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Supreme Court to hear arguments in 2 cases at Parsons HS

PARSONS, Kan. – The Kansas Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in two cases in Parsons next week.

Justices will hear the following cases on October 3, 2022, from 6:30 pm to about 8:00 pm at the Parsons High School.

  • Appeal No. 123,077: State of Kansas v. Richard I. Moler II
    • Moler argues the evidence was insufficient to support two convictions of violating the Kansas Offender Registration Act.
  • Appeal No. 120,566: State of Kansas v. Justin Burke Eckert
    • Eckert appealed several issues directly after a jury convicted him of aggravated kidnapping, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and several other charges.

You can continue reading to learn more about the cases.

Following oral arguments, the court will greet the public in an informal reception.

Local man to serve as Honorary Bailiff

Joining the justices is a local longtime attorney and municipal judge. Rick Tucker has had his share of days in court, but he’ll take on a new role for the Supreme Court on October 3.

Chief Judge Lori Bolton-Fleming nominated Tucker to be the honorary bailiff, noting his nearly half-century of service to the southeast Kansas legal community.

“Rick represents everything good, noble, and just about the legal profession,” Fleming said. “He makes all of us here in southeast Kansas very proud.”

“I am excited to be able to ‘suit up’ and serve as bailiff for the Supreme Court in the presence of my community,” Tucker said.

According to the Kansas Judicial Branch, Tucker has served southeast Kansas as both an attorney and a municipal judge. Before his retirement in 2021, he worked in private practice for 49 years and as city attorney for St. Paul for 47 years, city attorney for Oswego for 16 years, and USD 506 attorney for 17 years. He became a municipal judge in 1988. A position he continues to hold in Parsons.

Tucker also served on the 11th Judicial District Nominating Committee for 40 years.

When there is a judge vacancy in a merit-selection district, the nominating commission accepts nominations, interviews nominees, and recommends three to five people to the governor for consideration to fill the vacancy. The governor decides whom to appoint. If it’s a magistrate judge vacancy, the commission follows the same process. They then decide who is appointed. That’s according to the Kansas Judicial Branch.

“His knowledge and wisdom were put to use as a member of the nominating commission for many years,” Fleming said. “Many of us currently sitting on the bench are here because Rick saw our potential to be good jurists.”

As honorary bailiff, Tucker will call to order the audience assembled at Parsons High School, and then the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in two cases.

“I hope those watching will gain a better understanding of the structure of our judicial system, how it functions, and the appellate process,” said Tucker.

About the Cases

You can find brief summaries of the cases below. Detailed summaries, and briefs filed by attorneys involved in these cases, are available on the court’s traveling docket page.

Appeal No. 123,077: State of Kansas v. Richard I. Moler II

Hamilton County: (Petition for Review) A jury convicted Moler of two counts of violating the Kansas Offender Registration Act, K.S.A. 2020 Supp. 22-4901 et seq, by failing to include in his registration information two vehicles that local police observed him driving. In the Court of Appeals, Moler argued the evidence was insufficient to support the convictions for two reasons. First, he argued the State established only that he drove each vehicle once, which he contended was insufficient to trigger a duty to register them. Second, he argued the evidence did not establish each of the allegations contained in the charges. Moler also claimed his trial counsel was ineffective. The Court of Appeals affirmed his convictions.

Issues on review are whether the Court of Appeals erred in finding: 1) there was sufficient evidence for a conviction because Moler was not required by law to register vehicles he drove only one time; and 2) there was sufficient evidence when the State charged that Moler’s registration obligation arose from a prior conviction, but it in fact arose from a prior juvenile adjudication.

Appeal No. 120,566: State of Kansas v. Justin Burke Eckert

Miami County: (Cross-Petition for Review; Conditional Cross-Petition for Review to State’s Cross-Petition) A jury convicted Eckert of aggravated kidnapping, aggravated battery, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, criminal threat, cultivation of marijuana, and 25 counts of possession of drug paraphernalia. Eckert appealed several issues directly to the Court of Appeals, and the Court of Appeals agreed with Eckert in part and affirmed the district court in part. Both parties petitioned the Supreme Court for review. The Supreme Court granted the State’s cross-petition and Eckert’s conditional cross-petition.

Issues on review are whether: 1) the Court of Appeals erred in finding Eckert’s drug paraphernalia convictions were multiplicitous; and 2) there was sufficient evidence to support Eckert’s conviction involving the use of propane and a blower attached to the propane tank as drug paraphernalia.

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