WICHITA — Following Thursday’s announcement that President Joe Biden is pardoning thousands of Americans convicted of “simple possession” of marijuana under federal law, 12 News spoke with local legal experts to gain perspective on what kind of impact this could have on Kansas.

The federal pardons will not apply to possessions of marijuana with intent to distribute or distributions of marijuana or manufacturing. Further, the pardons will not affect convictions under state law.

Wichita criminal defense attorney Dan Monnat said a charge on a federal level verses a state level depends on who makes the arrest.

“That depends upon which law enforcement office has jurisdiction over the offense, which law enforcement agency makes the arrest and which prosecutor decides to prosecute it,” he said.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) said of the 8.2 million marijuana arrests between 2001 and 2010, 88% were for simply having marijuana. Compared to surrounding states, even possessing a small amount is a crime in Kansas.

“Far less than a blunt is enough to prosecute somebody in Kansas,” Monnat said. “Any amount that can be possessed is sufficient for a conviction of possession of marijuana.”

Micah Kubic with ACLU Kansas said marijuana laws have disproportionately affected specific groups in the U.S.

“Drug laws in Kansas, around the country have disproportionately hurt communities of color of disproportionately hurt African American and Latino communities,” Kubic said.

Now, all those eligible for a pardon will get a new chance at life, but Kubic said that won’t change anytime soon at the state level.

See full video at KWCH.com

WICHITA — At least 54 cases are missing evidence, according to a 2021 audit of the Wichita Police Department’s (WPD) Property and Evidence facility. The newly released information comes just a day after the city manager pointed to multiple issues within the facility.

This could mean cases could be thrown out, but Sedgwick County District Attorney Marc Bennett said this is more of a records management issue, not a missing evidence issue.

When Bennett found out about the problems with the property and evidence facility, he wanted the details.

“That seems almost within the realm of human error,” said Bennett.

Bennett met with City leadership on Tuesday. Afterward, he said the issue is centered around records management.

“But to run a property and evidence section, it is not very equipped for that, and frankly, it’s appearing that is not equipped for that at all,” said Bennett.

Wichita Council Member Jeff Blubaugh visited the facility on Tuesday and said it is a mess and needs attention immediately.

Bennett shares similar concerns.

“It’s an embarrassment, in fact, for the department, but that is a far cry from suggesting that there is any evidence of malfeasance, criminality, lost, [and/or] stolen property,” said Bennett.

But if the evidence is found to be missing, it could cause cases to be thrown out, according to Monnat & Spurrier, Chartered Shareholder Attorney, Sal Intagliata.

“If you have clearly exculpatory evidence and it is gone, you are entitled to relief,” said Intagliata.

“If we find out that there are things where they are not supposed to be, then we are going to have issues, but thus far, that has not been brought to my attention,” said Bennett.

The City has a four-phase plan of action in place to fix the issues within property and evidence.

According to the plan, we will not know how many cases are missing evidence for at least 90 days.

See full video at KSN.com

WICHITA — Tension is building between some leaders in the City of Wichita and Sedgwick County after the Wichita City Council voted Tuesday not to prosecute people who are caught with marijuana. While the city council still has one more reading before these kinds of misdemeanors are no longer prosecuted in municipal court, county officials warn because the district attorney’s office rarely prosecutes misdemeanor cases, the ordinance will only clog an already crowded system.

“So, you all pay for misdemeanor appointments,” District Attorney Marc Bennett told the Sedgwick Board of County Commissioners Wednesday.

Wichita City Council votes to decriminalize marijuana and fentanyl test strips

Bennett says the county could face significant financial impacts if Wichita passes an estimated 1,200-1,500 cases to his office each year.

“Probation, forensic science, the costs associated with testing all that marijuana,” Bennett said.

While the district attorney’s office can control how many cases it will prosecute, Sheriff Jeff Easter says he anticipates a major influx in bookings in a jail that is constantly nearing capacity.

“They can no longer just issue an NTA (Notice to Appear) and walk away. They have to arrest them and book them by state statute,” Sheriff Easter said.

Bennett says his biggest concern involving the city’s ordinance is the concept of ‘double jeopardy.’

“This notion that there’s 750 cases as if they are stand-alone cases where the person is only charged with one joint in his pocket. That’s not reality,” Bennett said.

But criminal defense lawyer Dan Monnat says the system can handle the change, allowing the City to reallocate time and resources to other, more serious cases.

“We’re eliminating prosecutions in one jurisdiction, so that doesn’t cost more money,” Monnat said.

Meanwhile, the Wichita Police Department is still working out a plan to move forward with these kinds of arrests. Experts say they do not anticipate an increase or decrease in racial profiling as a result of this ordinance.

