TOPEKA—The Kansas Supreme Court today issued two new administrative orders to add direction to courts and clarity to court users about how courts function during the COVID-19 pandemic response.
“The need to reduce in-person contact as much as possible is paramount to our state’s COVID-19 response,” said Chief Justice Marla Luckert. “These orders clarify points in the judicial branch’s actions to reduce or eliminate in-person contact with court staff and judges to protect the health of our workforce and the health of people who need our services.”
Administrative Order 2020-PR-031: Order Suspending Certain Deadlines and Time Limitations in Kansas Municipal Courts Due to the COVID-19 Emergency
This order applies to municipal courts some of the same provisions regarding state court operations and deadlines as outlined in Administrative Order 2020-PR-016 and continued in 2020-PR-32. It authorizes municipal courts to conduct hearings by videoconference and suspends deadlines and time limitations related to speedy trial and arraignment while the order is in effect.
Administrative Order 2020-PR-032: Order Amending 2020-PR-016
Administrative Order 2020-PR-016 named the essential functions state courts are required by state statute to perform and outlined how these can be accomplished without face-to-face contact, whether by telephone conference or videoconference.
Administrative Order 2020-PR-032 modifies Administrative Order 2020-PR-016 by:
- renaming emergency operations as essential functions;
- clarifying that litigation conduct is not limited when it does not involve a judge or court employee;
- encouraging parties to meet deadlines that do not require in-person proceedings;
- confirming state courts must have staffing necessary to carry out essential functions and nonessential functions may be performed as local resources and circumstances allow;
- clarifying that hearings related to nonessential functions may occur, but only by telephone conference or videoconference;
- clarifying that court staff, whether working in a courthouse or from home, may perform both essential and nonessential functions; and
- clarifying that courts continue to accept electronic filings in all case types and explaining that processing of filings related to nonessential functions may be delayed depending on staffing levels and demands of essential functions.
2020 House Substitute for Senate Bill 102
Today's administrative order clarifies that provisions in 2020 House Substitute for Senate Bill 102 became effective March 19, 2020, when it was published in the Kansas Register. It permits the chief justice to issue an order suspending all statutory deadlines and time limitations to bring a defendant to trial until further order of the chief justice.
Essential court functions
Essential functions are outlined in the Administrative Order 2020-PR-32, and generally include:
- determining probable cause for persons arrested without a warrant;
- first appearances;
- bond hearings;
- warrants for adults and juveniles;
- juvenile detention hearings;
- care and treatment emergency orders;
- protection from abuse and protection from stalking temporary orders;
- child in need of care hearings and orders;
- commitment of sexually violent predators; and
- isolation and quarantine hearings and orders.
For a complete list of judicial branch actions to limit the spread of the novel coronavirus, visit Kansas Courts Response to COVID-19.