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Kingfisher named co-chair of national judicial voter education project

Thursday, February 12, 2015   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Beth Warrington
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Shawnee County District Court Judge Cheryl Rios Kingfisher has been selected to co-chair the National Association of Women Judges’ Informed Voters Project committee for a one-year term that started in January.

Hon. Cheryl KingfisherHon. Cheryl Kingfisher


Linda Leali, an attorney in Miami, Florida, is Kingfisher’s co-chair.


"It’s an incredible honor to help lead the Informed Voters Project Committee in its mission to educate voters about the importance of a fair and impartial judiciary that makes decisions based only on the rule of law, rather than outside influences,” Kingfisher said. "I bring to this role my own experience talking to voters all across Kansas who tell me they want to know more about judges on the ballot, but are unsure where to look for information.”


Through the Informed Voters Project, judges, lawyers, and community group members speak to audiences about the stabilizing influence courts play in our democracy and the need to protect the judiciary from political interference.


Presentations also focus on what voters can do to evaluate judges whose names appear on their local ballots, whether it’s for direct election or to retain a judicial appointment. Voters are encouraged to focus on the essential qualities of a good judge, which include integrity, professional competence, judicial temperament, experience and service.


In 2014, Kingfisher gave presentations to several civic groups and also appeared on KTWU’s July episode of "I’ve Got Issues: Vote Smart,” where she explained how a voter can find out which judges are on the ballot and what a voter can do to learn more about them.


Kingfisher’s appointment to co-chair the national committee was lauded by Mary Birch, government relations coordinator for the Lathrop and Gage law firm in Overland Park, who is chair of the state coordinating committee for the project.


"Judge Kingfisher is passionate about this issue," Birch said. "She has made countless presentations to civic groups around the state. Her selection as national co-chair is well-deserved, and she will do an outstanding job.”


The Informed Voters Project is led by a subcommittee of the Judicial Independence Committee, which Kingfisher also co-chairs. She was appointed to both posts by Judge Julie Frantz of Portland, Oregon, current president of the National Association of Women Judges.


Kingfisher has been a Shawnee County District Court judge since 2008. Before that, she was a City of Topeka municipal judge, an assistant district attorney in Shawnee County, and a private practitioner. Before attending law school, she was a registered nurse.


She has served on many judicial committees and in civic organizations, including the Kansas State Judicial Needs Assessment Committee, the Shawnee County District Court Systems Department, the Kansas Judicial Education Advisory Committee and Judicial Education Planning Committee, the Topeka Community Foundation, Mana de Topeka, and Kansas Big Brothers/Big Sisters.