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State v. Gilbert

Supreme Court of Kansas

June 6, 2014

STATE OF KANSAS, Appellee,
v.
TERRY L. GILBERT, Appellant

Appeal from Saline District Court; JARED B. JOHNSON, judge.

Affirmed.

SYLLABUS

BY THE COURT

1. An appellate court reviews a district court's summary denial of a motion to correct an illegal sentence under K.S.A. 22-3504 de novo because the reviewing court has the same access to the motions, records, and files. The reviewing court, like the district court, must determine whether the documents conclusively show the defendant is not entitled to relief.

2. K.S.A. 22-3504 only applies if a sentence is illegal. Whether a sentence is illegal is a question of law over which an appellate court has unlimited review. An illegal sentence under the statute is one: (a) imposed by a court without jurisdiction; (b) which does not conform to the statutory provisions, either in the character or the term of the punishment authorized; or (c) which is ambiguous with respect to the time and manner in which it is to be served.

3. K.S.A. 22-3504 is merely a vehicle to correct a sentence. It is not a mechanism to reverse a conviction.

4. Pro se pleadings are liberally construed, giving effect to the pleading's content rather than the labels and forms used to articulate the arguments. A defendant's failure to cite the correct statutory grounds for a claim is immaterial.

5. Whether the district court correctly construed a pro se pleading is a question of law subject to unlimited review.

Gerald E. Wells, of Lawrence, was on the brief for appellant.

Ellen Hurst Mitchell, county attorney, and Derek Schmidt, attorney general, were on the brief for appellee.

BILES, J. MORITZ, J., not participating.

OPINION

Page 1061

Biles, J.

Terry L. Gilbert appeals the summary denial of a pro se motion entitled " Motion to Correct Illegal Sentence," which was filed more than 10 years after he was sentenced for felony murder. Gilbert claims his sentence is illegal because the standard used at [299 Kan. 798] his trial for issuing lesser included offense instructions in felony-murder cases was overruled over a decade later. See State v. Berry, 292 Kan. 493, 513-14, 254 P.3d 1276 (2011) (overruling judicially created felony-murder instruction rule that had permitted lesser included offense instructions only when evidence of the ...


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