Decision: Kingsley v. Kansas Dept. of Revenue

March 27th. The Kansas Supreme Court has issued its opinion in Kingsley v. Kansas Department of Revenue (No. 98,301) a judicial review of a driving license suspension for DUI. In a unanimous decision, written by Justice Davis, the court held that both the District Court and the Court of Appeals had wrongly concluded that Joshua Kingsley had not properly filed his petition for judicial review. Kingsley’s case was therefore reinstated and remanded to the District Court for rulings on its merits (which were unaddressed). Note: Robert E. Davis is now the Chief Justice of the Kansas Supreme Court. At the time this case was argued, Kay McFarland was still the Chief Justice.

Joshua Kingsley was pulled over by police in Hays in 2005, driving erratically. He appeared to be drunk, and indeed admitted that he had been drinking, or taking drugs. A breath test revealed that he was above the allowable blood alcohol level. As a result, his driving license was suspended. Subsequently, Kingsley appealed against the suspension, arguing that the preliminary breath test and search of his vehicle had been illegal, depriving him of his due process rights. The Kansas Department of Revenue board which heard his appeal, ruled against him and affirmed the suspension of his driving license. He then filed a petition for judicial review of this decision in District Court. The District Court and the Court of Appeals both ruled that the petition failed to comply with the requirements of the statute which lays down this procedure, because it did not provide sufficient information about the appeal. These decisions were based on a previous Kansas Supreme Court decision which had held that jurisdiction was only granted to the courts for the judicial review process for appealing agency administrative decisions by correctly and carefully complying with the requirements set out in the statute. That case was Bruch v. Kansas Dept. of Revenue (2006).

In this case the Kansas Supreme Court reversed the Court of Appeals and District Court, clarifying its Bruch decision to make it clear that while the jurisdictional rules still apply, the lower courts in this case had been too swift to rule that Kingsley’s brief petition for judicial review had not met the requirements of the statute. The opinion demonstrates that Kingsley met the twin burdens under Bruch of showing that he was able to seek a judicial review of an agency decision and of stating the facts he sought to have reviewed. He met the former by being subject to the decision and having exhausted the administrative appeals process. He met the latter with his brief assertion that the DUI stop had been in breach of the fourth amendment. The Court carefully noted that the statute merely requires a statement of facts supporting the petition for review, not a legal argument as had been implied by the lower court decisions.

Kingsley’s case was therefore sent back to the District Court for further action. He is unlikely to be successful however, since while this case has been through the court system testing procedural issues the Kansas Supreme Court ruled in Martin v. Kansas Department of Revenue (2008) that held that the exclusionary rule does not apply to appeals of driving license suspensions.

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