The Access to Justice Committee has released for comment proposed guidelines for judges to restrict court filings from litigants who repeatedly file frivolous, malicious, or repetitive pleadings.
Members of the public and the legal community are encouraged to review the proposed guidelines and provide comment by Feb. 1. The guidelines and instructions for commenting are available on the judicial branch website at www.kscourts.org under the heading What’s New.
Judge Edward Bouker, who serves on the Access to Justice Committee and is chief judge of the 23rd judicial district that includes Ellis, Gove, Rooks, and Trego counties, spoke on behalf of the committee when the proposed guidelines were released.
“It’s challenging for a busy judge to give every case fair and impartial treatment when some litigants file pleadings merely to harass or punish individuals, businesses, attorneys, or the court,” Bouker said. “These guidelines are to help judges respond to malicious and repetitive filings while upholding everyone’s access to courts as guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution.”
The Access to Justice Committee, in collaboration with the Advisory Council on Dispute Resolution, spent several months reviewing existing Kansas laws and case law, as well as filing restrictions imposed in other states, to develop the proposed guidelines.
“Our intent is to inform judges of their options to restrict some filings under specific circumstances,” Bouker said. “The guidelines do not propose a blanket restriction on any party with a history of malicious or repetitive filings.”
The 18-member Access to Justice Committee is made up of attorneys, judges, and laypeople. It was created by Kansas Supreme Court Rule 1401 for the purpose of making recommendations to the court about reducing barriers to equal access to justice, improving legal services delivery, and increasing resources available for legal services to low-income litigants in civil cases.