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Kansas Court of Appeals at KU

Kansas Court of Appeals in session at KU

September 20, 2016 | Alderson Auditorium | Kansas Union

A three-judge panel of the Kansas Court of Appeals will hear five cases September 20, 2016 at the Kansas Union at the University of Kansas as part of the court’s observance of Constitution Day.

The court will hear cases at 9 a.m., 10:30 a.m., and 2 p.m. in Alderson Auditorium. The proceedings are open to the public.

A Q&A session with the judges will follow the final case and a brief ceremony.

Judges G. Joseph Pierron, L'71, Gordon Atcheson, L'81, and Karen Arnold-Burger, L'81, will hear the cases. 

Meet the Judges

Preview the cases

The five cases to be heard at KU are:

9 a.m.

State of Kansas v. Clayton Deion Wilmer (Appeal from Leavenworth County)

Leavenworth County: Clayton Wilmer was convicted of 21 counts of violating a no contact order. The district court ordered appellant Wilmer to have no contact with a witness during a preliminary hearing, concerned that Wilmer was attempting to change the witness's testimony. The court sentenced Wilmer to a 12 month sentence for each violation, set to run concurrently. The issues on appeal are: (1) whether the district court has authority to issue such an order; and (2) whether the order restricts his free speech rights under the First Amendment.

10:30 a.m.

In the Matter of the Care and Treatment of Tim Kukovich (Appeal from Miami County)

Miami County: Tim Kukovich was charged with a rape occurring 6 years in the past. He was found incompetent to stand trial. Under K.S.A. 2015 Supp. 22-3303(1), the district court ordered the Kansas Department of Aging and Disability Services (KDADS) to initiate an involuntary commitment proceeding. In a subsequent commitment proceeding, Kukovich was found to be mentally ill and a danger to himself and others. Kukovich appealed, claiming the involuntary commitment procedure authorized by K.S.A. 2015 Supp. 22-3303(1) violated his substantive due process and equal protection rights both because he is not mentally ill and because his mental condition is untreatable. While appellate review was pending, the district court held a review hearing and determined that Kukovich was not a danger to himself or others, released him, and dismissed the involuntary commitment proceedings. The issues on appeal are: (1) whether the appeal is moot; and (2) whether the involuntary commitment procedure violated Kukovich's substantive due process and equal protection rights.

State of Kansas v. David Horn (Appeal from Douglas County)

Douglas County: David Horn was charged with domestic battery. At trial, he objected to the admission of his statements to the police officers who responded to the domestic disturbance call, contending that the district court had not first determined the statements' voluntariness under Jackson v. Denno, 378 U.S. 368, 84 S. Ct. 1774, 12 L. Ed. 2d 908 (1964). The district court admitted the statements over his objection. Horn was convicted of domestic battery but the jury returned a verdict that found Horn had not committed an act of domestic violence. At sentencing, Horn was given a suspended 6-month jail sentence and was ordered to obtain a domestic violence assessment and to follow its recommendations. The issues on appeal are: (1) whether the district court erred in admitting his statements to police; and (2) whether the district court abused its discretion in requiring him to obtain a domestic violence assessment.

2 p.m.

State of Kansas v. Jack R. Lapointe (Appeal from Johnson County)

Johnson County: Jack LaPointe was convicted of aggravated robbery and aggravated assault based on a robbery of a Payless Shoe Source. Because he had a criminal history score of A, the district court sentenced LaPointe to 245 months' imprisonment. LaPointe filed a motion for postconviction DNA testing under K.S.A. 2015 Supp. 21-2512. The district court granted the motion; the State appealed. On appeal, the State argued the issue was a question reserved. The Kansas Court of Appeals dismissed the appeal for lack of jurisdiction due to the lack of a final judgment. The State filed a petition for review, which the Kansas Supreme Court granted. In its petition for review, the State asked the Court to consider the issue on the merits because there is now a final judgment. 

Meanwhile, upon receiving favorable DNA test results, LaPointe filed a motion seeking relief under K.S.A. 2015 Supp. 21-2512. The district court denied the motion finding the jury would not have reached a different outcome in light of the evidence presented at the trial. LaPointe timely appeals. The State also filed a cross-appeal. The issues on appeal are: (1) whether the district court had jurisdiction to grant LaPointe's motion for postconviction DNA testing; and (2) whether the district court committed reversible error in denying Lapointe's motion for relief under K.S.A. 2015 Supp. 21-2512.

