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Kansas Courts Response to Coronavirus (COVID-19)



Court operations during pandemic 

Chief Justice Marla Luckert and the Kansas Supreme Court have issued a series of administrative orders to define how district and appellate courts will safely operate during the pandemic. This allows state courts to continue to provide vital services to the people of Kansas while following public health guidelines that protect judges, court staff, and the people who come into our courts.

Administrative orders related to COVID-19
News releases related to COVID-19
 

Pandemic court initiatives

The Supreme Court formed two groups to examine issues related court operations during the pandemic.

Ad Hoc Jury Task Force
Ad Hoc Virtual Court Proceedings Committee
 

District court operations

For current information about a district court's operations during the pandemic, visit the court’s website. If a court website does not give you the information you need, call the court clerk. 

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Administrative orders affecting court operations

Administrative Order 2020-PR-076 updates requirements for safely operating both district and appellate courts. It replaces Administrative Order 2020-PR-054 issued May 1, although it keeps in place many of its requirements for courts opening their facilities to the public. 

The order lifts the 10-person limit for courtrooms and the 12-person limit for panels seated for jury selection, as long as each person has at least 6-feet of social distancing. The Supreme Court still requires the capacity of any court hearing room not exceed the number of people who can be accommodated with 6-feet of social distancing.

Courts may conduct in-person hearings, if appropriate physical distancing requirements are met. The Supreme Court continues to encourage that matters be heard as much as possible through video or audio conferencing.

Jury trials may only proceed when necessary to protect the constitutional speedy trial rights of a defendant and the court has presented its departmental justice a plan that:

  • uses a location that provides for social distancing;

  • designates how and where sidebar conversations will occur;

  • specifies how exhibits will be handled between attorneys, court staff, and jurors;

  • provides a videostream of the proceedings for public viewing, if necessary; and

  • specifies how the jury will be managed to meet social distancing requirements, addresses jurors' ability to hear and see witnesses and exhibits, and identifies where jurors will deliberate, including how they will leave for and return from deliberation.

Courts must comply with orders of the chief justice and the governor; COVID-19 safety directives from the Office of Judicial Administration; and public health guidance from state and local health officials and OSHA.

Courts that remain closed to the public must meet certain conditions before allowing walk-in visitors, including seeking guidance from the local public health official about how to return to in-person hearings based on local risk and the courthouse facility. The chief judge must assure compliance with health recommendations, have a plan for screening people entering a courtroom or court office, and provide court contact information should someone be denied entry due to health concerns.

Administrative Order 2020-PR-049 applies to courts closed to public operations and establishes conditions the court must meet before resuming public operations. 

A court closed to public operations must perform essential functions and it may perform other functions as local resources and circumstances allow.

Essential functions 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.

Courts are also directed to:

  • conduct hearings related to essential functions by remote technology when possible;

  • conduct hearings related to nonessential functions by remote technology only; and 

  • ​allow telework to its greatest extent possible to reduce the number of people in the courthouse.


Statutes of limitations and statutory time standards suspended

The 2020 House Substitute for Senate Bill No. 102 referenced in Administrative Order 2020-PR-016 was published in the March 19, 2020, Kansas Register. It permits the chief justice to suspend 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.

The chief justice plans to give regular updates on her plan to reinstate statutes of limitation and statutory time standards or deadlines that apply to the conduct or processing of judicial proceedings. She will give at least two weeks' notice before reinstating any time limitations or deadlines. 
 

For attorneys

03-20-20: Chief Justice Marla Luckert's letter to the Kansas bar
03-16-20: Attorney, client protocol established for Kansas courts
 

Kansas Judicial Center open by appointment only

The Kansas Judicial Center is open by appointment only until further notice. Contact us at:

Office of Judicial Administration
785-296-2256
info@kscourts.org

Clerk of the Appellate Courts
785-296-3229
appellateclerk@kscourts.org

Other email contacts

 

Public health resources

Kansas Department of Health and Environment--COVID-19 Resource Center
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention--Coronavirus (COVID-19)
World Health Organization--Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak
 

Preparing for a public health emergency

NCSC: State courts are responding to the coronavirus to protect the public, while maintaining access to justice
NCSC: Preparing for a Pandemic - An Emergency Response Benchbook & Operational Guide for State Court Judges and Administrators


Fact sheets 

What you need to know about coronavirus disease
Lo que necesita saber sobre la enfermedad del coronavirus
 
Prevent the spread of COVID-19 if you are sick
Si está enfermo, prevenga la propagación del COVID-19


Signs

Access to courts

COVID-19 Disease and the Courts

Face mask required to enter

Visitor alert
¡Alerta a los visitantes!

Symptoms of coronavirus disease
Síntomas de la enfermedad del coronavirus
 
Stay home if you are sick
Quédese en casa si está enfermo
 
Stop the spread of germs
Detenga la propagación de los microbios
 
Don't spread germs at work
No propague los microbios en el trabajo



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