The next Justice on the Kansas Supreme Court will be a woman. Last week the Kansas Supreme Court Nominating Commission selected Court of Appeals Judge Melissa Standridge, Chief Judge Kim Cudney and Wichita attorney Kristen Wheeler as the three lawyers that Gov. Kelly will consider for the open position. The spot of the Supreme Court came open when Justice Carol Beier retired in September.
Judge Standridge was appointed to the Kansas Court of Appeals judge 2008. Judge Standridge was appointed to the Court of Appeals through the merit selection process. She also worked a federal magistrate judge, a federal district court judge and in private practice. She graduated from the University of Kansas and the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law.
Judge Kim Cudney is the Chief judge for the 12th Judicial District, that includes Cloud, Jewell, Lincoln, Mitchell, Republic, and Washington counties in North-Central Kansas, since 2006. Prior to being appointed to the District Court, Judge Cudney worked as a research attorney for a federal district court judge and for Kansas Supreme Court Justice Harold Herd. She graduated from Kansas State University and Washburn University School of Law.
Kristen Wheeler is a resident of Wichita and worked as a law clerk for a federal district court judge since 2018. She was in private practice prior to her federal clerking post. She graduated from the University of Kansas and Washburn University School of Law.
Governor Kelly has 60 days to make her selection. The new justice will take the bench and stand for retention election in 2022. This will be the third justice Gov. Kelly has appointed to the high court. Kelly previously appointed Evelyn Wilson and KJ Wall.
See also; https://kansasreflector.com/briefs/commission-nominates-three-for-vacancy-on-kansas-supreme-court/
Original Advocate Post, 10-6-2020
Three judges and eight lawyers applied by the Sept. 2nd noon deadline to fill a Kansas Supreme Court vacancy created by Justice Carol Beier's September 18 retirement. The Supreme Court Nominating Commission met on Monday, October 5th at 8:00 a.m. to interview candidates.
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 met at 8:00 a.m. on Monday, Oct. 5th, at the Kansas Judicial Center in Topeka. Interviews started at 8:30 a.m., were open to the public and 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 were announced and posted on the Kansas judicial branch website. Applicant interviews were 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, they consider the person’s:
· legal and judicial experience;
· educational background;
· character and ethics;
· service to the community;
· impartiality; and
· 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 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 non-lawyer from each of the state’s four congressional districts, plus one lawyer who serves as chairperson.
Non-lawyers are appointed by the governor. Lawyers are elected by other lawyers within their congressional districts. The chairperson is elected by lawyers statewide.