The Supreme Court Nominating Commission will interview applicants on Thursday, January 16, and Friday, January 17, to fill the vacancy on the Kansas Supreme Court created by the December 17 retirement of Chief Justice Lawton Nuss.
Interviews will be in a meeting room on the first floor of the Kansas Judicial Center, 301 SW 10th Ave., Topeka, and are open to the public.
The interview schedule will be announced at a later date.
Added to the list of applicants announced November 18 is Keynen J. (K.J.) Wall of Lawrence.
The applicants are:
- Kristafer R. Ailslieger, lawyer, Topeka
- Daniel Cahill, judge, Kansas City
- Angela D. Coble, lawyer, Salina
- Henry R. Cox, lawyer, Shawnee
- Dennis D. Depew, lawyer, Neodesha
- Randall L. Hodgkinson, lawyer, Topeka
- Michael P. Joyce, judge, Leawood
- Russell J. Keller, lawyer, Fairway
- Michael C. Leitch, lawyer, Lawrence
- Thomas E. Malone, judge, Topeka
- Steven J. Obermeier, lawyer, Olathe
- David A. Ricke, judge, Rose Hill
- Lyndon W. Vix, lawyer, Maize
- Keynen J. (K.J.) Wall Jr., lawyer, Lawrence
- Brenda S. Watkins, lawyer, Olathe
- Kristen D. Wheeler, lawyer, Wichita
- Evelyn Z. Wilson, judge, Topeka
- Marcia A. Wood, lawyer, Wichita
The nominating commission will conduct its work in accordance with the Kansas Open Meetings Act, the Kansas Open Records Act, and Kansas Supreme Court Rules 1101 and 1102.
By a majority vote, the commission can recess into closed session to discuss sensitive financial information contained in the personal financial records or official background checks of the applicants.
Cameras and recording devices are allowed, but the commission can set reasonable rules to ensure orderly conduct.
The public cannot ask questions or make comments during the interviews, but written comments will be accepted until Thursday, January 9. Comments can be mailed to:
Supreme Court Nominating Commission
Attn: Mikel L. Stout
301 SW 10th Ave., 1st Floor
Topeka KS 66612
Supreme Court justices are appointed through a merit-based nomination process that Kansans voted to add to the Kansas Constitution in 1958.
When there is a vacancy on the court, the Supreme Court Nominating Commission has 60 days from the date the vacancy occurs to submit names of three qualified nominees to the governor. After receiving the list of nominees, the governor has 60 days to appoint one of them to the court.
The commission announces when it is accepting nominations, and it releases the names of who is being considered based on the nominations received.
The commission reviews the nominees' qualifications and conducts public interviews of the nominees. Through this process, the commission decides which three nominees to recommend to the governor.
To be eligible, a nominee must be:
- at least 30 years old;
- 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 members of the Supreme Court Nominating Commission review nominees for the Supreme Court, they look at the person’s:
- legal and judicial experience
- educational background
- character and ethics
- service to the community
- 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 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.
After one year in office, a newly appointed justice must seek retention by voters in the next general election to remain on the bench. Justices retained by voters serve six-year terms.
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.
Members of the commission are Mikel L. Stout, Chair, Wichita; Gerald O. Schultz, Garden City; Linda B. Weis, Manhattan; Terrence J. Campbell, Lawrence; Frances Gorman Graves, Bartlett; Lenin V. Guerra, Olathe; Robert Hayworth, Stilwell; Gloria Farha Flentje, Wichita; and Dennis Hedke, Wichita.
State of Kansas
Office of Judicial Administration
Kansas Judicial Center
301 SW 10th Avenue
Topeka, KS 66612-1507