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State v. Robinson

Court of Appeals of Kansas

April 6, 2018

State of Kansas, Appellee,
Roy G. Robinson, Appellant.


         1. Selective prosecution, meaning the unfair targeting of someone for criminal prosecution, violates the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution and is therefore a valid defense to a criminal charge. To succeed on that defense, the defendant must show that others who are similarly situated are generally not prosecuted for similar conduct and that the defendant has been singled out for prosecution based on arbitrary or invidious criteria.

         2. A selective-prosecution defense must be raised by pretrial motion under K.S.A. 2017 Supp. 22-3208(3) and presents a legal issue for resolution by the court, not a jury issue.

         3. A prosecutor's enforcement classification is arbitrary only if people have been classified according to criteria that are irrelevant to law-enforcement purposes. Here, the defendant had a far more serious criminal history than his codefendant, and that's a relevant consideration for law-enforcement purposes. So the district court properly denied a motion to dismiss the charge based on a selective-prosecution claim.

         4. When the sufficiency of evidence is challenged in a criminal case, the appellate court looks to see whether the evidence, when viewed in the State's favor, was enough so that a rational fact-finder could have found the defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. The court looks at the evidence in the light most favorable to the State because the fact-finder has already found in the State's favor.

         5. Sufficient evidence supported the defendant's conviction in this case.

          Appeal from Pawnee District Court; Bruce T. Gatterman, judge.

          Rick Kittel, of Kansas Appellate Defender Office, for appellant.

          Amanda G. Voth, assistant solicitor general, and Derek Schmidt, attorney general, for appellee.

          Before Arnold-Burger, C.J., Leben and Powell, JJ.

          Leben, J.

         Roy Robinson appeals his conviction for aggravated burglary, contending that the case against him should have been dismissed for selective prosecution. Robinson contends that the State unfairly targeted him because it didn't proceed with a burglary charge against a second man who had been with him. Robinson also contends that the district court didn't give the jury a full chance to consider his selective-prosecution defense.

         But the selective-prosecution defense isn't one for the jury to decide, anyway: It has nothing to do with whether a defendant is guilty, which is what the jury determines. And the district court's refusal to dismiss the charge against Robinson based on selective prosecution was appropriate because there were reasons other than some arbitrary or invidious criteria to proceed against Robinson. Robinson had a more serious criminal record and the victim had testified at a preliminary hearing that Robinson, not the other man, had been the one who asked for the property that he had intended to steal.

         Robinson also argues briefly that the evidence wasn't sufficient to show that he entered the home without authority or intended to commit a theft when he came in. But the resident said she didn't invite him in or want him there. And Robinson came to the home at a time when its residents would have been expected to have been at work, which suggested that he entered the home to take something, not to drop by for a visit. So the evidence was sufficient on these challenged points. We affirm the district court's judgment.

         Factual and Procedural Background

         The events at issue unfolded at the Larned, Kansas, residence of Wayne Steen, Jakeeia Chambers, and her four children. (Steen is the father of the youngest child, who was four.) On a normal weekday, Chambers left before 6 a.m. to get to work, though she typically returned briefly around 7:30 a.m. to take three of the children to school, Steen to work, and the youngest child to her father's house. She would then normally return to her employment.

         But she had stayed home from work this Monday morning because she hadn't felt well. By 8 o'clock, Steen had taken their only car to work; the older children were in school; and the youngest child was with Chambers' father. So Chambers was home alone. While she was fixing breakfast for herself in the kitchen, she "heard a big bang" from her ...

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