TOPEKA—Chief Justice Marla Luckert issued Administrative Order 2021-PR-020 late yesterday reinstating most time limitations and deadlines for court proceedings effective April 15.
Luckert also issued orders authorizing the use of two-way audio-visual communication. One applies to appellate and district court proceedings and the other to municipal court proceedings.
Administrative Order 2021-PR-021: Order Authorizing the Use of Two-Way Audio-Visual Communication in Any District or Appellate Court Proceeding
Administrative Order 2021-PR-022: Order Authorizing Two-Way Audio-Visual Communication in Any Municipal Court Proceeding
"Between current public health trends and legislation allowing virtual court hearings after March 31, most time limitations and deadlines can be safely reinstated April 15," Luckert said.
Luckert stressed that once time limitations and deadlines are reinstated, courts, attorneys, and self-represented parties must be ready to move cases forward. Missing deadlines or statutes of limitations can cause cases to be dismissed.
Courts are following public health guidance to protect the health and safety of court users, judges, and employees. And courts will continue to offer many services remotely, including hearings. Courts also have adopted procedures to provide remote access for attorneys and self-represented parties to hearings and services. These remote services and hearings promote safety, as well as expeditious case handling.
Some suspensions will continue after April 15
Although Luckert's order reinstates most statutory deadlines and time limitations effective April 15, some suspensions will continue. Luckert's order continues the following suspensions:
statutory speedy trial deadlines under K.S.A. 22-3402 in the Code of Criminal Procedure;
statutory trial and hearing deadlines under K.S.A. 22-4303 in the Uniform Mandatory Disposition of Detainers Act;
time requirements for filing actions under K.S.A. 60-1501 and K.S.A. 60-1507; and
time requirements for a defendant's appearance in limited action cases under K.S.A. 61-3002(b).
Constitutional speedy trial protections remain in place.
Background and administrative orders
Luckert’s action to reinstate time limitations and deadlines on April 15 impacts several administrative orders entered under 2020 House Substitute for Senate Bill 102 and its amendments. The legislation allows the chief justice to enter certain orders during any state of disaster emergency upon a finding that the orders are necessary to secure the health and safety of court users, staff, and judicial officers.
Effective March 19, 2020, Luckert ordered all statutory deadlines and time limitations suspended.
The chief justice's statutory authority to issue new time suspension orders was set to expire on March 31, 2021. Through 2021 HB 2227, the Legislature extended the relevant provisions of K.S.A. 2020 Supp. 20-172 until June 30, 2022. HB 2227 took effect on its publication in the March 30, 2021, Kansas Register.
Other legislation, 2021 HB 2078, temporarily suspends provisions of the speedy trial statute in the Kansas Code of Criminal Procedure. HB 2078 was requested by the Kansas County and District Attorneys Association. This legislation, if approved by the governor, becomes effective on publication in the Kansas Register. (Update 2:45 p.m. March 31: 2021 HB 2078 published in March 31, 2021, Kansas Register.)
Luckert's administrative order reinstating most time limitations and deadlines for court proceedings has no impact on the effect of 2021 HB 2078.
Time calculation when suspensions lift
2021 House Bill 2227 includes a provision that explains how to calculate deadlines and time limitations when suspensions lift:
For a deadline or time limitation that was suspended because of an order issued by the chief justice, on the date the order terminates, a person has the same number of days to comply with the deadline or time limitation as the person had when the deadline or time limitation was suspended; and
For a deadline or time limitation that did not begin to run because of an order issued by the chief justice, on the date the order terminates, a person has the full period provided by law to comply with the deadline or time limitation.
Authorizations to use two-way telephonic and electronic audio-visual communication
2021 HB 2227 also continues the chief justice's statutory authority to permit use of two-way electronic audio-visual communication in court proceedings to protect the health of participants. And it expands the chief justice's statutory authority to authorize such proceedings when necessary to expeditiously resolve pending cases.
Administrative Orders 2021-PR-021 and 2021-PR-022 were issued under this authority.
Kansas courts response to COVID-19
For all court actions related to the pandemic, visit Kansas courts response to COVID-19.