Johnson V. Com., No. 1998-SC-0180-MR.

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court (Kentucky)
Writing for the CourtCooper
Citation17 S.W.3d 109
Decision Date23 March 2000
Docket NumberNo. 1998-SC-0180-MR.
PartiesMark JOHNSON, Appellant, v. COMMONWEALTH of Kentucky, Appellee.
17 S.W.3d 109
Mark JOHNSON, Appellant,
v.
COMMONWEALTH of Kentucky, Appellee.
No. 1998-SC-0180-MR.
Supreme Court of Kentucky.
March 23, 2000.
As Modified May 31, 2000.

Page 110

Thomas M. Ransdell, Assistant Public Advocate, Department of Public Advocacy, Frankfort, Counsel for Appellant.

A.B. Chandler, III, Attorney General, Matthew D. Nelson, Assistant Attorney General, Office of Attorney General, Criminal Appellate Division, Frankfort, Counsel for Appellee.

COOPER, Justice.


Following a trial by jury in the Campbell Circuit Court, Appellant Mark Johnson was convicted of arson in the first degree. He waived the sentencing phase of the trial and was subsequently sentenced to twenty years in prison. He appeals to this Court as a matter of right. Ky. Const. § 110(2)(b). We have determined that the appeal was prematurely filed and must be remanded for a ruling on Appellant's post-trial motions and for an evidentiary hearing on the issue of his competency to stand trial. The relevant events as they occurred in the trial court are as follows:

November 24, 1997: A verdict of guilty was returned by the jury. Appellant waived the jury sentencing phase of his trial pursuant to an agreement that he would be sentenced to no more than the minimum sentence of twenty years. KRS 513.020(2).

December 4, 1997: An Order was entered setting final sentencing for January 12, 1998.

December 4, 1997: Appellant filed a motion for a new trial on grounds of newly discovered evidence premised upon the affidavit of a witness who claimed to possess exculpatory evidence, and defense counsel's assertion that he had obtained newly discovered evidence which would impeach

Page 111

the credibility of a witness who testified at trial.

December 18, 1997: Appellant filed a supplemental motion for a new trial on grounds of additional newly discovered evidence, viz: the contents of a post-trial letter to Appellant from his wife.

December 30, 1997: Appellant filed a motion for "a new trial and an order of dismissal notwithstanding the verdict" on grounds that defense counsel had become aware "that perhaps the Defendant was not capable of assisting his defense or appreciating the nature and consequences of the proceedings against him."

January 13, 1998: An "Order of Mental Examination" was entered, reciting that the trial judge had "reasonable grounds to believe that the Defendant may be incompetent" and ordering the Kentucky Correctional Psychiatric Center (KCPC) to examine Appellant and file a report with respect to both Appellant's competency to stand trial and his criminal responsibility at the time of the offense. The Order further provided that upon receipt of the report, an evidentiary hearing would be held on the issue of competency at which both parties would be permitted to cross-examine the examining physician. KCPC subsequently delegated the duty to examine Appellant to the Comprehensive Care Centers of Northern Kentucky.

January 16, 1998: Appellant filed another supplementary motion for a new trial on grounds of newly discovered evidence premised upon the affidavit of the owner of the damaged building that the fire caused only minor damage, and the affidavit of a cousin of Appellant's wife stating his belief that Appellant's wife and her boyfriend had conspired to set the fire.

February 19, 1998: Dr. George W. Rogers, Jr., of Comprehensive Care Centers of Northern Kentucky, filed a report stating that, pursuant to the Order of January 13, 1998, he had examined Appellant at the Campbell County Detention Center and was of the opinion that Appellant was competent to stand trial. However, Dr. Rogers recommended that Appellant be further evaluated at KCPC with respect to his criminal responsibility at the time of the offense.

March 2, 1998: A final sentencing hearing was held at which the trial judge considered both Dr. Rogers's report and the presentence investigation report prepared by the division of probation and parole, but did not hold a formal evidentiary hearing. The trial judge expressed his intent to follow Dr. Rogers's recommendation for a full psychiatric evaluation.

I'm most concerned at this point, Mr. Johnson with your mental status.... I don't really doubt your statement, Mr. Johnson, that you believe that you didn't do this.... I do believe that in your head and in your mind, you don't think that you did this.... And that's why I want to get this psychiatric evaluation done.

Judgment was entered on the same day adjudging Appellant guilty of arson in the first degree and sentencing him to twenty years in prison. The judgment concluded with the following paragraph:

IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that the Defendant be transferred to the Kentucky Correctional Psychiatric Center as soon as practicable for further evaluation and psychiatric care. Defendant's motion for New Trial herein or Judgment Notwithstanding the Verdict shall be treated as if filed post-sentencing and shall remain under submission and no appeal time shall run until the psychiatric report of February 19, 1998 is updated by the Kentucky Correctional Psychiatric Center.

March 3, 1998: The following documents were entered into the court record: (1) Notice of Appeal "from the final judgment entered herein;" (2) Designation of Record, including all pleadings and documents filed in the court record; (3) Order permitting Appellant to appeal in forma pauperis; (4) Order staying the appeal pending a ruling on all post-trial motions.

Page 112

April 2, 1998: Certification of record on appeal was completed and filed.

May 29, 1998: Dr. Candace Walker of KCPC filed a report reflecting her examination and treatment of Appellant and that she found no evidence to support an insanity defense (and that Appellant had advised her that he did not wish to plead insanity as a defense). However, she further reported that Appellant suffered from hypomania, which "could have rendered his communication with his attorney inadequate for proper preparation and presentation of his defense."