State of Kansas v. Hai That Ton (Appeal from Johnson County)

Johnson County: Hai That Ton was convicted of possession of marijuana with intent to distribute and failure to pay the drug stamp tax, and the district court sentenced him to a controlling sentence of 28 months. Before trial, Ton filed a motion to suppress all evidence. Officers obtained the evidence against Ton after a security manager for UPS detained a package addressed to Ton's residence, and the police subjected the package to a canine sniff. As a result of the sniff, officers obtained a warrant to search the package and Ton's home. Officers found marijuana in the package and in the basement of his residence. The district court denied Ton's motion. The issues on appeal are: (1) whether reasonable suspicion is necessary to remove a package from the mail stream; (2) whether officers had reasonable suspicion to detain Ton's package; and (3) whether the package was detained for an unreasonable amount of time. ​

View the docket

Meet the judges

Judge G. Joseph Pierron Jr.

Hon. G. Joseph Pierron Jr.

G. Joseph Pierron was born May 16, 1947, in Kansas City, Kansas, and now lives in Lawrence. He grew up in Olathe and graduated from Olathe Senior High School in 1964, Rockhurst College of Kansas City, Missouri, in 1968 and the University of Kansas School of Law in 1971.

Prior to his 1990 appointment to the Kansas Court of Appeals he served as a district judge in Olathe from 1982. Before that he was an assistant county and district attorney in Johnson County from 1971. He was also municipal judge of Spring Hill in 1972.

Judge Pierron served as president of the Kansas Committee for the Prevention of Child Abuse and on the board of directors of the Kansas Children's Service League. He is chair of the Kansas Bar Association Law Related Education committee and is a member of the American Bar Association Judicial Administration and Alternative Dispute Resolution sections. He served as chair of the Bicentennial Commission on the United States Constitution for Johnson County.

Judge Pierron has received leadership and public service awards from the National Committee for the Prevention of Child Abuse, the Kansas Children and Youth Advocacy committee, the Kansas Corporation for Change, the Olathe Police Department, the Olathe Medical Center, the Olathe Jaycees and the Leavenworth Kansas Bar Association.


Judge G. Gordon Atcheson

Hon. G. Gordon Atcheson
Governor Mark Parkinson appointed G. Gordon Atcheson to the Court of Appeals on July 14, 2010. Atcheson began his service on the Court in September after closing his law office.

Appointed at age 56, Atcheson was born and raised in the Central New York town of Cortland. He received a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Michigan in 1976 and moved to Wichita the next year. Atcheson received his Juris Doctor from the University of Kansas School of Law in 1981. He practiced law with the Sedgwick County District Attorney’s office (1981-1983); Hall, Turner & Pike (1983-1986); Shamberg, Johnson & Bergman (1986-1989); Blake & Uhlig (1989-2005); and The Atcheson Law Office (2005-2010). Atcheson focused his work almost exclusively on civil and criminal litigation. He has represented clients in the trial and appellate courts in Kansas and in federal courts across the country, including the U.S. Supreme Court.

Atcheson has lived in Overland Park since 1986. He is married to Cheryl A. Pilate, a principal in the Kansas City, Missouri, law firm of Morgan & Pilate LLC.


Judge Karen Arnold-Burger

Hon. Karen Arnold-Burger

Karen Arnold-Burger is a fourth-generation Kansan. She was born in Kansas City, Kansas in 1957 and graduated from Shawnee Mission North High School in 1975. Following high school, she attended Johnson County Community College for one year before beginning her undergraduate studies at the University of Kansas. Just two and a half years later she graduated with distinction earning degrees in Political Science, Psychology and Personnel Administration. While at KU, she was inducted into the Phi Beta Kappa honor society and was awarded the Sunflower State Award for the outstanding woman majoring in political science. She received her law degree from the University of Kansas in August 1981.

Judge Arnold-Burger served as First Assistant City Attorney for the City of Overland Park before accepting a position as an Assistant U.S. Attorney in Kansas City, Kansas. She was appointed to the Overland Park Municipal Court in 1991, and was appointed Presiding Judge of that court in 1996. Governor Mark Parkinson appointed her to the Court of Appeals on January 6, 2011.

Judge Arnold-Burger has always been a leader in her profession. She served as President of the Johnson County Bar Association, the Kansas Municipal Judges Association, and the Earl E. O'Connor Inn of Court. She has served on the Executive Board of the NCSCJ, a section within the Judicial Division of the American Bar Association and on the Board of Governors of the University of Kansas School of Law. She has been an adjunct faculty member at the National Judicial College since 2000, and was elected by her fellow faculty members to serve on the Faculty Council beginning in 2010. She is a graduate of the Institute for Faculty Excellence in Judicial Education at the University of Memphis and is a frequent presenter at judicial education programs nationwide. In 2006, she was awarded the Justinian Award for Professional Excellence by the Johnson County Bar Association. The award is given annually to an attorney who exemplifies integrity, service to the community, and service to the legal profession. In 2015, she was awarded the Burnham "Hod" Greeley Award by the American Bar Association. The award was given in recognition of her significant and positive impact on public understanding of the role of the judiciary in a democratic society and its importance to the Rule of Law.

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