Despite quiet departure, retiring appellate court clerk leaves lasting legacy
Thursday, June 5, 2014
Posted by: Beth Warrington
Although Carol Gilliam Green doesn’t want a big fuss made over her June 6 retirement from her job as clerk of the appellate courts, she can’t deny the lasting impact she’s had on the clerk’s office and the legal community from her nearly 23 years in the position.
Lawton Nuss, chief justice of the Kansas Supreme Court, quantified Green’s impact for a group of newly minted attorneys at their swearing-in ceremony in April in Topeka.
"You may not know it, but you sat at the last bar exam and are attending the last swearing-in ceremony under Ms. Green’s careful guidance. She has overseen 45 exams and 46 ceremonies involving 9,796 attorneys,” Nuss said. "Her influence will be missed.”
But overseeing the bar exam and swearing in new attorneys are just part of the clerk’s duties. Green also manages the clerk of the appellate courts’ office, which processes case files for the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeals in the Judicial Center in Topeka.
Justice Dan Biles recalls his interactions with the clerk’s office when he was a practicing attorney and he credits Green with making the office approachable.
"She positioned the clerk’s office to be a reference point for lawyers. She made that a hallmark of the office, even if she didn’t dispense all the advice herself,” Biles said. "As a lawyer, it was reassuring to know I could pick up the phone and ask the best way to present issues so it’s clear for the court.”
Thomas Malone, chief judge of the Court of Appeals, said that Green always made sure the appellate courts operated smoothly.
"If I had to summarize her in a word, it would be dedication. She is dedicated to the entire judicial branch and in particular to the people who work in the clerk’s office,” Malone said. "It has been a distinct privilege for me to have worked with her.”
Richard Ross, who has been the reporter of Supreme Court and Court of Appeals decisions since 1975, has known and worked with Green the longest. He recalls when Green was hired in 1981 by then-Chief Justice Alfred Schroeder.
"Chief Justice Schroeder always hired from the top of the graduating class and Carol was first in hers,” Ross said.
In 1982, Green was made director of central research staff, a pool of attorneys who supported the Court of Appeals. She stayed in that position until she was named clerk of the appellate courts in 1991.
"Everyone who’s worked with her knows that anything she’s assigned she will do not just well, but extremely well,” Ross said.
Because of Green’s exceptional performance, Ross said the Supreme Court never hesitated to assign her office new duties. As clerk, Green has been secretary for the Commission on Judicial Qualifications, the Client Protection Fund Commission, the Kansas Board of Law Examiners, Board of Examiners for Court Reporters, and the Supreme Court Nominating Commission.
Despite her accomplishments, though, Green still prefers to stay out of the spotlight.
If you ask her to reflect on her career with the Kansas judicial branch, she answers with sincerity, "It has been both a privilege and a pleasure to serve the Kansas appellate courts.”
Green earned a bachelor’s degree in education from Southeast Missouri State University, a master’s degree in English from the University of Missouri, and a law degree from Washburn University School of Law.
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