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Kansas Judicial Funding in Jeopardy as Judge Rejects Policy Imposed on Courts

Shawnee County Courthouse (Photo by Stephen Koranda)
Shawnee County Courthouse (Photo by Stephen Koranda)

Funding for the entire Kansas judicial system is now in legal limbo. A Shawnee County judge has struck down a law that changes the way chief judges are selected. But that law was tied to other legislation that said all funding for the judicial branch of government would be stripped away if the first law was struck down. KPR's J. Schafer has more.


The Kansas Legislature passed a law that took administrative power away from the state supreme court. The law said judges in each of the state's judicial districts would start picking their own chief judges, taking that authority away from the Kansas Supreme Court. Then, lawmakers tied the judiciary's entire budget to preserving that new policy. In essence, lawmakers told the judicial branch to accept this new way of picking chief judges... or lose funding for the entire court system. On Wednesday, Shawnee County Judge Larry Hendricks declared the new judicial selection law unconstitutional - saying it interferes with the supreme court's power to oversee its own branch of government. He did not rule on the legality of the subsequent legislation de-funding the court system. It remains unclear just what will happen next, but Attorney General Derek Schmidt says he'll move to keep the courts open. I'm J. Schafer.



Kansas Attorney General Asks Judge To Stay Decision; Protect Court Funding

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt is asking a state judge to put on hold his order striking down a policy imposed on the courts to protect the judicial branch's budget.  Schmidt filed the request today (THUR) with Shawnee County District Judge Larry Hendricks.  Yesterday (WED), Hendricks struck down a 2014 law having district court judges instead of the Kansas Supreme Court pick chief judges in each of the state's 31 judicial districts. Hendricks said the law violated the state constitution by infringing on the Supreme Court's power to administer the courts.  Legislators this year passed another law nullifying the judicial branch's entire budget if that policy change was struck down.  Schmidt noted that any court ruling doesn't take effect for two weeks and promised in his filing to appeal Hendricks' ruling.


J. Schafer is the News Director of Kansas Public Radio. He’s also the Managing Editor of the Kansas Public Radio Network, which provides news and information to other public radio stations in Kansas and Missouri.