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. McDonald, 1977, 222 Kan. 494, 565 P.2d 267.

This case addresses the following issue:

Is a part-time policeman considered a “law enforcement officer” under Kansas statute for battery against a law enforcement officer?

This case involves an appeal from a district court conviction of battery against a law enforcement officer. The Kansas Supreme Court then examined the record and determined that the victim in this case was a law enforcement officer although they were only employed part-time by the city.

The Defendant argued that because Hunt (the victim) was only a part-time policeman, he is not a “law enforcement officer. The Defendant relied upon the definition contained in K.S.A. 1976 Supp. 74-5602(e). That statute is a part of the Kansas Law Enforcement Training Center and Advisory Commission Act, K.S.A. 74-5601, et seq., and its application is limited to that act. However, the controlling statute for this case is K.S.A. 1976 Supp. 21-3110(10), which defines a law enforcement officer as: “Any person who by virtue of his or her office or public employment is vested by law with a duty to maintain public order or to make arrests for crimes, whether that duty extends to all crimes or is limited to specific crimes.”” Id. at 495.

The defendant further complained that because Hunt was originally hired by the chief of police and not by the city manager pursuant to K.S.A. 12-1014 that he was not a law enforcement officer. Id. The court found that Hunt was wearing a city police uniform and badge, was driving a city vehicle, had been employed as part-time police work for some time, and that he was presumably paid by the city. Although the employment may have been irregular and not in strict conformity with the cited statute, the court had no hesitation in holding that Hunt was a “law enforcement officer” given the facts of the case. Id. Thus the conviction of battery against a law enforcement officer was affirmed.