News

News

City-owned Underground Railroad site receives national designation

From the Lawrence Journal World:  A city-owned property in southwest Lawrence is now a nationally designated site on the Underground Railroad.

The property was originally the barn of abolitionist settlers Joel and Emily Grover, and dates back to the territorial days of Kansas. The Grover barn, a two-story limestone building now in the midst of a neighborhood at 2819 Stone Barn Terrace, once hid fleeing slaves, including a group of liberated slaves from Missouri led by abolitionist John Brown.  

Kerry Altenbernd,chair of the local preservation group Guardians of Grover Barn, said the designation was the first step in recognizing the barn’s important place in American history.

“You can’t understate the importance of this designation to the future of the barn,” said Altenbernd, who is also known for his portrayals of Brown. “It recognizes and validates the history, and brings everything up to the national level.”

Members of the group worked with the city to apply for the National Park Service program that officially recognizes the site as a stop on the Underground Railroad. The designation to the program, Network to Freedom, nationally recognizes the site and allows the city to apply for grants to preserve the building and create historic markers or signage for the site.

The city, which acquired the barn in 1980, announced the designation in a news release Friday. The city previously used the building as a fire station, and it is currently being used by the fire/medical and police departments. Assistant City Manager Diane Stoddard said in the release that the barn was an important historic site in Lawrence and the recognition would ensure its continued preservation and the opportunity to share stories about its role in the Underground Railroad.

A tour of the Grover Barn is planned for Aug. 18, during the Watkins Museum of History’s Civil War on the Western Frontier, according to the release.

Mary Shultz
Kansas Supreme Court amends court rules to accommodate mandatory electronic filing in all courts effective June 25, 2018

The Kansas Supreme Court also announced changes to notice of electronic filing and policy direction on when an electronically filed document is deemed accepted

TOPEKA—The Kansas Supreme Court announced on Thursday, May 10, that it has amended two rules to facilitate the requirement that all attorneys must electronically file documents in all state courts effective June 25, 2018. The requirement applies to all Kansas-licensed attorneys who are permitted to practice law under Rule 208(a), and it applies to all case types processed by Kansas courts. Self-represented parties will continue to file paper documents.

"Electronic filing has been required in the appellate courts since November 2015, and many judicial districts have mandated efiling as well," said Chief Justice Lawton Nuss. "This statewide mandate is an important step in our move toward centralized case management, which is part of our Kansas eCourt initiative, and the standardization that will come with it."

To advance the efiling requirement, the Supreme Court amended two rules for district courts:

Supreme Court Rule 119: Fax Filing and Service by Fax. This amended rule requires a Kansas licensed attorney to follow the provisions of Rule 122 when filing any document with a district court.

Supreme Court Rule 122: Electronic Filing and Service by Electronic Means. This amended rule requires a Kansas-licensed attorney who is permitted to practice law under Rule 208(a) to electronically file documents in the district courts, unless there is a failure of the filing attorney's technology.

Other amendments address electronic service, certificates of service, and filings made untimely if an efiling system is unavailable.

Notice of Electronic Filing:  The Supreme Court also authorized modifying the notice of electronic filing generated by the Kansas Courts eFiling system to include a link that allows an attorney of record to directly access an electronically filed document. Currently, the notice of electronic filing alerts the attorney in a case that a document has been electronically filed, and the attorney must log in to the Kansas Courts eFiling system to access the document.

Once the enhancement is in place, the notice of electronic filing will include a link to the document if an unsealed document is electronically filed in the Kansas Courts eFiling system. If the document is sealed, the attorney will need to log in to the Kansas Courts eFiling system to access the document. The enhancement to the notice of electronic filing is expected to be in place by fall, and attorneys will be notified as soon as it is available.

Documents Deemed Accepted on Submission:  The Supreme Court also decided to work toward implementing policy that a document is deemed accepted as soon as it is filed, and it is immediately available for review, unless it is subject to an exception, such as a sealed document. Implementation of this policy is expected to coincide with the Kansas judicial branch's transition to a new centralized case management system.