May 29, 1998: An Order was entered overruling Appellant's motion for a new trial or judgment notwithstanding the verdict and ordering that the Order and Dr. Walker's report be filed as a supplement to the record on appeal. No supplemental Notice of Appeal was filed after entry of this Order.

Criminal Rule 10.06(1) provides as follows:

The motion for a new trial shall be served not later than five (5) days after return of the verdict. A motion for a new trial based upon the ground of newly discovered evidence shall be made within one (1) year after the entry of the judgment or at a later time if the court for good cause so permits.

The rule clearly provides that, although a motion for a new trial premised upon newly discovered evidence may be filed within one year of the judgment, a motion premised upon any other grounds must be filed within five days of the verdict. None of Appellant's four post-verdict motions were filed within five days of the verdict. The motion pertaining to his possible incompetency was filed thirty-six days after the verdict and, thus, too late to raise the issue.

However, a trial judge may order a competency evaluation sua sponte at any stage of the proceedings if he/she has reasonable grounds to believe that the defendant is incompetent to stand trial. KRS 504.100(1). Here, the trial judge specifically found in his written order of January 13, 1998 that there were reasonable grounds to believe that Appellant was incompetent. He reiterated his concerns during the final sentencing hearing on March 2, 1998.

Criminal Rule 12.04(3) provides as follows:

The time within which an appeal may be taken shall be ten (10) days1 after the date of entry of the judgment or order from which it is taken, subject to Rule 12.06 [notice of entry], but if a timely motion has been made for a new trial an appeal from a judgment of conviction may be taken within ten (10) days2 after the date of entry of the order denying the motion; provided, however, that in the case of a motion for new trial made later than five (5) days after return of the verdict, the appeal must be from the order overruling or denying the motion, and the review on appeal shall be limited to the grounds timely raised by the motion as provided by Rule 10.06.3

Thus, regardless of the issue of competency, the judgment of March 3, 1998 was not final, because Appellant's post-trial motions were still pending. The same...

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24 practice notes
  • Meece v. Commonwealth, 2006-SC-000881-MR
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court (Kentucky)
    • June 16, 2011
    ...in the appellate court," apply, as Meece's second post-trial motion was "filed before the . . . appeal." Johnson v. Commonwealth, 17 S.W.3d 109, 113 (Ky. 2000). Thus, we are left with Meece's allegations which raise only the possibility of such conduct and with no record by which to substan......
  • Harry v. Commonwealth of Ky., No. 2006–SC–000881–MR.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court (Kentucky)
    • October 27, 2011
    ...in the appellate court,” apply, as Meece's second post-trial motion was “filed before the ... appeal.” Johnson v. Commonwealth, 17 S.W.3d 109, 113 (Ky.2000). Thus, we are left with Meece's allegations which raise only the possibility of such conduct and with no record by which to substantia......
  • Price v. Com., No. 2000-SC-0213-DG.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court (Kentucky)
    • November 21, 2001
    ...for a new trial must be Page 882 served within five days after the return of the verdict. RCr 10.06(1); Johnson v. Commonwealth, Ky., 17 S.W.3d 109, 112 (2000). Appellant's motion was served nine days after the return of the verdict; thus, it was not timely served and was properly According......
  • Hutson v. Com., No. 2005-CA-002289-MR.
    • United States
    • Kentucky Court of Appeals
    • December 1, 2006
    ...that Hutson's perfection of his prior appeal of this case divested the Campbell Circuit Court of jurisdiction. Johnson v. Commonwealth, 17 S.W.3d 109, 113 (Ky. 2000); Louisville & N. R Co. v. Paul's Adm'r, 314 Ky. 473, 235 S.W.2d 787, 793 (1950). However, Hutson asserts the trial court neve......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
24 cases
  • Meece v. Commonwealth, 2006-SC-000881-MR
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court (Kentucky)
    • June 16, 2011
    ...in the appellate court," apply, as Meece's second post-trial motion was "filed before the . . . appeal." Johnson v. Commonwealth, 17 S.W.3d 109, 113 (Ky. 2000). Thus, we are left with Meece's allegations which raise only the possibility of such conduct and with no record by which to substan......
  • Harry v. Commonwealth of Ky., No. 2006–SC–000881–MR.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court (Kentucky)
    • October 27, 2011
    ...in the appellate court,” apply, as Meece's second post-trial motion was “filed before the ... appeal.” Johnson v. Commonwealth, 17 S.W.3d 109, 113 (Ky.2000). Thus, we are left with Meece's allegations which raise only the possibility of such conduct and with no record by which to substantia......
  • Price v. Com., No. 2000-SC-0213-DG.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court (Kentucky)
    • November 21, 2001
    ...for a new trial must be Page 882 served within five days after the return of the verdict. RCr 10.06(1); Johnson v. Commonwealth, Ky., 17 S.W.3d 109, 112 (2000). Appellant's motion was served nine days after the return of the verdict; thus, it was not timely served and was properly According......
  • Hutson v. Com., No. 2005-CA-002289-MR.
    • United States
    • Kentucky Court of Appeals
    • December 1, 2006
    ...that Hutson's perfection of his prior appeal of this case divested the Campbell Circuit Court of jurisdiction. Johnson v. Commonwealth, 17 S.W.3d 109, 113 (Ky. 2000); Louisville & N. R Co. v. Paul's Adm'r, 314 Ky. 473, 235 S.W.2d 787, 793 (1950). However, Hutson asserts the trial court neve......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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