Sometimes the black letter law passed by the legislature is unclear. The legislature can’t anticipate every possible fact scenario when they pass a law, so it lay to the courts to interpret the law and give guidance to what it means. This interpretation is called case law. When the court decides a certain meeting to the law it essentially answers a legal question. Lawyers and other courts then can rely on that ruling when they have a similar issue in their case. The following case answers the question above.

State v. Campbell, 2002, 39 P.3d 97, 30 Kan.App.2d 70

This case addresses the following issue:

What level of intent is required in order to be convicted of battery on a law enforcement officer?

Campbell was on suicide watch at the Sedgwick County Detention Center on the morning of the incident. Campbell started screaming obscenities and urinated on the floor of his cell. Staff then attempted to deliver medication to Campbell. Id. at 99. Deputy Madaline Magdaleno was standing on the right side of Campbell’s door, wearing her sheriff’s department uniform. Magdaleno testified Campbell was angry and yelling and threw a cup of liquid on her arm and chest when she tried to hand him his medication. Id.

Deputy David Spears and staff nurse Kathy Clark corroborated this testimony. Clark observed Campbell dip a cup into the toilet stool in his cell, and she backed away from the door because she thought she knew what he planned. She then saw the liquid come flying out of the doorway and land on Magdaleno. Spears also testified Campbell grabbed a Styrofoam cup, dipped it into the toilet, and threw the liquid, which hit the inside of the door and Magdaleno.

Campbell was charged and convicted of battery against a law enforcement officer in violation of K.S.A.2000 Supp. 21–3413(a)(5).

Battery is defined by K.S.A.2000 Supp. 21–3412(a)(2) as “intentionally causing physical contact with another person when done in a rude, insulting or angry manner.” This definition is explicitly incorporated in the statute outlining battery against a law enforcement officer, K.S.A.2000 Supp. 21–3413. Id. at 72. The Court had to decide whether battery against a law enforcement officer requires a showing that the defendant intended to cause physical contact with another person, in Campbell’s case, by throwing the liquid. Id. at 73.

“The plain language of the battery statute is clear on this point. The defendant must have possessed the general intent to “cause physical contact with another person.” K.S.A.2000 Supp. 21–3412(a)(2). Mere recklessness is not enough, compare K.S.A.2000 Supp. 3412(a)(1) (reckless state of mind adequate to prove battery when it leads to bodily harm of another person), but neither must the State have to prove that the defendant had physical contact with a specific individual in mind.” Id.

On appeal this Court agreed with Campbell that the district court’s refusal to give PIK Crim.3d 54.01–A on general criminal intent compounded the error in the last paragraph of the elements instruction. PIK Crim.3d 54.01–A provides:

“In order for the defendant to be guilty of the crime charged, the State must prove that (his)(her) conduct was intentional. Intentional means willful and purposeful and not accidental. “Intent or lack of intent is to be determined or inferred from all of the evidence in the case.” “The Notes on Use for PIK Crim.3d 54.01–A state it should be given only when: (1) the crime requires a general criminal intent; and (2) the defendant’s state of mind is a substantial issue in the case. Although Campbell met both elements of this test, this instruction might have been unnecessary had the elements instruction not included its last ambiguous paragraph. Given that error, this instruction could have helped.” Id. at 74.

“Having considered all of the instructions given in Campbell’s case together, read as a whole, this court concluded that the district court did not properly and fairly state the law as applied to the facts and the jury could reasonably have been misled. Reversal of the defendant’s conviction is necessary.” Id. at 75.