Attorneys Encouraged to Sign-up to Electronically File:   Attorneys who have yet to start filing electronically are encouraged to visit the Kansas Courts Electronic Filing web page on the judicial branch website to register to efile, access training videos, and enroll in webinars. Since electronic filing's inception in Kansas courts in 2013, more than 4.4 million documents have been efiled in district and appellate courts. Currently, 24 judicial districts representing 79 counties require attorneys to efile in some or all case types. The remaining seven judicial districts representing 26 counties accept documents filed electronically but do not require it. Of the 11,700 Kansas-licensed attorneys who are registered as active, more than 6,000 have registered to efile. Some attorneys may never efile if they do not litigate in Kansas state courts.

Mandatory efiling important step toward centralized case management:  Mandatory electronic filing is an important step toward centralized case management, which will allow all district and appellate case data to reside on a single web-based platform and transform the way the state court system serves the people of Kansas.

The primary goals of centralized case management are to:

-Improve case processing in the district and appellate courts. Increase the efficiency of information delivery to district and appellate court judges.

-Increase operational efficiency and effectiveness through automating certain activities and streamlining other operations. Improve data quality and integrity. Improve performance measurement, analysis, and reporting through enhanced information collection, storage, retrieval, and analysis.

-Enable work sharing between district courts, primarily among clerks and court services.

-Maintain and improve data sharing between various governmental and public entities.  

-Maintain and improve the ability to process electronic payments.

-Enable web-based sharing of public information.

As a result of action by the 2014 Legislature, the centralized case management project is funded by a portion of the docket fees collected by the courts. The conversion to the centralized case management system is expected to take three to four years. The order in which courts will be brought onto the new system is described in the fact sheet Kansas eCourt: Statewide Rollout Plan. 

Mary Shultz
Introducing ADEP (Alcohol and Drug Education Program)

ADEP is a prosecutor led pre-trial diversion program aimed at educating an offender about the harms of substance abuse.  The District Attorney’s Office recognizes the change in the publics’ perception regarding the criminality of substance abuse offenses and the recognition that substance abuse is an addiction issue.  Further, the District Attorney’s Office recognizes the drain on the legal system that is created by low-level cases consuming valuable court and personnel time.

Beginning May 10, 2018, the District Attorney’s Office will offer an opportunity for certain offenders to complete a drug and alcohol evaluation to educate him/her on the harms of substance abuse in lieu of the office filing formal criminal charges.  Offenses considered for this program will include certain first-time, misdemeanor drug possession offenses (a personal use quantity), drug paraphernalia offenses and non-driving related alcohol offenses.

When a law enforcement report is received by the District Attorney’s Office alleging violations of eligible offenses, the District Attorney’s Office will send the offender a letter.  The letter will request that the offender complete a drug and alcohol evaluation and provide the District Attorney’s Office proof of the evaluation within 120 days of the date the letter was written.  If the offender submits timely proof of the evaluation, the District Attorney’s Office will close the matter and no criminal charges will be filed.  If the offender does not submit proof of the evaluation, the District Attorney’s Office may file a criminal case when probable cause is determined that a criminal violation has occurred.

Common offenses eligible for ADEP will include: possession of marijuana, possession of drug paraphernalia and minor in consumption of alcohol.

This program will not include cases sentenced prior to May 10, 2018.    

Mary Shultz
DA’s Office Announces Changes to the Diversion Program and the Introduction of a New Program

On May 8, 2018, the District Attorney’s Office announced changes to its criminal diversion program and the introduction of a new pre-file diversion program.

While diversion has been offered for years as a method of conviction avoidance for a person charged with a lower-level crime, the office is now implementing extensive updates to the diversion policy.  The policy is being overhauled both to expand the reach of the current program and to ensure fees do not limit access to diversion by people who may be experiencing financial instability. 

District Attorney Charles Branson stated, “Effective immediately, my office is abolishing the application and diversion agreement fees for criminal diversions. There will continue to be financial obligations associated with required lab, court and attorney fees and these fees cannot be waived by our office.  District Court, however, may consider a request to waive these remaining fees.”    

Prior offenses will be considered, but they will not automatically exclude someone from participating in a diversion program unless prohibited by state statute.  Specifically, the District Attorney’s Office will use a five (5) year look back of a person’s criminal history.  Convictions more than five (5) years old will no longer automatically disqualify an applicant.

In making a determination on granting a  diversion, the District Attorney’s Office will consider whether the applicant demonstrates a genuine sense of remorse, is prepared to acknowledge the act(s) charged and accepts accountability for the consequences of his/her actions.

