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Kansas may implement monthly court closures to ease budget deficit

[JURIST] The Supreme Court of Kansas [official website] has announced that it may have to shut down state courts for one week every month as a result of an $8 million judiciary budget deficit created by a legislative oversight. The shortfall resulted from the state senate cutting $11 million from the judiciary budget under the mistaken assumption [press release] that the difference would be made up in surcharges on court fees. This never came to fruition because of previous legislation that capped court fees at $10. Chief Justice Robert Davis [official profile] stated Friday that unless the budget is restored, the Supreme Court will be forced [Wichita Eagle report] to order the courts to close starting in February, resulting in involuntary unpaid leave for judicial staff. Judges would be granted exceptions for mandatory deadlines such as a speedy trial or issuance of search warrants. The state legislature intends to restore the budget as soon as possible in the 2010 session, which begins in January.

Kansas is not the only state to face court closures recently in an effort to decrease budget deficits. The Supreme Court of Hawaii announced [JURIST report] in October that state courts will be closed two Fridays each month beginning in November 2009 due to the financial conditions that currently exist in Hawaii. In September, the California court system instated [JURIST report] monthly court closures, which will take place the third Wednesday of each month until June 2010. The closures are expected to save the state approximately $84 million.

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