The COVID-19 pandemic is prompting more delays in the Kansas court system.
According to the Kansas Supreme Court, Chief Justice Marla Luckert issued a new administrative order Wednesday 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 follows the State Finance Council’s October 7 decision to extend the COVID-19 state of disaster emergency from October 16 through November 15.
Luckert said the health and safety of jurors, witnesses, litigants, members of the public, law enforcement officials, court employees, and judges have dictated the flow of judicial proceedings as courts tailor their functions to meet guidance given by local public health officials. She commended the efforts of judges and court employees to meet the challenge to process many cases remotely using videoconferencing and other technology and to conduct in-person proceedings and trials.
“Our courts have a done a great job overcoming the many challenges brought about by COVID-19, but the pandemic continues to present some barriers to access to justice,” Luckert said. “As long as these barriers exist, Kansans are at substantial risk of forfeiting claims, causes of action, and legal rights if these time requirements are reinstated.”
Statutory speedy trial provisions in district courts
Administrative Order 2020-PR-107 continues the suspension of statutory deadlines and time limitations to bring a defendant to trial in district court. The order does not impact a criminal defendants constitutional right to a speedy trial.
The order also continues the suspension of statutes of limitations, statutory time standards, or deadlines that apply to conducting or processing judicial proceedings.
Under the order, no action may be dismissed for lack of prosecution or failure to meet a deadline, except when a judge, appellate judicial officer, or hearing officer exempts a case from the suspension.
The order also continues the suspension of certain deadlines and time standards, including applicable statutory speedy trial provisions, for any municipal court closed or continuing trials because of COVID-19. The suspensions remain in effect until the court reopens and can reasonably place the case on its calendar, or until further order.
Duration of today’s order
Today’s order will remain in effect until further order or it expires under provisions in 2020 House Substitute for Senate Bill 102 as amended by 2020 Spec. Sess. House Bill 2016.
Courts continue to process cases even while statutes of limitation and statutory time standards or deadlines are suspended. Judges hear many types of proceedings using videoconferencing technology, greatly reducing the need for in-person hearings. And in-person hearings, including jury trials, are also taking place with physical distancing and other precautions.