Merryfield v. Sullivan, 110,662

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Kansas
Writing for the CourtThe opinion of the court was delivered by ROSEN, J.
Citation343 P.3d 515,301 Kan. 397
Decision Date27 February 2015
Docket Number110,663.,110,662
PartiesDustin J. MERRYFIELD, Appellant, v. Shawn SULLIVAN, Secretary of Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services, et al., Appellees. Richard A. Quillen, Appellant, v. Shawn Sullivan, Secretary of Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services, et al., Appellees.

301 Kan. 397
343 P.3d 515

Dustin J. MERRYFIELD, Appellant
v.
Shawn SULLIVAN, Secretary of Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services, et al., Appellees.


Richard A. Quillen, Appellant
v.
Shawn Sullivan, Secretary of Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services, et al., Appellees.

110,662
110,663.

Supreme Court of Kansas.

Feb. 27, 2015.


Dustin J. Merryfield and Richard A. Quillen, appellants, were on the brief pro se.

Ryan W. Thornton and Kimberly M.J. Lynch, of Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services, of Topeka, were on the briefs for appellees.

Opinion

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

Dustin J. Merryfield and Richard A. Quillen are residents of the Larned State Hospital and are involuntary participants

301 Kan. 398

in the Kansas Sexual Predator Treatment Program there. They filed petitions challenging the Program's implementation of a new administrative grievance procedure and sought habeas corpus relief under K.S.A. 60–1501 et seq.

Without conducting a hearing, the district court summarily denied the petitions. The court held that the petitioners lacked standing to challenge the grievance procedure, that they had failed to assert a constitutionally protected due process right, and that the procedure did not constitute shocking or intolerable conduct. The district court then assessed the costs of filing the action, $178, against each petitioner. The petitioners filed timely motions for reconsideration of the assessment of costs. The district court denied the motions, holding that the statutory assessment of costs is discretionary.

Having consolidated the appeals from the judgments, the Court of Appeals affirmed the dismissal of the petitions but reversed the assignment of costs to the petitioners in Merryfield v. Sullivan, 50 Kan.App.2d 313, 324 P.3d 1132 (2014). Secretary Sullivan filed a petition for review, and Merryfield and Quillen filed a cross-petition for review. This court granted the Secretary's petition and denied the cross-petition. As a consequence, the only issue before this court is whether the Kansas statutory scheme provides district courts with the discretion to assess costs against the petitioners or do the statutes require courts to impose filing costs on the counties in which the petitioners were determined to be sexually violent predators.

The interpretation and construction of statutes is a matter of law that is subject to unlimited review on appeal. Stanley v. Sullivan, 300 Kan. 1015, ––––, 336 P.3d 870, 872 (2014).

It is a general rule of statutory interpretation that, when both a general statute and a specific statute govern the same topic, the specific statute controls. See, e.g., State v. Williams, 299 Kan. 911, 930, 329 P.3d 400 (2014). Whether and how this court applies that rule is a question of law. 299 Kan. at 930, 329 P.3d 400.

The parties agree that the assessment of costs in a K.S.A. 60–1501 proceeding is governed by statute. They disagree on which

301 Kan. 399

statute governs in the present case. Each party contends that the more specific statute supports his respective position.

The fundamental rule of statutory interpretation is that the intent of the legislature is dispositive if it is possible to ascertain

343 P.3d 517

that intent. State v. Looney, 299 Kan. 903, 906, 327 P.3d 425 (2014). This court deems the language of a statute to be the primary consideration in ascertaining the intent of the legislature because the best and only safe rule for determining the intent of the creators of a written law is to abide by the language that they have chosen to use. 299 Kan. at 906, 327 P.3d 425. The courts therefore look to the plain and unambiguous language of a statute as the primary basis for determining legislative intent. State v. O'Connor, 299 Kan. 819, 822, 326 P.3d 1064 (2014).

