Friday, August 12, 2011

Can reduce or eliminate postrelease after revocation

Carl Folsom won in State v. McKnight, No. 100,246 (Kan. Aug. 12, 2011), reversing imposition of a postrelease supervision period after the district court had originally declined to impose such a period upon probation revocation. The first issue that the KSC considered was possible mootness, because the state had filed a notice alleging a change of custodial status indicating that Mr. McKnight had been discharged. The KSC held (1) on the record before the KSC, the state had not proved that Mr. McKnight had been discharged and (2) even if moot, the case was capable of reptition, yet evading review. As a result, the KSC reached the merits of the case.

On the merits, the decision was pretty straightforward. The state argued that Kansas statutes mandate postrelease supervision. But K.S.A. 22-3716(b) expressly authorizes that, upon revocation of probation, the district court can "require the defendant to serve the sentence imposed, or any lesser sentence." The KSC held that this language is clear and unlimited, consistent with its 2001 precedent. See State v. McGill, No. 84,570 (Kan. April 20, 2001). Postrelease is part of the sentence. When the district court declined to impose postrelease at the time of revocation, that sentence was legal and could not later be modified.

As an appellate procedure aside, the KSC suggests in dicta that if Mr. McKnight had been discharged, the sentencing appeal would have been moot. But this does not actually decide the issue or consider the impact of legally moving up a person's effective discharge date. There are a lot of consequences that trigger from the time of legal discharge (e.g. right to carry a firearm) and, if a court would hold, as it does in today's case, that a discharge should have occurred earlier, that judgment would have a direct effect. Because the KSC rejects the mootness issue, this case does not decide that issue.

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