WICHITA, Kan. – Dan Monnat, of Monnat & Spurrier, Chartered, has been listed by Chambers USA 2013 as one of Kansas’ most notable litigators.  According to the publication’s editorial report, Monnat “is hailed as a really good criminal defense attorney… and recognized as a talented trial and appellate lawyer.”

Lawyers are independently researched by Chambers USA. Rankings are based on legal ability, client service, business acumen, diligence, professional conduct and pre-eminence in the attorney’s key practice area in the past year.

Monnat has practiced in Wichita for more than 36 years.  A graduate of California State University, Monnat received his J.D. from Creighton University School of Law.  He also is a graduate of Gerry Spence’s Trial Lawyer’s College.

A frequent national lecturer and editorial contributor on criminal defense topics, Monnat is the author of “Sentencing, Probation, and Collateral Consequences,” a chapter of the Kansas Bar Association’s Kansas Criminal Law Handbook, 4th edition.  He was a member of the Kansas Sentencing Commission from 2007 – 2011.

Monnat has earned distinction as a Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers, the International Academy of Trial Lawyers, and the Litigation Counsel of America.  He currently sits on the Kansas Association of Justice’s Board of Editors and is the Criminal Law Chair.

Monnat is a member of the National Trial Lawyers and served as a member of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers Board of Directors from 1996 – 2004.  He is a two-term past president of the Kansas Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers and a member of the Nebraska Criminal Defense Attorneys Association.

Former Garden Plain football coach Todd Puetz, who was facing a possible sentence of five years in prison for electronic solicitation of a minor, has avoided jail time by reaching a plea agreement with prosecutors.

Puetz pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor count of patronizing a prostitute and was given a 30-day suspended sentence by District Judge Ben Burgess. Puetz was not required to appear in court when Burgess signed the agreement on Friday.

Puetz was one of seven men arrested in October 2011 during a Wichita police sting that targeted men willing to pay to have sex with underage girls.

A Sedgwick County jury found Puetz not guilty in April of attempted aggravated indecent liberties with a child and attempted criminal sodomy. But the jury was unable to reach a verdict on the third and most serious count: electronic solicitation of a child under 16. Puetz faced a possible sentence of 55 to 61 months in prison on that charge.

During the trial, the jury heard recordings of several calls Puetz made to a phone being answered by an undercover police detective posing as a 15-year-old prostitute. Puetz testified that he innocently called the number looking for a massage after seeing an ad that the detective had placed on the backpage.com Internet website.

Burgess, the trial judge, declared a mistrial on the third count, and the case was placed back on the jury trial docket. The retrial was scheduled to begin June 24.

When asked why the agreement was reached, District Attorney Marc Bennett issued a statement through a spokesman that said, “After a lengthy discussion with law enforcement and careful consideration, the parties arrived at this appropriate resolution.”

Defense lawyer Dan Monnat said he was limited in what he could say about the case.

“After a great deal of consideration, all parties agree this is an appropriate resolution,” he said. “We are grateful to the Sedgwick County district attorney and the jury for permitting this resolution of the case.”

Of the seven men charged in the sting operation, it appears that only one will face prison time. The case against one of the seven was dismissed by prosecutors and another suspect was found not guilty by a jury. Puetz and three other defendants accepted plea agreements that allowed them to plead guilty to misdemeanor charges and avoid prison time. The seventh defendant pleaded guilty to a felony and is awaiting sentencing. That final plea agreement also involved an unrelated case that accused the defendant of soliciting sex from a child under 14 through an Internet chat room.
Read full story at Kansas.com

The Wichita Business Journal today announces its annual 40 Under 40 winners, and — as usual — they’re an outstanding bunch.

“The caliber was very high. It was a tough decision on many,” says one of the judges, Patrick Harbert, executive vice president-community markets for Equity Bank and a 2007 40 Under 40 honoree.

A defining characteristic of the winners?

“As a group, even though they have high-paced, very busy jobs, the community service and community involvement that all the applicants had” was impressive, Harbert says. “It makes living in Wichita something to be proud of.”

Wichita Business Journal Publisher John Ek said the roughly 300 nominees and 169 participants were both record numbers.

“I’m surprised and pleased that the 40 Under 40 program continues to grow and thrive,” Ek says.

This year also marked the largest number of honorees from one organization, with six from Koch Industries Inc. or its affiliates.

Harbert called the judging process fascinating.

“The 40 Under 40 has become an honor to earn it,” he says. “Unlike other communities, I think that’s really neat about Wichita. People want to be honored and be one of the 40 Under 40.”

Harbert remembers the feeling when he was chosen six years ago.

“One, it was an honor just to be recognized,” he says. “And two, it made me feel like all my hard work and accomplishments, people had noticed it. That was the neatest thing.”

This year’s winners represent a good cross-section of industry, including from marketing, finance, real estate, startups, the whole gamut, Harbert says.

