TOPEKA – (September 2, 2015) – Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt today issued the following statement on this afternoon’s ruling by Shawnee County District Judge Larry Hendricks that Section 11 of 2014 House Bill 2338, which would require a change in the method of selecting district court chief judges, is unconstitutional:
“We are carefully reviewing the district court’s decision to determine next steps. My immediate concern, however, is that the court does not appear to have decided the validity of a ‘nonseverability’ clause contained in a later statute, which means today’s decision could effectively and immediately shut off all funding for the judicial branch of state government. Therefore, I intend to file tomorrow a formal request for the court to delay its decision to avoid this result. It is critical to keep the state judiciary operating.”
The provision in the statute blocked by today’s order would require that the local judges in each of the state’s 31 judicial districts choose their own chief judge rather than having each chief judge appointed by the Kansas Supreme Court. The legislature in 2015 enacted a “nonseverability” provision in the judicial budget providing that if any provision of 2014 House Bill 2338 is declared unconstitutional then the budget bill that provides funding for the judiciary in 2015 would be rendered inoperative.
The case is Solomon v. Kansas, 2015-CV-156. The district court’s decision is available at http://bit.ly/1N3qs4u .