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What are Kansas Civil Court Records?
Kansas civil court records are official documents detailing the legal processes as well as other relevant information of civil court proceedings within the state’s jurisdiction. These records are designed to offer an objective account of litigation proceedings, as they contain information regarding court motions and actions, appearances, motion arguments and documents relevant to civil cases. They are typically maintained by a state-approved record custodian which is usually the clerk of the court where the case was filed/heard. Pursuant to Kansas public record laws, civil court records may be made available to interested and eligible members of the public upon request. Interested persons may find Kansas civil court records in the jurisdiction where the case was heard.
Cases Heard by the Kansas Civil Court
Civil cases are generally lawsuits pertaining to disputes between individuals or establishments. Unlike criminal cases in which the state/government is the plaintiff/prosecutor, civil cases are heard based on individual complainants. They are usually the result of a contract breach, personal injury or property damage. Kansas civil courts have jurisdiction over all civil cases filed within the state’s jurisdiction. The following are cases which are heard by these courts:
- Cases related to unlawful termination
- Breach of contract related cases
- Consumer complaints
- Landlord/tenant disputes, interpersonal and workplace disputes
- Negligence and battery
- Claims caused by character defamation such as slander and libel
- Tort, equitable claims
The Kansas Civil Court System
All Kansas state courts are overseen by the Kansas Judicial Branch, which provides centralized support to the state’s judicial system. There are four main courts in the state of Kansas all of which exercise varying functions depending on their judicial authority. They include:
- The Kansas Supreme Court
- Kansas Court of Appeals
- Kansas District Courts
- Kansas Municipal Courts
- Kansas District Courts
- Kansas Court of Appeals
While municipal courts primarily attend to city violations and ordinances, civil cases in Kansas are typically initiated in the District Courts which serves as Kansas’ trial court of general jurisdiction. There are over 100 district courts split between the 31 judicial districts of Kansas, and each court operates six judicial departments overseen by a Supreme Court Justice. Upon receiving the verdict of a district court following a civil court case, the plaintiff and/or defendant may opt to appeal the decision at the Kansas Court of Appeals which serves the states intermediate appellate court, or the State Supreme Court which is Kansas’ court of last resort and hears appeals from the intermediate appellate court.
What is Included in a Kansas Civil Court Record?
Kansas civil court records are usually unique to each case and may vary based on the record custodian or the judicial district in which the case was heard. However, court records generally provide court case information and details of litigation proceedings. Essentially, Kansas civil court records usually feature the personal information of the plaintiff/defendant along which details of the suit or claim.
Summarily, Kansas civil court records include:
- The place and date the original suit was filed
- The response of the defendant to the original complaint
- Proceedings of the pre-trial hearing/conference.
- The evidence produced by either party
- The trial transcript which includes records of court actions, motions, appearances and motion arguments.
Additionally, court records often detail the court’s final judgment as well as any court issued rights or financial claims made and/or granted (where applicable). If relevant to the case they also include conditions of spousal support as well as alimony, child support, child custody, and child visitation rights. If any penalties are issued by the court, where either party is held in contempt, this is also included. Penalties may include jail terms, fines, community service or probationary conditions. Where a verdict is reviewed by a higher court, the updated judgment is also included by the appellate court.
Are Kansas Civil Court Records Open to the Public?
Pursuant to the Kansas Open Records Act, court records are generally open to the public unless otherwise ruled by a court order. All civil court case information accessible electronically may be considered a public record and can be viewed or copied without additional permissions. Civil court case information includes the personal and identifying information of the parties involved as well as details of the suit and court actions including court summons, warrants, court orders, actions, motions and motion arguments as well as dispositions as well as the final judgment with details of all ascribed penalties. Other resources that can be made available to the public include court minutes, schedules and calendars and all related records and information. However, the right of the public to view Kansas civil court records is not absolute. While records deemed ‘open’ may be accessed by interested members of the public, records which have been sealed on the request of the subject(s) or deemed confidential by court order are not available to all requesters but may be accessed by persons who meet specific eligibility requirements. They include:
- Confidential information regarding legal actions involving public offices (except for details of the amount paid in settlement)
- Welfare cases and evidence filed by social services and related institutions.
- The personal information of assault victims, juveniles and children in dispute
- Information relating to the financial status of the parties involved as well as their social security numbers, credit card numbers and related access cords
- Records pertaining to nolle pressed charges.
How do I Obtain Civil Court Records In Kansas?
The Kansas state Judiciary provides a variety of channels through which interested members of the public can access civil court records. While the requirements for accessing these records may vary from court to court, records may be viewed or copied via state-managed, locally-operated or privately owned aggregate sites, by making in-person requests to the record custodian, by sending written mail-in requests to the courthouse where the case was heard.
