Mar 19, 2020

State courts on emergency operations until further order

Posted Mar 19, 2020 3:15 PM

TOPEKA—The Kansas Supreme Court Wednesday issued Administrative Order 2020-PR-016 directing all district and appellate courts to cease all but emergency operations until further order.

The only exception is jury trials that are currently under way. They may proceed to conclusion, but no other criminal or civil jury trials will be scheduled until further order.

The Supreme Court anticipates the order to remain in effect for at least two weeks, at which time it will be reevaluated. 

“This is an extraordinary measure to match the gravity of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Chief Justice Marla Luckert. “We have a duty to protect the people who come into our courthouses and courtrooms, as well as our employees and judges. This action allows courts to fulfill core functions while reducing in-person contact.”

Emergency operations are outlined in the Administrative Order, and generally include:

  1. determining probable cause for persons arrested without a warrant;
  2. first appearances;
  3. bond hearings;
  4. warrants for adults and juveniles;
  5. juvenile detention hearings;
  6. care and treatment emergency orders;
  7. protection from abuse and protection from stalking temporary orders;
  8. child in need of care hearings and orders;
  9. considering petitions to waive notice for abortions by minors;
  10. commitment of sexually violent predators; and
  11. isolation and quarantine hearings and orders.

Referenced in the Administrative Order is 2020 House Substitute for Senate Bill 102. On its publication, the court’s Administrative Order will have the effect of suspending until further order all statutes of limitations and statutory time standards or deadlines that apply to conducting or processing judicial proceedings.

During the effective dates of the order, no action will be dismissed for lack of prosecution.

People who have business with a court are urged to try completing that business online, by phone, or by mail. If that’s not possible, the person can call the court for direction. A limited number of staff will be available to answer questions.

Chief judges of district courts are charged with identifying essential personnel—both judges and employees—needed to fulfill emergency operations.

The Administrative Order also applies to appellate courts, including the Supreme Court. Emergency operations for the appellate courts include:

  1. Appeals, motions, or original actions arising from the emergency operations of the district court;
  2. Any other appeal, motion, or original action requiring expeditious resolution.

“It is through our collective action that we will slow COVID-19’s spread,” Luckert said. “The courts will continue to serve the people of Kansas, but in a way that protects all of us.”