Kansas Judicial Branch Home
Appellate Clerk
Kansas Judicial Branch

The Kansas Supreme Court
301 SW 10th Avenue
Topeka Kansas 66612-1507

Office of Judicial Administration
Fax:  785.296.7076
Email: info@kscourts.org

Appellate Clerk's Office
Fax:  785.296.1028
Email: appellateclerk@kscourts.org

A Guide to Judicial Branch Open Records Requests

Also see the text of Administrative Order 156, attached Forms & Procedures, and additional Explanatory Information

"Sunshine is the strongest antiseptic-its rays may penetrate areas previously closed....This is not to say that all documents in public offices are open to inspection; only those required by law to be kept and maintained must be made available. The latter, however, must be open for inspection under penalty of law."
- Former Chief Justice Robert H. Miller, State ex rel Stephan v. Harder, 230 Kan. 573, 581, 641 P.2d 366 (1982).

What records are available?

Many records maintained by the Kansas courts are open for inspection. Commonly requested records include:

  • Statistical data regarding trial and appellate court performance
  • Court budgets
  • Court case files and transcripts
  • Final civil and criminal judgments

Exceptions to the Open Records Act

The Kansas Open Records Act recognizes that some records contain information that is private in nature. For this reason, the Act lists a number of exceptions. Some of the common court records closed by statute include:

  • Adoption records
  • Personal information of public employees
  • Certain criminal investigation records
  • Search warrants, unless entered into evidence
  • Expunged criminal records
  • Many child-in-need-of-care and juvenile records
  • Grand jury proceedings

Other specifically exempt records are listed in K.S.A. 45-221 and others may be exempt pursuant to judicial order or caselaw.

Requesting a record

When requesting a record from the Kansas courts, the most likely records custodian will be the clerk of the court. Check with the records custodian or the local Freedom of Information Officer to determine whether the information that you need is available.

You may be asked to submit your request in writing. The records custodian may have a prepared form for this purpose. Make sure your request is as specific as possible so that your request may be filled quickly and completely. The records custodian may ask detailed questions in order to fulfill your request accurately.

Most records will be produced within three business days from the time the request is received. If the request is denied or delayed, you will receive a written explanation for the delay or denial.

If you have questions about your request, contact the local courtís Freedom of Information Officer, or the Kansas judicial branch Office of Judicial Administration.

Office of Judicial Administration
Kansas Judicial Center
301 S.W. 10th Street
Topeka, KS 66612
(785) 296-2256
(785) 296-7076 (fax)

Applicable fees

The per page fees to be paid for copies of any records are set locally. In addition, for requests that require a search or concentrated attention of the records custodian, a per-hour fee may be assessed. The clerk of the district court will be able to advise you of the current fees for record searches and copying.

No district court employee may conduct a search that requires making legal determinations, such as whether a judgment is still current or that a lien exists.

Could my request be denied?

Although every effort will be made to provide the information requested, it is not always possible to fulfill the request. There are a number of reasons that a request may be denied, including:

  • The record does not exist.
  • The record requested is not maintained by the office where the request was made.
  • The request was unclear or vague and needs to be resubmitted.
  • The record that was requested is closed under the exceptions listed at K.S.A. 45-221, or caselaw in this area.

Frequently asked questions

Q. What juvenile offender files are open?
A. Generally, for cases after July 1, 1997, "official file" documents within juvenile court files are open unless ordered closed by a judge. However, certain juvenile court file reports and documents contain social history and other sensitive information. These "social file" documents are filed separately and are confidential.

Q. Can I ask for a court file and browse through it while I'm in the court office?
A. If the information in the file is open, you will be allowed to request the file and look at it, but you will not be allowed to remove the file from the office.

Q. Once I've reviewed the file and determined which pages I would like to have copied, what do I do?
A. You may request copies of certain pages, and you will be charged the local copy charge per page.

Q. Can I call or e-mail in a records request to the court?
A. In most instances, the court will respond to your call or e-mail by asking you for an address or fax number where the request form can be sent to you. When you fill out the request form, the court is able to get the complete and specific information needed to respond to your request.

Q. If I go to the court in person, can the court immediately provide me with the record I am requesting?
A. Again, in most instances, the court will ask you to fill out a record request form. Depending upon staffing and the press of other business in the office, as well as the accessibility of the record you have requested, the court may or may not be able to respond immediately. If your request cannot be processed immediately, the person responding to your request will make arrangements to notify you when the request is processed.