State v. Moyer, No. 105,183

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Kansas
Writing for the CourtPer Curiam
Citation434 P.3d 829
Docket NumberNo. 105,183
Decision Date15 February 2019
Parties STATE of Kansas, Appellee, v. Steve Kelly MOYER, Appellant.

434 P.3d 829

STATE of Kansas, Appellee,
v.
Steve Kelly MOYER, Appellant.

No. 105,183

Supreme Court of Kansas.

Opinion filed February 15, 2019.


Robert A. Anderson, Sr., of Law Office of Donald E. Anderson II, LLC, of Ellinwood, was on the briefs for appellant.

Natalie Chalmers, assistant solicitor general, and Derek Schmidt, attorney general, were on the briefs for appellee.

Per Curiam:

434 P.3d 833

Steve Kelly Moyer's direct appeal returns to this court after a remand to the district court for a State v. Van Cleave , 239 Kan. 117, 716 P.2d 580 (1986), hearing to determine whether Moyer was denied his Sixth Amendment right to counsel, either because his trial counsel was not constitutionally conflict-free or was not constitutionally competent. State v. Moyer , 302 Kan. 892, 895, 935, 360 P.3d 384 (2015), as modified in 306 Kan. 342, 410 P.3d 71 (2017). When this court remanded the case for a determination of whether Moyer was provided effective assistance of counsel, it also reserved the question of cumulative error. We now determine that Moyer's convictions can be affirmed.

FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL OVERVIEW

A detailed description of the sodomy and sexual intercourse underlying Moyer's five sex crime convictions is set forth in the opinions cited above. The victim was J.M., Moyer's oldest daughter, who testified to a pattern of sexual abuse that started when she was 11 years old and continued into her 14th year. In addition to that testimony, J.M. provided several items of corroborating physical evidence, including used condoms from sexual encounters with Moyer, an audio recording J.M. secretly made of one sexual encounter, a rag that J.M. had used to clean herself after sex acts with Moyer, and a notebook containing an agreement between J.M. and Moyer enumerating a points system Moyer designed by which J.M. could ostensibly complete the sexual relationship with Moyer by performing sex with him according to certain rules.

During the trial, a problem arose getting an exculpatory witness to testify for the defense. While Moyer's attorney, Jeffery Mason, was serving as guardian ad litem for J.T. in a child in need of care (CINC) case, he learned that J.T. knew J.M. and her sister, H.M.; that J.T. was aware of J.M.'s sexual abuse allegations against Moyer; that J.M. and H.M. had told J.T. that the allegations against Moyer were false; and that J.T. was willing to testify in Moyer's criminal case. In our earlier opinion, we described the problems as follows:

"Close to the trial date, Mason attempted to locate J.T. to subpoena her to testify, and he learned she was at the St. Catherine's Hospital psychiatric ward in Garden City. Mason discussed with Moyer the dangers of calling a witness suffering from mental problems, but Moyer said he still wanted J.T. to testify. After Mason contacted J.T. to assess her ability to testify and to determine the substance of her testimony, he subpoenaed her. But Mason was informed that J.T.'s doctor would not approve J.T. coming to Goodland to testify because she needed to go immediately to a residential psychiatric treatment facility.

"Mason acknowledged the potential conflict of interest created because of his roles as J.T.'s guardian ad litem and Moyer's defense attorney, and he admitted to the court that he had not obtained a written waiver of conflict from either Moyer or J.T. But he nevertheless asserted: ‘I don't believe that there's a conflict under the circumstances.’ That assertion was followed by a discussion of submitting the testimony of an unavailable witness, in which Mason asserted that there would be ‘an absolute conflict of interest if the question would be whether I would be presenting—presenting
434 P.3d 834
that evidence to the Court or to the jury. I can't do that because I'm Mr. Moyer's attorney, but the information that came to me came only to me.’

