Nuss Issues Official Order Closing Courts

Hon. Lawton Nuss

Hon. Lawton Nuss

TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - All Kansas courts will close for five days this year and all 1500 judicial branch employees will be sent home on those days with no pay.

Kansas Supreme Court Chief Justice Lawton Nuss made the official decision Monday. Courts will close this Friday, April 13th, as well as April 27th, May 11th and 25th and June 8th.

Nuss says the closure is necessary because lawmakers left for break without addressing the court system's request for $1.4 million in extra funding to get through the current fiscal year. When Nuss first announced the furlough plan last week, House Speaker Mike O'Neal said it was unnecessary because money was available from other funds. Nuss, however, said use of those funds was restricted by state law.

Justices and judges are exempt from the furlough and will work on those days.

Monday's news release from the Judicial Branch announcing the court closure plan:
The Kansas Supreme Court today released its administrative order closing all state courts and sending 1,500 Judicial Branch employees home without pay as a result of a budget shortfall.

The Supreme Court’s decision to close courts and furlough employees was announced by Chief Justice Lawton R. Nuss at a news conference last Wednesday. The next day the Court sent the administrative order to all chief judges and court managers in the state’s 31 judicial districts. That order is being released and posted on the Judicial Branch website today for the public’s information.

The state courts have been ordered to be closed this Friday, April 13, and April 27, May 11 and 25, and June 8, 2012.

The decision to close the courts was announced after the Legislature adjourned on March 30th without addressing the court system’s request for $1.4 million in supplemental funding, leaving 5 court workdays unfunded. As a result, all employees paid though the Kansas Judicial Branch except justices and judges will be on involuntary unpaid leave on the closure dates. Justices and judges are exempted from the furloughs because of a constitutional provision that states their salaries may not be reduced unless the salaries of all state officers also are reduced. So they will be working in their offices on those days.

The Supreme Court order sets out the limited “critical functions” that can be undertaken by judges for Kansans during the 5 furlough days, including such things as:

• Criminal matters that are time and date sensitive, such as issuance of arrest warrants, conducting first appearances for criminal defendants, issuing search warrants and wire taps, and similar situations requiring immediate attention;

• Child in need of care and juvenile offender proceedings that likewise are time sensitive, such as juvenile detention and temporary custody hearings;

• Emergency orders in protection from abuse and protection from stalking, as well as orders for probable cause hearings regarding the commitment of sexually violent predators, and mental illness proceedings.

Judges are being directed that all other court matters, including things ranging from obtaining a marriage license to filing civil cases regardless of the amount being sought, may not be handled during the closures.

Beyond the list of critical functions that judges are authorized to undertake, the order directs the district courts to notify the public, attorneys, law enforcement agencies and other court users of the closures, including via the news media and court websites.


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