Kansas Supreme Court announces cases it will hear at special session in Lawrence

photo by: Associated Press

In this Monday, Dec. 14, 2015 file photo, Kansas Supreme Court Justices prepare to hear arguments during a session in Topeka, Kan. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner, File)

Appeals of a Wyandotte County murder case and a Topeka civil case are on the agenda for the Kansas Supreme Court’s upcoming special session in Lawrence, the Kansas Office of Judicial Administration announced Monday.

The session is scheduled from 6:30 p.m. to about 8 p.m. April 1 at the Lied Center, 1600 Stewart Drive on the University of Kansas campus.

The Wyandotte County case is an appeal of the felony murder conviction of Jason L. Rucker in the 1997 homicide of Vicky Ernst. The case was cold until 2006, when a DNA match identified Torry Johnson as a suspect, and Johnson told investigators it had been a failed drugs-for-sex deal, implicating Rucker and someone else. Issues include whether there was sufficient evidence to support the conviction and whether the trial court erred in admitting photos of the victim.

The civil case is Dwagfy’s Manufacturing Inc. — doing business as The Vapebar Topeka and Puffs ‘n’ Stuff LLC  — versus the City of Topeka and its governing body. The case involves a challenge to a 2017 city ordinance banning the sale of tobacco and nicotine products to anyone under 21. Dwagfy’s sought a temporary restraining order and permanent injunction of the ordinance, and the district court granted the temporary restraining order and later permanently enjoined the city from enforcing the ordinance.

The April 1 special session is open to the public, and afterward justices will greet attendees at an informal reception in the Lied Center lobby.

Even though the session isn’t taking place in a courthouse, typical court rules and security measures will be in effect for attendees.

Food and drink, bags larger than small handbags, weapons, electronic devices and talking during proceedings are prohibited. If cell phones are carried, they must be turned off and out of sight while court is in session.

A live video stream of the session may be accessed via the “Watch Supreme Court Live!” link at kscourts.org.

The special event is the court’s first visit to Lawrence in its 158-year history. The session is part of outreach efforts since 2011 that have involved the court hearing arguments outside its courtroom in Topeka.


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