Other judges and past 40 Under 40 winners were: Chris Wolgamott, Meritrust Credit Union, Class of 2010; Kara Hunt, The Arnold Group, Class of 2009; and Laura Fent, Hinkle Law Firm LLC, Class of 2010.

WASHINGTON — Police may take DNA samples from people arrested for serious crimes, the Supreme Court ruled Monday in a 5-4 decision.

The federal government and 28 states authorize the practice, and law enforcement officials say it is a valuable tool for investigating unsolved crimes. But the court said the testing was justified by a different reason: to identify the suspect in custody.

“When officers make an arrest supported by probable cause to hold for a serious offense and they bring the suspect to the station to be detained in custody,” Justice Anthony M. Kennedy wrote for the majority, “taking and analyzing a cheek swab of the arrestee’s DNA is, like fingerprinting and photographing, a legitimate police booking procedure that is reasonable under the Fourth Amendment.”

Justice Antonin Scalia summarized his dissent from the bench, a rare move signaling deep disagreement. He accused the majority of an unsuccessful sleight of hand, one that “taxes the credulity of the credulous.” The point of DNA testing as it is actually practiced, he said, is to solve cold cases, not to identify the suspect in custody.

But the Fourth Amendment forbids searches without reasonable suspicion to gather evidence about an unrelated crime, he said, a point the majority did not dispute.

“Make no mistake about it: Because of today’s decision, your DNA can be taken and entered into a national database if you are ever arrested, rightly or wrongly, and for whatever reason,” Scalia said from the bench.

Kansas Attorney Gen. Derek Schmidt, who had joined a brief arguing in support of the ruling, hailed it.

“Like fingerprinting, post-arrest DNA swabbing is a vital tool that identifies offenders, solves crimes and keeps Kansas safe,” he said in a written statement.

Dan Monnat, a Wichita defense attorney, said the decision represents “the brave new digital and genetic world we live in.”

“It states that presumptively innocent arrestees can have their most intimate genetic information harvested by the police just because they’re arrested,” Monnat said. “The dissent of Scalia may be most apt in recognizing that it burdens most the people for whom the Fourth Amendment ought to be most zealously guarded, that is, people who turn out to be innocent of what they’re arrested for.”

Existing Kansas law allows law enforcement to draw blood to collect DNA samples from people who are jailed before they are released. Legislative efforts this spring to allow cheek swabs when people are booked and fingerprinted after arrest on felony crimes were unsuccessful.

The case featured an alignment of justices that scrambled the usual ideological alliances. Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Justices Clarence Thomas, Stephen G. Breyer and Samuel A. Alito Jr. joined the majority opinion while Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan joined Scalia’s dissent.

Monday’s ruling arose from the collection of DNA in 2009 from Alonzo Jay King Jr. after his arrest on assault charges in Wicomico County, Md. His DNA profile, obtained by swabbing his cheek, matched evidence from a 2003 rape case, and he was convicted of that crime.

The Maryland Court of Appeals ruled that a state law authorizing DNA collection from people arrested but not yet convicted violated the Fourth Amendment’s prohibition of unreasonable searches.

Kennedy, writing for the majority, said the “quick and painless” swabbing procedure was a search under the Fourth Amendment, meaning it had to be justified as reasonable under the circumstances. The search was reasonable, he said, given “the need for law enforcement officers in a safe and accurate way to process and identify the persons and possessions they must take into custody.”

Such identification, he said, “is no different than matching an arrestee’s face to a wanted poster of a previously unidentified suspect; or matching tattoos to known gang members to reveal a criminal affiliation; or matching the arrestee’s fingerprints to those recovered from a crime scene.”

The information retrieved through DNA testing as performed by law enforcement officials is limited, Kennedy wrote, and whether “the testing at issue in this case reveals any private medical information at all is open to dispute.”

In dissent, Scalia wrote the identification was not the point of the testing. King’s identity was thoroughly established before the DNA testing, Scalia said, as officials had his full name, race, sex, height, weight, date of birth and address.

Moreover, the testing took months to complete, he added.

Nor was there a serious dispute about the purpose of the Maryland law under review, he wrote. The law said one purpose of the testing was “as part of an official investigation into a crime.”

Roberts, in staying the state court decision while the Supreme Court considered the case, acknowledged that the law “provides a valuable tool for investigating unsolved crimes and thereby helping to remove violent offenders from the general population.”

The law authorized testing for purposes of identification, Scalia wrote, but only for missing people and human remains. It said nothing about identifying arrestees.

“Solving crimes is a noble objective,” Scalia concluded, “but it occupies a lower place in the American pantheon of noble objectives than the protection of our people from suspicionless law-enforcement searches. The Fourth Amendment must prevail.”

After King was convicted of assault, there would have been no Fourth Amendment violation had his DNA been collected and tested, Scalia wrote.

“So the ironic result of the court’s error is this: The only arrestees to whom the outcome here will ever make a difference are those who have been acquitted of the crimes of arrest.”

Contributing: Fred Mann of The Eagle
Read full article at Kansas.com

The Wichita Eagle – Fred Mann, contributing