone on probation is in custody and can seek relief by filing a motion.

3. A writ of habeas corpus will not be granted to determine a mere abstract or moot question. The writ is generally available only when the release of the prisoner from the detention he or she attacks will follow as a result of a decision in his or her favor.

4. Once a K.S.A. 60-1507 motion has been filed while a prisoner is in custody, the court will not lose jurisdiction because the prisoner is later released before the court has ruled on the motion, if possible adverse collateral consequences arising from the conviction keep the issue from becoming moot.

5. If a K.S.A. 60-1507 motion has not been filed, possible adverse collateral consequences of the conviction alone are not enough to provide a district court with jurisdiction to entertain a later filed motion.

6. Under the facts of this case where the movant was on probation when she filed her K.S.A. 60-1507 motion but completed probation before the court could rule upon the motion, the district court did not lose jurisdiction to rule upon the motion. Possible adverse collateral consequences of her conviction kept the case from becoming moot.

7. When a district court summarily denies a motion under K.S.A. 60-1507, this court has the same ability to review the record and the allegations within the motion to decide whether the case clearly shows the movant is not entitled to relief.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hill, J.

Reversed and remanded with directions.


This appeal arises from the dismissal of a K.S.A. 60-1507 motion. Damaris Rawlins appeals the district court's summary denial of her motion. Under Kansas law, a prisoner in custody may seek habeas corpus relief by filing a K.S.A. 60-1507 motion. Our courts have held that someone on probation is "in custody" for purposes of filing such a motion. Rawlins was on probation when she filed her motion, but her probation ended before the district court could rule. The district court then ruled it no longer had jurisdiction and dismissed her motion. Because Rawlins filed her motion when she was on probation, and possible adverse collateral consequences flowing from her conviction keep the action from becoming moot, we hold the district court had jurisdiction over the motion and reverse its ruling. After examining Rawlins' claims against her trial counsel, we remand the case to the district court with directions to entertain evidence on two of her five claims.

The case history illustrates Rawlins' problems.

We glean these facts from her direct appeal. Rawlins was arrested and taken to the Johnson County jail in January 2000. During the booking process, Rawlins refused to answer the officers' questions, and when she refused to move the officers carried her into a safety cell. As the officers set her down and prepared to leave, Rawlins kicked one of them. State v. Rawlins, No. 87,490, unpublished opinion filed March 21, 2003.

The State charged Rawlins with battery against a law enforcement officer, and she was convicted by a jury. She received a 36-month term of probation for her crime. Rawlins took a direct appeal, challenging the sufficiency of the evidence and alleging that the court erred in failing to instruct the jury on self-defense. This court affirmed the conviction. Rawlins, slip op. at 5-8.

Rawlins filed her K.S.A. 60-1507 motion on June 2, 2004, alleging ineffective assistance of trial counsel. But Rawlins completed her term of probation, and the district court discharged her from state custody on July 12, 2004. About 2 years later, the district court issued a memorandum decision dismissing Rawlins' K.S.A. 60-1507 motion, concluding it lacked jurisdiction because Rawlins was no longer in custody.

After reading the state and federal authorities relied upon by the district court, we reach a different ...

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