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State v. Crabb

Court of Appeals of Kansas

February 6, 2015

STATE OF KANSAS, Appellee,
v.
CHRISTOPHER CRABB, Appellant

Appeal from Shawnee District Court; EVELYN Z.WILSON, judge.

SYLLABUS

1. Interpretation of a statute is a question of law over which appellate courts have unlimited review.

2. The Kansas Legislature has mandated that in all felony trials, upon the request of either the prosecution or the defendant, the court shall cause enough jurors to be called, examined, and passed for cause before any peremptory challenges are required.

3. Our Kansas Supreme Court has ruled that a district court errs if it does not comply with the statutory method of selecting a jury in felony trials upon the request of either party.

4. In order to find an error harmless under K.S.A. 2014 Supp. 60-261, a Kansas court must be able to declare that the error did not affect a party's substantial rights, meaning it will not or did not affect the trial's outcome. The party benefitting from the error always bears the burden of proving it harmless under this standard.

5. Based on the record herein, where the district court used what is commonly known as the hot-box method of jury selection over the defendant's objection, the State has failed to meet its burden of proving the error was harmless.

Lydia Krebs and Peter Maharry, of Kansas Appellate Defender Office, for appellant.

Jodi Litfin, assistant district attorney, Chadwick J. Taylor, district attorney, and Derek Schmidt, attorney general, for appellee.

Before MALONE, C.J., BRUNS, J., and RICHARD B. WALKER, District Judge, assigned.

OPINION

Page 540

Malone, C.J.

Christopher Crabb appeals his conviction of one count of interference with law enforcement. Crabb claims the district court committed reversible error by using what is commonly known as the " hot-box" method of jury selection over Crabb's objection [51 Kan.App.2d 160] instead of using the statutory method of jury selection set forth in K.S.A. 22-3411a. He also argues that the district court erred in instructing the jury and that he was denied a fair trial based on prosecutorial misconduct and cumulative error. We hold the district court erred by using the hot-box method of jury selection over Crabb's objection, and the State has failed to establish the error was harmless. Thus, we reverse Crabb's conviction and remand for a new trial.

Crabb ran from law enforcement officers

On July 25, 2012, Special Agent Joe Cox of the Topeka Parole Office spoke with Crabb in Topeka and learned that Crabb was on parole, or postrelease supervision, and he was being supervised out of Junction City. Cox spoke to Crabb's parole officer in Junction City and learned that Crabb did not have permission to be in Topeka. Cox told Crabb to report to his parole officer in person the next morning and warned that if he failed to do so, the Kansas Department of Corrections (KDOC) might issue a warrant for his arrest.

The next day, Crabb called his parole officer and told her that he could not find a ride back to Junction City. She told him to visit her office by 4 p.m. that day. Cox failed to show up or call the ...


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