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The KBA Advocate is the weekly KBA legislative newsletter that contains up-to-date information on legislation that impacts your practice. It is only published when the legislature is in session and is sent to all KBA members electronically via the KBA Weekly.

 

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KBA 2017 Legislative Priorities

Posted By Joseph N. Molina III, Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Last Friday the Kansas Bar Association met to discuss the 2017 legislative session. The KBA Board of Governors approved the following legislative priorities for 2017:

Full Funding of Judicial Branch

  • The KBA believes that only a fully funded court system guarantees access to justice for all Kansas citizens and businesses. Access to Justice is a cornerstone of our society. Safety, fairness and efficiency can only be achieved for all Kansans if the Judicial Branch is adequately funded by the legislature. 
  • Proper funding of the Judicial Branch guarantees each citizen his or her right to due process of law as expressly stated in the Fifth and 14th amendments, facilitates economic development, and protects state interests. These guarantees require open courts, access to an attorney, prompt scheduling of hearings and trials, and accurate and timely case processing.
  • The KBA supports efforts by the Judicial Branch to modernize its processes and develop efficiencies within its operations. Specifically, the addition of 20 new employees, seven new magistrate judges, and one additional district judge will ease the burden on overworked staff and better serve Kansas citizens.
  • The core function of the Kansas Judicial Branch is the timely delivery of justice to Kansas residents and businesses. A properly compensated staff is vital to this mission. As such, the KBA supports the Judicial Branch’s request to bring employee salaries to market level and to adjust judicial salaries to compete with neighboring states.

Working for Kansas Businesses

  • The KBA will introduce a bill creating a new business type called Benefit Corporations. A Benefit Corporation is a type of for-profit corporate entity, authorized by 30 U.S. states and the District of Columbia; its mission is to create a positive impact on society, workers, the community, and the environment in addition to profit as its legally defined goals. This proposal is an extension of the 2016 update of the Kansas General Corporate Code which was passed and signed into law in 2016.

Arbitration Law Updates

  • The KBA will introduce a proposal codifying enforcement of mediation/arbitration provision in trust instruments. This proposal is in line with prior revisions to the Uniform Trust Act.
  • The KBA will also introduce a law aimed at updating the Uniform Arbitration Act of 1955. These revisions, named the Revised Arbitration Act of 2000, will address many procedural issues not discussed in the original act. It will allow a court to order provisional remedies, further protect due process rights of participants, avoid federal preemption issues, and allow expressed immunity for arbitrators. 

The KBA will also actively review legislation throughout the 2017 session. The KBA will again provide a “Bill Tracking Chart” so members can easily review issues being discussed at the Capitol. The KBA will periodically request the assistance of KBA Sections and/or KBA Committees to vet new legislation and make recommendations based on those Sections/Committees’ expertise.

Tags:  2017 session  2017-18 

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2017 Kansas Legislative Leaders

Posted By Joseph N. Molina III, Tuesday, December 6, 2016
Updated: Tuesday, December 6, 2016

On Monday, Dec. 5, legislators elected a new crop of representatives to lead them into the 2017 session. The Kansas House decided on Rep. Ron Ryckman as the new speaker. He defeated Rep. Russ Jennings in a conservative vs. moderate battle 57-28. This is significant for several reasons: First, Ryckman will now have the power over committee assignments and what bills come to the floor for debate/vote; second, his victory is tempered by the loss of a conservative majority in the House. Those 28 moderate votes could be combined with the now 40 Democrat votes to establish a working majority.  Ryckman has already signaled a willingness to listen to these groups. See: http://kcur.org/post/whos-who-kansas-legislature-selects-new-leadership#stream/0

Democrats surprised almost everyone when they decided to replace Rep. Tom Burroughs with Rep. Jim Ward as Minority leader. Most believed Burroughs would continue as Minority Leader after the successful election of 13 new Democrats to the House. However, this was still not enough as Ward was elected by two-votes 21-19.

The rest of the leadership races shaped up as shown:

Speaker of the House

Ron Ryckman – Olathe

House Majority Leader

Don Hineman – Dighton

Assistant House Majority Leader

Tom Phillips – Manhattan

Speaker Pro Tem

Scott Schwab – Overland Park

House Minority Leader

Jim Ward – Wichita

Assistant House Minority Leader

Stan Frownfelter – Kansas City

 

The Senate was not nearly as exciting as House elections; however, there were a few rule votes that got heated. But in the end not much has changed in the Kansas Senate. Sen. Susan Wagle has maintained her position as Senate President. Wagle was able to fend off a conservative challenge from Sen. Ty Masterson on a 23-7 vote. Democrats will continue to be lead by Sen. Anthony Hensley, returning unchallenged as Senate Minority Leader.