Accessing Kansas Civil Court Records In-person
Kansas civil court records can be obtained by making in-person requests to the courthouse where the case was filed and heard. The court clerks of all trial and appellate courts are tasked with the management and dissemination of records of cases heard within the state’s jurisdiction. In-person requests are especially recommended for persons seeking access to full-court case information. While court records are distributed electronically, the state’s public record laws restrict the electronic dissemination of sealed/confidential records. To obtain Kansas civil court records by in-person record requests, the requesting party is required to proceed thus:
- Find the Record Custodian
Civil court records are generated and managed by the various court clerks of the states district and appellate courts—including the court of appeal and state Supreme Court. As such, in-person record requests require that the requester confirm the judicial district where the suit was filed, the courthouse where the case was heard and consequently, the designated record custodian.
Civil court records are best located by confirming the location of the plaintiff and/or defendant as well as the most current status of the case. All district courts are strictly required to entertain records of incidents or suits which occurred or where filed within their judicial district.
Records of ongoing cases are often unavailable to persons other than the legal representative and the plaintiff/defendant. However, where the case has been heard and a verdict issued, the record is usually in the custody of the court clerk of the courthouse where the case was heard. Where the initial verdict of a case has been reviewed by an appellate court, requestors may locate the record in the Kansas Court of Appeals or the State Supreme Court. The Find a District Court tool featured on the Kansas Judicial Branch website can be used to locate district courts and their respective court clerks and all contact information of the courts.
- Gather All Relevant Information
Since various Kansas judicial districts adopt unique management strategies, these districts often have distinct record retrieval requirements. Thus, upon verifying the location of a record and its custodian requestors may proceed to contact the relevant office for information regarding any record retrieval requirements or processes that may be unique to the jurisdiction.
Generally, most requestors are tasked with providing all the information needed to facilitate a record search. This information required generally includes the full name of the parties involved or the companies/establishments as well as the record case file number, appellate record number or docket number of the record (if applicable) and the approximate date the complaint was filed. In selected cases, the requesting party may also have to provide the full names and bar identification number(s) of the attorneys of either or both parties.
- Provide Identification & Fee Requirements
The requesting party will also be required to cover the costs of search and/or copies, as well as present a government-issued ID to verify their eligibility to access a record. This is a necessity for persons requesting restricted records/or information. In addition, access to restricted information will require the requestor to provide a court-issued subpoena indicating their authority to access the record. Persons unable to provide a government-issued ID may provide other forms of identification which must also be government-issued. However, acceptable documents are determined by the record custodian or the court.
- Make the Request
In-person record requests can be made during official working hours to the office of the record custodian. However, requestors are advised to schedule their appointment at the applicable courthouse beforehand to ensure the availability of materials and/expertise required for the search. Most courthouses provide public access computer terminals with which interested parties may self serve in the courthouse. However, if the requestor requires full court case information and/or a confidential record, the party may be provided with an application on which information regarding the record of interest should be indicated.
Accessing Kansas Civil Court Record Via Mail
Interested members of the public may also access Kansas civil court records via U.S. mail. These requests are processed by the office of the various state court clerks. However, records may only be disseminated via mail if the record of interest is public information. While the requirements for obtaining civil court records generally varies by judicial district, case type and the information contained in the record, mail-in requests require that the requesting party provide a written request containing the following information:
- The personal and contact information of the requesting party
- The type of record required
- General court case information—i.e. details of the initial filing and hearing
- The full name of one or both of the parties (plaintiff or defendant)
- The case file number, docket number or appellate number of the record of interest
- The names and/or state bar number of any of the legal representatives involved.
In addition, some record custodians have specific protocols and additional requirements. Essentially, requesters are advised to inquire from the office of the court clerk before proceeding with the request. In most cases, requests must also be accompanied by a cheque/money order to cover any applicable fees and a stamped, self-addressed envelope with a photocopy of the requestor’s government-issued ID.
Accessing Kansas Civil Court Records Online
The Kansas Judicial Branch provides a variety of online resources with which interested members of the public can access civil court records. These resources may be utilized remotely or using any of the public access terminals available in the courthouses. Various courts and judicial districts maintain a variety of online repositories housing court records generated in their jurisdiction. However, the options provided by the Kansas Judicial Branch allows users to obtain records from a central state-wide database. Given the restrictions on the electronic dissemination of civil court records, publicly accessible resources only feature public records and exclude any sealed, confidential or sensitive information/records. The Kansas eCourt comprises the Kansas District Court Public Access Portal, the Appellate Case Inquiry System as well as the 3rd Judicial District Public Access System.
