New curriculum brings groundbreaking coursework to KU Law

University of Kansas law professor Andrew Torrance launched a legal analytics course last semester, allowing law students to set themselves apart in the workforce and think critically in real world situations.

“The law deals with every aspect of society, and increasingly numbers, statistics, data, especially big, big data, artificial intelligence — these approaches are becoming the favored way to interpret the world, including in the context of the law,” Torrance said.

Torrance's legal analytics course focuses on basic statistics and data analysis in law.

“I tried to teach everything from the basics on upwards and also tried to teach it in ways where the students didn't need to master all of the fancy mathematical theory behind it, but instead they were able to master the general principles, and they were able to apply it in practice,” Torrance said.

During class, students were able to look at real life examples of how legal analytics can be of use outside the classroom.

In one of Torrance's examples, he talked about human smuggling rates within three regions of the United States.  

“We put all the data on the board in front of the class, and we tried as a class to make a guess as to whether it was higher in one region than another, and we all decided that by the way the data looked, that the middle of the country had the highest human smuggling for the whole country,” Torrance said.

However, with further analysis, the students were able to find this was not the case.

“We took that data, and we used a statistical test called and analysis of variants that can tell you whether the data is actually different or not,” said Torrance. "And what we found was that when you actually run the statistical test on the data, there is no meaningful difference between the eastern, middle and western states in human smuggling, despite the fact that if you look at the data your mind is tricked into thinking that there is a difference.”

While this scenario was able to trick a majority of the class, the example helps prepare students for situations they may face in a real life setting.

“To me, a class that teaches how to apply this body of knowledge to law provides law students and attorneys with basic approaches necessary to navigate the increasingly quantitative field of law.” Torrance said. 

This class was also a popular option among law students at the University. According to Torrance, 20 people out of around 300 students signed up for the class. “I guess I had about 8 percent of the law school in my class," he said.

The class is held as a discussion-based course to allow students to perform experiments and practice using data analytics programs used by legal service providers.

Torrance hopes by teaching this course, he'll be able to prepare students and judges to make informed decisions and arguments based on properly analyzed data and statistics.

Mary Shultz
Local Court Rules of the 7th Judicial District - New Addition Coming

An addition to the local court rules is in the works.

Supreme Court Rule 122 authorizes parties to serve electronically-filed documents through the e-filing system’s notice of electronic filing.  But under the e-filing system, notice of the filing is not automatically generated.  Instead, the Clerk’s Office has to process the filing before the notice is sent to other counsel of record.  Sometimes the notice of filing is sent the same day the document is filed, other times the notice of filing isn’t sent for several days (i.e. weekends, workload, etc.).  K.S.A. 60-206(d) does not provide additional time to respond when a document is served by the notice of electronic filing.

The bench bar committee is working on the final language of the local rule, but the bottom line is this...…..

If you choose to serve an electronically-filed document through the notice of electronic filing, you must also email the filing to opposing counsel (or drop off a hardcopy in person).  Basically you will be required to give them a courtesy copy. 


Final language of the rule is in the works, expect the addition soon.

Mary Shultz
New art display of Jean Hutchison

Please visit the art exhibit of Jean Hutchison on display in the Law Library, the District Attorney reception area, Division 1/4/6 & Division 3 office areas, and the Clerk of the District Court office.

Mary Shultz

This is a reminder to those of you who have not paid that your 2019 attorney registration form and $50 payment are due by TuesdayJanuary 15, 2019.  You may mail or leave your completed form and check on the Manager's desk in the Law Library; or deliver or mail to the Clerk's office.  Checks only.

Registration form

Mary Shultz
Supreme Court forms task force to examine pretrial detention practices

The Kansas Supreme Court has formed an ad hoc task force to examine pretrial detention practices in Kansas district courts and report its findings and recommendations to the court within 18 months. The 15-member task force was created by a November 7 Supreme Court order signed by Chief Justice Lawton Nuss. Its membership includes judges, defense attorneys, prosecutors, and court services and community corrections officers. It will have its first meeting December 13 and 14 in Topeka.

The task force is charged with examining current pretrial detention practices for criminal defendants in Kansas district courts, as well as alternatives to pretrial detention used to ensure public safety and encourage an accused to appear for court proceedings. The task force will also compare Kansas practices to effective pretrial detention practices and detention alternatives identified by other courts.

