Guidelines to help judges with frivolous pleadings

(KSNT Photo/Brian Dulle)

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Supreme Court is studying proposed guidelines for judges grappling with people who file repetitive, malicious or frivolous pleadings.

The recommendations by the judicial branch’s Access to Justice Committee are meant to act as a resource for judges when considering filing restrictions in court cases. The state’s highest court is taking public comments until February 2015 on the 18-member committee’s report that outlines state and federal court precedent and advice for judges when confronted with difficult litigants.

“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,” said committee member Edward Bouker, who also serves as a district court judge.

Bouker told The Topeka Capital-Journal that the guidelines seek to balance management of court dockets while respecting a person’s constitutional rights.

The guidelines say a judge should provide litigants a chance to present their objections to proposed restrictions. After considering the litigant’s response, a judge should weigh whether he or she should impose filing restrictions.

The judge must then provide explanations that explain why restrictions were justified and detail limits placed on the litigants in the context of future court filings. District judges have the authority to order a court clerk to not file a pleading that failed to comply with requirements of a judge’s order setting out filing restrictions.



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