Senate Leadership consists of the following:

Senate President

Susan Wagle – Wichita

Senate Vice President

Jeff Longbine – Emporia

Senate Majority Leader

Jim Denning – Overland Park

Assistant Senate Majority Leader

Vicki Schmidt – Topeka

Senate Minority Leader

Anthony Hensely – Topeka

Assistant Senate Minority Leader

Laura Kelly – Topeka

 

For more coverage of the leadership elections please visit:

Kansas Public Radio - http://kansaspublicradio.org/kpr-news/leadership-kansas-legislature-shifts-center-politically

The Associated Press - http://www.mcclatchydc.com/news/politics-government/national-politics/article118930088.html

Wichita Eagle - http://www.kansas.com/news/politics-government/article118942703.html

Topeka Capital-Journal - http://cjonline.com/news/2016-12-05/brownback-meets-new-gop-democratic-legislative-leaders

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Lawyer and Law-Trained Legislators 2017 Kansas Legislature

Posted By Joseph N. Molina III, Wednesday, November 30, 2016
Updated: Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Lawyer and Law-Trained Legislators
2017 Kansas Legislature

KANSAS SENATOR

Senator David Haley
Senate District No. 4
D-Kansas City

Senator Haley is the managing partner of Village East, a redevelopment company in Kansas City, Kansas. He served in the Kansas House of Representatives from 1994-2000 and elected to the Kansas Senate in 2000. He was reelected in 2004, 2008 and 2012. Senator Haley is the Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Judiciary and the Senate Committee on Public Health and Welfare. He is also a member of other joint committees. Senator Haley received his J.D. from Howard University.

http://kslegislature.org/li/b2015_16/members/sen_haley_david_1/


KANSAS HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

Rep. John Barker
House District No. 70
R-Abilene

Representative Barker is a farmer, retired District Court Judge, and U.S. Army veteran. Rep. Barker served 25 years as a judge for the Eighth Judicial District covering Dickinson, Geary, Marion, and Morris counties. Rep. Barker has been recognized for his work with Kansas youth - championing initiatives to prevent drug and alcohol abuse, working with local school districts to reduce truancy rates, and working with juvenile offender programs. Rep. Barker and his wife of 30 years, live in Dickinson County where they raised their two children.

http://kslegislature.org/li/b2015_16/members/rep_barker_john_1/


Rep. Steve Becker
House District No. 104
R-Buhler

Representative Becker is a retired District Court Judge for Reno County. Rep. Becker was appointed in June 1981 and retired in January 2007. Prior to his appointment, Rep. Becker practiced in Hutchinson, KS. Rep. Becker graduated from Washburn Law School in 1975.

http://kslegislature.org/li/b2015_16/members/rep_becker_steven_1/


Rep. John Carmichael
House District 92
D-Wichita

Representative Carmichael represents the 92nd District in Wichita. He earned is Political Science degree from University of Kansas in 1979, his Administration of Justice degree from Wichita State University in 1980 and his law degree from KU School of Law in 1982. Rep. Carmichael is Of Counsel with the law firm of Conlee, Schmidt and Emerson, LLP in Wichita. Rep. Carmichael has been a member of the Wichita Bar Association and the Kansas Bar Association for over 30 years. Rep. Carmichael will serve as ranking minority member on the House Judiciary, as a member on Elections and Energy/Environment and local gov. committees this session.

http://kslegislature.org/li/b2015_16/members/rep_carmichael_john_1/


Rep. Erin Davis
House district No. 15
R- Olathe

Erin Davis represents the 15th House District in Olathe, Kansas. She was reelected in 2016. She is a recent graduate of the University of Kansas Law School. She is a member of the Rokusek Law Office, LLP in Lenexa, KS specializing in family law, including divorce, custody, Child in Need of Care parent’s attorney and Guardian ad Litem, juvenile offender and adult criminal work.

http://kslegislature.org/li/b2015_16/members/rep_davis_erin_1/


Rep. Blaine Finch
House District No. 59
R-Ottawa

Representative Finch is majority owner and President of Green, Finch& Covington, Chtd. His practice covers a broad spectrum of legal issues including municipal law, real estate, contracts, corporate law and estate planning. He also teaches at Ottawa University as an adjunct faculty member in the fields of History, Political Science and Pre-Law. Finch is a former city commissioner and Mayor of the City of Ottawa. Rep-Elect Finch graduated Summa Cum Laude from Ottawa University with degrees in History, Political Science and Psychology. Finch is a member of the Kansas Bar Association and a member and past president of the Franklin County Bar Association. He attended Washburn University School of Law.

