fundamental rule of statutory interpretation is that the
intent of the legislature governs if that intent can be
ascertained. When the statutory language is plain and
unambiguous, an appellate court simply interprets the
language as it appears, without speculating and without
reading into the statute language not readily found there.
the statute's language or text is unclear or ambiguous
the court uses canons of construction or legislative history
or other background considerations to construe the
Courts construe statutes so as to avoid unreasonable or
absurd results and presume the legislature does not intend to
enact useless or meaningless legislation.
a court construes language that involves all the nouns or
verbs in a series and there is a straightforward, parallel
construction, a prepositive or postpositive modifier normally
applies to the entire series unless context indicates a
different construction or the resulting construction would be
irrational or absurd.
K.S.A. 2013 Supp. 21-5413(c)(3)(D) governs battery against
city or county correctional officers or city or county
of the judgment of the Court of Appeals in an unpublished
opinion filed December 18, 2015.
from Riley District Court; Meryl D. Wilson, judge. Judgment
of the Court of Appeals reversing the district court is
affirmed. Judgment of the district court is reversed, the
sentence is vacated, and the case is remanded with
Randall L. Hodgkinson, of Kansas Appellate Defender Office,
argued the cause, and Wesley M. Webber, legal intern, was
with him on the briefs for appellant.
K. Disney, senior deputy county attorney, argued the cause,
and Barry R. Wilkerson, county attorney, and Derek Schmidt,
attorney general, were with him on the brief for appellee.
State requests this court review an unpublished opinion by
the Court of Appeals reversing Tracey Toliver's
conviction of felony battery against a law enforcement
officer. For the reasons set out below, we affirm the
judgment of the Court of Appeals.
February 18, 2014, Brian Johnson, a detective for the Riley
County Police Department, was assigned to the
department's Investigations Division. He assisted in
executing a search warrant at a residence in Manhattan.
Johnson wore a vest identifying him as a law enforcement
was at the residence, and he responded aggressively to the
police during the search by shouting profanities and racially
derogatory statements at them. Detective Johnson was assigned
the task of detaining Toliver while his fellow officers
completed the search. Johnson escorted Toliver from the
residence and placed him in the back seat of his police car.
Johnson sat in the front, and a partition between the front
and the back was open to allow conversation.
course of searching the residence, police found drugs and
paraphernalia in close proximity to personal items belonging
to Toliver. They signaled to Johnson that he should consider
Toliver under arrest. Toliver asked when he could be
released, and as Johnson began to answer, Toliver shouted
profanities and derogatory statements at him. Toliver then
leaned forward so that his face was near the open partition
and spat on Johnson's right hand. Johnson closed the
partition and wiped the saliva from his hand. He then
transported Toliver to the Riley County Jail.
receiving clearance from a jailer, Johnson drove through a
gated entrance at the jail. He proceeded into the "sally
port, " a structure with doors on either end of it. The
sally port serves as a secure holding area for removing a
prisoner from a car; both doors to the port are shut after
the car enters the structure. Per jail policy, Johnson
secured his firearm in a locker so it would not be
"accessible to any of the prisoners." Johnson then
remained behind his car as jailers attempted to coax Toliver
out of the vehicle. Toliver was refusing to get out until he
was told why he was being arrested. In an effort to mollify
Toliver, Johnson walked over to tell him "again"
what the charge was. At this time, Toliver stated, "Now
I spit on you, bitch, " and he spat in Johnson's
he spat on Johnson, Toliver was taken to a local hospital
later that day where a court-ordered blood test for
infectious diseases was performed. In the waiting room, an
escorting officer heard Toliver mutter, "[Expletive]
will get a bullet to the head someday. Real talk."
State filed multiple complaints against Toliver based on the
various incidents of spitting, comments to officers, and
drugs and drug paraphernalia found at the residence. On
Toliver's motion, two of the complaints were
consolidated. After the State voluntarily dismissed the
possession of drug paraphernalia count, Toliver requested a
bench trial. The court found him not guilty of unlawful
possession of a controlled substance, guilty of battery
against a law enforcement officer, guilty of felony battery
against a city or county employee by a confined person, and
guilty of two criminal threats. The court sentenced him to
114 months for the felony battery, 12 months for the battery
against a law enforcement officer, and 6 months and 15 months
for the criminal threat convictions, all running
timely appealed and the cases were consolidated. The Court of
Appeals reversed his conviction for felony battery against a
law enforcement officer as charged under K.S.A. 2013 Supp.
21-5413(c)(3)(D), holding that the State ...