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State v. Sims

Supreme Court of Kansas

June 9, 2017

State of Kansas, Appellee,
v.
Essex Sims, Appellant.

         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(1) 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. Whether a sentence is illegal is a question of law over which an appellate court has unlimited review. An illegal sentence under K.S.A. 22-3504(1) is one: (a) imposed by a court without jurisdiction; (b) that does not conform to the statutory provisions, either in the character or the term of the punishment authorized; or (c) that is ambiguous with respect to the time and manner in which it is to be served.

         3. Under the KSGA, the legislature intended for all prior convictions and juvenile adjudications, including those convictions and adjudications occurring before KSGA implementation, to be considered and scored for purposes of determining an offender's criminal history score.

         4. A pre-KSGA conviction and/or adjudication must be classified as either a person or nonperson offense by comparing the criminal statute under which the prior offense arose to the comparable post-KSGA criminal statute. The comparable post-KSGA Kansas criminal statute is the one in effect at the time the current crime of conviction was committed.

         5. The legislature has the power to affix punishments by designating prior offenses as person or nonperson offenses for the purposes of calculating the sentence for a current crime of conviction under the KSGA. The exercise of this legislative authority does not implicate the constitutional protections described in Apprendi v. New Jersey, 530 U.S. 466, 120 S.Ct. 2348, 147 L.Ed.2d 435 (2000).

         Appeal from Sedgwick District Court; John J. Kisner, Jr., judge.

          Carl F.A. Maughan, of Maughan Law Group LC, of Wichita, and Sean M.A. Hatfield, of the same firm, were on the brief for appellant.

          Boyd K. Isherwood, assistant district attorney, Marc Bennett, district attorney, and Derek Schmidt, attorney general, were on the brief for appellee.

          OPINION

          Biles, J.

         Essex T. Sims was convicted of a 1995 aggravated battery and sentenced under the Kansas Sentencing Guidelines Act (KSGA), K.S.A. 1994 Supp. 21-4701 et seq. In calculating his criminal history, the sentencing court included a 1992 juvenile adjudication for aggravated assault, which it classified as a person felony. In 2015, Sims moved to correct what he claimed was an illegal sentence. The district court summarily denied relief. We reject each assertion of error and affirm.

         We hold: (1) Sims is not entitled to have the 1992 juvenile adjudication for aggravated assault classified as a nonperson offense under State v. Murdock, 299 Kan. 312, 319, 323 P.3d 846 (2014) (regarding person/nonperson classification of prior out-of-state offenses for purposes of calculating criminal history score), overruled by State v. Keel, 302 Kan. 560, 357 P.3d 251 (2015), cert. denied 136 S.Ct. 865 (2016); (2) the KSGA's person/nonperson classification of pre-KSGA offenses does not violate the Sixth Amendment's prohibition on nonjury factual findings that increase a defendant's sentence; and (3) the district court did not deprive Sims of a statutory right to a hearing when it summarily denied relief.

         Factual and Procedural Background

         A jury convicted Sims of felony murder, two counts of aggravated battery, one count of criminal discharge of a firearm at an occupied dwelling, and one count of criminal possession of a firearm. These crimes occurred in March 1995. The presentence investigation revealed two prior offenses: a 1992 juvenile adjudication for theft scored as a ...


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