http://kslegislature.org/li/b2015_16/members/rep_finch_blaine_1/


Rep. Dennis “Boog” Highberger
House District No. 46
D-Lawrence

Representative Highberger graduated from University of Kansas Law School in 1992. His areas of private practice have included wills, estates, contracts, family law, federal communications law, and general civil practice. Highberger served on the Lawrence City Commission from 2003 to 2009 and was Mayor in 2005/2006. He has been an active member of the Lawrence community, and currently serves on the Douglas County Food Policy Council, the City of Lawrence’s Public Incentives Review Committee (PIRC) and Sustainability Advisory Board (SAB), and the boards of directors of Independence, Inc., the Community Mercantile Education Foundation (CMEF), and the East Lawrence Neighborhood Association (ELNA).

http://kslegislature.org/li/b2015_16/members/rep_highberger_dennis_1/


Rep.-Elect Tim Hodge
House District No. 72

R-North Newton

Representative-elect Hodge is member of the Adrian & Pankratz law firm in Newton Kansas. Hodge has developed his practice in diverse areas such as tax law, real estate, business law, secured transactions, and Medicaid Planning. He has served as an adjunct professor of business law at Tabor College. During law school, he clerked for the Kansas Board of Tax Appeals and the Kansas National Education Association. Before law school, Mr. Hodge served as a teacher and a coach at Peabody High School. He and his wife reside in North Newton with their three children. His wife is a teacher in the Newton School District. Hodge graduate Magana cum laude from Tabor College in 1999 and received is JD from Washburn Law School in 2003. Hodge also attended the Oxford Honours Program in 1998. He is a KBA member since 2004.


Rep.-Elect Susan Humphries
House District No. 99
R-Wichita

Representative-elect Humphries joined the Kansas Bar in 2014, after graduating from the University of Denver Sturm College of Law earlier that year. During law school Humphries had clinical experience in Mediation and at the Rocky Mountain Children’s Law Center. Humphries practices at Shultz Law Office, P.A., in Wichita, with a focus on adoption and general law. Humphries is the coordinator for Wichita Christian Legal Aid, which offers free legal aid at three non-profits. Humphries married Cary after graduating from TCU, and they proceeded to live in (and enjoy!) five states and two foreign countries. They moved to Kansas for the first time in 1981, and have considered it their married home ever since. They have four adult children (two are married), and one grandson. Humphries will serve as Representative for the 99th district, which includes Andover and east Wichita.


Rep.-Elect Leonard Mastroni
House District No. 117
R-La Crosse

Representative-elect Mastroni is currently a Rush County Commissioner, serving in that capacity since 2011. Prior to his service as a county commissioner he was a District Magistrate Judge where he served on the KDMJA Legislative committee for 12 years. Mastroni also served a chairman of the KDMJA Legislative committee and its educational committee. Mastroni attended Fort Hays University where he received his BA in political science. Mastroni also attended University of Nevada at Reno where he graduated from the national judicial college.


Rep.-Elect Vic Miller
House District No. 58
D-Topeka

Representative-Elect Vic Miller is returning to the Kansas House. He previously served for three-terms. Miller also served as Shawnee County Commissioner (15 yrs.) Topeka City Councilman (8 yrs.), once acting as Topeka Deputy Mayor. Miller also served as Topeka Municipal Judge and Kansas Property Valuation Director. Miller has spent his legal career as a sole practitioner. Miller graduated from Emporia State and Washburn University School of Law.


Rep. Fred Patton
House District No. 50
R-Topeka

Representative Patton graduated from the University of Kansas Law School before joining the legal research staff at the Shawnee County District Court. Currently, Patton owns and operates Patton Law Offices, LLC in North Topeka with a varied practice area including banking, business/corporate, construction, estate planning, general civil, probate, and real estate. Patton is very active in the community having leadership roles in over 15 local groups.

http://kslegislature.org/li/b2015_16/members/rep_patton_fred_1/


Rep.-Elect Bradley Ralph
House District No. 119
R-Dodge City

Representative-elect Ralph is currently the City Attorney for Dodge City, Kansas. Prior to this position he was in private practice with the firm of Williams, Malone & Ralph for 25 years. His private practice focused on representation of insurance companies, healthcare providers, schools, and municipalities. Ralph has been active in his community in leadership positions with his church and the Community Foundation of Southwest Kansas. He has also served the legal profession on several professional committees, including the Professional Ethics Committee. He is a graduate of St. Mary of the Plains College and Washburn University School of Law. Ralph and his wife Shannon have three adult children.


