continuance hearing is a critical stage of a criminal trial,
requiring the defendant's presence.
the record on appeal does not contain sufficient factual
findings to permit an appellate court to determine whether a
violation of a defendant's right to be present at a
continuance hearing was harmless, the appropriate response is
to remand temporarily to the district court to make the
from Sedgwick District Court; Joseph Bribiesca, judge.
Remanded with directions.
Krystle Dalke, of Law Office of Michael P. Whalen, of
Wichita, argued the cause, and Michael P. Whalen, of the same
firm, was with her on the briefs for appellant.
J. Maloney, assistant district attorney, argued the cause,
and Marc Bennett, district attorney, and Derek Schmidt,
attorney general, were with him on the brief for appellee.
Kristofer J. Wright appeals his convictions for first-degree
premeditated murder and conspiracy to commit murder. Wright
raises five issues in his appeal, but today we address only
his claim that his right to be present at all critical stages
of his trial was violated.
the record is insufficient for us to complete meaningful
review of this issue, and it may be dispositive of the entire
appeal, we remand to the district court for factual findings,
as described below. We retain appellate jurisdiction and will
revisit this case once the findings have been made and added
to the record before us.
and Procedural Background
was charged with premeditated first-degree murder and
conspiracy to commit murder for the shooting death of Jordan
A. Turner. Defense attorney Timothy A. Frieden was appointed
to represent Wright.
wrote Frieden multiple letters from jail while awaiting
trial. Wright also mailed the letters to the clerk of the
district court to have them included in his case file. In a
letter mailed and file stamped shortly before his first
scheduled trial date, Wright wrote that he did not "want
any more continuance[s] accredited to me" and that he
wished to "invoke my right to be present at all critical
nevertheless appeared before the district court on the date
first set for trial-August 19, 2013-without Wright. Frieden
also requested a continuance. The district judge granted the
continuance, which delayed the start of Wright's trial
past the applicable statutory 90 days. See K.S.A. 2012 Supp.
the 90 days expired, Wright filed a pro se motion to dismiss
the case against him, arguing that his right to be present at
all critical stages and his ...