Mary Shultz
CONTINUING LEGAL EDUCATION REQUIREMENT

Per the Kansas CLE Commission website, an active attorney must earn a minimum of 12 CLE credit hours at approved programs in each compliance period (July 1 to June 30). Of the 12 hours, at least 2 hours must be in the area of ethics and professionalism.  There is information on the Law Library website on a variety of seminars available between now and the June 30 deadline.  The Kansas CLE Commission calendar of approved CLEs can be accessed here.

Mary Shultz
District of Kansas Open Doors for Summer Associates 2018 - Topeka

The United States District Court for the District of Kansas welcomes summer associates, law students and interns to meet our judges and law clerks, tour our courthouses and observe courtroom proceedings.

Events will be held from 10:30 a.m. until 2:00 p.m. on the following dates:

June 6 in Topeka, CLICK HERE to register

Events in each location begin at 10:30 a.m. with a law clerk panel discussion followed by conversation with federal judges. Both panels will share practice pointers and answer participant questions. Lunch is provided free of charge and participants may observe courtroom proceedings, if any are scheduled, after the program.

Mary Shultz
NOTICE OF PUBIC HEARING - BIDS

The State Board of Indigents' Defense Services will conduct a public hearing at 1:00 pm Friday, June 15, 2018, in the Board's office, Suite 500, Jayhawk Tower, 700 S.W. Jackson, Topeka, to receive comments regarding the
effect that continued proration of the hourly rate paid to assigned counsel will have on the quality of the representation afforded to indigent defendants and the availability of sufficient numbers of attorneys in the judicial district, pursuant to K.A.R. 105-9-5. Additionally, comments regarding this issue may be sent in writing and they will become part of the record.

The building is accessible for disabled persons. Persons who require an accommodation to participate in the public hearing may contact Patricia Scalia at 700 SW Jackson, Suite 500 Topeka, KS 66603-3722 or phone 785-296-6631.

Mary Shultz
Proposed Amendments to Rules 5.01 and 8.03 and Proposed Rules 8.03A and 8.03B

Supreme Court accepting public comment on proposed amended and proposed new rules

The Supreme Court is accepting public comment on proposed changes to Supreme Court Rules 5.01 and 8.03 and proposed Rules 8.03A and 8.03B. 

Comment may be made by email to SCRulespubliccomment@kscourts.org until 5 p.m. Friday, May 11, 2018. Each email must address only one rule and the rule must be identified in the subject line. 

 

  • Proposed amended Rule 5.01 would allow a party represented by counsel to file a motion on the party's own behalf to file a petition for review. 
     
  • Proposed amended Rule 8.03 amends the requirements for petitions for review, cross-petitions, and responses.  
     
  • Proposed Rule 8.03A creates a summary petition for review process. 
     
  • Proposed Rule 8.03B would provide that a party is not required to petition for Supreme Court review under Rule 8.03 from an adverse decision of the Court of Appeals to exhaust all available state remedies. See Ellis v. Raemisch, 872 F.3d 1064, 1076-84 (2017) (holding federal exhaustion requirements satisfied).  
Mary Shultz
Guardian ad litem Pilot Project

Effective January 1, 2018, Douglas County District Court commenced its Guardian Ad Litem Panel Pilot Project. The goal of the pilot project is to intervene earlier with at risk children by making guardians ad litem more accessible to low income parents. Five Douglas County attorneys have agreed to be part of the pilot project. Judges will appoint panel members on a rotating basis. The panel members have agreed to accept appointments at reduced hourly rates and parents pay according to a sliding scale.

INDIVIDUAL GROSS INCOME             HOURLY FEE    INITIAL DEPOSIT DUE

$0 - $30,000                                       $  40                            $  400

$30,001 - $50,000                              $ 70                             $ 700

$50,001 and above                             $100                            $1,000

Attorneys involved in cases where the court has made a panel appointment must file a specific Order Appointing Guardian Ad Litem (G.A.L. Panel Appointment) found at https://www.douglascountyks.org/sites/default/files/media/depts/district-court/docx/orderappointing-guardian-ad-litem.docx.

Mary Shultz
New Art Exhibits - April & May, 2018

You may see the watercolors of Donna McCain in the District Attorney reception & conference room areas.  Please visit the Law Library & Division 3 office to see the works of Kevin Kirkwood.

Donna McCain.jpeg

Watercolors by Donna McCain

Mary Shultz