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Telephone:
 785.296.2256
Fax:  785.296.7076
Email: info@kscourts.org

Appellate Clerk's Office
Telephone:
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Fax:  785.296.1028
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News Releases

01/05/11: Intensive Review of State Courts Announced
01/27/11: Supreme Court to Commemorate Sesquicentennial with Session at Statehouse
01/31/11: Court of Appeals Interview Schedule Set
02/14/11: Judicial Administrator Announces Retirement
02/18/11: Three Nominated for Court of Appeals Vacancy
03/01/11: Court of Appeals Swearing-in Ceremony Scheduled
03/02/11: Blue Ribbon Organizational Meeting Set March 9
03/08/11: Court of Appeals to Sit in Pittsburg
03/11/11: State Judicial Administrator Appointed
03/11/11: Court of Appeals to Sit in McPherson
03/17/11: Judicial Vacancy in 31st Judicial District
04/04/11: Local Judges to Sit with Supreme Court
04/04/11: Supreme Court to Preside over Historic Session in Salina
04/06/11: Court of Appeals to Sit in Leavenworth
04/08/11: Court Strikes Down Part of Gaming Law
04/20/11: Chief Justice Named Toll Fellow
05/04/11: Freedom of Religion Trumps Kansas Health Policy Authority Decision
05/06/11: Shawnee County Judgeship Applications Being Accepted
05/09/11: Three Nominated for 31st Judicial District Judgeship
06/06/11: Five Apply for Shawnee County Judgeship
06/20/11: Three Nominated for Shawnee County Judgeship
07/15/11: Supreme Court files decisions in seven appeals
09/06/11: Court of Appeals to sit in Barton County
09/06/11: Court of Appeals to Sit at Kansas City Kansas Community College
09/06/11: Court of Appeals in special sessions at Washburn University
09/06/11: Court of Appeals to Sit at WSU
09/07/11: Electronic Case Filings Coming to Johnson County
09/08/11: Proposed 2012 Child Support Guidelines
09/08/11: Nominations for Osage County District Magistrate Vacancy Being Accepted
10/04/11: Osage County District Magistrate Judge Interviews Tuesday
10/11/11: Osage County District Magistrate Judge Named
10/13/11: COA to Colby
10/13/11: COA to Kingman
10/13/11: COA to Douglas
10/21/11: Commercial Wind Farm Case Sent Back to District Court
11/10/11: Court of Appeals to Sit in Salina

See the Archives for new releases dating back to 1997


 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: November 10, 2011

For more information
contact Ron Keefover
Education-Information Officer

A three-judge panel of the state Court of Appeals will convene in Salina Tuesday and Wednesday, November 15-16, to hear arguments in eight appeals.

The Court of Appeals sessions, which are to be conducted in room 107 of the City-County Building, will be broadcast live by Salina's Access Television and video streamed to the Internet.

The hearing panel includes Judges G. Joseph Pierron, Jr., presiding judge; and Judges Henry W. Green, Jr., and Michael B. Buser. In addition to the cases argued in Salina, the panel will decide the outcome of 13 other appeals that have been submitted for decision without oral argument.

Access Television will cover the proceedings beginning at 10:30 a.m. on Tuesday, November 15, and 9:00 a.m. Wednesday, November 16. The hearings will be presented live on Cox Cable channels 20 & 21. It will also be video streamed to the Internet at www.salinatv.org. The hearings are open to the public, and mark the second time in 2011 that an appellate court has convened in Salina. The Supreme Court presided over oral arguments in Salina last Spring, as well.

The 13-member Court sits throughout the state in panels of three, and last year resolved 1,700 appeals. Following are digests of the appeals to be argued in Salina:

Tuesday, November 15, 2011 10:30 A.M.

Appeal No. 98,870: State of Kansas v. Stuart I. Connell

Connell appeals his Dickinson County convictions of aggravated robbery and kidnapping. He challenges his waiver of jury trial, argues he was denied a fair trial by being handcuffed and shackled, and contends a witness' statements should have been suppressed. He also argues the district court erred in admitting certain evidence and there was insufficient evidence to convict him.

