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Kirtdoll v. State

Supreme Court of Kansas

May 12, 2017

Bryon J. Kirtdoll, Appellant,
v.
State of Kansas, Appellee.

         SYLLABUS BY THE COURT

         1. The rule of law declared in Alleyne v. United States, 570 U.S. ___, 133 S.Ct. 2151, 186 L.Ed.2d 314 (2013), holding that a criminal defendant's right to a jury trial under the Sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution requires that any fact which increases a sentence beyond the mandatory minimum must be submitted to a jury and proven beyond a reasonable doubt, cannot be applied retroactively to invalidate a sentence that was final when the Alleyne decision was released.

         2. For a K.S.A. 60-1507 motion filed in a case that was final when Alleyne v. United States, 570 U.S. ___, 133 S.Ct. 2151, 186 L.Ed.2d 314 (2013), was decided, the change in the law effected in Alleyne cannot provide the exceptional circumstances required to permit a successive motion or demonstrate the manifest injustice necessary to permit an untimely motion.

         Appeal from Shawnee District Court; Cheryl Rios, judge. Opinion filed May 12, 2017. Affirmed.

          Keith Renner, of Renner Law Office, of Topeka, was on the brief for appellant.

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

          OPINION

          Johnson, J.

         Bryon Kirtdoll appeals the district court's denial of his motion to correct an illegal sentence, in which he argued that Alleyne v. United States, 570 U.S. ___, 133 S.Ct. 2151, 186 L.Ed.2d 314 (2013), renders his judicially enhanced life sentence unconstitutional, and therefore illegal. In addition to rejecting Kirtdoll's illegality-of-sentence challenge, the district court analyzed whether the holding in Alleyne could be retroactively applied to Kirtdoll by construing his pleading as a K.S.A. 60-1507 motion. Using the prospective-only application of Apprendi v. New Jersey, 530 U.S. 466, 120 S.Ct. 2348, 147 L.Ed.2d 435 (2000), as an analogy, the district court held that Alleyne could not be retroactively applied and, consequently, Kirtdoll could not obtain relief in a 60-1507 collateral attack. We affirm the denial of postconviction relief.

         Factual and Procedural Overview

         Kirtdoll was convicted in 2004 of first-degree murder and sentenced to an imprisonment term of life without possibility of parole for 50 years (hard 50 life sentence). His conviction and sentence were affirmed on direct appeal, where one of the issues he raised was a constitutional challenge to the hard 50 life sentence based on Apprendi. State v. Kirtdoll, 281 Kan. 1138, 1151, 136 P.3d 417 (2006).

         Two K.S.A. 60-1507 motions followed, one filed in 2007 and another in 2010. Both were denied by the district court and affirmed by the Kansas Court of Appeals. Kirtdoll v. State, No. 100, 880, 2009 WL 2766290 (Kan. App. 2009) (unpublished opinion), rev. denied 290 Kan. 1094 (2010); Kirtdoll v. State, No. 107, 385, 2013 WL 517812 (Kan. App.) (unpublished opinion), rev. denied 297 Kan. 1246 (2013).

         The current action began when, in 2013, Kirtdoll filed a pro se "Motion to Vacate Sentence, " which appeared to be a motion to correct an illegal sentence. After hearing arguments, the district court dismissed Kirtdoll's motion. In a comprehensive written memorandum and order, the district court analyzed the merits of Kirtdoll's motion under both K.S.A. 22-3504 (correction of illegal sentence) and K.S.A. 60-1507 (postconviction collateral attack of sentence).

         Although issued before this court's decision in State v. Moncla, 301 Kan. 549, 343 P.3d 1161 (2015), the district court reached the same conclusion regarding K.S.A. 22-3504. Specifically, the district court held that Kirtdoll's claim that his sentence was the product of an unconstitutional sentencing scheme did not fit the narrow definition of an illegal sentence for K.S.A. 22-3504 purposes, and, therefore, a motion to correct an illegal sentence could not be used to obtain the relief he sought.

         The district court then, on its own, analyzed Kirtdoll's pro se motion as if it were being filed under K.S.A. 60-1507. The district court adopted the reasoning of the Kansas Court of Appeals panel in Verge v. State, 50 Kan.App.2d 591, 335 P.3d 679 (2014), rev. denied302 Kan. 1022 (2015). Verge analogized Alleyne to Apprendi, which is not retroactively applicable to a defendant through a collateral attack pursuant to K.S.A. 60-1507. 50 Kan.App.2d at 593-94. Accordingly, the panel held that Alleyne cannot be retroactively applicable to cases that were final when the decision was released. 50 Kan.App.2d at 598. Therefore, because Alleyne did not apply to Kirtdoll, the district court did ...


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