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. Winter, 203 Kan. 458 (1969).
This case addresses the following questions:
- What is the maximum amount of time that may pass after the initial appearance before the magistrate has occurred and the preliminary examination hearing?
- Is it possible to extend this period of time if necessary?
The issue in this case includes whether the appellant suffered an undue delay in violation of K.S.A. 62-611 when the preliminary examination occurred longer than ten days from his first appearance before the magistrate. It is first noted that where an accused is charged with the commission of a felony and attempts to enter a plea of guilty or not guilty before the examining magistrate, such a plea is invalid and should be disregarded. Id. K.S.A. 62-610, 62-611, 62-614 provides that “a magistrate may adjourn an examination or trial pending before himself from time to time as occasion shall require, not exceeding ten days at one time, without the consent of the defendant or person charged [and] once an accused is brought before the magistrate, a preliminary examination must be concluded without delay. Id. at 459. In furtherance, a magistrate cannot arbitrarily continue the preliminary examination hearing for an indefinite period of time, and may only exceed ten days at one time when the defendant consents to a longer delay. Id. at 460.”
In the current case, the appellant was charged and arrested with murder in the first degree on February 14, 1967. Id. at 458. On the following day, the appellant was brought before the county court and attempted to enter a plea of not guilty. Id. At that time, a preliminary examination was set for February 28, 1967. Id. On the day of the preliminary examination, counsel for the appellant entered an oral plea in abatement and a motion to quash on the ground that the county court had violated K.S.A. 62-611 by continuing the preliminary examination more than ten days from February 14, without the consent of the appellant. Id. at 459. In addition, the appellant also alleged at this time that the county court (1) failed to make a finding that a crime had been committed, and (2) failed to show that probable cause existed to believe the appellant committed the crime. Id. at 460. This Court noted and agreed with the finding by the district court that the continuance was granted at the request of the counsel for the appellant and on behalf of the appellant for his sole and exclusive benefit. Id. This Court then continued that there was no allegation that the delay was unreasonable or unnecessary, or resulted in the denial of a fair trial. Id. Therefore, this Court concluded that no violation of K.S.A. 62-611 had occurred and the claim was without merit. Id.