"The State responded by pointing out that Mason had failed to advise the court about this potential conflict of interest at any of the earlier court hearings. Further, the State argued that the potential conflict of interest was a secondary consequence of the defense counsel's failure to properly subpoena J.T." 306 Kan. at 381, 410 P.3d 71.

At that point, the trial court noted that J.T.'s subpoena was issued just that morning. The trial court gave Mason until the end of Moyer's trial testimony to determine whether J.T. was available to travel and competent and capable of testifying. The trial court held that if Mason could not show J.T.'s availability, the trial would continue without her, specifically declaring: " ‘Defense [counsel] has had an ample opportunity to prepare their case, that there has not been a subpoena issued prior to today's date, and that we're going to go forward and this case will be concluded and taken to the jury.’ " 306 Kan. at 382, 410 P.3d 71.

After Moyer testified, the parties had another in-chambers conference regarding J.T.'s availability. This court's prior opinion stated the following facts:

"Mason explained that his law partner had spoken with a screening therapist at St. Catherine's who explained that a doctor informed the screening team that J.T. ‘would be extremely unreliable in any testimony and would lack any credibility whatsoever.’ The screening therapist could not tell the law partner whether J.T. was competent to testify. The therapist relayed that J.T. was being sent to a psychiatric residential treatment facility where she would not be free to leave and that they did not recommend that she be forced to testify.

"The court noted: ‘It would appear then that the possibility of [J.T.] being capable of testifying is extraordinarily small, and even if she were, there's a question as to any value that her testimony would be given.’ Mason told the court, ‘That is exactly my assessment of it, Your Honor,’ and asked for additional time to speak with his client about the matter.

"The court granted this request and after the conference, the following information was placed on the record:

‘MR. MASON: ... Although my client believes that the evidence that [J.T.] would testify to, as he understands it, would be beneficial to him based on what I've already put on the record, we have also expressed—discussed the fact that the information that we have from two different individuals involved in the screening processes, that her testimony today would be extremely unreliable and lack any credibility and that the State would have the opportunity to bring that to the jury's attention; and therefore, it would not be appropriate to use [J.T.'s] testimony today.’

"The court then had Moyer confirm that he understood what Mason had said and that he agreed with the decision to proceed. Moyer also told the court that he was satisfied with Mason's representation to that point. But the district court made no explicit finding with respect to whether a conflict of interest existed. Rather, ... the judge said that he understood Mason's action, that Mason's past behavior had always been ethical, and that ‘if there is a problem, then those problems will be dealt with by others.’ " 306 Kan. at 382-83, 410 P.3d 71.

This court held that although the trial court inquired into the facts underlying the conflict of interest, it failed to make the determinations necessary for this court to assess what impact the conflict had on Mason's performance. For example, this court did not know whether Mason was still serving as J.T.'s guardian ad litem at the time of Moyer's trial. Further, this court had no findings from the district court as to Mason's failure to properly issue and serve a subpoena on J.T. forcing her appearance or regarding whether Mason should have preserved J.T.'s testimony in some manner. Therefore, this court remanded for a Van Cleave hearing to determine whether Moyer was denied

434 P.3d 835

his Sixth Amendment right to counsel. 306 Kan. at 383-85, 410 P.3d 71.

On remand, 15th Judicial District Chief Judge Glenn Schiffner granted Moyer's motion to disqualify or recuse Judge Scott Showalter, Moyer's trial judge, from presiding over the Van Cleave hearing. Chief Judge Schiffner assigned Chief Judge Glenn R. Braun of the 23rd Judicial District to preside over the hearing. Actions taken with Judge Braun presiding will hereinafter be referred to as actions taken by the Van Cleave court, in order to distinguish these proceedings from actions taken by Judge Showalter during Moyer's jury trial.

