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Kiowa County Signal - Kiowa County, KS
  • LETTER TO THE EDITOR: ‘In my view that was a poor decision..’

  • I have practiced law in the 16th Judicial District (Clark, Comanche, Ford, Gray, Kiowa, and Meade Counties) for many years.  I am writing because the citizens of our area may not appreciate the current situation regarding our courts.


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  • Dear Editor,
    I have practiced law in the 16th Judicial District (Clark, Comanche, Ford, Gray, Kiowa, and Meade Counties) for many years.  I am writing because the citizens of our area may not appreciate the current situation regarding our courts.
    If you went to the Courthouse last Friday to file a case, pay a fine, or check court records for a title search, you found the Court closed. 
    Because the legislature didn’t appropriate enough money to finish the fiscal year, the Chief Justice has furloughed all court personnel, except Judges, for five days between April 13 and June 30, one day in every two-week pay period. 
    The state court system budget is 97% salaries so the only way to save money in the current budget is by cutting the salaries of court clerks, bailiffs, court reporters, interpreters and court service officers.
    (The Kansas Constitution prohibits judges’ salaries from being cut while in their current term.  Consequently, no judge’s salary will be affected.  All judges were working last Friday to provide emergency services. However, without support staff, what they could do was limited.)
    The legislature was told in January that filing fees were down and a supplemental appropriation was needed to finish the year. The Senate passed a bill.  The House did not. 
    Instead, the House leadership relied on a comprehensive budget bill that was pushed to the end of the regular session.  When the House and Senate couldn’t reconcile their two budget bills, the legislature just closed up and went home, leaving the matter to be considered with other major legislation in the wrap-up session. 
    In my view that was a poor decision – one that had immediate consequences for real people.
    How would any of us feel if it was our hearing that had to be put off for another month or two until it could be worked into a crowded court calendar? 
    Or, consider the court personnel who, already working under-strength, will be expected to handle the same workload for 10% less in their paychecks. 
    The legislature returns for a 5-day wrap-up session on April 25.  It is important we tell our representatives that fixing this problem should be their first priority.  Kansas citizens deserve a court system that is open for justice and for business every day.
    Sally Shattuck, Ashland
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