Kingsley v. Kansas Dept. of Revenue

Decision Date27 March 2009
Docket NumberNo. 98,301.,98,301.
Citation204 P.3d 562
PartiesJoshua Hamlin KINGSLEY, Appellant, v. KANSAS DEPARTMENT OF REVENUE, Appellee.
CourtKansas Supreme Court
204 P.3d 562
Joshua Hamlin KINGSLEY, Appellant,
v.
KANSAS DEPARTMENT OF REVENUE, Appellee.
No. 98,301.
Supreme Court of Kansas.
March 27, 2009.

[204 P.3d 566

Michael S. Holland II, of Holland and Holland, of Russell, argued the cause and was on the brief for appellant.

John D. Shultz, of Legal Services Bureau, Kansas Department of Revenue, argued the cause, and James G. Keller, of the same office, was with him on the brief for appellee.

The opinion of the court was delivered by DAVIS, J.:


Joshua Kingsley appeals from the dismissal of his petition for judicial review of the Kansas Department of Revenue's (KDR) suspension of his driver's license. The district court dismissed Kingsley's petition for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, finding that the petition did not strictly comply with the pleading requirements of K.S.A. 77-614(b)(5) and (b)(6) of the Kansas Act for Judicial Review and Civil Enforcement of Agency Actions (KJRA). The Court of Appeals affirmed in an unpublished opinion. Kingsley v. Kansas Dept. of Revenue, No. 98,301, 2007 WL 2915619, unpublished opinion filed October 5, 2007.

We granted Kingsley's petition for review to clarify the pleading requirements for petitions for judicial review under the KJRA after our recent decision in Bruch v. Kansas Dept. of Revenue, 282 Kan. 764, 148 P.3d 538 (2006), where we held that strict compliance with those pleading requirements was necessary in order to confer appellate jurisdiction. We now reverse the decision of the Court of Appeals affirming the district court, reverse the decision of the district court dismissing the case, and remand for further proceedings. This is a companion case with Rebel v. Kansas Dept. of Revenue, No. 98,930, ___ Kan. ___, 204 P.3d 551 (this day decided), which involves similar issues.

FACTS

On June 2, 2005, Kingsley was operating a vehicle in Hays, Kansas, and was stopped by Officer J. Bonczynski of the Hays Police Department for failing to keep his vehicle in a single lane, weaving within his lane, and erratic acceleration and braking. When the officer approached Kingsley, he detected the odor of alcohol and noted that Kingsley's eyes were bloodshot. Kingsley failed the field sobriety test, exhibiting poor balance. Kingsley also indicated to the officer that he had previously consumed alcohol or drugs.

Kingsley consented to an evidentiary breath test. Officer Bonczynski certified that he administered the test after providing

204 P.3d 567

Kingsley with oral and written notice and in the presence of another officer. Officer Bonczynski also certified that the testing equipment and procedures were approved by the Kansas Department of Health and Environment and that he was authorized to operate the testing equipment. The evidentiary breath test demonstrated that Kingsley had a blood alcohol level of .142.

Based on these observations, Officer Bonczynski certified that he had reasonable grounds to believe that Kingsley had been operating a vehicle under the influence of drugs or alcohol in violation of K.S.A. 8-1001 et seq. and issued a notice of suspension of Kingsley's driver's license.

On June 10, 2005, Kingsley requested an administrative hearing with the KDR to review this suspension order. A hearing was conducted on March 8, 2006, after which the KDR issued an administrative order affirming the suspension of Kingsley's driver's license. Shortly thereafter, Kingsley filed a petition for judicial review under K.S.A. 8-259 in Ellis County District Court. Kingsley's petition for judicial review contained the following two critical paragraphs:

"6. That plaintiff seeks review of all issues raised by plaintiff in the hearing before the administrative hearing officer, in Hays, Kansas.

"7. The order suspending plaintiff's driving privileges should be vacated by this Court because plaintiff was subjected to an illegal and improper preliminary breath test was subjected that [sic] plaintiff's due process rights were violated because he was not allowed to subpoena relevant witnesses to his administrative hearing; the officer conducted an illegal search of plaintiff's vehicle; that plaintiff also seeks review of all issues raised before the administrative hearing officer at the March 8, 2006, hearing."

The district court dismissed because the petition failed to comply with K.S.A. 77-614(b)(5) and (b)(6) of the KJRA.

The Court of Appeals affirmed the district court's dismissal of the action in an unpublished opinion. Kingsley, slip op. at 4-5. The Court of Appeals concluded that paragraphs 6 and 7 of Kingsley's petition for judicial review were "no more specific than the petition for review in Bruch," where this court held that the petition did not strictly comply with the KJRA's pleading requirements. Slip op. at 4. The court emphasized that the petition provided "no indication the proper administration of the PBT was raised below" and that "there is no specific reason pled to indicate why the PBT was `illegal and improper.'" Slip op. at 4-5.

