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Crime and Courts

Grand Jury Investigation Into Kobach's Office Likely Won't Start For Months

Stephen Koranda
Kansas News Service
Secretary of State Kris Kobach speaking at a campaign event earlier this year.

It will likely be several months before a court in Douglas County convenes a grand jury to investigate allegations that Secretary of State Kris Kobach’s office mishandled voter registrations. That would push the investigation beyond the fall election.

Kobach, a Republican, is currently locked in a race for governor with Democratic state Sen. Laura Kelly and independent Greg Orman.

The call for a citizen grand jury was filed by a Lawrence man, Steven Davis, who followed a seldom-used process of gathering signatures to force the investigation. Kansas is one of only six states that allow citizens to call grand juries.

Davis contends Kobach’s office may not have registered some people who submitted voter registrations online, and he wants a grand jury to investigate.

Kobach calls the claims patently false.

The state Supreme Court last week declined to take up the issue, so an appeals court ruling approving the grand jury will stand.

Lisa Taylor, public information director with the Kansas Supreme Court, said it would be late this month before the appeals court sends a mandate to the Douglas County District Court ordering a grand jury be convened. That’s assuming there aren’t any additional court filings that delay the process.

After the Douglas County court receives the order, Clerk of the District Court Douglas Hamilton said the process of alerting potential jurors will begin. That typically takes months.

“We give petit jurors about two months advance notice,” Hamilton said in an email, “so that they have enough time to respond to the questionnaire and arrange work schedules to accommodate their jury service."

Once potential jurors are summoned, the timeframe of the proceedings is unknown.

“I couldn’t begin to speculate on how long the process will take once the jurors appear for selection and the grand jury begins its work,” Hamilton said.

Stephen Koranda is Statehouse reporter for Kansas Public Radio, a partner in the Kansas News Service. Follow him on Twitter @kprkoranda. Kansas News Service stories and photos may be republished at no cost with proper attribution and a link back to the original post. To contact KMUW News or to send in a news tip, reach us at news@kmuw.org.