Rep. Jim Ward
House District No. 86
D-Wichita

Representative Ward is the owner of the Law offices of James Ward of Wichita. He was appointed to the Kansas Senate to fill a vacancy in 1992. He was later elected to the Kansas House in 2002 and reelected every two years through 2012. Representative Ward serves as the Assistant House Minority Leader and is a member of the House Committees on Calendar and Printing, Health and Human Services, Interstate Cooperation, Judiciary and Legislative Budget, as well as several joint committees. He received his J.D. from Washburn University School of Law.

http://kslegislature.org/li/b2015_16/members/rep_ward_jim_1/


Rep.-Elect John Wheeler
House District No. 123
R-Garden City

Representative-elect Wheeler is the former Finney County Attorney, first elected in 1993. He was elected to the House in 2016 to his first term. He is a graduate of Fort Hays State College (1969) with a degree in political science and pre-law. He graduated from Washburn School of Law in 1976. Prior to being elected as Finney County Attorney, Rep. Wheeler was in private practice with Calihan, Green, Calihan and Loyd, Associate, 1976-1979, then Soldner & Wheeler, Partner, 1979-1987, and finally with John P. Wheeler, Attorney at Law, Solo Practitioner, 1988-1992. Rep. Wheeler is a proud member of Harry H. Renick American Legion Post #9, Past Commander; Garden City Salvation Army Advisory Board; Garden City Noon Lions Club; and the Finney County Historical Society.


2017 Kansas Legislature

Kansas Senate:

  • 31 Republicans
  • 9 Democrats

Kansas House of Representatives:

  • 85 Republicans
  • 40 Democrats

Additional Information

The official state website for the Kansas Legislature

www.kslegislature.org

From that site, you can find information on the House and Senate members and contact information, calendars, bill introductions, committee activity, minutes of committees, committee memberships and virtually anything related to the Kansas Legislature.

Governor Sam Brownback

The website for Governor Sam Brownback and Lt. Governor Jeff Colyer is:

http://www.kansas.gov/

Attorney General Derek Schmidt

http://ag.ks.gov

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Election 2016

Posted By Joseph N. Molina III, Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Joseph N. Molina III
Legislative Services Director

KansasBarLeg
Email

With all the votes tallied Kansas will find itself in a familiar position come 2017. While both chambers remain Republican-heavy, they have moved to the center which will help with those big-ticket items sure to eat up legislative days next session. The final count looks like 85 republicans will coexist with 40 Democrats. Democrats improved their position by 12 seats. Equally important are the big wins by moderate republicans in the primary and general elections. Several big-name incumbents losing last night were Rep. Marc Rhoades, Rep. Amanda Grosserode, Rep. Chuck Smith, and Rep. Sue Boldra. Rep.-Elect Eber Phelps defeated Sue Boldra, reclaiming his seat and the title of only democrat in Western Kansas.

Several lawyer/legislators were defeated: Rep. Jan Pauls, Rep. Lane Hemsley and Rep. James Todd failed to retain their seats, and Senate candidate and lawyer Bill Hutton lost to Sen. Fitzgerald by 500 votes. If my math is correct and I didn’t miss anyone, there 14 lawyer/legislators remain in the legislature. The most surprising result is the Republicans have no licensed attorney to chair Senate Judiciary Committee.

The statewide seats all remained in Republican hands as U.S. Sen. Moran, U.S. Rep. Pompeo, U.S. Rep. Jenkins, U.S. Rep. Yoder and Representative-Elect Marshall all won going away. These Kansans will work closely with the President-Elect Trump who won a close election last night against former U.S. Senator and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

In huge news, all Kansas appellate court judges/justices were retained. The margin for Kansas Supreme Court Justices ran from a high of 71% (Stegall) to 55% (Nuss). While the ten point spread for Chief Justice Nuss was slim, it still outperformed the retention election results from two years ago where Justice Johnson and Justice Rosen received 52.7% and 52.6% respectively.

The raw numbers saw Justice Stegall, Judge Gardner and Judge Bruns outpace the historical margins with positive votes of more than 715,000. The remaining justices and judges hovered around 600,000 positive votes. Nevertheless, they retained their positions.

The most interesting retention data point came from Sedgwick County where voters decided to retain all judges/justices with the lowest margin being 54% / 46% for Justice Biles. This jurisdiction voted against retaining Justice Rosen and Justice Johnson in 2014.

