Governor signs new ‘prior bad acts’ law

Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius (D) has signed Senate Bill 44 into law. While this act was primarily devoted to enacting a false claims statute for Kansas, it was amended by the House and Senate conference committee to include a section which rewrites part of Kansas law regarding the admissibility of evidence of prior bad acts.

This legislation was spurred by the decision in January by the Kansas Supreme Court in the case of State v. Prine. In an opinion written by Justice Carol Beier the court vacated the conviction of John Prine for the rape of a six year old girl on the grounds that evidence of his having committed similar acts in the past was wrongly admitted as it was not similar enough to the case at hand. Chief Justice Kay McFarland (who has since retired) dissented, arguing that the Court had misread its precedents and created the standard it applied unnecessarily.

SB44 was signed into law on April 20th. It takes effect on the date of its publication in the Kansas Register.

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