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Manzano v. Kan. Dep't of Revenue

Court of Appeals of Kansas

May 9, 2014


Appeal from Finney District Court; MICHAEL L. QUINT, judge.



1. A driver subject to license suspension under the Kansas implied-consent law has due-process rights.

2. The legislature has provided a driver may request both an administrative hearing and a de novo trial to the district court before the driver's license may be suspended or revoked. The combination of that administrative hearing with de novo judicial review provides sufficient constitutional due process for the suspension or revocation of driving privileges.

3. When the administrative hearing is so circumscribed by the hearing officer that it no longer provides a meaningful opportunity to present evidence, to cross-examine law-enforcement officers, to explore potential issues, and to list the issues a de novo district court trial would consider, the driver's due-process rights have been violated.

4. K.S.A. 77-622 provides broad authority to the district court to enter appropriate relief when it finds that an agency action is invalid under K.S.A. 2013 Supp. 77-621. When the administrative hearing in a driver's license suspension case is so circumscribed that the driver's due-process rights have been violated, the district court does not abuse its discretion by setting aside the license suspension altogether.

John D. Shultz, of Legal Services Bureau, Kansas Department of Revenue, for appellant.

Leslie A. Hess and Andrea K. Swisher, of Kennedy Berkley Yarnevich & Williamson, Chartered, of Hays, for appellee.



Page 322

Leben, J.:

The Kansas implied-consent law provides that a driver's license may be suspended for a failure to take a blood or breath test for alcohol when a law-enforcement officer has reasonable grounds to believe the person was driving while intoxicated. But the law also provides hearings that meet constitutional due-process requirements by allowing both an administrative hearing before a Kansas Department of Revenue hearing officer and, if unsuccessful there, a new trial before the district court.

The Department of Revenue appeals the district court's order setting aside the administrative suspension of Israel Manzano's driver's license. The district court found that the administrative hearing provided to Manzano had been a sham, thus violating his right to a fair and impartial hearing. The Department has appealed, contending that there was no due-process violation since Manzano's license has remained in effect on a temporary basis while his appeal has been pending in the courts.

But we agree with the district court that Manzano's administrative hearing did not

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provide a meaningful opportunity to present evidence, to explore the issues, or to identify the issues that would be subject to a de novo trial in the district court. Under these circumstances, Manzano's due-process rights were violated, and the district court entered an appropriate remedy in light of that violation. We therefore affirm the district court's judgment.

Factual and Procedural Background

On September 30, 2011, Kansas Department of Revenue Administrative Hearing Officer Kent Collins affirmed the agency's suspension of Manzano's driver's license. Manzano was stopped while operating a motor vehicle in Garden City, Kansas, on November 28, 2010. Police Officer David Wheet initiated the traffic stop. Officer Wheet testified at the administrative hearing that he initiated the stop after observing the vehicle accelerate rapidly from a stop sign, squealing the tires. Officer Wheet called Police Officer Oscar Flores to the scene of the stop because Officer Flores was part of the DUI saturation patrol that night.

Manzano was arrested and charged with a DUI in violation of K.S.A. 2010 Supp. 8-1567. After being given the required implied-consent advisories, Manzano refused to submit to testing intended to determine the presence of alcohol or drugs in his body. Officers Flores and Wheet filled out the Officer's Certification and Notice of Suspension form (DC-27) and gave it to Manzano at 3:50 a.m.

Manzano requested an in-person administrative hearing, which was held September 30, 2011, before Administrative Hearing Officer Collins. Manzano and Officers Flores and Wheet were present to testify at the hearing. Counsel began questioning Officer Wheet regarding his investigative report. After a few preliminary questions about when and where Officer Wheet wrote his report, Collins interrupted saying, " Let's move on. If there's an issue with the report get to it." Counsel continued by questioning Wheet about where he and his car were located in relation to where Manzano was driving. After seven more questions from counsel, Collins again interrupted, " Get to the stop. This is taking way too long."

After another seven short questions ( e.g., " How far back?" ; " Were your windows up?" ), Collins said, " Let's get to the actual stop itself." Counsel asked Wheet why he began following Manzano. Wheet said that Manzano had " accelerate[d] rapidly" from a stop sign, " squealing the tires." Counsel then asked whether the officer's windows were down (" No" ) and followed up by asking what the speed limit was at that location.

Collins again interrupted and ruled that Manzano's attorney could not ask any further questions about how and why the officer conducted a traffic stop: " According to the Martin case [ Martin v. Kan. Dep't of Revenue, 285 Kan. 625, 176 P.3d 938 (2008)], that's as far as we're going to go with that. Move on to his contact with your client." Counsel continued by asking Officer Wheet how far he had followed Manzano's vehicle and if he observed anything else. Collins told the attorney to move on: " Let's go to his contact with your client. . . . Client's parked in the driveway, the officer stopped, go from there."

Counsel asked four questions about who was present and then asked where Wheet had turned on his police lights to pull over Manzano in relationship to where Manzano had pulled into his driveway. Collins did not allow Wheet to answer. Collins said, " I don't care. Go ahead. Next question." Counsel asked eight more questions about the discussion that Wheet had with Manzano after the stop. At that point, Collins said he would only allow 5 more minutes to finish the hearing:

" [Hearing Officer Collins:] Okay, I'm going to give you 5 more minutes to complete this.
" [Counsel:] Well --
" [Hearing Officer Collins:] Then I'm going to make a ruling based on what I've heard.

" [Counsel:] Well, wait, I -- I have the other officer. I --

" [Hearing Officer Collins:] Then you better hurry.
" [Counsel:] Well, if we're behind I can reschedule for a time that you have time.

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" [Hearing Officer Collins:] No, we can't reschedule. We're going to ...

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