For complete unofficial election results please visit – http://www.sos.ks.gov/ent/kssos_ent.html

Tags:  election 

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Today, Nov. 8, is Election Day. Polls are Open Till 7 p.m.

Posted By Joseph N. Molina III, Tuesday, November 8, 2016

To locate your polling place please visit - https://myvoteinfo.voteks.org/VoterView/PollingPlaceSearch.do

Please get out and vote – remember to finish the ballot.

Tags:  election  election day 

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Remember Retention

Posted By Joseph N. Molina III, Tuesday, October 4, 2016
Updated: Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Joseph N. Molina III
Legislative Services Director

KansasBarLeg
Email

The countdown to Election Day has begun! With six weeks to go until Election Day, it’s time to make sure you are prepared to vote! If you have not registered to vote in the general election the deadline is Tuesday, Oct. 18. To register for the general election, a link to the Kansas Voter Registration Instruction can be found here- http://www.sos.ks.gov/forms/elections/voterregistration.pdf

Advance voting will begin on October 19. To vote in person please contact your local county election office to find out when and where – http://www.kssos.org/elections/elections_registration_ceo.asp

This election is an important one for our state as it allows each citizen the opportunity to choose a new president, a new State representative, State senator, and to decide if 11 appellate court judges/justices should retain their position--the outcome is in your hands.

The KBA would like to encourage Kansans to vote in this very important retention election as it is the greatest confirmation a judge or justice will receive. Biographies can be found on court websites, accessible through http://www.kscourts.org/kansas-courts/supreme-court/justice-bios/default.asp.

To learn more about the judges’/justices’ performance please visit – www.kansasjudgereview.org to review a survey sponsored by Kansas civic organizations.

The Kansas Constitution requires Kansas Supreme Court Justices and Court of Appeal Judges to be placed on the general election ballot every six years (4 yrs. for the COA); so voters can determine whether these judges/justices should remain on their courts for another term. This year, five Supreme Court Justices and six Court of Appeal Judges will be on the ballot.

The Judges and Justices:

Kansas Supreme Court Justices

  • Chief Justice Lawton R. Nuss
  • Justice Marla J. Luckert
  • Justice Carol A. Beier
  • Justice Dan Biles
  • Justice Caleb Stegall

Kansas Court of Appeal Judges

  • Judge Steve Leben
  • Judge G. Joseph Pierron
  • Judge David E. Bruns
  • Judge G. Gordon Atcheson
  • Judge Karen Arnold-Burger
  • Judge Kathryn A. Gardner

Retention elections are a vital component to the merit selection process for selecting appellate court justices. However, they are different than partisan elections because, unlike partisan elections, judges are not running against opponents or each other. Merit retention elections are nonpartisan were the judges/justice appear on the ballot without reference to any political party, (e.g. Democrat or Republican).

Tell your family, friends, neighbors and colleagues that information on the retention election can be found at www.ourkansascourts.org.

If you would like a non-partisan KBA official to speak to your group about the elections contact:

Meg Wickham
Director of Member and Communication Services
mwickham@ksbar.org
Direct: (785) 861-8817

Tags:  judicial branch  judicial retention 

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Frequently Asked Questions About Kansas Retention Elections

Posted By Joseph N. Molina III, Tuesday, September 13, 2016
Updated: Monday, September 12, 2016

Joseph N. Molina III
Legislative Services Director

KansasBarLeg
Email

  1. Why am I being asked to vote on judges?

    The Kansas Constitution requires Kansas Supreme Court justices and Court of Appeal judges to be placed on the ballot every six years (4 yrs. for the COA) so voters can determine whether they should remain on their courts for term. These are called “retention” elections. This year, five Supreme Court justices and six court of appeal judges will be on the ballot.
  2. What do “Yes” and “No” votes mean?

    A “Yes” vote means you want the judge or justice to remain on the court for another six-year term. A “No” vote means you want the judge or justice removed from the court. The majority of voters in the November general election decides.
  3. Do Supreme Court justices have opponents?

    No. Your vote determines whether each justice should remain on the court. They are not running against opponents or each other. Merit retention elections are nonpartisan. In nonpartisan elections, candidates appear on the ballot without reference to any political party, (e.g. Democrat or Republican).
  4. How do Supreme Court justices get on the court?