The plain language selected by the legislature, when it does not conflict with constitutional mandates, trumps both judicial decisions and the policies advocated by parties. See, e.g., Casco v. Armour Swift–Eckrich, 283 Kan. 508, 524–26, 154 P.3d 494 (2007) ; Perry v. Board of Franklin County Comm'rs, 281 Kan. 801, 808–09, 132 P.3d 1279 (2006) ; Schmidtlien Electric, Inc. v. Greathouse, 278 Kan. 810, 822, 104 P.3d 378 (2005) ; Mary E. Lane, Admr. v. The National Bank of the Metropolis, 6 Kan. 74, 80–81 (1870).

In assessing filing costs against the petitioners, the district court relied on K.S.A.2014 Supp. 60–1505(d), which governs summary K.S.A. 60–1501...

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22 practice notes
  • Schreiner v. Hodge, 117
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Kansas
    • February 18, 2022
    ...and only safe rule for determining the intent of the creators of a written law.'" 304 Kan. at 761 (quoting Merryfield v. Sullivan, 301 Kan. 397, 399, 343 P.3d 515 [2015]). If there is ambiguity in the statute's language, we resort to legislative history and canons of construction to gl......
  • State v. Spencer Gifts, LLC, No. 111,398
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Kansas
    • July 8, 2016
    ...mandates, trumps both judicial decisions and the policies advocated by parties .” (Emphasis added.) Merryfield v. Sullivan , 301 Kan. 397, 399, 343 P.3d 515 (2015) ; see Taylor v. Kobach , 300 Kan. 731, 735, 334 P.3d 306 (2014) (“We have often expressed that the best and only safe rule for ......
  • State v. Garcia, No. 112,502.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Kansas
    • September 8, 2017
    ...possible to ascertain that intent. 306 Kan. 1124 State v. Looney , 299 Kan. 903, 906, 327 P.3d 425 (2014)." Merryfield v. Sullivan , 301 Kan. 397, 399, 343 P.3d 515 (2015) (considering provisions of Kansas Sexually Violent Predator Treatment Program). Our "primary consideration in......
  • State v. Kleypas, No. 101,724
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Kansas
    • October 21, 2016
    ...of a statute is “the best and only safe rule for determining the intent of the creators of a written law.” Merryfield v. Sullivan , 301 Kan. 397, 399, 343 P.3d 515 (2015). Consequently, we first examine the wording of K.S.A. 21–4624(b), which states:“(b) [U]pon conviction of a defendant of ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
22 cases
  • Schreiner v. Hodge, 117
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Kansas
    • February 18, 2022
    ...and only safe rule for determining the intent of the creators of a written law.'" 304 Kan. at 761 (quoting Merryfield v. Sullivan, 301 Kan. 397, 399, 343 P.3d 515 [2015]). If there is ambiguity in the statute's language, we resort to legislative history and canons of construction to gl......
  • State v. Spencer Gifts, LLC, No. 111,398
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Kansas
    • July 8, 2016
    ...mandates, trumps both judicial decisions and the policies advocated by parties .” (Emphasis added.) Merryfield v. Sullivan , 301 Kan. 397, 399, 343 P.3d 515 (2015) ; see Taylor v. Kobach , 300 Kan. 731, 735, 334 P.3d 306 (2014) (“We have often expressed that the best and only safe rule for ......
  • State v. Garcia, No. 112,502.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Kansas
    • September 8, 2017
    ...possible to ascertain that intent. 306 Kan. 1124 State v. Looney , 299 Kan. 903, 906, 327 P.3d 425 (2014)." Merryfield v. Sullivan , 301 Kan. 397, 399, 343 P.3d 515 (2015) (considering provisions of Kansas Sexually Violent Predator Treatment Program). Our "primary consideration in......
  • State v. Kleypas, No. 101,724
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Kansas
    • October 21, 2016
    ...of a statute is “the best and only safe rule for determining the intent of the creators of a written law.” Merryfield v. Sullivan , 301 Kan. 397, 399, 343 P.3d 515 (2015). Consequently, we first examine the wording of K.S.A. 21–4624(b), which states:“(b) [U]pon conviction of a defendant of ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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