Kansas Supreme Court: State courts to conduct emergency operations only; cases won’t be dismissed

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Kansas Judicial Center, 301 SW 10th Ave., Topeka

All district and appellate courts in Kansas are to conduct only emergency operations “until further order,” the state Supreme Court ruled Wednesday, and “no action will be dismissed for lack of prosecution.”

The directive comes amid growing concerns about the coronavirus disease. Only jury trials that are currently underway are an exception, but no other criminal or civil trials will be scheduled until further notice, according to a Wednesday news release about the order.

“This is an extraordinary measure to match the gravity of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Chief Justice Marla Luckert said in the release. “We have a duty to protect the people who come into our courthouses and courtrooms, as well as our employees and judges. This action allows courts to fulfill core functions while reducing in-person contact.”

The emergency operations described in the court order are very similar to the ones listed in a Tuesday order from Douglas County District Court Chief Judge James McCabria: things such as first appearances, bond hearings, juvenile detention hearings, care and treatment emergency orders and child-in-need-of-care hearings and orders, according to the release.

The Supreme Court’s release also lists petitions to waive notice for abortions for minors, commitment of sexually violent predators and isolation and quarantine hearings and orders.

There was a long-pending criminal jury trial scheduled to begin Monday, March 23 in Douglas County — a case in which the defense attorney has already filed multiple motions to dismiss for alleged speedy trial violations. That trial and any others will be delayed until further notice, but the state Supreme Court’s order Wednesday clarified that those cases can’t be dismissed for lack of prosecution.

“Referenced in the Administrative Order is 2020 House Substitute for Senate Bill 102. On its publication, the court’s Administrative Order will have the effect of suspending until further order all statutes of limitations and statutory time standards or deadlines that apply to conducting or processing judicial proceedings,” according to the release.

The state court’s order also notes that people on probation should report by phone and not in person to appointments with court services officers.

More coverage: Coronavirus (COVID-19)

As the pandemic continues, the Journal-World will be making coverage of COVID-19 available outside of the paywall on LJWorld.com.

Find all coverage of city, county and state responses to the virus at: ljworld.com/coronavirus/

What to do if you think you may have COVID-19

Patients who have symptoms — difficulty breathing, cough and fever — should stay home, immediately isolate themselves from others and call their health care providers. Patients should never show up unannounced at a medical office or hospital. Instead, they should call ahead to explain their symptoms and give health care workers the ability to minimize the risk to others.

If patients do not have health care providers, they may call the Lawrence Douglas-County health department’s coronavirus line, 785-856-4343.

For updated information on the outbreak, Kansas residents can email COVID-19@ks.gov or call 866-534-3463 (866-KDHEINF), which is staffed 8 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday through Friday; 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday; and 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday.

More information can be found through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s website, the Kansas Department of Health and Environment’s website or the Lawrence-Douglas County Public Health website.

Contact Mackenzie Clark

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