Monday, June 27, 2011

Court of Appeals June 17 "to be published" criminal opinions

Mundy v. Commonwealth 10-CA-000507

In Mundy, police discovered Mundy asleep in a car parked on a street at 5:40 a.m.  The officer testified that he was concerned for Mundy’s health and safety (claimed Mundy was breathing slowly) and opened the door to the car.  When he did so, a baggie of crack cocaine was seen in the floor board.

The Court of Appeals recognized that the emergency aid exception to the Fourth Amendment applies to automobiles.  The Court found that the proper test for determining whether a police officer conducted a lawful warrantless search of a motor vehicle pursuant to the emergency aid exception is whether the police officer’s entry into the vehicle was based on an objectively reasonable belief, given the information available at the time of entry, that a person within the vehicle was in need of immediate aid. 

The Court ultimately found that it was not reasonable for the officer to believe Mundy was in need of immediate aid. 

Stage v. Commonwealth 10-CA-000475

Stage pled guilty to one count of second-degree sodomy and two counts of second-degree sexual abuse in 1994.  Before his release in 2000, the trial court conducted a sex offender risk assessment hearing and found Stage to be a high risk offender.  Stage appealed that determination, the Court of Appeals reversed and the KY Supreme Court denied a motion for discretionary review.  

Another sex offender risk assessment hearing was held in 2010 and Stage was again found to be a high risk offender.  He again appealed.  On appeal, after a somewhat confusing procedural history, Stage argued that 2006 Kentucky Acts, Ch. 182 violated Section 51 of the Kentucky Constitution.  However, as the Court noted, Stage was released from prison on March 8, 2000.  As such, the 1998 version of Kentucky’s SORA was the version in effect when Stage was released from prison and initially registered.  He therefore had no standing to challenge the constitutionality of the 2006 version. 

The crux of the case was if Court could sua sponte dismiss for lack of standing.  The Court found that Stage had no judicially recognizable interest in the constitutionality of the 2006 version of the Act and, without such, it was unable to issue an opinion on the question presented and dismissal was the proper remedy.

Contributed by Brandon Pigg