Decision: Rebel v. Kansas Dept. of Revenue

March 27th. The Kansas Supreme Court has issued its opinion in Rebel v. Kansas Department of Revenue (No. 98,930), a judicial review of a driving license suspension for DUI. In a unanimous opinion, written by Justice Davis, the court upheld an unpublished opinion of the Court of Appeals which had reversed a District Court decision that the petition for judicial review had been improperly filed. The case was therefore reinstated, and remanded to the District Court for proceedings. Notes: This case was a companion case to Kingsley v. Kansas Dept. of Revenue, and treads essentially the same ground, clarifying an earlier decision about what the requirements are to bring such actions. 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.

In October 2005, Derek Rebel was pulled over in Hays for driving erratically. He was tested for alcohol and found to be over the limit, though the test was not based on a valid sample as Rebel refused to complete the test. The police officer testifies that Rebel told him that he had consumed alcohol or drugs and that Rebel failed a field sobriety test. Consequently, Rebel’s driving license was suspended.

Rebel sought an administrative hearing, which affirmed the license suspension. He then sought judicial review and the District Court dismissed his case based on his petition not strictly adhering to the requirements of the statute governing judicial review of agency actions. He appealed to the Court of Appeals which held that he had properly filed his petition. The Department of Revenue appealed to the Kansas Supreme Court.

As in its ruling in Kingsley, the Kansas Supreme Court finds that Rebel did comply with the statute in his petition for judicial review. He demonstrated that he had standing to file the petition through having exhausted the agency actions, and he provided the facts which supported his reasons for believing that he would prevail in Court. [Rebel asserts that he did not complete the test due to a medical condition, and that the paperwork filed by the police was incorrectly completed].

Separately to the argument over whether Rebel’s petition was valid, the Department of Revenue argued that he could not litigate the claim relating to the alleged medical condition since he had not raised it in his administrative agency hearing, because in such cases judicial review is only available for matters raised there. The Court affirms that this is the legal rule but rejects the Department of Revenue’s argument here because the notes from the hearing indicate that the medical condition was mentioned there. A similar situation occurred in the companion case of Kingsley, with the Department of Revenue arguing that a particular issue was not raised in the hearing, when in fact it was. It would seem that ensuring the official record is complete in such hearings is an important step.


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