May 22, 2020 12:00 AM

Kansas prosecutor: No criminal charges over pandemic orders

Posted May 22, 2020 12:00 AM
Reno Co. D.A. Keith Schroeder
Reno Co. D.A. Keith Schroeder

HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) — Reno County District Attorney Keith Schroeder said Thursday he will not file criminal charges against people who violate executive orders issued by the governor related to the coronavirus pandemic.

Schroeder attributed his decision to guidance from Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt, The Wichita Eagle reported.

A legal opinion issued Wednesday by the state attorney general calls the legality of the disaster declaration granting her broad emergency powers “doubtful,” suggesting the governor cannot issue “rolling proclamations” of emergency for the same event.

Schroeder, who was among several officials who had asked the attorney general for his opinion on the matter, said in a news release that he will not prosecute any cases based on executive orders issued after May 1.

Gov. Laura Kelly has apparently failed to comply with a legal requirement for distributing proclamations, meaning all of her executive orders related to the COVID-19 pandemic “cannot be legally enforced in a criminal courtroom,” Schroeder said.