The State filed a motion to clarify the scope of remand based upon Moyer's letters to district judges and counsel indicating his intent to inquire into matters the State argued were not subject to remand, including Mason's qualifications for appointment as Moyer's counsel and the trial court's denial of Moyer's pretrial motions for new counsel. According to the State, the following issues were subject to remand: (1) Was Mason still J.T.'s guardian ad litem at the time of Moyer's trial? and (2) if so, (a) was Mason's advice adversely impacted by his status as J.T.'s guardian ad litem? and (b) was Mason ineffective for failing to obtain J.T.'s presence at trial or otherwise preserve her testimony?

Notably, the State stipulated that the answer to the first question is "yes," Mason was J.T.'s guardian ad litem at the time of Moyer's trial.

Moyer's written response to the State's motion...

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9 practice notes
  • State v. Green, No. 118,366
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Kansas
    • August 21, 2020
    ...104 S. Ct. 2052, 80 L. Ed. 2d 674 (1984), and innumerable Kansas decisions following it, see, e.g., State v. Moyer , 309 Kan. 268, 278-79, 434 P.3d 829 (2019), trial defense counsel's failure to object on this issue cannot support a later K.S.A. 60-1507 motion likely to take up much of any ......
  • Sola-Morales v. State, No. 118,451
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Kansas
    • November 15, 2019
    ...Court has yet to resolve the Mickens reservation by endorsing one or the other standard. See State v. Moyer , 309 Kan. 268, 279-80, 434 P.3d 829 (2019) (recognizing lack of governing standard); State v. Lindsay , No. 117,826, 2019 WL 2399477, at *7 (Kan. App. 2019) (unpublished opinion) (no......
  • State v. Blevins, 118,639
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Kansas
    • December 10, 2021
    ...ineffective assistance of counsel claim based on a conflict of interest is " ‘more nuanced.’ " State v. Moyer , 309 Kan. 268, 278, 434 P.3d 829, cert. denied 140 S. Ct. 135 (2019). In that instance, a defendant must first " ‘establish that his or her attorney had an active conflict of inter......
  • State v. Munoz, 121,770
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Kansas
    • January 14, 2022
    ...circumstances, which by necessity requires review of the entire record and involves unlimited review. State v. Moyer , 309 Kan. 268, 287, 434 P.3d 829, cert. denied , 140 S. Ct. 135 (2019). In assessing the cumulative effect of errors during the trial, appellate courts examine the errors in......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
9 cases
  • State v. Green, No. 118,366
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Kansas
    • August 21, 2020
    ...104 S. Ct. 2052, 80 L. Ed. 2d 674 (1984), and innumerable Kansas decisions following it, see, e.g., State v. Moyer , 309 Kan. 268, 278-79, 434 P.3d 829 (2019), trial defense counsel's failure to object on this issue cannot support a later K.S.A. 60-1507 motion likely to take up much of any ......
  • Sola-Morales v. State, No. 118,451
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Kansas
    • November 15, 2019
    ...Court has yet to resolve the Mickens reservation by endorsing one or the other standard. See State v. Moyer , 309 Kan. 268, 279-80, 434 P.3d 829 (2019) (recognizing lack of governing standard); State v. Lindsay , No. 117,826, 2019 WL 2399477, at *7 (Kan. App. 2019) (unpublished opinion) (no......
  • State v. Blevins, 118,639
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Kansas
    • December 10, 2021
    ...ineffective assistance of counsel claim based on a conflict of interest is " ‘more nuanced.’ " State v. Moyer , 309 Kan. 268, 278, 434 P.3d 829, cert. denied 140 S. Ct. 135 (2019). In that instance, a defendant must first " ‘establish that his or her attorney had an active conflict of inter......
  • State v. Munoz, 121,770
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Kansas
    • January 14, 2022
    ...circumstances, which by necessity requires review of the entire record and involves unlimited review. State v. Moyer , 309 Kan. 268, 287, 434 P.3d 829, cert. denied , 140 S. Ct. 135 (2019). In assessing the cumulative effect of errors during the trial, appellate courts examine the errors in......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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