Appeal No. 105,051: State of Kansas v. Jose Sanchez, Jr.

Sanchez appeals his Geary County convictions of possession of cocaine with intent to sell and no drug tax stamp. He argues the State failed to present sufficient evidence to establish his guilt beyond a reasonable doubt of possession of cocaine with intent to sell. Sanchez also argues the district court committed reversible error when it denied his motion to suppress because the traffic stop of his vehicle was not justified by reasonable and articulable suspicion.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011 1:30 P.M.

Appeal No. 105,695: State of Kansas v. Allen R. Julian

This is an interlocutory appeal filed by the State of Kansas from a Rice County decision granting the defendant's motion to suppress any evidence seized by the Rice County Sheriff's Office during a warrantless search of Julian's vehicle subsequent to his arrest. The State argues the district court committed reversible error when it granted Julian's motion to suppress. Specifically, the State contends the search was a lawful search incident to arrest because it was reasonable for law enforcement to believe that evidence might be found inside Julian's vehicle.

Appeal No. 105,253: State of Kansas v. Micha Wayne Seamens

Seamens appeals from his Sherman County conviction of aggravated sexual battery. He appeals the conviction on the sole ground that the prosecution violated his constitutional right of due process by withholding evidence during the trial.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011 9:00 A.M.

Appeal No. 104,295: State of Kansas v. Steven Howard Weis

Weis appeals his Saline County jury trial convictions and sentences for two counts of reckless aggravated battery and one count of criminal use of a weapon. Weis raises five arguments on appeal: (1) the trial court erred in admitting evidence of prior bad acts; (2) the evidence was insufficient to convict him of two counts of aggravated battery and one count of criminal use of a weapon; (3) the trial court erred in instructing the jury on the use of force in defense of a person; (4) the trial court violated his Sixth and Fourteenth Amendment rights by requiring him to register as a violent offender; and (5) there was cumulative error.

Appeal No. 105,125: Kameron L. Spray v. Kansas Department of Revenue

Spray appeals the Barton County District Court's decision affirming the suspension of his driver's license. He argues the trooper lacked reasonable ground to request an evidentiary breath test and, thus, the portion of the Kansas Implied Consent Law applicable to minors is unconstitutional as applied to him.

Appeal No. 102,477: Scott M. Kennedy v. Kansas Department of Revenue

Kennedy appeals from a judgment of the Sheridan County District Court decision affirming the suspension of his driver's license. On appeal, Kennedy contends that the trial court erred by determining that the results of his preliminary breath test were valid even though the arresting officer failed to comply with the manufacturer's machine operating instructions. Moreover, Kennedy asserts that the arresting officer did not have reasonable grounds to believe he operated his vehicle while under the influence of alcohol. Finally, Kennedy maintains that the state statute regarding preliminary breath tests is unconstitutional.

Appeal No. 104,070: State of Kansas v. Cameron Nelson

Nelson appeals his Saline County convictions of second-degree unintentional murder and criminal possession of a firearm. He contends there was insufficient evidence to convict him of unintentional/reckless murder and the district court erred in admitting evidence of a prior shooting and photographs. He also argues there was prosecutorial misconduct and cumulative error.


 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: October 21, 2011

For more information
contact Ron Keefover
Education-Information Officer

Re: Appeal No. 98,487: Roger Zimmerman et al. and A.B. Hudson and Larry French v. Board of County Commissioners of Wabaunsee County, KS

The Supreme Court today remanded a lawsuit challenging a Wabaunsee County ban on all commercial wind farms back to the district court for additional evidence and further proceedings.

Friday's remand of Roger Zimmerman et al. and A.B. Hudson and Larry French, Intervenors, v. the Board of Wabaunsee County Commissioners, marks the second time the high court has considered whether the county's ban of commercial wind farms violates state or federal law. The Court previously rejected a number of legal challenges to the district court decision approving the ban but later requested additional briefing and arguments by the parties on some other challenges. Today the Court sent the case back for district court determination of two of them. These are the wind energy proponents' claim under the so-called dormant Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution and their related burden-based claim under 42 U.S.C. Section 1983 for violation of their federal rights.

