Kansas chief justice warns against deep court cuts

Chris Rizo Feb. 10, 2009, 2:12pm

Robert Davis

TOPEKA, Kan. (Legal Newsline) - Kansas Supreme Court Chief Justice Robert Davis told state lawmakers Tuesday that the state's court system will likely see an uptick in cases given the economic climate.

Davis, who became chief justice in January, delivered his State of the Judiciary Address to a joint session of the Kansas Legislature. His remarks came as lawmakers work to plug a $199 million deficit in the current year budget.

"We know that, in difficult economic times, the public need for access to the courts does not diminish," he told legislators. "In many instances, the need to access the courts actually increases."

To help the judicial branch make ends meet, the Supreme Court is seeking permission from the Legislature to impose a temporary increase to docket fees to offset expected budget cuts.

Davis, a16-year veteran of the state's high court, told lawmakers that there is little fat in the court's budget that can be trimmed.

"More than 97 percent of our state Judicial Branch budget is for employee salaries. As a result, there are very few items that can be cut out of the budget," the chief justice said, adding that he stands ready to help the state cut costs.

"We are all faced with the difficult task of providing justice to the people of Kansas in this economy," he said. "I understand that the budget is at the forefront of your agenda, and I look forward to the opportunity to work with you in earnest on this issue."

From Legal Newsline: Reach staff reporter Chris Rizo at chrisrizo@legalnewsline.com.

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