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.