TOPEKA—Nancy Dixon, who has served as judicial administrator under the Kansas Supreme Court since 2011, announced today she will retire April 16.
The judicial administrator is the state’s highest ranking nonjudicial employee in the Kansas judicial branch with significant responsibilities carrying out the Supreme Court’s directions for delivering a statewide court system. Duties of the judicial administrator and the Office of Judicial Administration touch every aspect of day-to-day management of the judicial branch, including:
“Nancy has been a tremendous asset to the judicial branch and the Supreme Court,” said Chief Justice Marla Luckert. “She has been instrumental moving the judicial branch forward in meeting its strategic goals to maximize access to and promote justice, encourage innovation and harness technology, attract and retain an excellent workforce, and steward public resources."
In collaboration with judges and court employees statewide, the Office of Judicial Administration led efforts to modernize business processes, centralize service delivery, transition to electronic records and centralized case management, and move services online.
“It’s humbling to look at what our state courts have accomplished under the umbrella of modernization,” Dixon said. “Each project brought us closer to the modern, efficient court system envisioned by the Supreme Court, and I am grateful I could be involved in the effort.”
The most significant changes in the last decade have been to fulfill the Supreme Court’s eCourt plan to convert from local, paper-driven processes to a statewide electronic one. The shift to electronic filing in all state courts and implementation of a statewide centralized case management system scheduled to be complete in 2022 are projects managed by the Office of Judicial Administration under Dixon’s leadership.
Electronic filing began as a pilot project involving civil cases in the 3rd Judicial District (Shawnee County) in 1998. In 2011, the 10th Judicial District (Johnson County) also adopted electronic filing in civil cases, and in 2013 the judicial branch was awarded a $205,000 grant to expand electronic filing to six more districts.
In 2014, the Legislature created a funding mechanism that allowed the judicial branch to expand electronic filing to all courts statewide, and the Supreme Court made electronic filing by Kansas-licensed attorneys mandatory in appellate courts in 2015 and in district courts in 2018.
Centralized Case Management System
Mandatory statewide electronic filing helped pave the way for the new centralized case management system that will allow all district and appellate case data to reside on a single web-based platform, transforming the way state courts serve the people of Kansas. Eight judicial districts composed of courts in 23 counties are using the centralized case management system now, and all other state courts are scheduled to join them over the next year and a half.
Once all courts are operating on the centralized case management system, it will be easier for the judicial branch to access statewide case management data, which can be used to analyze workload and performance measures. Increased data quantity and quality will also make it easier to measure the impact of justice initiatives, such as the juvenile justice reform legislation passed in 2016.
To achieve the greatest benefit from centralized case data, the judicial branch will standardize processes and data points to support courts across Kansas sharing work and to provide a baseline for attorneys who practice in multiple state court jurisdictions.
Other eCourt components
The Supreme Court defines Kansas eCourt as a system of applications and technologies that create a statewide, web-based courthouse. Beyond electronic filing and the centralized case management system, eCourt now includes:
online credit card payment processing of fines and fees;
capability to receive electronic traffic tickets from the Kansas Highway Patrol;
centralized payment processing for courts using the new case management system;
online marriage license applications;
online filing for protection orders;
a virtual court directory to access livestreamed court proceedings.
“I speak for the Supreme Court and, I imagine, for the entire judicial branch when I say we are deeply grateful for Nancy’s many contributions over the last decade,” said Luckert. “And we certainly wish her well in her retirement.”
Dixon said her career as a lawyer was good preparation for her role as judicial administrator, but she also gained from the experience.
"As judicial administrator, I was able to work alongside judges and court staff and see firsthand their commitment to delivering justice fairly and impartially,” Dixon said. “It has been a profoundly gratifying experience."
Dixon is a sixth generation Kansan originally from Topeka, and she graduated from the University of Kansas School of Law. Her legal career in corporate and private practice took her to Indiana, Michigan, Illinois, and Ohio, before she returned to her hometown and was appointed judicial administrator in 2011.
The Supreme Court plans to launch a nationwide search for Dixon’s replacement.