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Washburn Law Journal Online

Juvenile Justice: Authorizing Prosecution as an Adult in Kansas [State v. Vonachen, 476 P.3d 774 (Kan. 2020)]

Mackenzie K. McCoy | December 15, 2021 | Read this comment

Summary: In December 2020, the Kansas Supreme Court affirmed the Reno County District Court’s decision to authorize adult prosecution of fourteen-year-old defendant, Samuel Vonachen. The Juvencourt should consider when determining whether to grant the state’s motion to authorize prosecuting a juvenile as an adult. Typically, in Kansas, an individual under the age of eighteen is adjudicated as a juvenile offender. However, if the factors in Kansas Statute section 38-2347(d) are established by a preponderance of the evidence showing that adult prosecution is warranted, the court may grant the state’s motion. The district court did not abuse its discretion by appropriately and accurately applying the factors of Kansas Statute section 38-2347(d) to the facts of Samuel’s case. To overcome the statutory factors outlined in Kansas Statute section 38-2347(d), Samuel needed an argument that would downplay the seriousness of his crimes and demonstrate that society would be better served with him spending time in a juvenile facility rather than spending the rest of his life in prison. However, Samuel failed to do so. Therefore, the Kansas Supreme Court correctly affirmed the district court’s decision.

Preferred Citation: Mackenzie K. McCoy, Juvenile Justice: Authorizing Prosecution as an Adult in Kansas, 61 Washburn L.J. Online  (2021),

The Kids Are Not All Right [M.B. Howard, No. 18-2617-DDC-GEB, 2021 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 15801 (D. Kan. Jan. 28, 2021)]

Brigid E. Markey | December 13, 2021 | Read this comment

Summary: For years, Kansas’s foster care children have endured dangerous and negligent environments while in the state’s custody. Children have been forced into constant placements, often being shuffled between homes and facilities with little notice. As a result, numerous foster care children have experienced sleeping arrangements in inadequate areas like motels and offices. These constant placements have traumatized the children by exposing them to predators, limiting access to education, and hindering their access to mental health treatments. In 2018, numerous children in the foster care system brought a class action lawsuit against the State of Kansas for its egregious handling of the children’s health and safety. This suit resulted in a settlement agreement that requires Kansas to make strict improvements within its foster care system. However, due to the required massive overhaul of the system and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, it remains to be seen whether Kansas will fulfill the conditions the federal court order demands.

Preferred Citation: Brigid E. Markey, The Kids Are Not All Right, 61 Washburn L.J. Online (2021),

It's Unanimous: Ending Racial Bias in the Jury Box [Ramos v. Louisiana, 140 S. Ct. 1390 (2019).]

Belinda J. McCaskey | October 21, 2021 | Read this comment 

Summary: The question presented to the Court is whether an individual’s Sixth Amendment right to a jury trial requires states to impose an unanimity requirement on a criminal prosecution verdict. The Sixth Amendment is made applicable to the states via incorporation through the Fourteenth Amendment. Two states, Louisiana and Oregon, have long convicted people with a 10-2 verdict. The Court held in Ramos that the Sixth Amendment’s unanimity requirement applies to both state and federal criminal trials, thus ending a century-long failure to recognize racial bias in the jury box. Despite the law being rooted in racism, the Court barely acknowledges this fact, and when it does—it discounts the impact. Because the Court can and does shape our social consciousness, it must do better in taking care of its words.

Preferred Citation: Belinda J. McCaskey, It's Unanimous: Ending Racial Bias in the Jury, 61 Washburn L.J. Online  (2021),


Volume 61 Cases Reviewed