“I think there needs to be checks and balances in policy, and there needs to be early warning signs that police officials need to recognize in their officers,” Dr. Michael Birzer, professor of criminal justice at Wichita State University, said.

Commissioner David Dennis is urging the Board of County Commissioners to consider a resolution in the near future regarding how to bill the City of Wichita for all additional expenses pertaining to this ordinance.

See full video at KSN.com

The 2022 edition of Who’s Who Legal: Business Crime Defense has named Dan Monnat, of Monnat & Spurrier, Chartered, one of the world’s leading business crime defense attorneys. He is the only attorney from Wichita and one of only two attorneys in Kansas selected to the list, which encompasses the top attorneys from 38 countries worldwide.

“Who’s Who focuses on an international list of lawyers with expertise in representing companies and individuals involved in white-collar criminal litigation,” Monnat said. “While the Who’s Who research focuses primarily on white-collar criminal trial practice, it also encompasses those attorneys who have significant experience in cutting-edge matters involving compliance, investigations, enforcement proceedings, and parallel or related civil litigation. I’ve been privileged to be part of the Who’s Who list since 2014, and each year it’s an even greater honor.”

Monnat has practiced in Kansas for 45 years, handling criminal and white-collar criminal cases that have attracted international attention, including the defense of late-term abortion provider Dr. George Tiller.

Monnat is a Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers, the International Academy of Trial Lawyers, the American Board of Criminal Lawyers, the American Bar Foundation, and the Kansas Bar Foundation. He has been named one of the Top 10 Super Lawyers in Kansas and Missouri for the past four years, and has been included on the Super Lawyers Top 100 list for more than 15 years.

A graduate of California State University, Monnat received his J.D. from Creighton University School of Law and 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 co-author of “Sentencing, Probation, and Collateral Consequences,” a chapter of the Kansas Bar Association’s Kansas Criminal Law Handbook, 5th edition.  He currently sits on the Kansas Trial Lawyers Association’s Board of Editors.

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

WICHITA — Four Monnat & Spurrier, Chartered, attorneys have been honored by Best Lawyers in America® 2023, including firm President Dan Monnat, who was named to the prestigious list for the 35th consecutive year.

Dan Monnat has practiced in Wichita and throughout Kansas for more than 45 years, defending individuals and companies in high-stakes federal and state jury trials, appellate courts, regulatory proceedings, grand jury, and other investigations. Monnat makes his 35th consecutive appearance on the list and was recognized this year in four distinct areas: Criminal Defense-General Practice; Criminal Defense-White Collar; Bet-the-Company Litigation; and Appellate Practice.

A noted legal author and lecturer, Monnat is a graduate of California State University, with a J.D. from Creighton University School of Law. He is a graduate of Gerry Spence’s Trial Lawyer’s College.

Sal Intagliata earned his eighth consecutive listing by Best Lawyers in the areas of Criminal Defense: General Practice; Criminal Defense: White-Collar, and DUI / DWI Defense. A shareholder at Monnat & Spurrier, his career includes 23 years as a distinguished criminal defense attorney in private practice, as well as four years as a Sedgwick County Assistant District Attorney, where he prosecuted cases in the Gangs/Violent Crimes Division.

Intagliata earned his bachelor’s degree, with distinction, from the University of Kansas. He earned his J.D. from the University of Kansas School of Law in May 1995.

Stan Spurrier, an accomplished legal scholar who co-founded the firm with Monnat in 1985, was recognized in the areas of: Appellate Practice; Criminal Defense: General Practice; and Criminal Defense: White-Collar.

Spurrier earned his bachelor’s degree from Wichita State University and his J.D., magna cum laude, from Washburn University School of Law.

Eli O’Brien is an associate attorney whose primary practice includes defense of serious felony accusations, as well as DUI / DWI cases. He was honored by Best Lawyers in the area of Criminal Defense: White-Collar.

Before joining Monnat & Spurrier in 2015, O’Brien was a trial attorney with the Sedgwick County Public Defender’s Office. A graduate of Washburn University School of Law, O’Brien also holds a bachelor’s degree in history from Emporia State University.

“Selection to Best Lawyers in America is based on reviews by legal peers who are in the best position to evaluate the professional conduct and capabilities of their colleagues,” said Monnat. “In a profession that’s often adversarial, the true honor for our firm is to receive such consistent, high regards from our peers.”

WICHITA, Kan. – Chambers USA 2022 has once again ranked Dan Monnat, of Monnat & Spurrier, Chartered, among Kansas’ top litigators in the areas of White-Collar Crime and Government Investigations, citing his work in healthcare and financial investigations. Chambers has placed Monnat among the state’s top-tier attorneys in this sector for 12 consecutive years.

