Last updated: 12/18/2008
This page will give you some general information about the 18th Judicial District Court.
Our Mission: To provide courteous and dignified treatment to all citizens, in an environment that always promotes efficient and fair administration of justice.
General Information: District courts are the trial courts of Kansas with the power to preside over all civil and criminal cases, including divorce and domestic relations, damage suits, probate and administration of estates, guardianships, conservatorship cases, care of the mentally ill, juvenile matters, and small claims. It is here that the criminal and civil jury trials are held. The district court also has appellate jurisdiction for municipal courts and most administrative agencies.
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. The state is also divided into six judicial departments, each of which includes several judicial districts. One justice of the Supreme Court serves as departmental justice over each department. The departmental justice may assign judges from one judicial district to another. The Supreme Court appoints a district judge as chief judge for each judicial district. The chief judge, in addition to his or her judicial responsibilities, has general control over the assignment of cases within the district, and general supervisory authority over the clerical and administrative functions of the court.
District court judges must be attorneys. Some counties have district magistrate judges, who may or may not be attorneys, and whose jurisdiction is limited. There is at least one resident judge in each county.
Records relating 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.
Did You Know: In 2007, there were approximately 72,000 cases filed in Sedgwick County District Court. This number included about 27,000 civil cases; 4,000 criminal felony cases; 23,000 traffic cases; 8,800 divorce cases; 2,300 probate cases and 2,600 juvenile cases. But despite the rising tide of litigation, Sedgwick County District Court is nationally recognized as a leader in reducing delay in the courts. Presently, civil jury trials are usually commenced within six to nine months after the case is filed. Criminal jury trials are usually commenced about sixty days after the case is filed. Other types of cases are usually completed in even less time. Click here to see more court statistics.
The Jury Trial: Most court matters are resolved without a jury trial. However, the right to a jury trial is guaranteed in most criminal cases and in many civil cases and is recognized as the foundation of the American court system. Criminal cases require a 12-member jury for felonies and a 6-member jury for misdemeanors. A unanimous verdict is required. Civil cases usually require a 12-member jury unless the parties agree otherwise and a majority of 10 jurors is required to reach a verdict.
Trial Participants: Court proceedings are presided over by a judge, whose duty is to apply the law and oversee the matter through its conclusion. The person or entity (such as a business or the government) bringing the lawsuit is called the plaintiff in civil cases and the state through the prosecutor brings a criminal case. The person or entity against whom the action was filed is called the defendant, in both civil and criminal cases.
Order of Trial: Jury trials begin with "voir dire," or questions of prospective jurors concerning their qualifications to sit on the jury. Next the plaintiff, or the state, presents an opening statement in which an outline of the anticipated evidence is given. The defense attorney also may give an opening statement at that point, or in criminal cases it could be reserved until after the prosecution rests its case. The evidence is presented first by the plaintiff (or the state) through exhibits and testimony, all of which are subject to legal challenges by the defendant, including cross-examination of the witnesses. At the conclusion of the plaintiffs case, the defense may, but is not required to, present evidence.
Outside the Courtroom: Often, visitors to district court only have direct contact with a judge. Sedgwick County currently has 28 district judges. However, there are currently about 240 non-judicial personnel in the Sedgwick County court system. This number includes administrative aides, court reporters, clerks, court service officers, court trustees and administrative staff. Little could be accomplished without the dedicated work of these employees.
Other Kinds of Cases: In addition to the broad categories of civil and criminal cases, a variety of other kinds of proceedings are resolved by the trial courts including Juvenile matters, Probate, Family Law, Traffic, and Small Claims.