    For the Supreme Court, the governor appoints justices from lists submitted by Kansas Judicial Nominating Commission, which screens candidates and make recommendations based on the candidate’s merits – legal writing, temperament, references and experience. Newly appointed judges appear on the next statewide ballot. If the voters retain them, they then go on the ballot again every six years.
  5. Which courts are subject to merit retention elections?

    The Kansas Supreme Court, Kansas Court of Appeals and a little more than half of all district court judges are subject to merit retention elections.
  6. Can judges who commit unethical acts be removed from office?

    Yes. This can happen after an investigation by the Kansas Commission of Judicial Qualifications. The KSJQ (http://www.kscourts.org/Appellate-Clerk/general/commission-on-judicial-qualifications/default.asp is an independent agency created to investigate alleged misconduct by Kansas judges and justices. Through this system, judges have been removed from office.
  7. Can Kansas Supreme Court justices state their views on issues that may come before them?

    No, Judicial Cannon #4 of the Kansas Code of Judicial Conduct forbids judges and justices from saying how they will decide future cases. Judges and justices must remain impartial and decide cases without regard to their personal views or beliefs. (See, http://www.kscourts.org/rules/Judicial_Conduct/Canon%204.pdf)
  8. Can I read the opinions of the judges and justices in cases they decided?

    Yes. Case opinions can be found on the Cases & Opinions page of the websites for the Kansas Judicial Branch, http://www.kscourts.org/Cases-and-Opinions/default.asp
  9. Can I watch videos of the justices and appeals court judges at work?

    Yes. Court arguments are webcast live and archived on the court websites.
  10. How can I learn more about judges’ and justices’ backgrounds?

    Biographies are on court websites, accessible through http://www.kscourts.org/kansas-courts/supreme-court/justice-bios/default.asp.
  11. How did Kansas decide to use the merit retention election system?

    In the 1956, Kansas experienced a highly controversial appointment of Gov. Fred Hall to the Kansas Supreme Court in what has been called the “triple play”. In that, incumbent Governor Fred Hall was defeated in the 1956 Republican primary by Warren Shaw, who lost in the general election to George Docking. Then Chief Justice Smith resigned from the Supreme Court due to ill health on December 31, Hall quickly resigned as governor on January 3, 1957, and Lieutenant Governor McCuish became governor for the next eleven days. McCuish immediately appointed Hall to the newly vacated Supreme Court seat. While perfectly legal, this sequence of actions was considered by many to be highly unethical. In response to the "triple play," the 1957 Kansas legislature passed a resolution for a constitutional amendment concerning the way judges are appointed, creating the merit selection process. The amendment was passed in the 1958 general election.
  12. Where can I find results from prior merit retention elections?

    Past retention election results can be found on the Kansas Secretary of State’s website. www.kssos.org
  13. Which judges and justices are up for retention election this year?

    The following individuals are up for nonpartisan retention election this November:

    Kansas Supreme Court Justices

    • Chief Justice Lawton R. Nuss;
    • Justice Marla J. Luckert;
    • Justice Carol A. Beier;
    • Justice Dan Biles; and;
    • Justice Caleb Stegall.

    Kansas Court of Appeal Judges

    • Judge Steve Leben;
    • Judge G. Joseph Pierron;
    • Judge David E. Burns;
    • Judge G. Gordon Atcheson;
    • Judge Karen Arnold-Burger;
    • Judge Kathryn A. Gardner
  14. Does the state put out any information on the justices, who are up for retention, performances?

    No, the state of Kansas previously held surveys administered by the Kansas Judicial performance commission. Due to budget issues and the high cost of these surveys, the commission was dissolved in 2012. A group of civic organizations have taken over this role and their results can be found at www.kansasjudgereview.org.

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Supreme Court Accepting Comments on New Rules

Posted By Joseph N. Molina III, Tuesday, September 6, 2016

About the Author


Joseph N. Molina III
Legislative Services Director

KansasBarLeg

The Kansas Supreme Court is now accepting comments on new rules 11.01, 147 and 148.  These rules are required to be amended as a result of changes to KSA 2016 Supp. 75-764.  These changes concern notice to the Kansas Attorney General’s Office or prosecuting attorney when there is a challenge to the validity of a Kansas law on grounds that the law violates the state constitution, federal constitution, or federal law.

Ag Schmidt stated that, “the problem this bill seeks to address is not the outcome of those disputes – it is the process that allowed the disputes to be decided before the attorney general’s office was told they were underway.”

