Lennon v. State

103 Kan. 685, 396 P.2d 290 (1964)

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Lennon v. State

Kansas Supreme Court
103 Kan. 685, 396 P.2d 290 (1964)

Facts

Mary Lennon (defendant) was a troubled woman with a difficult life. She was not accepted by her community because of her uncleanliness, poverty, terrible temper, and speech defect. Mary married an alcoholic, and two children were born to the marriage, which ended in divorce. The state sought custody of the children. At trial, Mary physically attacked the judge, who then awarded custody to the state. On one occasion, Mary was seen trying to cut a hole into the door of a bank. The sheriff arrived, and Mary tried to run from him and hit him. Sometime after that, Mary married again, and a child was born to the marriage. Mary was seriously injured while trying to protect her child from her husband, who murdered the child. The husband was convicted and imprisoned, and Mary divorced him. Soon afterwards, the sheriff intervened when Mary threatened to commit suicide. Mary then married a third husband. Two children were born to the marriage, and it was undisputed that Mary loved and cared for the children. Mary’s husband decided to separate from Mary, sending her and the children away from the family home. Mary began a relationship with another man and became pregnant with Kay Marie, born in December 1962. Mary loved Kay Marie, but Kay Marie’s father wanted nothing to do with her or Mary. Under pressure from the state and deep emotional distress, Mary signed a “Release of Child,” giving Kay Marie’s custody to the state (plaintiff), which filed a petition in juvenile court, alleging that Kay Marie was dependent and neglected. The juvenile court granted the petition and gave custody of Kay Marie to the state. Mary tried to choke the judge for taking Kay Marie away from her. Mary appealed to the county district court, where an attorney was appointed to represent Mary and a guardian ad litem was appointed to represent Kay Marie’s interests. Mary moved for a trial by jury, and the district court denied her motion. The district court found that Kay Marie was dependent and neglected, terminated Mary’s parental rights, and gave Kay Marie’s custody to the state. Mary appealed again, arguing that she was entitled to a trial by jury.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Fontron, J.)

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