The lawsuit was brought by Wabaunsee County landowners who have entered into written contracts for the development of commercial wind farms on their properties. The landowners were joined by Hudson and French, who are not landowners but through various contracts are owners of purported wind rights concerning other properties in the county.

In a unanimous decision authored for the Court by Chief Justice Lawton R. Nuss, the justices today ruled that the district court did not err in disposing of the claim brought under the "Takings Clause" of the U.S. Constitution, the related taking-based claim under 42 U.S.C. Section 1983 for violation of their federal rights, and the claim for inverse condemnation. The Court also affirmed the district court's dismissal of one part of the dormant Commerce Clause claim alleging that the county's ban facially discriminated against interstate commerce by treating in-state and out-of-state economic interests differently.

The high court additionally held, however, the district court had not sufficiently considered another part of the Commerce Clause claim. That is, even if the ban on commercial wind farms was not facially discriminatory against out-of-state economic interests, it nevertheless burdened interstate commerce to an extent that was clearly excessive when weighed against the local benefits relied on by the county in imposing the ban. Among the ban's benefits expressed by the county was the maintenance of "the rural character of the county with respect to its landscape, open space, scenery, peace, tranquility, and solitude."

The Chief Justice wrote in today's decision that no evidence relating to the potential burden on interstate commerce compared to those local benefits has been presented.

"All of the Board's arguments converge on a single point, however: that we should decide the balancing as a matter of law, when we only have the Board's arguments to consider. No fact-based arguments have been developed for the [commercial wind energy proponents]. For example, this Court cannot know how much electricity would be generated from Wabaunsee County wind and eventually kept out of the interstate power grid if there were no Board prohibition against [commercial wind farms]," he wrote. "This type of information would be relevant" to the analysis.

The Court concluded that the case should be remanded for further proceedings and findings of facts and conclusions of law based on today's ruling. As Chief Justice Nuss wrote, "After development of a proper factual record, this Court will be in a better position to review the district court's factual and legal conclusions, if asked."


 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: October 13, 2011

For more information
contact Ron Keefover
Education-Information Officer

The appeal of former University of Kansas student Matthew Jaeger, convicted of kidnapping and assaulting his former girlfriend by a Douglas County jury in 2009, will be among 14 cases scheduled for argument to three Kansas Court of Appeals judges on October 18 and 19 at the Douglas County Courthouse.

Jaeger received a prison sentence of 106 months. His lawyers have asserted eight separate trial errors in the appeal. The Kansas Attorney General's office contends that Jaeger received a fair trial and his conviction should be upheld. Argument in that case is scheduled for the morning of October 18.

The Court of Appeals panel will hear civil, criminal, and workers compensation cases from Douglas, Johnson, and several other counties during the two-day session. Hearing the cases will be Judge G. Gordon Atcheson, Judge Karen Arnold-Burger, and Judge David Bruns. They are the three most recent appointees to the Court of Appeals. Judge Atcheson joined the court in September 2010 after practicing law for 29 years. Judge Arnold-Burger and Judge Bruns were appointed earlier this year. Judge Arnold-Burger served as a municipal court judge in Overland Park for 20 years. Judge Bruns had been a district court judge in Shawnee County since 1999.

"We look forward to sitting in Douglas County," said Judge Atcheson, who will serve as presiding judge. "As always, we will hear from excellent lawyers in a number of interesting and challenging cases." Judge Atcheson noted that the Court of Appeals has been scheduling arguments in judicial districts across the state throughout the year in a continuing effort "to bring the court to the people."

Last year, the Court of Appeals processed about 1,700 cases.


 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: October 13, 2011

For more information
contact Ron Keefover
Education-Information Officer

A three-judge panel of the state Court of Appeals will convene in Kingman Tuesday, October 18, to hear arguments in eight appeals.

The hearing panel includes Judges Michael B. Buser, Christel E. Marquardt, and Steve Leben. In addition to the cases argued in Kingman, the panel also will decide the outcome of 17 other appeals that have been submitted for decision without oral argument.

