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Headlines for Saturday, December 10, 2016

Kansas Supreme Court Backs Man Jailed Four Years Awaiting Trial

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Supreme Court says the state violated the rights of a man jailed for more than four years pending trial on the claim he was a sexually violent predator subject involuntary civil commitment. The justices agreed yesterday (FRI) with a Sedgwick County District judge who ordered Todd Ellison released from jail. The court found the state violated his due process rights after he remained jailed for 1,705 days. Ellison is a convicted sex offender. The state tried to have him involuntarily committed after he served his prison sentence. Kansas law allows that in some circumstances, but the person is entitled to a jury trial to determine if those conditions exist. He was jailed in June 2009 on the commitment claim. A judge ordered his release in March 2014.


Kansas Senate Will Have No Licensed Lawyers in 2017 Session

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Senate won't have a licensed lawyer among its 40 members in the 2017 session. The Hutchinson News reports that the situation means some state statutes will have to be modified. The statutes call for a licensed attorney to serve on some committees. Democratic Sen. David Haley, of Kansas City, described the situation as a "new low water mark." Haley is a lawyer, but his license hasn't been current for years. For the last four years, the Senate has had two licensed attorneys. But outgoing Senate Vice President Jeff King didn't run for re-election, and Majority Leader Terry Bruce was defeated in the August primary. Haley says the state should pay lawmakers more. The base per diem for Kansas legislators is $88.66, with $142 a day for subsistence.


Kansas Spent $17 Million on Technology Project Before Outsourcing

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The administration of Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback spent $17 million on resolving technology needs in-house before outsourcing the effort to a company in another state. Chief information technology officer Phil Wittmer told The Topeka Capital-Journal that the in-house project was too expensive and would have cost $50 million to complete. The state is retiring its IBM mainframe used by four major agencies. In September, Kansas reached a five-year, $14 million deal with Illinois-based Ensono to replace the mainframe. Department of Administration spokesman John Milburn declined to answer questions on why the project was initially approved, where the equipment for the project is being stored and whether any of the $17 million can be recouped.


Manhattan District to Keep Indian Mascot, Studies Options

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — Manhattan High School is keeping its Indians mascot for now. The Manhattan-Ogden school board unanimously voted Wednesday to create a committee to study several issues as part of a compromise in which the mascot was retained. The Manhattan Mercury reports that issues the committee will study include determining the cost of retiring the Indian mascot and exploring the creation of a new mascot. The committee also would look for ways to educate the community about Native Americans and recognize a former coach whom the mascot is meant to honor. The coach, named Frank Prentup, was a descendant of the Tuscarora tribe. Members of the committee will include those seeking to change the mascot and keep it the same, as well as students, teachers and administrators.


Student Accuses Kansas High School Coach of Harassment

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas high school student has filed a federal lawsuit accusing an assistant football coach of sexually harassing her. The Kansas City Star reports the student, who is not identified, and her mother filed the lawsuit Thursday in Kansas City, Kansas, against the Smith Center School District and assistant high school football coach Brock Hutchinson. The lawsuit accuses Hutchinson of sexually harassing the student in front of classmates and school employees. The lawsuit claims the harassment led the student to become depressed, miss school and change schools in her senior year. The school district referred questions about the case to the district's attorney, who didn't immediately respond to a call seeking comment yesterday (FRI). Hutchinson said he didn't know such a lawsuit had been filed and declined comment.


Colleges Pushed to Note Sexual Misconduct on Transcripts

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Colleges that expel students whom they suspect of sexual assault are being asked to specify the reason for expulsion on their transcripts, but opponents say that would be unfair. Two states require their schools of higher learning to make such notations and a California congresswoman introduced a measure Thursday that would require them nationwide while allowing them to eventually be expunged. Supporters say they're critical to ensuring a sex offender doesn't end up on other campuses without the new schools knowing of the potential risk. Opponents point out that such students are often never criminally charged and that the bar for schools to find someone culpable is lower than the criminal justice system's standard of beyond a reasonable doubt.


Arnold-Burger Named New Kansas Chief Appeals Court Judge

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Court of Appeals will have a new chief judge next month. The Kansas Supreme Court selected Judge Karen Arnold-Burger to serve as chief judge of the 14-member state appeals court beginning January 9th. She succeeds Chief Judge Thomas J. Malone, who will continue to serve on the appeals court after his four-year term as chief judge ends. As chief judge, Arnold-Burger will determine venues for arguments, designate cases to be heard by three-judge panels and assign judges to panels. Before joining the appeals court in 2011, Arnold-Burger's positions included serving as presiding municipal court judge in Overland Park and assistant U.S. attorney in Kansas City, Kansas.


Court: Porn Offender Must Liquidate Retirement Account

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — An appeals court says a man serving a 260-year sentence in a Kansas child pornography case must liquidate his union retirement account and apply that money he hid from the court to provide restitution to the victims. Wednesday's ruling by a Denver-based 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals panel upholds a federal judge's ruling against 54-year-old Philip Grigsby. Grigsby, formerly of Marquette, was sentenced in 2013 after pleading guilty to eight counts of sexual exploitation of a child, as well as single counts of illegal gun possession and child porn possession. A judge later ordered Grigsby to pay $140,000 restitution to a victim and her mother. Grigsby's $53,000 retirement account he concealed during proceedings in the porn case was later discovered during his divorce, and a judge ordered it liquidated.


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