Board of Indigents’ Defense Services and Judicial Branch Budget Increases

Martin de Boer
Fiscal Analyst

Dylan Dear
Managing Fiscal Analyst

The Kansas Constitution vests the judicial power of the State in one court of justice, which is divided into the Kansas Supreme Court, district courts, and other courts. The Kansas Supreme Court has general administrative authority over all the courts in the state.

The Judicial Branch’s budget includes funding for the Kansas Supreme Court, the Court of Appeals, personnel and technology costs of the district courts, and a number of judicial and professional review boards and commissions. Most non-salary costs of the district courts are funded by the counties.

The U.S. Constitution grants certain rights and protections to criminal defendants, including the right to be represented by an attorney. This right has been interpreted by the U.S. Supreme Court and the Kansas Supreme Court to require the state to pay for attorneys to represent indigent defendants at most key stages in the criminal justice process.

In Kansas, this requirement is met by the Board of Indigents’ Defense Services (BIDS).

BIDS provides criminal defense services through:

  • Public defender offices in certain parts of the state;
  • Contract attorneys (attorneys in private practice contracted by BIDS); and
  • Assigned counsel (court-appointed attorneys compensated by BIDS).

BIDS officials monitor the cost per case for each of its offices quarterly to determine the most cost-effective system to deliver constitutionally required defense services and make changes as needed to maintain cost-effectiveness.

FY 2023 Salary Increases

Judicial Branch. The 2021 Legislature added $1.9 million SGF for a 5.0 percent salary increase for judges and justices in FY 2022 and FY 2023. The 2022 Legislature passed a two-year salary plan to include an additional 5.0 percent salary increase for these positions.

Board of Indigents’ Defense Services. The State Finance Council added $638,178 from the State General Fund (SGF) for a 5.0 percent salary increase for most state employees for FY 2023. This adjustment excluded statewide elected officials, current beneficiaries of the 24/7 pay plan, with other specific limitations for employees who receive salary adjustments in other portions of the appropriations bill.

Retention and Recruitment

Judicial Branch. The 2021 Legislature appropriated $4.3 million SGF to add 70 court services officer positions.

The core functions of court services officers includes supervising adult and juvenile probationers. The agency noted that the positions have been filled as per testimony given on September 20, 2022, to the Legislative Budget Committee.

The 2022 Legislature added $5.7 million SGF and 62.0 FTE positions for new judge and staff positions for FY 2023. The majority of the new staff positions created were based on needs identified in external National Center for State Courts weighted workload studies and through internal review of district court workloads.

The new positions will be spread across judicial districts in the state, and include 14 district judges, 9 district magistrate judges, 13 court reporters, and 22 administrative assistants.

Additionally, $256,761 SGF was appropriated to convert three existing district magistrate judge positions to district judge positions.

Board of Indigents’ Defense Services. The 2021 Legislature added $3.9 million SGF and 45.0 FTE positions to address staffing shortages and high caseloads for FY 2022. This includes the hiring of 26 additional public defenders and additional necessary support staff.

The 2022 Legislature added $4.0 million SGF for salary increases for attorney and non-attorney staff for FY 2023. The agency created a series of internal pay scales for each position based on experience and comparable compensation for public prosecutors.

Judicial Branch Surcharge

HB 2541 (2022) took effect upon publication in the statute book and shifted the deposit of docket fees from court system accounts to the SGF. These funds historically paid for Judicial Branch operations and only those accounts that directly fund core judicial branch operations were shifted.

The 2022 Legislature added $17.3 million SGF and deleted $17.3 million from special revenue funds for FY 2023 to account for the provisions of HB 2541.