Judge Griffin runs for re-election

Wyandotte County District Court Judge Wes Griffin is running for re-election to district court judge, Division 16, in the 29th Judicial District, which includes Wyandotte County.

“I am devoted to serving the Wyandotte County community and I will never stop trying to make our court system better for our residents,” Griffin stated.

“Justice is not only about helping those who have been charged with crimes but also about making sure crime victims are heard. I have spent more than 40 years making sure that criminals who put our community at risk are held accountable. Everyone is given an opportunity to be heard and second chances are given to those who deserve it but I always put our community first.”

Griffin is a past prosecutor in the Wyandotte County District Attorney’s office and was legal counsel in the legal department of the city of Kansas City, Kansas.

He was the first full-time Municipal Court judge for Kansas City, Kansas.

In his position as a judge in Wyandotte County juvenile and criminal courts he has presided over 100 trials. Griffin is currently also a judge in the Wyandotte County Drug Court Program.

“I have been a judge in the Wyandotte County Drug Court Program since it started in 2010,” Griffin said. “Drug court is a specialty court where people struggling with addiction who are facing prison time are given help with substance abuse treatment, mental health treatment, housing and employment. One hundred five people have successfully graduated from the program and it has served as the model for other specialty courts in Wyandotte County, such as Behavioral Health Court and Veteran’s Court.”

Griffin is a graduate of Washington High School in Kansas City, Kansas. He attended Kansas City Kansas Community College and Washburn University and earned his juris doctor degree from Washburn University School of Law. He has been married to his wife, Joyce, for 45 years and has three children and four grandchildren. He attends St. Patrick’s Catholic Church.

He has been involved in Piper Optimist Club for over 20 years, working to provide opportunities for youth in Wyandotte County.

Kansas Supreme Court reverses property tax decisions favorable to Walmart, Sam’s Club

Legal issue involves Johnson County’s controversial valuation of big-box stores

by Tim Carpenter, Kansas Reflector

Topeka — The Kansas Supreme Court waded into a simmering dispute in the appraisal industry over valuing real property of big-box retails stores Friday by overturning lower court decisions faulting Johnson County’s evaluation of nine Walmart Inc. and two Sam’s Club stores.

The state’s highest court rejected a 2021 decision of the Kansas Court of Appeals and a previous ruling by the Kansas Board of Tax Appeals that found for Walmart. Those courts said the commercial buildings should have been valued at what each would sell for if empty or “dark” rather than at what the retail companies paid for construction, land and improvements on those sites.

Walmart took legal action to challenge methods used by Johnson County that resulted in appraisals nearly double previous values for the same properties.
The case raised questions about whether standards set forth in law by the Kansas Legislature were appropriately applied.

After receiving Johnson County’s appraised value of the 11 properties, Walmart sought intervention of the state board of Tax Appeals. BOTA lowered valuations of each property and ordered Johnson County to refund overpayments for the 2016 and 2017 tax years.

Johnson County appealed to the state Court of Appeals by claiming BOTA incorrectly interpreted state law and that BOTA’s decision wasn’t reasonable. The divided Court of Appeals, however, determined BOTA appropriately adhered to Kansas law. That took the case to the state Supreme Court.

In Kansas, statutory provisions related to taxation must be construed in favor of taxpayers. The taxing entity is required to assume a hypothetical sale on the open market of the property on Jan. 1 of the applicable tax year. And, fair-market value is the amount an informed buyer was justified to pay and an informed selling would be justified in accepting.

Kansas Reflector stories, www.kansasreflector.com, may be republished online or in print under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0.
See more at https://kansasreflector.com/2022/07/01/kansas-supreme-court-reverses-property-tax-decisions-favorable-to-walmart-sams-club/

Kansas foster care will pay $1.25 million after a child was sexually assaulted in a contractor’s office

A foster child was sexually assaulted while left unattended in 2018. Now, the state and its private contractor are settling in court.

by Blaise Mesa, KCUR and Kansas News Service

Topeka, Kansas — A court settlement Thursday will require the Kansas foster care system to pay $1.25 million after a child sleeping in a contractor’s office was sexually assaulted in 2018.

A foster child spent a month sleeping in the office of foster care contractor KVC Kansas before the assault. The child, who was 13 years old at the time of the assault, was removed from home as the state investigated allegations of child abuse.

An 18-year-old with a history of sexual abusing others was put at the same office, attorneys said in court documents. KVC was understaffed and didn’t have enough people to watch all the children at once, and the sexual assault happened while D.D. was left unattended.

KVC and DCF knew of the 18-year-old’s past and were warned by family not to put the juvenile with other kids, court documents show.

Mark Schloegel, a partner at Popham Law who represented the 13-year-old, said both KVC and DCF blamed one another. KVC said the foster care system was so unprepared they had few options while DCF said they aren’t to blame for the contractor’s mistake. Attorneys for the victim argued both organizations are liable.

“Defendants DCF and KVC are responsible for [the 13-year-old’s] sexual assault and a failure of the most basic legal responsibility under the federal and state laws and rules,” attorneys wrote in a court document.

DCF declined to comment and KVC said “the safety and wellbeing of children and families is always our highest priority.”

The assault happened in 2018 and a separate lawsuit settlement in 2020 was supposed to end the practice of putting children in offices, but it hasn’t stopped. One higher needs child spent a month in state offices because there was no home to put them in, the Kansas News Service reported.

Schloegel hopes this case will spur improvements in the Kansas foster care system.

“These kids, they don’t have advocates, they don’t have people looking out for their best interest,” he said. “I hope a case like this makes the state wake up; makes these contractors wake up. If you can hit them in the pocketbook, they’re going to change their behaviors.”

Blaise Mesa reports on criminal justice and social services for the Kansas News Service in Topeka. You can follow him on Twitter @Blaise_Mesa or email him at blaise@kcur.org.
The Kansas News Service is a collaboration of KCUR, Kansas Public Radio, KMUW and High Plains Public Radio focused on health, the social determinants of health and their connection to public policy.
Kansas News Service stories and photos may be republished by news media at no cost with proper attribution and a link to ksnewsservice.org.
See more at https://www.kcur.org/news/2022-06-30/kansas-foster-care-will-pay-1-25-million-after-a-child-was-sexually-assaulted-in-a-contractors-office