"This is the scene inside the Paul E. Wilson Project for Innocence and Post-Conviction Remedies. All those files represent the life of a person in a Kansas correctional facility. It is those files that law students will be pouring over to determine if they can make a case to win that person a new trial and another chance at freedom or, at least, a more fair sentence - if it's warranted.
"Oliver Burnette’s reality is a constant reminder for him that even well-intentioned laws and the pursuit of justice can sometimes go extremely wrong.
Burnette, a 1990 graduate of Lee’s Summit High School, is the executive director of the not-for-profit Midwest Innocence Project (MIP). The Kansas City-based organization investigates and litigates cases of those wrongfully convicted of a crime in Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa and Arkansas.
"Legislation introduced Tuesday, inspired in part by the exoneration of Floyd Bledsoe last December, would require law enforcement agencies to videotape interrogations of murder defendants in Kansas.
Rep. Ramon Gonzalez, R-Perry, introduced House Bill 2593 to mandate recorded interrogations of suspects arrested in connection with capital murder, first-degree murder and second-degree murder.
Alice Craig, Bledsoe’s attorney with the Paul E. Wilson Project for Innocence at the University of Kansas, supports the recording of interrogations.
"The Kansas House will debate a bill Wednesday to change the way Kansas Supreme Court justices are selected.
HCR 5005 would amend the state’s Constitution so that Kansas Supreme Court justices would be appointed by the governor and confirmed by the Senate, similar to the way judges are selected at the federal level.
If the proposal obtains a two-thirds majority in both the Kansas House and Senate, it would be added to the November ballot statewide.
"Republican Secretary of State Kris Kobach and Democratic Rep. Jim Ward of Wichita offered sharply different accounts this week about how the state's new, restrictive voting laws have affected voter participation in Kansas elections.
Kobach and Ward appeared together before the Kansas Advisory Commission to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights.
"Hundreds of prisoners serving mandatory life without parole sentences for crimes they committed when they were juveniles may get new sentencing hearings after a Jan. 25 decision by the U.S. Supreme Court.
The court's 2012 decision banning mandatory life without parole sentences for juvenile offenders applies retroactively, Justice Anthony M. Kennedy wrote for the 6-3 majority.
"Child pornography is not like guns or drugs. It can be infinitely copied and distributed. When the government distributes tangible contraband as part of a sting operation, it cannot hope to contain or limit the dissemination of the illegal goods.
If the allegations against the F.B.I. are true regarding its control of the network for approximately two weeks, it actively participated in the revictimization of those depicted in child pornography with no possibility of controlling distribution. Such conduct is immoral and inexcusable."
"Former Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius is a foe in the eyes of anti-abortion advocates in Kansas, and yet it was a Sebelius appointee who issued the Kansas Court of Appeal’s anti-abortion minority opinion Friday.
Richard Levy, a professor of constitutional law at the University of Kansas, said lower court judges have less discretion to pursue personal predilections because they are bound by higher court rulings.
"The Supreme Court Wednesday eased the burden for prosecutors seeking the death penalty, throwing out state court rulings intended to make sure jurors properly considered evidence defense lawyers introduce to argue against a defendant’s execution.
The issue came from Kansas, where a 2001 state supreme court ruling required trial judges to tell jurors that mitigating evidence—that is, aspects about a defendant’s crime or background pointing toward mercy—need not be proven beyond a reasonable doubt.