County attorney pleased with extension of declaration

John Richmeier

The county attorney for Leavenworth County was breathing a sigh of relief Friday after the State Finance Council approved a 30-day extension of the state’s emergency declaration for the COVID-19 pandemic.

County Attorney Todd Thompson had sent a letter to the State Finance Council, urging its members to extend the declaration. He sent the letter in his capacity as the president of the Kansas County and District Attorneys Association.

According to Thompson, speedy trial requirements have been suspended in the state during the emergency. He said the clock for speedy trials would have resumed if the declaration was allowed to expire.

Thompson had expressed concern that courts in Kansas would not be able to bring cases to trial in time to meet speedy trial requirements. And some cases may have been dismissed because of speedy trial violations.

Cases are moving forward in the state’s courts but it is still difficult to conduct jury trials because of restrictions related to COVID-19.

In Leavenworth County, jury trials have not yet resumed since being halted earlier this year.

“We appreciate the council and everyone for the work they did,” Thompson said Friday.

The State Finance Council is made up of the governor and several members of the Kansas Legislature. Friday’s meeting was conducted through a conference call rather than as an in-person meeting.

The meeting had been scheduled for Thursday afternoon but was rescheduled for Friday morning.

The state emergency declaration had been set to expire Sept. 15. But members of the State Finance Council voted unanimously to extend the declaration until Oct. 15.

The unanimous vote came during a three-hour meeting that at times was contentious. Republican members sought a commitment from Gov. Laura Kelly that she will not order businesses to close as she did earlier in the year.

“We will never recover as a state if we do that again,” Senate Majority Leader Jim Denning, R-Overland Park, said during the meeting.

Kelly said she did not intend to issue another shutdown order, but she initially resisted adding language about this issue to a resolution for the emergency declaration.

She eventually agreed to add language indicating she does not intend to use her authority to close businesses.

Twitter: @LVTNewsJohnR