Friday, March 09, 2007

Guess the district judge

Carl Folsom won in State v. Owens, Appeal No. 95,491 (Kan. App. March 9, 2007)(unpublished), reversing a Sedgwick County aggravated robbery conviction. The state charged Mr. Owens with aggravated robbery. Kurt Kerns worked out a plea agreement for robbery with a recommendation for low number in the box. Just before bench trial, Kurt announced that the plea agreement had been reached:
MR. KERNS: Judge, we have a plea agreement, we're good to go, if we're at that point.
THE COURT: No. We're starting trial. It's 10:20.
MR. KERNS: Okay.
The district judge convicted Mr. Owens of aggravated robbery.

Acknowledging that a defendant does not have an absolute right to plead guilty, the COA agreed that the district judge (who shall remain nameless) abused his discretion by refusing to accept the plea without articulating "any reason, good or otherwise, for rejecting the defedant's request to plead nolo contendere." As a result, the conviction is reversed and remanded for further proceedings.

[Update: the state did not file a PR and the mandate issued on April 12, 2007]

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