The 13-member Court sits throughout the state in panels of three, and last year resolved 1,700 appeals. Following are digests of the appeals to be argued in Kingman:

9:00 A.M. Tuesday, October 18, 2011:

State of Kansas v. Douglas A. Martin—Douglas A. Martin was convicted of perjury. Martin contends his testimony in court was not material to the issue at hand, a requirement for perjury, and that even if it was material, he did not intentionally and knowingly misstate the facts. Martin also contends the trial court violated his constitutional rights by announcing the verdict of guilt for perjury through the mail instead of in open court.

State of Kansas v. Anthony R. Robles—Anthony Robles was convicted of an aggravated weapons violation and assault of a law enforcement officer. Robles claims the district court erred by refusing to allow him to withdraw his waiver of jury trial. In addition, Robles claims the district court should have suppressed certain statements he made to police.

State of Kansas v. Marques Davis—Marques Davis contends the district court committed several trial errors which resulted in his conviction for burglary and possession of cocaine with intent to sell within 1,000 feet of school property.

State of Kansas v. Robert Abner—Robert Abner argues that the district court committed numerous trial errors which resulted in his conviction for aggravated kidnapping, aggravated robbery, two counts of aggravated criminal sodomy, and six counts of rape.

1:30 P.M. Tuesday, October 18, 2011:

State of Kansas v. Paul Stotts—Paul Stotts claims the district court committed numerous trial errors which resulted in his conviction for attempted second-degree murder, intentional aggravated battery, reckless aggravated battery, five counts of fleeing and eluding a police officer, and several drug-related crimes. Stotts also claims sentencing errors.

Emilio Carrasco v. Allstate Insurance Company—Emilio Carrasco was shot in a parking lot as he stood on the running board of a friend's pickup truck. Allstate Insurance Co., Carrasco's insurer, paid personal injury protection benefits for Carrasco's injuries. Carrasco also claimed uninsured motorist benefits under the theory that the shooter, who was on foot, was an uninsured motorist. The district court granted summary judgment to Allstate, and Carrasco appeals.

State of Kansas v. Brian E. Springer—Brian E. Springer pled guilty to vehicular homicide and driving on a suspended license. Springer contends the district court illegally increased his underlying sentence when it clarified and restated his sentence at a later hearing.

Walter David Camp v. Bourbon County and Kansas Workers Risk Coop for Counties—Walter David Camp sustained an on the job injury. He received worker's compensation and continued working in an accommodated position. After Bourbon County terminated his employment, Camp sought and received an increase in his original award. Camp also sought and received worker's compensation for repetitive injuries he sustained after his original injury. Bourbon County appeals the Worker's Compensation Appeals Board's determination that Camp suffered additional compensable injuries. Camp cross-appeals alleging that the Board erred by limiting compensation for his original injury.

(Photographic and audio coverage of these proceedings are available pursuant to Supreme Court Rule 1001. Requests should be directed to Ron Keefover, Education-Information Officer, e-mail: keefover@kscourts.org or via telephone at (785) 296-4872.)


 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: October 13, 2011

For more information
contact Ron Keefover
Education-Information Officer

A three-judge panel of the state Court of Appeals will convene in Colby, Tuesday, October 18, to hear arguments in eight appeals.

The hearing panel includes Judges Stephen D. Hill, G. Joseph Pierron, Jr., and John J. Bukaty, Jr. In addition to the cases argued in Colby, the panel also will decide the outcome of 19 other appeals that have been submitted for decision without oral argument.

The 13-member Court sits throughout the state in panels of three, and last year resolved 1,700 appeals. Following are digests of the appeals to be argued in Colby:

Tuesday, October 18, 2011 – 9:00 a.m.

State v. Robert Lane Yost
Case No. 104,183
Finney County

A jury found Robert Lane Yost guilty of attempted rape, aggravated burglary, battery on a law enforcement officer, battery, three counts of obstruction, and three counts of criminal threat. On appeal, Yost challenges the district court's rulings on several issues, including instructional error, the denial of a motion for a new trial, and a sentencing error.

