Kansas Bar Assn Responds to Rejection of Carl Folsom Nomination to the Kansas Court of Appeals
Thursday, June 4, 2020
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 4, 2020
Kansas Bar Association Responds to Rejection of Carl Folsom Nomination to the Kansas Court of Appeals
TOPEKA, Kan. The Kansas Bar Association (KBA) strongly believes that all Kansans deserve access to justice, professional legal representation and a free and independent judiciary. Unfortunately, the action taken by the Kansas Senate on Wednesday, June 3, 2020 in rejecting Kansas Governor Laura Kelly’s nomination of Carl Folsom III to the Kansas Court of Appeals stands in stark contrast to each of these guiding principles. Mr. Folsom was an eminently qualified candidate for the Court and should have been confirmed.
The Sixth Amendment of the United States Constitution guarantees the rights of criminal defendants to legal representation. It is important for Kansans to understand that public defenders are appointed by the courts to represent criminal defendants who otherwise do not have or cannot afford representation. As a Kansas public defender, Mr. Folsom proved himself more than capable and dedicated to upholding the oath he took as a lawyer to defend the U.S. and Kansas constitutions, as well the people he has dutifully represented—regardless of their background and the circumstances of their case.
It is unfortunate that Mr. Folsom’s career decision and skilled client advocacy were used to reject his nomination because of disagreement with his zealous advocacy on behalf of those he was appointed to represent. Such an appointment does not constitute an endorsement of a defendant’s actions and under no circumstances should a lawyer’s decision to dedicate him or herself to the provision of equal access to justice for any person regardless of circumstance, be found to be politically disqualifying for a judicial appointment.
The Kansas Bar Association will continue to strongly support and advocate the merit selection of judges and a judiciary free from political influence. A free and independent judicial branch is vital to our state. Unfortunately, for the people of Kansas and Mr. Folsom, the appellate court nomination process has become politicized. It is imperative that we be able to attract qualified candidates such as Mr. Folsom to seek judicial positions and the recent actions rejecting Mr. Folsom’s candidacy will have a chilling effect on that effort.
The KBA strongly urges all involved to appoint and confirm the most highly qualified lawyers to our courts, anything less is a disservice to the Kansas judicial system and the people of Kansas.
Karla Whitaker, Interim Executive Director
About the Kansas Bar Association
The Kansas Bar Association is a voluntary professional association comprised of 6,000 members dedicated to advancing the professionalism of its members, encouraging public understanding of the law, and promoting the effective administration of our system of justice.