TOPEKA—The Kansas Supreme Court issued Administrative Order 2020-PR-015 restricting access to the Kansas Judicial Center; outlining a self-quarantine policy for employees and judges; and canceling travel, conferences, and training organized by or involving the judicial branch workforce.
This is the Supreme Court’s second order issued in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Visits to the Judicial Center, 301 W 10th Ave., Topeka, are restricted to judicial branch judges and employees and members of the public who have court business that cannot be conducted remotely online or via mail service with the:
- Kansas Supreme Court
- Kansas Court of Appeals
- Clerk of the Appellate Courts
- Appellate Reporter's Office
- Kansas Judicial Council
- Office of Judicial Administration
This restriction also applies to the Kansas Lawyers Assistance Program and the Disciplinary Administrator's offices, which are in other locations.
There will be no events or tours in the Judicial Center, and the Supreme Court Law Library will not receive visitors.
People entering the Judicial Center or offices of the Disciplinary Administrator or the Kansas Lawyers Assistance Program may be asked screening questions consistent with public health guidelines. Admission may be denied.
The Supreme Court encourages using the judicial branch website at www.kscourts.org and other online tools to complete court business in lieu of visiting these locations.
Chief judges are advised to develop similar restrictions for each judicial district.
Judicial branch judges and employees will be required to self-quarantine and not report to work for 14 days if they or someone with whom they live or share close contact has traveled or will travel after March 1 to any international location, to high-risk areas in the United States with known widespread community transmission identified by the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, or on a cruise ship.
Self-quarantined workers will be required to work from home or receive administrative leave, depending on the nature of their jobs.
Judicial branch workforce travel for meetings, conferences, trainings, or similar events is discontinued. All in-person trainings provided or organized by the judicial branch are canceled. Where possible, the judicial branch workforce will use digital options for meetings, trainings, or similar work tasks.
On March 12, the Supreme Court issued Administrative Order 2020-PR-013 to outline judicial branch policy on:
- anticipated personnel issues;
- notices to the public; and
- continuity of operation plans.
Supreme Court cancels March 23-26 oral arguments in Topeka
The Supreme Court canceled oral arguments scheduled in March as part of its efforts to protect the public and judicial branch staff during the COVID-19 outbreak.
Justices were scheduled to hear oral arguments in 17 appeals. Oral arguments take place in the Kansas Supreme Court courtroom in the Kansas Judicial Center in Topeka.
Some appeals will be decided on the briefs and others will be scheduled for argument on a future date.
On March 13, the Supreme Court canceled its travel docket scheduled April 7 at Concordia High School in Concordia. The two cases to be heard then also will be rescheduled.
Visitor alerts at Kansas courthouses
Kansas courts have posted public notices urging people not to enter courtrooms or court offices if they have traveled to areas affected by COVID-19, or have been exposed to or have symptoms of the disease.
Members of the public, as well as attorneys and their clients, who have symptoms or have been exposed to COVID-19 are asked to call or email court personnel to complete court business or to reschedule.
District court contact information is posted in courthouses and is also online.
Supreme Court justice self-quarantines
Justice Caleb Stegall has entered a period of self-quarantine until March 27.
Stegall's action is pursuant to the Supreme Court's administrative order issued March 16 that outlines judicial branch self-quarantine procedures in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Several of Stegall’s family members just returned from traveling in areas covered by today's order.
Stegall will participate fully in all court activities by remote conferencing and will continue to perform all other duties, including serving as departmental justice for two judicial departments. Those departments include the 2nd, 3rd, 8th, 12th, 15th, 17th, 21st, 23rd, and 28th judicial districts.
“We are relying on the best available information and medical expertise in order to keep everyone safe,” Stegall said, “and we urge all Kansans to do the same.”