ISSUES:

1) Was it clearly erroneous for the district court to not instruct the jury on the defense of voluntary intoxication for the charges of aggravated burglary and criminal threat?

2) Did the district court err in denying Yost's motion for a new trial based on a claim of ineffective assistance of counsel?

3) Did the district court err in sentencing Yost to the aggravated sentence within the grid box?

4) Did cumulative errors deny Yost a fair trial?

Adelina Garcia v. Michael Anderson, Charles Doull, Garden City Police
Case No. 105,033
Finney County

Garcia was pulled over for a defective taillight. Because of a miscommunication of Garcia's driver's license number, she was searched, handcuffed, and put in the patrol car. After officer's discovered the error, Garcia was released and allowed to leave. Garcia filed a racial profiling complaint with the Kansas Human Rights Commission and then a civil cause of action in district court. The district court dismissed Garcia's claim because she failed to give notice under the Kansas Tort Claims Act.

ISSUES:

1) Do the notice requirements under the Kansas Tort Claims Act apply to a civil petition filed under the Kansas statutes prohibiting racial profiling?

2) Did Garcia substantially comply with the notice provisions of the Kansas Tort Claims Act?

State of Kansas v. Gustavo Escobedo
Case No. 105,336
Grant County

In November 2001, after waiving his right to an attorney, Gustavo Escobedo pled guilty to misdemeanor battery and was placed on unsupervised probation for 6 months. In December 2009, Escobedo filed a "motion to modify sentencing" in which he alleged that he was not told at the 2001 sentencing that he had 10 days to file a notice of appeal. Escobedo requested in his motion that he now be able to file a late notice of appeal in order to challenge the 2001 conviction. The district magistrate judge who had presided over Escobedo's 2001 plea and sentencing hearing denied the motion, and Escobedo appealed the decision to district court. Before the district court, Escobedo again argued that he should be allowed to appeal his 2001 conviction because he was not informed at sentencing that he had 10 days in which to file a notice of appeal. With regard to the substantive argument that he would be raising on appeal, Escobedo claimed that the 2001 conviction was not valid because there was no indication in the record that the interpreter who assisted him during the 2001 proceedings was qualified to act as an interpreter. The district court denied Escobedo's motion, and Escobedo now challenges the district court's decision on appeal.

ISSUES:

1) Did the district court err when it denied Escobedo's request to file a late notice appeal that was contained in his motion to modify sentencing?

2) If Escobedo is allowed to file a late notice of appeal, should his 2001 conviction be overturned due to a lack of evidence contained in the record showing that the interpreter who assisted him during the 2001 proceedings was qualified to act as an interpreter?

State v. Heladio Chairez-Hernandez
Case No. 105,174
Finney County

After an argument between Heladio Chairez-Hernandez and Samara Salas, the mother of Chairez-Hernandez' children, Chairez-Hernandez was arrested and charged with aggravated robbery. At a preliminary hearing on the charge, an officer who responded to the scene testified that Salas told him Heladio hit her and took her paycheck. However, Salas testified that Heladio did not take her check and that she gave it to him voluntarily. When another officer was asked about statements the parties' children apparently made to him at the scene, defense counsel objected on the basis of hearsay and a violation of the Confrontation Clause of the Constitution. The district court excluded the evidence based on the Confrontation Clause. The district court ultimately found insufficient evidence to establish probable cause that an aggravated robbery occurred, reasoning the court did not know which witness was telling the truth, and the charge was ultimately dismissed.

ISSUES:

1) Did the district court err in finding insufficient evidence of aggravated robbery and refusing to bind Heladio over on aggravated robbery where the district court did not know whose testimony to believe?

2) Did the district court abuse its discretion in excluding evidence of the children's statements based on the Confrontation Clause?

Tuesday, October 18, 2011 – 1:30 p.m.

