Gavel Grab

Administrative Revamp for Kansas Courts is Struck Down

A Kansas judge struck down as unconstitutional a 2014 statute taking away from the state Supreme Court the authority to pick chief district judges. Because another law said Kansas courts would be defunded if the provision were struck down, questions immediately were raised about funding of the state judiciary.

Shawnee County District Judge Larry Hendricks did not address in his ruling Wednesday the statute about court funding, enacted by the Republican-led legislature. Attorney General Derek Schmidt said Hendricks’ decision “could effectively and immediately shut off all funding for the judicial branch,” and that he would ask the judge to put the decision on hold, according to the Associated Press.

It is not likely the courts’ funding actually is in jeopardy, state Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Jeff King said, because opportunities for appealing the Wednesday ruling are numerous.

Hendricks said appointing chief district court judges represents “one of the principal instruments” for the state high court’s exercising authority.  “The Legislature has taken that power away from the Kansas Supreme Court and, thus, exerted itself over a fundamental component of the Judiciary,” he wrote.

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