“I’ve always said that the practice of law is about more than the law… it’s about the thought, action, courage and care we bring to bear in the defense of every client,” Monnat said. “I’m honored that the lawyers and clients surveyed by Chambers have continued to recognize this commitment in my practice, and have seen fit to name me to this distinguished list for the past dozen years.”

For more than 45 years, Monnat has practiced criminal law, white-collar criminal law and appellate law in Wichita and across Kansas. Highly regarded by peers and clients alike, Monnat has been named one of Super Lawyers’ Top 10 Lawyers in Missouri and Kansas every year since 2018. A graduate of California State University, he 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 editorial contributor on criminal defense topics, Monnat is co-author of “Sentencing, Probation, and Collateral Consequences,” a chapter of the Kansas Bar Association’s Kansas Criminal Law Handbook, 5th edition.

Monnat has earned distinction as a Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers, the International Academy of Trial Lawyers, the American Board of Criminal Lawyers, the American Bar Foundation, and the Kansas Bar Foundation. He currently sits on the Kansas Association of Trial Lawyers’ Board of Editors.

Monnat is a member of the National Trial Lawyers Association. He is a past member of the Board of Directors of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers and lectures frequently at NACDL conferences and at other legal seminars nationwide.

Monnat & Spurrier, Chartered, was founded in 1985 by Monnat and legal scholar Stan Spurrier. In addition to Monnat and Spurrier, the firm includes shareholder Sal Intagliata and associates Eli O’Brien and Alex Sheppard.

WICHITA, Kan. – Alex Sheppard has joined Monnat & Spurrier, Chartered as an associate attorney. His primary practice will focus on the defense of criminal cases including DUIs, drug offenses and domestic violence.

Sheppard comes to Monnat & Spurrier from a prominent personal injury firm where he fought big insurance companies and recovered millions in compensation for injured parties.

“We’re extremely pleased to have Alex join our firm,” said firm President Dan Monnat. “His competitive drive, detailed preparation and work ethic are excellent attributes for a courtroom attorney, whether he’s trying a criminal misdemeanor or a serious felony. Alex’s trial experience will serve our clients especially well.”

A graduate of Washburn University School of Law, Sheppard also holds a bachelor’s degree in biopsychology from Morningside University in Sioux City, Iowa, where he received an athletic scholarship and swam on its men’s swim team.

Sheppard is a member of the Kansas Bar Association, Wichita Bar Association, National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers and Kansas Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. Active in the Wichita community, Sheppard is a member of Wichita Young Professionals.

Founded in 1985 by litigator Dan Monnat and legal scholar Stan Spurrier, Monnat & Spurrier has built a national reputation for criminal defense and appellate defense, computer crimes defense, and white-collar criminal defense. In addition to Monnat, Spurrier and Sheppard, the firm includes former prosecutor Sal Intagliata and former public defender Eli O’Brien.

WICHITA — “No one’s happy about the situation at all. But it’s an opportunity to do the right thing,” said Wichita Mayor Brandon Whipple.

Just one day after Wichita leaders announced an investigation into the police department regarding alleged inappropriate and racist messages being shared by officers, Mayor Whipple said he’s already warning of the repercussions.

“In these types of situations, it’s going to lead to these cases getting tossed out so that other cases can actually take precedence over them, which means we will potentially have people who committed crimes going out scot free,” said Whipple.

It’s actually a law under “Brady-Giglio”, which means when law enforcement officers are called as witnesses, a prosecutor must disclose any evidence that could impact the accuracy of their testimony.

“They have a history of the deviant behavior behind the association they have with each other in the attitude that they have. And that’s something that we should not tolerate,” said Larry Burks Sr., the President NAACP-Wichita.

The district attorney’s office has already pulled all of the records involving the sheriff’s office employees who Sheriff Jeff Easter said were sharing similar and offensive texts.

The DA dismissed about 50 pending traffic tickets, 10 pending and nonviolent criminal cases, and reviewed 120 criminal cases that had already been resolved by the three deputies who were involved.

“I really appreciate the DA going and doing what he has already done with the cases that those officers have been involved with. And those are being looked at right now. I understand that some of those cases have been dismissed. I’m sure a whole lot more that needs to take place,” said Burks Sr.

“Motive, interest, bias, dishonesty is always relevant to credibility,” said Dan Monnat, a local defense attorney.

Monnat said prosecutors can’t withhold evidence that would favor someone accused of a crime.