State of Kansas v. Brian Dale Montgomery
Case No. 105,328
Ford County

After killing his neighbor's Chihuahua by shooting it with an arrow, Brian Dale Montgomery was charged with cruelty to animals (defined as intentionally and maliciously killing any animal). The case proceeded to a preliminary hearing where the evidence established that when Montgomery shot the Chihuahua, the dog was in Montgomery's backyard and was biting his 12 year-old black lab. Based on this evidence, the district court found that Montgomery's act of shooting the Chihuahua with an arrow did not constitute cruelty to animals due to statutory language which states the cruelty to animals statute does not apply to "the killing of any animal by any person at any time which may be found outside of the owned or rented property of the owner or custodian of such animal and which is found injuring or posing a threat to any person, farm animal or property." Accordingly, the district court dismissed the case against Montgomery, and the State now brings this appeal.

ISSUES:

1) Did the district court err in concluding as a matter of law that Montgomery's act of shooting the Chihuahua with an arrow was justified under the law?

2) Should a "reasonableness" standard be applied to the statute to determine whether the killing of a particular animal was justified or constituted animal cruelty?


 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: October 11, 2011

For more information
contact Ron Keefover
Education-Information Officer

Lyndon Attorney Taylor J. Wine today was appointed Osage County District Magistrate Judge to succeed Judge Jon Stephen Jones, who retired September 30th.

Wine was appointed following interviews earlier in the day at the Osage County Courthouse, Lyndon, by the 4th Judicial District Nominating Commission, a volunteer board consisting of four lawyer members and four non-lawyers, and Departmental Justice Eric S. Rosen.

Wine, the current president of the Osage County Bar Association, is a member of the Lyndon law firm of Coffman & Gilliland. Born in Emporia, he received his undergraduate degree from Pittsburg State University, and his law degree from the Dedman School of Law at Southern Methodist University in Dallas.

In addition to private practice, Wine recently became the Quenemo municipal court judge. He and his wife, Heather, have two sons, Kendall and Grayson, and reside at Vassar. His appointment is effective upon swearing in, which has not been set.

Also applying for the judgeship were Darian P. Dernovish, Lawrence; Angela E. Stallbaumer, Scranton; Kathleen M. Neff, Overbrook; Wayne White, Scranton; Cynthia Jean Long, Topeka; Bissessarnath Ramcharan-Maharajh, Osage City; Scott L. Farmer, Osage City; and Gary L. Foiles, Lyndon.

Members of the nominating commission include Justice Rosen, nonvoting commission chair, and James R. Campbell, Burlington; Craig E. Cole, Garnett; Steven B. Doering, Garnett; Janet C. Walsh, Lyndon; Crystal M. Camis, Ottawa; Thomas B. DeBaun, Osage City; Eugene E. Highberger, Westphalia, and Timothy A. Sipe, Waverly.


 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: October 4, 2011

For more information
contact Ron Keefover
Education-Information Officer

The 4th Judicial District Nominating Commission will meet at 9 a.m. Tuesday to interview nine applicants to fill a district magistrate judge vacancy in Osage County, it was announced today.

Applying for the position, which resulted from the retirement of District Magistrate Judge Jon Stephen Jones, are Darian P. Dernovish, Lawrence; Angela E. Stallbaumer, Scranton; Kathleen M. Neff, Overbrook; Wayne White, Scranton; Cynthia Jean Long, Topeka; Taylor J. Wine, Vassar; Bissessarnath Ramcharan-Maharajh, Osage City, Scott L. Farmer, Osage City; and Gary L. Foiles, Lyndon.

The 4th Judicial District Nominating Commission will appoint one of the applicants to the position following the interviews. The interviews are open to the public.

The Nominating Commission will conduct the interviews in the Osage County Courthouse, Lyndon. Members of the nominating commission include Justice Eric S. Rosen, nonvoting commission chair, and James R. Campbell, Burlington; Craig E. Cole, Garnett; Steven B. Doering, Garnett; Janet C. Walsh, Lyndon; Crystal M. Camis, Ottawa; Thomas B. DeBaun, Osage City; Eugene E. Highberger, Westphalia, and Timothy A. Sipe, Waverly.