The Kansas District Court Public Access Portal is maintained by the state’s judicial system, which features records of civil cases heard by the state’s district courts. To obtain civil court records using the portal, users may search the portal on a search-per-fee basis or subscribe for access to the online index. Intending subscribers must provide all information requested on the KanAccess Sign Up page, but one-time users may expect to be charged $1.50 per record search conducted. Searches may be conducted using the name of the parties involved and/or case number of the record. This requires the requestor to provide information regarding the county where the case was heard and the complete case ID of the record of interest.
On the other hand, The Appellate Case Inquiry System houses records of cases heard in Kansas appellate courts—including the state Court of Appeals and Supreme Court. The system features case information, and court opinions as well as a register of actions containing actions taken by legal representatives.
Users of the ACIS may search the portal by the name of the subjects of the record, the appellate case number of the record and the county where the case was heard. Requestors may also opt to provide the five or six-digit appellate case number for expeditious record retrieval.
Also available for public use are the 3rd Judicial District Public Access System, the 10th Judicial District Public Records tool and the 18th Judicial District Subscriber Access network. While the 3rd and 10 judicial districts both provide public access to case action register at no charge, the latter operated by Sedgwick county provides access to selected court case information for a fee.
Additionally, publicly available records are accessible from some third-party websites. These websites offer the benefit of not being limited by geographical record availability and can often serve as a starting point when researching a specific or multiple records. To find a record using the search engines on these sites, interested parties must provide:
- The name of someone involved providing it is a not a juvenile
- The assumed location of the record in question such as a city, county, or state name
Third-party sites are not government-sponsored websites, and record availability may differ from official channels
Accessing Sealed Civil Court Records in Kansas
According to the provisions of Kansas state law, civil court records that are deemed confidential or sealed may be accessible to selected persons who meet the state’s eligibility requirements. The information accessible to the requestor depends primarily on the authority of the requesting party and the record in question. To access a sealed record, the requesting party can petition a Kansas licensed judge for a court order or subpoena authorizing access to the record of interest. However, a court order will only be issued if the record has been sufficiently proved to be relevant for financial, legal or security purposes. In selected cases, the requestor may also be required to obtain and present a notarized authorization form from the subject(s) of the record. Generally, access to sealed or confidential records requires in-person requests made to the office of the record custodian.
Other Kansas Civil Court Information Resources
The Kansas Judicial Branch website also provides access to other court resources managed by offices within the state judicial system. These resources also provide access to court opinions and minutes as well as court schedules/calendars, orders, and miscellaneous publications. These are accessible to interested members of the public for various legal functions
KJB Opinion Search Tool
Judgements are typically contained in the court’s minutes, which can be found using the KJB Opinion Search Tool, along with any agreements or contradictions. They are typically expressed/issued in the course of a civil court proceeding and are relevant for establishing the litigation process of the state. Using the tool, members of the public can search the database by the date on which the opinion was published, the court type and the date on which the opinion was expressed. The results provided by the tool will include all documents associated with the case(s)
Court calendars provide members of the public with access to basic case information as well as access to court dates and calendar information. Interested persons may request access to court schedules from the court clerk of the appropriate court. Requestors are typically required to provide the case file number of the civil suit or the approximate date on which the case was filed.
Kansas Supreme Court Law Library
The Kansas Supreme Court Law Library serves as a legal reference for legal practitioners as well as members of the public. It aids legal research and provides access to briefs, statutes, unpublished opinions, Kansas administrative regulations, and other historical materials. Available through the Supreme Court Library are other databases such as the state library, the ATLAS, and appellate court case information.
KJB Rules & Orders
While rules are adopted to guide appellate and trial court processes in the state of Kansas, orders are employed in the adoption of rules and directives pertaining to Kansas’ judicial system. Interested members of the public may view these on the designated rules and orders page. If a rule is under consideration, members of the public may provide comments on the amended rule prior to its adoption.
Are there Public Records of Civil Court Mediations in Kansas?
According to the provisions of Kansas Supreme Court Rules 905–922, district courts are tasked with determining mediation-eligible cases and ordering mediation where it deems fit. Alternative dispute resolution processes typically employ unique statutory and/or policy restrictions, and as such mediations are typically facilitated under the supervision of a court-approved mediator. While some mediation proceedings are conducted in private, selected forms of mediation such as domestic conciliation are not private and all parties involved are required to waive confidentiality as indicated in K. S.A 5–512. However, where a non-disclosure agreement is signed prior to a mediation process, members of the public are disallowed access to details of the suit and official records of its proceedings. In this case, records of the mediation may not be obtained by members of the public unless subpoenaed by a court order.