There are several different levels of courts in Kansas to handle various kinds of cases.
Municipal (city) courts deal with alleged violations of city ordinances committed within the city limits. The cases usually involve traffic and other minor offenses. A person charged with an offense in municipal court may be represented by a lawyer. The judge hears the cases without a jury.
District courts are created by the Constitution. They are the trial courts of Kansas, with general original jurisdiction over all civil and criminal cases, including divorce and domestic relations, damage suits, probate and administration of estates, guardianships, conservatorships, care of the mentally ill, juvenile matters, and small claims. It is here that the criminal and civil jury trials are held. Kansas is divided into judicial districts, with varying numbers of judges in each district. There is a district court in each county, and an office of the clerk of the court where cases may be filed.
Records related to most judicial proceedings are available at the District Court Clerk's office or may be available online through a subscription service. The District Court Record search provides you with an easy way to search court records from a majority of the counties in the state of Kansas. A subscription to Kansas.gov is required for this service.
The state is also divided into six judicial departments, each of which includes several judicial districts. One justice of the State Supreme Court serves as departmental justice over each department. The departmental justice may assign judges from one judicial district to another.
Judges of the district court must be lawyers. Some counties have district magistrate judges, who may or may not be lawyers, and whose jurisdiction is limited. By state law, there is at least one resident judge in each county.
The Kansas Supreme Court appoints one judge in each district to serve as chief judge. A chief judge has, in addition to his or her judicial responsibilities, general control over case assignments within the district and general supervisory authority over the clerical and administrative functions of the court.
Appeals may be taken from the district courts to the Court of Appeals and in some cases to the Supreme Court.
The Kansas Court of Appeals is located in Topeka in the Kansas Judicial Center and is an intermediate appellate court. The Court of Appeals hears all appeals from orders of the State Corporation Commission, and all appeals from the district courts in both civil and criminal cases except those which may be appealed directly to the Supreme Court. It also has jurisdiction over original actions in habeas corpus.
The Court may hear appeals en banc (all judges) but the court usually sits in panels of three. The Court of Appeals may sit anywhere in the State. Hearings are scheduled regularly in Hays, Garden City, Wichita, Chanute, Kansas City, Olathe, and Topeka, and hearings have also been held in other cities for the convenience of the parties.
The Kansas Supreme Court sits in Topeka in the Kansas Judicial Center and is the state court of last resort. It hears direct appeals from the district courts in the most serious criminal cases and appeals in any case in which a statute has been held unconstitutional. It may review cases decided by the Court of Appeals, and may transfer cases from that court to the Supreme Court. It also has original jurisdiction in several types of cases.
Chautauqua and Montgomery counties make up the 14th Judicial District. It has three district court judges and one magistrate judge. The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Kansas designates one district court judge to serve as chief judge. The chief judge, in addition to his judicial responsibilities, has general control over the assignment of cases within the district and supervisory authority over the administrative functions of the court.