Monday, December 5, 2011

11/23 Relevant KY Supreme Court Opinion Summaries

Kenneth Williams v. Commonwealth, 10-SC-138-DG, rendered 11/23/11, and to be published

Williams was among a group of nine people standing in the street in front of a vacant house.  Some of the individuals, but not Williams, were smoking marijuana.  Police approached the group and began questioning them.  One man admitted the bulge in his pocket was marijuana.  Two individuals were searched, and guns were discovered on them.  At that point, the remainder of the group, including Williams, was ordered on the ground and asked if they had weapons on them.  When Williams lay down, an officer noticed a bulge in the middle of his back.  It was a handgun.

            Held:  There was a reasonable articulable suspicion of criminal activity on the part of the group that justified an investigatory stop of individual group members. Particularized suspicion as to Williams was not required; he was part of a group that included some people smoking marijuana and some who possessed handguns, and that was sufficient grounds to initiate a stop pursuant to Terry v. Ohio, 392 U.S. 1 (1968).    

 Lawrence Robert Stinnett v. Commonwealth, 10-SC-347-MR, rendered 11/23/11, and to be published: 

Stinnett was convicted of murder and kidnapping.  He was alleged to have beaten  his girlfriend to death because he believed she was cheating on him.

            Held:  (1) Kidnapping exemption did not apply where the restraint of the victim exceeded that which was ordinarily incident to committing the crime of murder. “Appellant could have killed her without taking an extended time to terrorize her.” (2)  General dissatisfaction with appointed counsel is insufficient to support a motion for new counsel.  “A bar complaint or a lawsuit filed by an indigent defendant against his appointed counsel may give rise to good

cause for his replacement, [but] such filings do not warrant an automatic substitution of an assigned public defender.”

Jared Fields v.  Commonwealth, 10-SC-169-MR, rendered 11/23/11, and not to be published: 

First, the Court addressed an issue not raised at trial or by either party on appeal, holding that same sex non-consensual sexual acts can never be rape.  Fields had been charged with both rape and sodomy, as well as complicity to both and sexual abuse for having non-consensual sexual relations with a 16 year old boy.  The Court held it was not palpable error for Fields to be convicted of rape, rather than the proper sodomy, as both crimes are of the same degree.   The Court then addressed arguments raised on appeal and reversed Fields’ conviction for kidnapping as the interference with the victim’s liberty was no greater than needed to commit the sexual crimes.  Contrast the facts in Stinnett v. Commonwealth, 2010-SC-000347, rendered the same day, where the Court upheld a kidnapping conviction as not qualifying for the exemption. 

Contributed by Kathleen Schmidt