This comparison could be used to develop best practices for Kansas district courts. "Every day Kansas judges decide whether to detain criminal defendants and under what circumstances. These decisions are made amid a national discussion about alternatives to pretrial detention and the need to ensure no person is unnecessarily deprived of his or her liberty," said Nuss. "This is the perfect time for Kansas to examine its pretrial detention practices to identify if and where improvements can be made."

Judge Karen Arnold-Burger, chief judge of the Kansas Court of Appeals, who will serve as chair of the task force, agrees. "We've seen a lot of change in pretrial detention practices across the nation the last few years. We have an opportunity to learn from other jurisdictions, what they have tried and how it has worked for them," Arnold-Burger said. "We won't know what is useful to us until we take a closer look at it, and that’s what this task force will do." The Supreme Court created the task force under authority granted to it by the Kansas Constitution to oversee all courts in Kansas. Creation of the task force follows closely a report from the ad hoc committee on municipal courts fines, fees, and bonding practices that in September made its recommendations to the Kansas judicial administrator and the executive director of the League of Kansas Municipalities. Judge Brenda Stoss of the Salina Municipal Court chaired that ad hoc committee, and she has been appointed to serve on this task force. The municipal court ad hoc committee recommended that areas in need of additional study included bail and pretrial detention practices.

Members of the task force are:

Nancy Dixon, judicial administrator, Kansas judicial branch, Topeka

District Judge Mary Mattivi, 3rd Judicial District, Topeka

District Judge Lori Bolton Fleming, 11th Judicial District, Pittsburg

District Judge Wendel Wurst, 25th Judicial District, Garden City

District Judge Jared Johnson, 28th Judicial District, Salina

District Magistrate Judge Keith Collett, 8th Judicial District, Abilene

Judge Brenda Stoss, Salina Municipal Court

Charles Branson, district attorney, Douglas County

Todd Thompson, county attorney, Leavenworth County

Tom Drees, county attorney, Ellis County

Sal Intagliata, defense attorney, Wichita

Justin Barrett, defense attorney, Colby David Harger, defense attorney, McPherson

Robert Sullivan, corrections director, Johnson County

Anita Cash, chief court services officer, 29th Judicial District, Kansas City, Kan.

Mary Shultz
Kansas Supreme Court establishes policy to give employees paid parental leave

The Kansas Supreme Court announced it has established policy to give judicial branch employees six weeks of paid parental leave for the birth or adoption of a child. "To effectively compete for employees, the judicial branch must offer benefits and pay comparable to what is currently available on the job market," said Chief Justice Lawton Nuss. "This leave policy is an action we can take to remain competitive while we continue to seek funding that allows us to pay our employees at market rates." The new Supreme Court policy, which is defined in Administrative Order 299, allows judicial branch employees to receive up to six weeks of paid parental leave following the birth of the employee's child or the placement of a child for adoption. The leave must be taken in the first 12 weeks immediately following the child's birth or placement. The judicial branch has about 1,600 employees who work as court administrators, court services officers, court reporters, clerks, and in other administrative and clerical positions. According to a salary study conducted by the National Center for State Courts, Kansas judicial branch employees are paid below market rates, ranging from a few percentage points to as much as 18 percent below market. The Supreme Court's latest biannual budget request, submitted in September, asks for funding to bring employee compensation rates to market levels.

Mary Shultz
Supreme Court accepting comment on proposed new and amended rules regarding mediation and dispute resolution

The Kansas Supreme Court is accepting public comment on proposed new and amended rules regarding mediators, mediation, and dispute resolution processes that seek to promote uniformity and provide guidance to district courts, attorneys, dispute resolution providers, and parties.

Comments may be made by email to until 5 p.m. Sunday, March 3, 2019. The subject line must read "Rules 905-922."

Proposed Supreme Court Rules 905 through 922 are new and apply to mediation, domestic conciliation, parenting coordination, and case management. If adopted, the proposed rules will repeal current Supreme Court Rules 901 through 904.

Also proposed are amendments to Supreme Court Rule 1501, which will rename the Alternative Dispute Resolution Council the Advisory Council on Dispute Resolution to be consistent with state statute. The proposed new and amended rules are available for review on the Kansas judicial branch website at under the heading What's New.

Mary Shultz