Panel mulls bill to expand magistrates’ work

gavel, sentencing, judge, court
Gavel (KSN File Photo)

TOPEKA, Kansas (AP) – A Kansas Senate committee is reviewing a bill expanding the authority of district court magistrates as an efficiency measure.

The Judiciary Committee held a hearing Monday on the proposal by chairman and Independence Republican Jeff King, who says it’s one way to ease budget problems in the judicial branch.

The bill would allow magistrates to handle uncontested divorces and any civil lawsuit with the consent of all parties. Also, magistrates’ rulings would be reviewed by appellate courts, rather than a district judge.

Kansas magistrates don’t have to be lawyers, and more than half of the nearly 80 magistrates are not.

The magistrates’ association favors the legislation. But other judicial branch officials testified that magistrates should not be given expanded powers unless all of them are required to be lawyers. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language, racial slurs or consistent name calling will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

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