TOPEKA―The Kansas Supreme Court today unveiled a new judicial branch website that sports a bold new look, is mobile friendly, and reflects the modernization underway throughout the state court system.
"Our courts have been working to modernize for several years, but our old website didn't fully reflect those efforts," said Chief Justice Marla Luckert. "It was built in 1997, and refreshed only once after that. This is a welcome and much-needed change."
The new site at www.kscourts.org more effectively guides website visitors to information they need. It also offers people the ability to search databases of rules, orders, and opinions, the results of which can be filtered and displayed in different ways. On the old site, a person had to scroll through lists to find that information.
New website easier to maintain
The new website is built on a content management system platform.
"The new platform empowers our employees who are experts about their areas of content to actively manage it on the website," Luckert said. "This results in a huge leap in efficiency and the ability to make timely updates to information."
Multiyear project started without funding
The project to build the new website started several years ago, as the judicial branch was facing a funding shortfall that threatened to close courts statewide for several days.
The Office of Judicial Administration applied for and was awarded a $50,000 grant from the State Justice Institute, which it used to contract with the National Center for State Courts to do audience research and a web content audit and analysis, the results of which were used to define the expected outcome of the website development project.
Website part of Kansas eCourt plan
As preliminary steps to redevelop the website were taking place, the Kansas Legislature established the Electronic Filing and Management Fund. Deposits to the fund from docket fees were dedicated to completing the judicial branch's rollout of electronic filing in all state courts and implementing a centralized case management system under the Supreme Court's eCourt plan.
Electronic filing in all state courts has been mandatory for Kansas attorneys since June 2018, and the judicial branch is in the process of establishing a statewide case management system that will transform the way state courts serve the people of Kansas. Two judicial districts—the 8th and 21st—are on this new system, and all other district and appellate courts are expected to be on it by the end of 2021.
Website is doorway to digital services
A portion of deposits to the fee fund were earmarked to complete the website project.
"The website is one step of many we are taking to modernize our courts to meet the needs of Kansans and Kansas communities," Luckert said. "Our new website is visually consistent with our modernization, and it serves as a doorway to the digital services that will become available through our eCourt project."
Examples of new digital services through the eCourt project include online public access to many court records, the ability to search case information statewide, and a central location to pay fines and fees online.
Modern site allows future development
The content management system recommended by Yoodle, the Kansas City-based web development firm that built the new site, was chosen for its robust features, which allow for future development as the Kansas judicial branch continues to modernize its operations.