TOPEKA—Chief Justice Marla Luckert issued a new administrative order today continuing to suspend statutes of limitation, statutory time standards, deadlines, and time limitations started under earlier orders in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Luckert's action to issue Administrative Order 2021-PR-009 follows the Legislature's ratification and continuation of the COVID-19 state of disaster emergency through March 31, 2021, in 2021 Senate Bill 14.
Luckert said the health and safety of jurors, witnesses, litigants, members of the public, law enforcement officials, court employees, and judges drove her decision to continue the suspensions.
Duration of today's order
Today's order will remain in effect until further order or it expires under provisions in K.S.A. 2020 Supp. 20-172.
Chief Justice's authority to issue time-suspension orders set to expire on March 31, 2021
As set out in K.S.A. 2020 Supp. 20-172, absent action from the Legislature, the chief justice's authority to issue administrative orders suspending statutes of limitation, statutory time standards, deadlines, and time limitations under 2020 House Substitute for Senate Bill 102 as amended by 2020 Spec. Sess. House Bill 2016 expires on March 31, 2021.
"To protect the health and safety of court users, staff, and judicial officers, I am asking the Legislature to extend my authority to continue statutory time suspensions," Luckert said.
Courts are processing many cases remotely and are resuming in-person proceedings, including jury trials.
But current community health conditions and recommendations from local public health officials have limited in-person services and slowed the resumption of jury trials in some courts, Luckert said. Scheduled trials often must be continued because a critical witness or an attorney is ill or another virus-related obstacle arises. And juror fears of contracting the virus along with the limited availability of spaces large enough to safely convene a mass gathering for jury selection hampers efforts to schedule jury trials at the same rate as before the pandemic.
Chief justice's authority to authorize two-way electronic audio-visual hearings set to expire March 31, 2021
Under K.S.A. 2020 Supp. 20-172, Luckert has issued administrative orders authorizing courts to conduct hearings with two-way telephonic or electronic audio visual communication. This authority likewise expires on March 31, 2021.
"District courts have conducted tens of thousands of remote hearings during the COVID-19 pandemic," Luckert said. "This technology has allowed Kansas courts to resolve all types of cases even when COVID-19 cases numbers have been high. I am asking the Legislature to extend this authority to keep court users safe and to aid in the expeditious resolution of cases before Kansas district courts."
For all court actions related to the pandemic, visit Kansas courts response to COVID-19.