Attorney General Derek Schmidt proposed the new law after two instances where a law was found unconstitutional, and the attorney general did not have an opportunity to be heard. Ag Schmidt stated that, “the problem this bill seeks to address is not the outcome of those disputes – it is the process that allowed the disputes to be decided before the attorney general’s office was told they were underway.”  Senate Bill 334 is a belt-and-suspenders measure aimed at plugging the procedural gaps that allowed these two cases to fall through the cracks. It is intended to reaffirm and clarify the public policy that when the validity of a state statute is being tested in court, the attorney general, as the state’s chief legal officer, is to receive notice of the dispute and have the timely opportunity to appear in relation to the statute’s validity. It also provides an after-the-fact mechanism so that if the notice requirements are violated, an order invalidating a state statute may be set aside once the attorney general learns of the matter. See; http://kslegislature.com/li/b2015_16/committees/ctte_s_jud_1/documents/testimony/20160127_02.pdf

As such, the Kansas Supreme Court will accept comments on this issue. It is important to recognize that the above cited rules will take effect on September 6, 2016 but the court will review comments and input to determine if the rules should be further amended.  You can view the rule here: http://www.kscourts.org/rules/Rules_Open_for_Public_Comment/default.asp

The court will receive comments until 5 p.m. Sunday, October 2, 2016.

Tags:  Kansas Supreme Court  New Rules  Rules 

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Noise on Retention Election Picks Up

Posted By Joseph N. Molina III, Tuesday, August 30, 2016

About the Author


Joseph N. Molina III
Legislative Services Director

KansasBarLeg

On November 8, Kansans will head to the polls to pick a new president. In addition, they will vote for a U.S. Senator, all four U.S. Congressional members, 40 state senate seats and 125 House offices.  As election cycles go, this one has seen its fair share of controversy, especially on the national stage. But here in Kansas, election year politics have ticked up a notch. The most contentious isn’t any of the 170 elected offices listed above, but on five nonpartisan retention elections at the bottom of the ballot.

This election focuses on the Kansas Supreme Court Justices. The Kansas Constitution requires Kansas Supreme Court justices to be placed on the ballot in nonpartisan elections every six years, so voters can determine whether they should remain on their courts for another six-year term. These are called “retention” elections. This year Chief Justice Lawton R. Nuss, Justice Marla J. Luckert; Justice Carol A. Beier, Justice Dan Biles, and Justice Caleb Stegall are on the ballot.

Retention elections are different than partisan elections, because your vote determines whether each justice should remain on the court. They are not running against opponents or each other. Merit retention elections are nonpartisan. In nonpartisan elections, candidates appear on the ballot without reference to any political party, (e.g. Democrat or Republican). To retain their seats, the judge or justice must garner more than 50% of the vote.

Two years ago Justice Eric Rosen and Justice Lee Johnson won their retention elections with a little over 53% of the vote, the smallest margin of victory in Kansas history.

Now the push to unseat four of five justices up for retention is picking up. This is not a new topic, but just one with more urgency this cycle.  Earlier this year it was reported that bad blood existed between the Supreme Court and conservatives in the Capitol over several issues which include; school finance, abortion and the death penalty. http://kcur.org/post/get-ready-raucous-kansas-supreme-court-retention-race#stream/0 - KCUR, May 24, 2016

Non retain

A major player in retention elections is a group representing the victims of the Carr brothers.  They have created a website calling for the removal of four of five justices due to their previous rulings on the death penalty. http://www.kansansforjustice.com/  

They have been at this for a while, and was the primary reason Justice Rosen and Justice Johnson did not gain a majority in Sedgwick county.  See; http://www.sedgwickcounty.org/elections/election_results/Gen14/index.html

http://www.kansas.com/news/local/crime/article2651289.html - Wichita Eagle, Oct 10, 2014;

however, the non-retain camp is more than Kansans for Justice but also include Kansas House GOP, Better Judges for Kansas, See; http://www.betterjudgesforkansas.org/ and a group from Iowa called the Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust (FACT) who filed an ethics complaint against Justice Beier just last week. See; http://www.factdc.org/single-post/2016/08/19/FACT-Files-Kansas-Judicial-Ethics-Complaint.

