Truth, Justice & the American Way... and Don't "Fool" Around with the Law - March 22, 2019
Q: On April 1st, something historic will take place in Lawrence. For the first time in 158 years, something will come to town that has never come to Lawrence before. What is it? What is coming to town on April Fool's Day?
A: The Kansas Supreme Court
For the first time in 158 years, the Kansas Supreme Court will come to Lawrence to listen to arguments. On April 1, the seven justices will hear two cases at the Lied Center on the University of Kansas campus. The session is scheduled from 6:30 pm to about 8 pm and the public is invited. This first ever visit to Lawrence is part of outreach efforts since 2011 that have involved the Kansas Supreme Court hearing arguments outside its regular courtroom in Topeka.
One of the two cases is from Wyandotte County. It's 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. 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 other argument justices will hear involves a civil case: 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 not only open to the public but 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 this link: “ Watch Supreme Court Live!"