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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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UPDATE: New Supreme Court Justice Will be a Woman

Posted By Joseph N. Molina III, Tuesday, October 6, 2020

Update 

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; https://www.kcur.org/news/2020-10-06/for-the-first-time-finalists-for-kansas-supreme-court-vacancy-are-all-women

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.

 

Interview schedule

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.

 

Eligibility requirements

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.

 

Selection criteria

When the Supreme Court Nominating Commission reviews nominees, they consider the person’s:

·       legal and judicial experience;

·       educational background;

·       character and ethics;

·       temperament;

·       service to the community;

·       impartiality; and

·       respect of colleagues.

 

Judicial conduct

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.

 

Retention elections

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.

 

Nominating commission

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.

Tags:  Author: Joseph N. Molina III  eligibility requirements  Interview schedule  judicial conduct  Justice Beier's retirement  retention elections  selection criteria  Supreme Court Nominating Commission  Supreme Court vacancy 

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Interviews set for new Kansas Supreme Court Justice

Posted By Joseph N. Molina III, Tuesday, September 8, 2020
Updated: Friday, September 4, 2020

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.

 

Interview schedule

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.

 

Eligibility requirements

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.

 

Selection criteria

When the Supreme Court Nominating Commission reviews nominees for justice, they consider the person’s:

       legal and judicial experience

       educational background

       character and ethics

       temperament

       service to the community

       impartiality

       respect of colleagues.

 

Judicial conduct

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.

 

Retention elections

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.

 

Nominating commission

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.

 

 

Tags:  Author: Joseph N. Molina III  eligibility  interview schedule  judicial conduct  merit-based selection process  retention elections  selection criteria  Supreme Court Nominating Commission  YouTube broadcast 

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Judicial Selection in Kansas—A Review

Posted By Joseph N. Molina III, Tuesday, June 23, 2020
Click image for full size

Kansans rely on the Kansas court system for fairness and justice under the rule of law. Because judges are the gatekeepers of the court system, it is imperative that judges exhibit certain qualifications, including:

        •  Integrity: A judge should be honest and committed to the rule of law.

        •  Professional Competence: A judge should have extensive legal knowledge.

        •  Judicial Temperament: A judge should be neutral, respectful and composed.

        •  Experience: A judge should have a strong record of excellence in the law.

        •  Commitment to Service: A judge should be committed to all aspects of the administration of justice.

 

In Kansas, openings on the Supreme Court are filled using the merit selection process. Under this process, established in the Kansas Constitution in 1958, when a vacancy is open on the Kansas Supreme Court, the nonpartisan Kansas Supreme Court Nominating Commission reviews applications, conducts public interviews and submits a list of three qualified candidates to the governor. The governor chooses one of the three to appoint to the open judicial seat. The governor has 60 days to select a candidate from those three nominees.

To be considered as a candidate for judicial office, an applicant must be a licensed attorney in Kansas over the age of 30, and must have been active as a lawyer, judge or teacher of law at an accredited law school for at least ten years.

The Supreme Court Nominating Commission has nine members—one lawyer and one non-lawyer from each of the state’s four congressional districts, plus an additional lawyer who serves as the commission’s chair. Lawyer members are elected by their peers (active Kansas attorneys), and non-lawyer members are appointed by the governor. To clarify, the Kansas Bar Association is not involved in the Supreme Court Nominating Commission. The KBA does not appoint any lawyer members to this commission. The members of the commission come from diverse backgrounds.

 

There are seven justices on the Kansas Supreme Court. The most senior justice—the justice who has served longest among the seven—is the chief justice. See; https://www.kscourts.org/About-the-Courts/Supreme-Court/Supreme-Court-Justices

Court of Appeals

The 14 judges of the Kansas Court of Appeals are, like the Supreme Court justices, appointed by the governor. However, instead of choosing from a slate of candidates recommended by a nominating commission, the governor is free to nominate anyone—as long as the nominee is a licensed attorney in Kansas between the ages of 30 and 70, and has been active as a lawyer, judge or law professor for at least ten years at an accredited law school. The governor’s nominee is then subject to confirmation by the Kansas Senate (K.S.A. 20-3020 et. seq.).

 

 Attached Thumbnails:

Tags:  Author: Joseph N. Molina III  Court of Appeals judges  governor's appointee  governor's nominee  judicial requirements  judicial selection  merit selection  Senate Confirmation  Supreme Court Nominating Commission 

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Three to the Governor (Supreme Court Nominee Update)

Posted By Joseph N. Molina III, Monday, October 21, 2019

Last week, the Supreme Court Nominating Commission met for two days to interview 19 applicants for the Kansas Supreme Court. The KBA sat through the process and live-tweeted the interviews. The public could view the interviews and voting, but few took advantage of the opportunity. By my estimation, there were three members of the press, four associations, a few court employees with the remainder being family of the candidates. At no time were there more than 16 people attending the process, but most of the time, fewer than nine people were in the gallery.

