The Kansas Court of Appeals held a session at the JCCC campus this past Tuesday, Apr. 11, in the morning at the Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art.
The panel began with Judge David E. Bruns detailing the session’s timeline and the courtroom etiquette for spectators.
The first case, State of Kansas v. Marquis Brandon Holmes, contended that the State shifted the burden of the charge of aggravated battery towards him instead of focusing on the evidence. “What you have the state doing is diverting the jury from looking at the evidence. Painting my client as someone who’s a danger to society,” Holmes’s attorney, Pete Maharry, said.
“I do think the prosecutor was tying two cases together because they are relevant. I don’t think the jury said I’m going to convict Holmes because Hyatt was convicted,” the State’s attorney,
Natalie Chalmers said during their rebuttal, “Yes, an error existed but at the end of the day he got a fair trial.”
The three-judge panel made up of Bruns, Judge Henry Green Jr. and Judge Sarah Warner, then moved on to Guy Corazzin v. Edward D. Jones & Co. which dealt with a personal injury case after Corrazzin suffered the injury when the chair he was on at Edward D. Jones’s office broke. Corazzin contends Edward D. Jones & Co should’ve known the chair was dangerous due to a warning label placed on the item.
“The defendant here is using this piece of furniture outside the warning label,” Corazzin’s attorney, Caroline R. Gurney said. “They’re saying this piece of furniture is not suitable for high traffic, heavy traffic, it’s just not something you want to have a lot of people sitting in.”
“This chair is literally sold as an ‘office chair.’ The chair doesn’t know what setting it’s in,” Jones & Co.’s attorney, Andrew D. Holder said. “It doesn’t become unsafe whether it’s in an office. It is not a reasonable inference that this chair on Day 1 or even on Day 31 is dangerous.”
After a five-minute rebuttal, Jenny E. DeCavele v. Winbury Operating, LLC, Bear Partners, LLC and Four B Corp. took the floor. DeCavele suffered an injury after tripping on a hole in Sun Fresh Market’s sidewalk. She contended that the “slight-defect” rule did not bar her claim.
“Here it wasn’t a burden for them to maintain their sidewalk. They have acknowledged they can maintain the sidewalk by replacing a slab beside the hole,” DeCavele’s attorney, Scott A. Hunter said.
“There’s just no logical basis to create an exception in this rule,” Sun Fresh Market’s attorney, Christina Ingersoll said. “The slight defect rule is created because it’s a recognition of Kansas weather and Kansas sidewalks. I don’t see any way to overturn the rule without overruling 88 years.”
At the end of the docket, the judges answered questions from spectators about their experience in the court system as well as court procedures.
“One of the things you have to do is know yourself. I remember writing these notes to myself: ‘You must concentrate on self-awareness. You must reflect frequently on prejudice, biases, and value judgments. You must be aware of them so that you don’t cloud your personal decisions,’”
Judge Henry Green Jr. said in regard to working in a district court. “You have to change from being partial to being impartial.”
Judge Burns agreed about having a significant role change from being an attorney to being a judge, “You need to change from zealously advocating for what is right as an attorney to trying to do everything in your power to do what is right as a judge.”
“We need to set aside any personal biases and opinions and only decide the case on the law and the facts presented to us,” Burns said.
Although Judge Sarah Warner said she joined because her skill set made her enjoy solving problems and coming to conclusions, she also professed it’s a hard shift.
“You have a life shift that you undertake when you become a judge. You can’t engage in political discussions. You can’t hang out with attorneys that you come to know and respect because you want to avoid the appearance of impropriety,” Warner said.
Arien Rojas, student reporter