Several news outlets have also picked up the issue. See; https://pjmedia.com/election/2016/08/24/kansas-judges-should-be-recalled-before-they-do-any-further-harm/ - PJ Media, Aug 24, 2016

http://cjonline.com/news/2016-08-22/iowa-organization-files-complaint-against-kansas-supreme-court-justice cjonline.com, Aug 22, 2016

Retain

Those supporting the justices have countered with a number of letters to the editor and news articles blasting the non-retain effort as a power grab by the governor. See; http://www.kake.com/story/32754982/ward-judicial-retention-vote-a-power-grab - KAKE, Aug 14, 2016

Last week a number of LTE appeared in newspapers around the state each urging retention of the Kansas Supreme Court justices. See all; http://www.kansascity.com/opinion/editorials/article98180512.html - Kansas City Star, Aug 27th

http://www.hutchnews.com/opinion/editorials/growing-effort-to-unseat-justices-warrants-critical-examination/article_b2c69545-b4ce-5689-ad1c-0d856a807054.html - Hutchnews, Aug 20, 2016

http://www.kcchamber.com/News-Room/Chamber-News/KC-Chamber-Board-Says-Keep-Kansas-Courts-Nonpoliti.aspx - KC Chamber, Aug 25, 2016

http://www.gctelegram.com/opinion/columnists/people-must-control-process/article_80c44f14-0a05-56a9-b14d-66e3c1dc835e.html - Garden City Telegram, Aug 24, 2016

For their part the justices have been out around the state hearing cases. 

http://www.ctnewsonline.com/news/article_c29904de-5b69-11e6-a99c-072da5306278.html - Cowley Courier, Aug 5, 2016

They plan another hearing on October, 2016 in Hutchinson.

It is quite obvious that retention elections are going to be hotly contested this cycle. We have 10 weeks left before the general election so there is still time to educate yourself about the process and learn more about each judge or justice on the ballot.  You can find more information about the process and the justices and judges up for retention by visiting the Kansas Bar Foundation site www.ourkansascourts.org . You can also view the results of a survey competed by a number of civic organizations about the individuals on the ballot this November.  That site is http://www.kansasjudgereview.org/.

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Special Session 2016

Posted By Joseph N. Molina III, Wednesday, July 13, 2016
Updated: Wednesday, July 13, 2016

About the Author


Joseph N. Molina III
Legislative Services Director

KansasBarLeg

The Kansas Legislature reconvened last week to begin discussing a resolution to the school finance issue. Both chambers were in session and several committees held hearings. The Senate Judiciary Committee passed out a constitutional amendment that would prohibit the Kansas Supreme Court from closing schools. See http://www.kslegislature.org/li/b2015_16/measures/scr1602/.  This is the same proposal discussed during the Joint Meeting of the House and Senate Judiciary Committee. The KBA submitted testimony opposing this proposal at the Joint Meeting. See http://www.kslegresearch.org/KLRD-web/2016SpecialSession-Testimony.html

The Senate debated this resolution but was unable to garner the requisite votes need to pass it. The measure failed 26-13. This basically ended the discussion of limiting the court’s power in the Senate. See http://bit.ly/28Xg6nc

The House Judiciary Committee introduced a constitutional amendment that would limit school funding to no more than 45 percent of the state budget and remove the word “suitable” from the Article 6 Section 6 of the Kansas Constitution. See http://bit.ly/28Z71Qo. This proposal was introduced by Rep. John Rubin (R-Shawnee) who is not seeking reelection.

Rep. Craig McPherson (R-overland Park) introduced HB 2002 that would create the superior court of Kansas and limit the power of the Kansas Supreme Court. The superior court would hear all cases assigned by law and be the court of final appellate review in cases under its court’s jurisdiction. See http://bit.ly/28XDogT

Rep. Barker did not set a committee meeting to hear either of these proposals.  So both died without debate.

Both chambers debated the school finance bill.  The House discussed HB 2003 and the Senate debated SB 3.  Both bills are designed to shift current appropriations around to fund the equity portion of the school finance case. The total money being discussed is $38 million. Some money comes from tobacco funds ($4.1 million), some from the extraordinary needs fund ($7.2 million), virtual schools ($2.8 million) and a cut for base state aid ($13 million). The cut to base state aid will take operation money and shift that to property tax relief. See http://bit.ly/28Z6NbT

After some thoughtful reflection and some prodding from Johnson County lawmakers, the idea to cut school funding by $13 million was dumped and replaced with monies from the sale of the Kansas Bioscience Authority. Should this sale not produce the needed revenue, the equity portion of the school finance issue would be buoyed by the extraordinary needs fund. All parties, including the plaintiffs in the case, agreed that this solves the equity issue. See http://bit.ly/28YqKvP, http://bit.ly/291VLQE, and http://bit.ly/298jdLd

With the passage of the school finance bill, the 2016 Special Session came to an end. A constitutional crisis was averted and the courts withstood early challenges to its powers.  The focus now shifts to August primaries, then general elections.  Look for anti-court/non-retain ads and information to begin appearing all over the state—It should be an interesting summer.

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