Decision: State v. Boggs

December 5th. The Kansas Supreme Court has issued its decision in State v. Boggs, No. 96,921, the Court agreed with the Court of Appeals and ordered a new trial for one Charles Boggs of McPherson. Boggs had been convicted of possession of marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia after a pipe was found under the seat of a car he had been a passenger in following a DUI stop. Justice Davis wrote the unanimous opinion.

In throwing out the conviction, the Supreme Court affirmed its Gundy decision from 2006 that evidence of other criminal activity (in this case Boggs’ confession that he had smoked pot about a month earlier) is inadmissible except where used to prove a material fact under dispute (such as whether a person found in possession of a prohibited substance knew it was there and therefore intended to carry it). In this case Boggs was asserting that the pipe was not his and that he had no knowledge of it. The Court therefore determined that his intent was irrelevant and therefore his admission to being a drug user had no bearing on the State’s burden to prove that the pipe was his.

The Court further clarified that its Gundy ruling impacts all relevant cases in the State of Kansas that have not reached their natural end-point (i.e. where a conviction has resulted, an appeal held or waived and the time for any final appeal or rehearing has ended). The State had sought to argue that since Boggs was convicted before the Gundy decision that that precedent was not applicable to this case.

Finally, the Court also overturned (but did not vacate) some unpublished Court of Appeals rulings which appeared to contradict its decision and disapproved some pattern instructions for jury trials which summarized the relevant case law in contradiction to its decision.

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