“Isn’t the jury entitled to know that the so-called objective, forthright testimony they heard from the law enforcement officer on the witness stand is in fact, shaded and undermined by the subjective racism of the off-duty policeman,” said Monnat.

District Attorney Marc Bennett sent an email response to KAKE News Wednesday night saying he did meet with representatives with the WPD, but at this point in the process he’s still assessing the situation and does not have an update.

See full video at KAKE.com

HUTCHINSON, Kan.  – What started the Cottonwood Complex blaze that claimed one life and destroyed at least 35 homes?

“We are still in the investigation. There’s not a lot I can say about it, but we are in the middle of that,” said Reno County sheriff Darrian Campbell. “When you see 35 homes totally destroyed, that’s awful. That’s awful. I have no words.”

Campbell says he is impressed with all the help in Reno County, from fire crews coming from all over the state to volunteers pitching in and his staff working overtime.

But he says charges are a possibility, and the state fire marshal’s office is also investigating since there has been a death in the fire.

“Also, there’s so much monetary damage done by this fire,” said Campbell. “We just have to look into it and investigate it. If somebody is responsible for it, we can possibly hold them accountable.”

Some residents near the fire are asking about fines or legal charges coming as a result of the fire.

“I think somebody should have to pay for this,” said Patricia Strait, who lives near the fire. “There’s like, what, 35 houses that were burned down? How many people are out of a home?”

Patricia says her sister lost her home in the fire. And that fire barely missed her own home.

Campbell continues to praise those responders at every level that have stepped up to help.

“The outpour for offers to help is phenomenal, and I just wanted to say thank you to all those agencies,” said Campbell.

Campbell also said the state fire marshal’s office is involved because of a death resulting from the fire.

“Everybody knows that there has been a body found, so automatically, the state fire marshal office has to be notified, and they were on the scene,” said Campbell. “So the state fire marshal, Hutchinson fire department and Reno county sheriff’s office went ahead and responded and to work that crime scene. And I say crime scene because that’s now how it has to be investigated.”

KSN Legal analyst Dan Monnat looked into charges due to the fire.

“The person could be liable for, even unintended deaths,” said Monnat. “There are possibly two homicide charges that could be charged. One is second-degree murder, which is the killing of a human being under circumstances recklessly manifesting an extreme disregard for the value of human life or involuntary manslaughter, which is simply the killing of another human being, recklessly.”

Monnat says those would be extreme charges, but there is case law in Kansas that looks at unintentional consequences from a fire.

KSN News reached out to the district attorney’s office in Reno County.

Deputy district attorney Andrew Davidson responded.

“The investigation into the wildfires is still ongoing, and the Reno County District Attorney’s Office cannot comment about the investigation at this time,” said Davidson. “Our thoughts and prayers go out to the families affected by this tragedy.”

See full story at KSN.com

WICHITA, Kansas – Missouri & Kansas Super Lawyers has named Monnat & Spurrier, Chartered, attorneys Sal Intagliata and Eli O’Brien to its esteemed list for 2021. Intagliata was honored by Super Lawyers for the eighth consecutive year, while O’Brien earned recognition as one of Super Lawyers’ “Rising Stars.”

Only 5 percent of eligible attorneys are selected for the overall Super Lawyers list. Only 2.5 percent of eligible attorneys are honored among the Rising Stars list, which includes only those attorneys under 40 years of age.

Sal Intagliata is a shareholder in the firm and has practiced law for more than 26 years. His career includes 22 years as a distinguished criminal defense attorney in private practice and four years as a Sedgwick County Assistant District Attorney prosecuting cases in the Gangs/Violent Crimes Division.

Intagliata serves on the Kansas Judicial Council Criminal Law Advisory Committee and the Kansas Supreme Court Pretrial Justice Task Force. He is a past member of the Board of Governors of the Kansas Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. He is a past vice president of the Wichita Bar Association, as well as a past member of its Board of Governors and past chair of its Criminal Practice Division.

Intagliata earned his bachelor’s degree, with distinction, from the University of Kansas, graduating with dual majors in political science and Spanish. He earned his Juris Doctorate from the University of Kansas School of Law. He is also a graduate of the National Criminal Defense College.

Eli O’Brien makes his inaugural appearance on Super Lawyers’ Rising Stars list. Since joining the firm as an associate in 2015, his primary practice has included defense of serious felony accusations, as well as DUI and DWI cases.

Prior to joining the firm, he was a trial attorney with the Sedgwick County Public Defender’s Office. Over the years as a public defender and private practice defense attorney, his jury trials have resulted in a number of acquittals.

A graduate of Washburn University School of Law and the National Criminal Defense College Trial Practice Institute, O’Brien also holds a bachelor’s degree in history from Emporia State University.