The Commission interviewed each applicant for 30 minutes. The questions were thorough and included education, experience and family life. Social media was discussed as well.

The commissioned narrowed the initial 19 applicants to 10 on their first round of voting. The second round of voting cut the list to six, the third round pared the list further to four. Once down to three applicants, the committee held a Final Action vote to recommend those three to Gov. Laura Kelly. See; http://www.kscourts.org/Kansas-Courts/General-Information/2019-News-Releases/101819.pdf

The three candidates include:

Dennis D. Depew – Depew a past President of the Kansas Bar Association and the Kansas School Board Association; he currently works as Deputy Attorney General in the Civil Division. He has held this post since leaving his family law firm in Neodesha, Kan. He was a partner in the Depew law firm from 1983-2015. He still owns a home in SE Kansas. He is a KU Law graduate, Class of 1983.

Steven J. Obermeier – Obermeier is an Assistant Solicitor General for the KSAG’s Office. He was hired in 2017. Previously Obermeier worked at the Johnson County District Attorney’s Office for 21 years. Obermeier worked with four different Johnson County DAs. Obermeier received is law degree from Washburn law in December 1982.

Hon. Evelyn Z. Wilson – Judge Wilson was appointed to the Shawnee County District Court in 2004. She has served a Chief Judge since 2014. Previously, she was in private practice with the firm of Wright, Henson, Somers, Sebelius, Clark and Baker in Topeka. She was managing partner for several years. Judge Wilson started her career in Oberlin, Kan., at the Lund Law Firm. She was an associate for seven years before going the firm in Topeka. Judge Wilson is a Washburn Law Graduate who earned her law degree in 1985.

See; https://www.wibw.com/content/news/List-of-Kansas-Supreme-Court-candidates-down-to-three-Kelly-to-decide-563407091.html

Governor Kelly now has 60 days to select her nominee. This person will assume the position as Kansas Supreme Court Justice. The newly minted justice is required to sit for retention election next year.

The Kansas Supreme Court Nominating Commission will return to Topeka in two months to consider another round of applicants to replace Chief justice Lawton Nuss. Chief Justice Nuss announced he will step down from the court on December 17th. Applicants have until Nov. 18, 2019, to submit their application to Clerk of the Appellate Courts Doug Shima. See; http://kscourts.org/Kansas-Courts/General-Information/2019-News-Releases/101619.pdf; See also; http://kscourts.org/Kansas-Courts/General-Information/2019-News-Releases/101619a.pdf

Tags:  Author: Joseph N. Molina III  Dennis D. Depew  Hon. Evelyn Z. Wilson  judicial nominee interviews  Steven J. Obermeier  Supreme Court Nominating Commission 

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Supreme Court Interviews

Posted By Joseph N. Molina III, Tuesday, October 15, 2019

 

On October 17 & 18 the Kansas Supreme Court Nominating Commission will meet to interview candidates for an opening on the Kansas Supreme Court. This new justice will succeed Justice Lee Johnson on the Court.

Each of the 19 applicants will sit for a 30-minute interview. The list of applicants can be found here: http://kscourts.org/Kansas-Courts/General-Information/2019-News-Releases/091819a.pdf. To be eligible, an applicant must be at least 30 years of age, a lawyer admitted to practice law in Kansas, and engaged in the practice of law for at least 10 years, whether as a lawyer, judge or a full-time professor at an accredited law school. Applicant biographies may be reviewed here: http://kscourts.org/Kansas-Courts/General-Information/2019-News-Releases/091819b.pdf

The Commission is a 9-person panel with 5 lawyers and 4 non-lawyers. The commission members can be found here:   http://www.kscourts.org/pdf/SCNCroster.pdf. The commission will be working under some new guidelines this session because the laws concerning commission meetings were amended recently. Those new laws make these interviews open meeting and subject to the KS Open Meetings Act. However, there are some differences in that the nominating commission can only enter executive session to discuss financial issues and KBI background check information. The commission has set a few guidelines of their own which can be found here: http://kscourts.org/Kansas-Courts/General-Information/2019-News-Releases/091819c.pdf

The Supreme Court Nominating Commission is an independent body. Four of its members are appointed by the governor and represent each of the state’s four congressional districts; these appointees are not attorneys. Four more members are attorneys—elected by other attorneys within each of the congressional districts. The commission chair is an attorney elected by attorneys in a statewide vote.

The Commission reviews each applicant’s:

o   Legal and judicial experience

o   Educational record

o   Character and ethics

o   Service to the community

o   Impartiality

o   Respect for colleagues

The Commission will nominate the three most qualified applicants. Governor Laura Kelly will select one of the three nominees to be the next Kansas Supreme Court Justice.

The KBA will monitor the interviews and provide an update in the next Advocate.

Good luck to all.

Tags:  2019 Kansas Supreme Court nominees  Author: Joseph N. Molina III  judicial nominating process  Supreme Court Nominating Commission 

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