U.S. Supreme Court to hear Kahler death sentence appeal

Court schedules three Kansas cases for fall docket

TOPEKA, Kan. – Three appeals involving Kansas will be on the U.S. Supreme Court docket when the court reconvenes for its October term, with one case centered on a capital murder conviction and subsequent death penalty sentence delivered by a jury and judge in Osage County, Kan.

On Oct. 7, the first day of this year’s term, the Court will hear the defendant’s appeal in Kansas v. James Kraig Kahler, the capital murder case arising from Osage County. In the appeal, defendant Kahler does not dispute killing his wife, the couple’s two daughters, and his wife’s grandmother in November 2009, but argues Kansas law unconstitutionally prevented him from asserting an insanity defense in his case. The Kansas Supreme Court affirmed the conviction and death sentence, and the U.S. Supreme Court granted the defendant’s request to review that decision.

The Kansas Attorney General’s Office reported it is the first time in modern Kansas history that the state has had three cases pending before the high court at one time. The attorney general’s office will represent Kansas in all three appeals as it does in all U.S. Supreme Court litigation.

“The U.S. Supreme Court agrees to hear only about one percent of the cases they are asked to review each term,” said Attorney General Derek Schmidt. “It is highly unusual for a single state, especially a small state like Kansas, to have three cases pending before the Court simultaneously. We are working vigorously to prepare for these three arguments and look forward to presenting the State’s cases in the fall.”

Related story: Kansas Supreme Court to hear appeal in Osage County death penalty case

Other Kansas cases

On Oct. 16, the Court will hear the State’s appeal in Kansas v. Ramiro Garcia et. al., an identity theft case arising from Johnson County. Defendant Garcia’s conviction for identity theft was overturned by the Kansas Supreme Court, which ruled that federal immigration law preempts state criminal prosecutions for using false or stolen personal information if that false information also appears on the defendant’s federal immigration forms. The U.S. Supreme Court granted the State’s request to review that decision.

On Nov. 4, the Court will hear the State’s appeal in Kansas v. Charles Glover, a vehicle-stop case arising from Douglas County. Defendant Glover’s citation for driving without a license was overturned by the Kansas Supreme Court, which ruled that a Douglas County deputy lacked reasonable suspicion to initiate a traffic stop when he ran a license plate search, discovered the owner of the vehicle had a suspended license, and suspected that the registered owner was driving the vehicle. The U.S. Supreme Court granted the State’s request to review that decision.

Kansas last participated in oral argument at the U.S. Supreme Court in 2015, when the attorney general successfully argued that that the death sentences imposed on two capital murder defendants in Wichita and one in Great Bend did not violate the U. S. Constitution. Those cases were Kansas v. Jonathan and Reginald Carr and Kansas v. Sidney Gleason.

Information thanks to Kansas Attorney General’s Office.


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