Kingsley petitioned this court for review, arguing that the district court and the Court of Appeals erred by misapplying Bruch and that the district court had subject matter jurisdiction under K.S.A. 77-614(b)(5) and (b)(6) to hear the appeal. In its response to Kingsley's petition for review, the KDR argued no jurisdiction existed because (1) Kingsley failed to exhaust his administrative remedies by not raising evidence to support his allegations at the administrative hearing and (2) the petition for judicial review failed to strictly comply with pleading requirements of K.S.A. 77-614(b)(5) and (b)(6). We granted review.

DISCUSSION

Two questions are presented for resolution in this case: (1) whether Kingsley's petition for judicial review strictly complied with the KJRA's pleading requirements, specifically K.S.A. 77-614(b)(5) and (b)(6), and (2) whether Kingsley exhausted his administrative remedies. Each of these questions implicates the court's subject matter jurisdiction to consider a petition for judicial review. See Bruch, 282 Kan. at 773-74, 786-87, 148 P.3d 538 (strict compliance with the pleading requirements of K.S.A. 77-614[b] is necessary before a court may exercise jurisdiction over a petition for judicial review); Jones v. State, 279 Kan. 364, 368, 109 P.3d 1166 (2005) (exhaustion of administrative remedies is a precondition to judicial review under the KJRA). Resolution of these issues thus requires us to examine once again the specific provisions of the KJRA and the application of our cases dealing with jurisdictional questions under that Act.

It does not appear from the record that the KDR raised the second issue for our

204 P.3d 568

consideration—the exhaustion question—at any time before it filed its response to Kingsley's petition for review to this court. Ordinarily, claims not presented in an appellate brief are deemed abandoned and will not be considered by this court on petition for review. See State v. Greever, 286 Kan. 124, 131, 183 P.3d 788 (2008); Cooke v. Gillespie, 285 Kan. 748, Syl. ¶ 2, 176 P.3d 144 (2008). Nevertheless, issues relating to the court's subject matter jurisdiction to hear a particular claim may be raised at any time, as such claims go to the power of the court to hear a case. See Vorhees v. Baltazar, 283 Kan. 389, 397, 153 P.3d 1227 (2007).

Subject matter jurisdiction is vested by statute and establishes the court's authority to hear and decide a particular type of action. Pieren-Abbott v. Kansas Dept. of Revenue, 279 Kan. 83, 92, 106 P.3d 492 (2005). Parties cannot confer subject matter jurisdiction by consent, waiver, or estoppel, and parties cannot convey subject matter jurisdiction on a court by failing to object to the court's lack of jurisdiction. Kansas Bd. of Regents v. Skinner, 267 Kan. 808, Syl. ¶ 5, 987 P.2d 1096 (1999). If the district court lacks jurisdiction to make a ruling, an appellate court does not acquire jurisdiction over the subject matter on appeal. State v. McCoin, 278 Kan. 465, 468, 101 P.3d 1204 (2004).

The question as to whether subject matter jurisdiction exists is a question of law over which this court's scope of review is unlimited. Back-Wenzel v. Williams, 279 Kan. 346, 347, 109 P.3d 1194 (2005). Because subject matter jurisdiction is ordinarily conferred by statute, it should be noted that the interpretation of a statute is also a question of law subject to unlimited review. Griffin v. Suzuki Motor Corp., 280 Kan. 447, 451, 124 P.3d 57 (2005).

Preliminary note on Martin v. Kansas Dept. of Revenue

During argument before this court, Kingsley's counsel acknowledged that the issues raised by Kingsley in his petition for judicial review might be rendered moot by our recent decision in Martin v. Kansas Dept. of Revenue, 285 Kan. 625, 176 P.3d 938 (2008). In Martin, we held that the exclusionary rule does not apply in appeals from administrative license suspensions even though petitioners may raise Fourth Amendment questions during administrative appeals and the Fourth Amendment applies in such contexts. 285 Kan. at 639, 646, 176 P.3d 938. Thus, under Martin, a petitioner may raise Fourth Amendment claims, but such claims have no practical effect (meaning such claims do not trigger the exclusion of resultant evidence) in the administrative context. See 285 Kan. at 646, 176 P.3d 938.

It is true that Kingsley asserts in his petition for judicial review that he "was subjected to an illegal and improper preliminary breath test" and that "the officer conducted an illegal search of [his] vehicle." Thus, it may be that if the district court had evaluated the case on its merits, the court might have determined that Kingsley could not have succeeded on these particular issues under Martin. The district court did not make such a determination in this case, however, but dismissed the case on the face of the petition for failure to strictly comply with the KJRA's pleading requirements.

Martin did not...

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