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Kansas Judicial Branch

The Kansas Supreme Court
301 SW 10th Avenue
Topeka Kansas 66612-1507

Office of Judicial Administration
Fax:  785.296.7076
Email: info@kscourts.org

Appellate Clerk's Office
Fax:  785.296.1028
Email: appellateclerk@kscourts.org

You and the Courts of Kansas - Types of Courts

There are several levels of courts in Kansas to handle all kinds of cases.

Municipal Courts
Municipal courts, or city courts, deal with violations of city ordinances committed within city limits. Cases usually involve traffic and other minor offenses. A person charged with an offense in municipal court may be represented by a lawyer. The judge hears cases without a jury. Anyone convicted in municipal court may appeal to the district court of the county where the municipal court is located.

District Courts
District courts are created by the Kansas Constitution. They are the trial courts of Kansas, with general original jurisdiction over all civil and criminal cases, including divorce and domestic relations, damage suits, probate and estate administration, guardianships, conservatorships, care of the mentally ill, juvenile matters, and small claims. It is here that criminal and civil jury trials take place.

Kansas is divided into judicial districts, with varying numbers of judges in each district. There is a district court in each county and a clerk of the court office where cases are filed.

The state also is divided into six judicial departments, each of which has several judicial districts. All Supreme Courtís justices, with the exception of the chief justice, are responsible for overseeing a judicial department. The departmental justice may assign judges from one judicial district to another.

District judges must be lawyers. Some counties have district magistrate judges, who may or may not be lawyers and whose jurisdiction is limited. There is at least one resident judge in each county.

One judge in each district is designated chief judge. A chief judge has, in addition to his or her judicial responsibilities, general control over case assignments within the district and general supervisory authority over the clerical and administrative functions of the court. Until July 1, 2014, the Kansas Supreme Court appointed the chief judge of each judicial district. After July 1, 2014, the chief judge is elected by the judges in the district following a procedure of their choosing.

Appeals may be taken from a district court to the Court of Appeals, or to the Supreme Court.

Court of Appeals
The Kansas Court of Appeals is an intermediate appellate court located in the Kansas Judicial Center in Topeka. The Court of Appeals hears all appeals from orders of the Kansas Corporation Commission and all appeals from district courts in both civil and criminal cases, except those that may be appealed directly to the Supreme Court. It also has jurisdiction over original actions in habeas corpus.

The court may hear appeals en banc, which means by all 14 of its judges. Most frequently, though, the court sits in panels of three. The court may sit anywhere in Kansas and hearings are regularly scheduled in Hays, Garden City, Wichita, Chanute, Kansas City, Olathe and Topeka. Hearings have been in other cities, as well, when it was more convenient for all parties.

Supreme Court
The Kansas Supreme Court is the state court of last resort and it sits in the Kansas Judicial Center in Topeka. It hears direct appeals from district courts in the most serious criminal cases and appeals in any case in which a statute has been held unconstitutional. It may review cases decided by the Court of Appeals and it may transfer cases from that court to the Supreme Court. It also has original jurisdiction in several types of cases.

The Supreme Court, by constitutional mandate, has general administrative authority over all Kansas courts. Its rules govern appellate practice in the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeals, and procedures in district courts.

Supreme Court rules also provide for examining and admitting attorneys, set forth code of professional responsibility that govern attorney conduct, and include the canons of judicial ethics that govern conduct of judges. Rules also provide for examining and certifying official court reporters. The Supreme Court may discipline attorneys, judges and nonjudicial employees.

All employees of the Kansas court system who are not judges are under a personnel plan adopted and administered by the Supreme Court. Personnel and payroll records of all court employees statewide are maintained in the Office of Judicial Administration. The Supreme Court adopts and submits to the Kansas Legislature an annual budget for the entire Kansas Judicial Branch.