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Crime and Courts

Kansas Court Funding Protected--For Now

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Stephen Koranda, File Photo
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Kansas Public Radio

Funding for the entire Kansas court system has been in jeopardy. But Attorney General Derek Schmidt has now obtained a court order that prevents the judiciary from having its funding cut off, at least for a while.

First, some background: The Kansas Legislature passed a law that took power away from the Kansas Supreme Court by changing the way local chief judges are selected. The Supreme Court used to make those decisions but under this law, that power was transferred to local judges.

But then, state lawmakers went a step further, effectively telling the high court that if this new method of selecting judges was struck down by the court, the entire judicial branch of government would lose all of its funding. A district judge did, in fact, strike down that law, which would have triggered the de-funding of the Kansas court system.

But Attorney General Derek Schmidt intervened. This week, he filed a petition which prevents the courts from shutting down--at least until mid March of next year. By then, lawmakers will be back in session and can decide whether they really want to go through with shutting down the entire judicial branch of government over something as seemingly small as the method by which local chief judges are selected.