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Judicial Selection Up First

Posted By Joseph N. Molina III, Tuesday, January 22, 2013
Updated: Wednesday, June 26, 2013

The first full week of the Kansas Legislature was marked by Gov. Brownback’s State of the State address, and the introduction of 98 bills and a two-day hearing dealing with merit selection reform. Sen. Jeff King (R-Independence) chaired the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on merit selection. This was a two-day hearing to discuss SCR 1601 and SB 8. These proposals would eliminate the current Supreme Court Nominating Commission; replace it with a federal model system and enact a new seven-person commission to review the governor’s appointee. Proponents of this proposal testified last Wednesday with opponents commenting on Thursday. KBA President Lee Smithyman testified in opposition to both proposals.

Quick Take:

KBA Executive Director Jordan Yochim presents Sen. Jeff King with the Senate Judiciary Gavel!

With the opening of the 2013 Kansas Legislative session Sen. Jeff King (R-Independence) has ascended to the chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee. The KBA welcomes Sen. King and looks forward to a productive year.


In addition, the KBA introduced its own proposals to reform the merit selection commission. This proposal, called the "4-5-6 Plan” would maintain the merit selection system but allow more input from the legislative branch. Licensed attorneys in Kansas would continue to elected four (4) commission members, one from each congressional district; the governor would appoint five (5) members, with one being a non-voting chair; and the legislature would appoint six (6) members, the speaker of the House will appoint two, the Senate president would appoint two, and the minority leader of both chambers would each appoint one. This revised nominating commission would preserve the merit selection system that has produced highly qualified judges for more than 50 years while allowing more accountability through indirect representation by the people. If judicial selection must be changed, the KBA encourages the legislature to adopt the "4-5-6 Plan.”


Additionally, the Kansas House Judiciary Committee held informational meeting on judicial selection methods last week. That committee introduced three other proposals that included a Federal Model plan (HCR 5002, a partisan election plan), HCR 5003 (Rep. Mark Kahrs), and a hybrid approach (HCR 5005 – Rep. John Rubin). In addition to the KBA, Chief Judge Tom Malone (Court of Appeals); Jim Robinson (Kansas Association of Defense Counsel & Defense Research Institute); Mike Fleming (Kansas Association of Justice); Jack Focht (Kansas Appleseed Center for Law and Justice); Anne Burke (Supreme Court Nominating Commission chair); Debbie Nordling (former Supreme Court Nominating Commissioner – non-lawyer appointee); Janice McMillan (Kansas League of Women Voters); Landon Rowland (Lead Bank president); Harry McDonald (Main Stream Coalition); Professor Mike Hoeflich, Professor Jim Concannon; Jen Bruning (Overland Park Chamber of Commerce); Robert VanCrum (Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce); Lenexa Chamber of Commerce; and Hugh Gill (Wichita Bar Association president) all provided testimony in support of the current merit selection system.


A hearing on each of the proposals introduced in the House Judiciary Committee is scheduled for January 22, at 3:30 p.m. in Rm. 112-N. The KBA will testify in support of the "4-5-6 Plan” (HCR 5004).


Business association practitioners should be interested in the following:

SB 5, business entities restricting use of acquired entity’s name, which is scheduled for a hearing on January 24 at 8:30 a.m. in the Senate Commerce Committee, Rm. 548-S.


Attorneys with a criminal law practice should pay attention to the following bills:

SB 4, statute of limitations for certain sexually violent crimes;
SB 16, Kansas racketeer influenced act; criminal street gangs;
SB 17, amending the crime of unlawful sexual relations;
SB 19, mistreatment of a dependent adult;
SB 39, unlawful possession of prescription-only drugs;
SB 40, amending provisions relating to DNA evidence;
SB 47, amending the crime of identity theft; and
HB 2013, amending the crime of perjury.


Immigration attorneys may find the following interesting:

SB 48, Kansas employer e-verify accountability act.


Litigants may find these last three bills interesting:

SB 20, civil procedure; poverty affidavit;
SB 42, architects and engineers; immunity from liability in negligence; and
HB 2028, providing for venue in Shawnee County District Court in forfeiture proceedings


Probate lawyers should consider the proposals introduced by the Kansas Judicial Council:

HB 2014, revoking an ex-spouses inheritance rights upon divorce; and
HB 2015, marital property.

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