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Wed January 13, 2010
Kansas High Court Rulings Countered In Statehouse
Topeka, Kan. – The chairman of the Kansas House Judiciary Committee intends to counter the state Supreme Court over sex offender laws.
The house bill is designed to reinstate enhanced sentences for people convicted of trying to commit a violent sex crime against a child. Twice in 2009 the Kansas Supreme Court ruled in ways Representative Lance Kinzer feels weakened what is known as Jessica's Law.
The Olathe Republican said his measure would restore clear intent of 2006 law. "The opinion does not mean that anyone gets off scot-free," said Kinzer, "but it does mean there's a significant possibility of the imposition of lesser sentences than were intended."
One case was titled State v. Horn. The Kansas Supreme Court invalidated the imposition of enhanced sentences for individuals convicted of attempting to commit a sexually violent crime against a child.
The Horn case was followed by an October, 2009 opinion in the case of State v. Trautloff in which the court ruled that the Kansas habitual sex offender statute does not apply to individuals who were convicted of multiple sex offenses on the same day.
Horn was convicted of attempted aggravated criminal sodomy of a child under the age of 14 and was sentenced to a minimum 25 years under Jessica's Law. The Kansas Supreme Court invalidated the sentence and required that Horn be re-sentenced under a more lenient general attempts statute.
HB 2345 would restore what Kinzer terms the clear intent of the legislature to impose significant mandatory minimum sentences.
Trautloff's case came to the Supreme Court after his 1996 convictions from multiple crimes were adjudicated on the same day and as such, in the view of the Court, were not separate convictions.
Kinzer's measure would make a finer definition of what constitutes an habitual sex offender. He predicts passage.