Three judges and eight lawyers applied by the Sept. 2, 2020, noon deadline to fill a Kansas Supreme Court vacancy created by Justice Carol Beier's September 18 retirement. The Supreme Court Nominating Commission will meet by videoconference September 4 to schedule their interviews.
The applicants are:
Victor J. Braden, lawyer, Lawrence;
Christi L. Bright, lawyer, Overland Park;
Meryl B. Carver-Allmond, lawyer, Lawrence;
Kim W. Cudney, judge, Greenleaf;
Dennis D. Depew, lawyer, Neodesha;
Randall L. Hodgkinson, lawyer, Topeka;
Russell J. Keller, lawyer, Fairway;
Cheryl A. Rios, judge, Topeka;
Melissa Taylor Standridge, judge, Leawood;
Kristen D. Wheeler, lawyer, Wichita; and
Marcia A. Wood, lawyer, Wichita.
The Supreme Court Nominating Commission will meet by videoconference at 8:30 a.m. Friday, September 4, to finalize the date to interview applicants and discuss other procedural matters. The meeting will be broadcast live on the Kansas judicial branch YouTube channel. The commission is subject to the Kansas Open Meetings Act and the Kansas Open Records Act.
The interview schedule and brief biographical information about each applicant will be announced and posted on the Kansas judicial branch website. Applicant interviews will be broadcast live on the judicial branch YouTube channel.
A nominee for justice must be:
• at least 30 years old; and
• a lawyer admitted to practice in Kansas and engaged in the practice of law for at least 10 years, whether as a lawyer, judge, or full-time teacher at an accredited law school.
When the Supreme Court Nominating Commission reviews nominees for justice, they consider the person’s:
• legal and judicial experience
• educational background
• character and ethics
• service to the community
• respect of colleagues.
Justices must follow the law and not be influenced by politics, special interest groups, public opinion or their own personal beliefs.
Justices demonstrate their accountability by following a Code of Judicial Conduct that establishes standards of ethical behavior. They also take an oath of office that includes swearing to support, protect and defend the U.S. Constitution and Kansas Constitution.
After a new justice serves one year on the court, he or she must stand for a retention vote in the next general election to remain in the position. If retained, the justice serves a six-year term.
Merit-based selection process
Supreme Court vacancies are filled through a merit-based nomination process that Kansans voted to add to the Kansas Constitution in 1958. The process involves the Supreme Court Nominating Commission, which reviews nominees, and the governor, who makes the appointments.
When there is a vacancy on the court, the Supreme Court Nominating Commission reviews applications and conducts public interviews of nominees. The commission narrows the nominee pool to three names that it sends to the governor. The governor chooses one nominee to appoint.
The Supreme Court Nominating Commission has nine members. There is one lawyer and one nonlawyer from each of the state’s four congressional districts, plus one lawyer who serves as chairperson.
Nonlawyers are appointed by the governor. Lawyers are elected by other lawyers within their congressional districts. The chairperson is elected by lawyers statewide.