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Busy Week for the Kansas Supreme Court

Posted By Joseph N. Molina III, Tuesday, February 12, 2013
Updated: Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Last week the Kansas Supreme Court testified on the two bills amending the one judge per county requirement. These bills, HB 2016 and HB 2113, repeal the one judge per county requirement and allow judges to be reassigned around the state. Chief Judge Richard Smith and Chief Judge David King testified in support of both bills. Both judges believe in the efficient allocation of judicial resources and removing this barrier will allow the Supreme Court the flexibility to deal with mounting caseload issues in more populated areas. Judge Smith and Judge King’s testimony can be reviewed here.

Quick Take:

The Kansas Bar Association will be hosting another Lunch & Learn with Lawyer-Legislators CLE. This CLE will take place on Monday, March 25 from 11:30-12:50. KBA member Larry Zimmerman will provide an hour of Free Ethics CLE dealing with social media, advertising and iCloud storage issues.

 

Opposition to these bills were varied but organized. The District Magistrate Judge Association opposed both bills as did Kansas Farm Bureau, several Law Enforcement Organizations and the Kansas Legislative Policy Group. You can find opposition testimony here.

 

The most interesting discussion during the hearing was the conceptual amendment to reduce the number of district court judges in those high case load districts and replace them with magistrate judges. District Magistrate Judge Ann Dixson argued that a magistrate judge has jurisdiction to hear 91% of the cases filed in court. However, a District Magistrate Judge’s salary is only $61,755.00, approximately half of what a District Judge earns. In addition, a Magistrate Judge operates without support staff or Court Reporters. Given these added costs and the annual salary of a District Judge, Dixson believes that three (3) Magistrate Judges could replace one (1) District Judge and their support staff without increasing the budget or affecting access to justice. She also stated that this conversion could be done through attrition and in the interim magistrate judges could travel to these high caseload areas to help out for a week or so at a time.

 

What steps the House Judiciary Committee takes regarding this bill and conceptual amendment is hard to say but it is important to remember that four members of this committee were judges. Rep. Steven Becker (R-Hutchinson) is a retired District Judge; Rep. Russ Jenning (R-Lakin) and Rep. John Barker(R-Abilene) are former District Magistrate judges; and; Rep. Marshall Christmann (R-Lyons) is a municipal court judge.

 

Agriculture attorneys may be interested in the following:

HB 2049, Kansas department of agriculture; increasing certain fees and eliminating sunsets on various program fees;

SB 153, Water; dams; definition; exemption from permit requirements; inspection costs and penalties;

SB 146, Agriculture; changing the definition of "on-farm retail sales of milk or milk products.

 

In the coming days a number of family law bills will be given hearings. They include:

HB 2205, Adoption hearings, time and waiver of notice; February 13 @ 3:30 pm in the House Judiciary Committee, Rm 112-N; and;

HB 2233, Protective Parent Reform Act, February 21 @ 9:00am in the House Committee on children and seniors, Rm 218-N;

HB 2254, Relating to the determination of paternity; and HB 2259, service of process in divorce actions have not been set at this time.

 

Please find litigation proposals that may be of interest to you:

HB 2224 was introduced to reverse a recent Kansas Supreme Court decision, O’Brien v. Leegin Creative Leather Products, Inc., No. 101,000, 2012 WL1563976 (Kan. Sup. Ct., May 4, 2012). Proponents of this bill argued for a return to the establish standard of "rule of reason” to judge whether or not an agreement violated the restraint of trade act. Opponents of the bill argued that the bill would alter existing laws not addressed by the O’Brien decision and cause detrimental effect to consumers. Other restraint of trade bills that were introduced include SB 123; SB 124; HB 2225; HB 2258, and HB 2275. The KBA took a neutral position on these bills.

 

Oil and Gas lawyers may be interested in this proposal:

HB 2262, Abolishing the oil and gas valuation depletion trust fund

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