District Courts are created by the Constitution. They are the trial courts of Kansas, with general original jurisdiction over all civil and criminal cases, including divorce and domestic relations, damage suits, probate and administration of estates, guardianships, conservatorships, care of the mentally ill, juvenile matters, and small claims. It is here that the criminal and civil jury trials are held.
Kansas is divided into judicial districts, with a varying number 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 26th Judicial District contains the following counties: Grant, Haskell, Morton, Seward, Stanton and Stevens counties. It is devided into 3 divisions with one district judge per division. District judges often preside over cases in other divisions.
Judges of the district court must be lawyers. Some counties have district magistrate judges, who may or may not be lawyers, and whose jurisdiction is limited. By state law, there is at least one resident judge in each county.
One judge in each district is designated chief judge. A chief judge has, in addition to his or her judicial responsibilities, general control over case assignments within the district and general supervisory authority over the clerical and administrative functions of the court. Until July 1, 2014, the Kansas Supreme Court appointed the chief judge of each judicial district. After July 1, 2014, the chief judge is elected by the judges in the district following a procedure of their choosing.
Appeals may be taken from the district courts to the Court of Appeals and in some cases to the Supreme Court.
Municipal courts deal with violations of city ordinances committed within city limits. Cases usually involve traffic or other minor offenses.
A person charged with an offense in municipal court may be represented by a lawyer. The judge hears cases without a jury. Anyone convicted in municipal court may appeal to the district court of the county where the municipal court is located.
Municipal judges in Kansas who are not lawyers must be certified by the Kansas Supreme Court to hold office. A judge has 18 months from taking office to pass an examination given by the Supreme Court. Each year, nonlawyer judges must attend 10 hours of continuing legal education provided by the Supreme Court.