 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: September 8, 2011

For more information
contact Ron Keefover
Education-Information Officer

A nominating commission charged with naming candidates to fill a district magistrate judge vacancy in Osage County has issued a request for assistance from the public.

The nine-member commission is responsible for selecting a district magistrate judge to the vacancy which will be created upon the retirement of District Magistrate Judge Jon Stephen Jones.

"The nominating commission is especially interested in receiving recommendations from the general public. All of the citizens of Osage County are requested to consider this matter and the names of suggested nominees submitted by the public will be welcomed by the commission," according to Supreme Court Justice Eric S. Rosen, departmental justice for the 4th Judicial District.

Kansas statutes require that a district magistrate judge be a resident of the county in which appointed, be a graduate of a high school or its equivalent, and if not regularly admitted to practice law in Kansas, be certified by the Supreme Court as qualified to serve in the job.

Suggested nominees are requested to complete a nomination form for the position. The completed forms should be returned to Janet Walsh, nominating commission secretary, 704 Topeka Avenue, Lyndon, KS 66451 no later than noon, September 23, 2011. The forms are available in the office of clerk of the district court of Osage County and are available online under "What's New" at www.kscourts.org.

The nominating commission will convene at 9 a.m., October 11, in the Osage County Courthouse, Lyndon, to interview the suggested appointees. The interviews are open to the public.

Notices of the vacancy are being mailed to every attorney in the 4th Judicial District by the chairman of the commission. Osage County is one of the four counties in the 4th Judicial District, which also includes Anderson, Coffey, and Franklin Counties.

The nominating commission includes Justice Rosen, as the nonvoting chairman, and James R. Campbell, Burlington; Craig E. Cole, Garnett; Steven B. Doering, Garnett; Janet C. Walsh, Lyndon; Crystal M. Camis, Ottawa; Thomas B. DeBaun, Osage City; Eugene E. Highberger, Westphalia; and Timothy A. Sipe, Waverly.


 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: September 8, 2011

For more information
contact Ron Keefover
Education-Information Officer

Public comments on proposed changes to the guidelines judges use for determining how much child support parents pay are being accepted until October 24th, it was announced today.

The changes are being recommended by a Supreme Court-appointed committee that is charged with conducting a federally required review of the Child Support Guidelines at least once every four years. The guidelines have been in place in Kansas since 1984.

The proposed changes will be considered by the Supreme Court after the final changes are presented by the Child Support Guidelines Advisory Committee following the public comment period. Since the last formal review of the guidelines in 2008, the economic data shows that spending on younger children, ages 0 to 11 years, has increased more than spending on older children. Based on that data, the committee and economist reviewing the guidelines are recommending that the new child support tables reflect that increase.

Although most of the changes are technical in nature, some changes are significant, the magnitude of which varies depending on the parents' combined income, the age of the child, and the number of children in the family. The recommended changes and economist's report on which they are based are online at the Judicial Branch website under "What's New" at www.kscourts.org. Once parents determine their combined income, they can look in the schedules for their combined child support obligations. That amount is shared proportionately, based on their share of the combined income.

The proposed changes in the child support schedules are based on spending trends for such things as education, clothing, entertainment, transportation, housing, food, medical, and day care. Besides changes to the child support schedules to reflect the changes in spending, the Committee's recommendations include a proposal intended to recognize the needs of parents who share equal or nearly equal time and expenses for their children. The new rule would reduce the amount of child support the higher income parent pays when both parents are equally sharing time and expenses for the child.

Parents of children who are 12 to 17 years of age generally will see an increase between 2 and 4 percent. Parents of children who are 6 to 11 years old would see the largest increase. For example, parents who earn a combined monthly income of $3,500 currently share a child support obligation of $530, if they have one child who is 8 years old. If the committee's recommendations are adopted, their new shared child support obligation would be $588, an 11 percent increase.

Parents will not experience an automatic change in their child support obligations. Generally, the new schedule, if approved by the Supreme Court, will apply to new or modified orders. In Kansas, only a judge can modify a child support order. Child support orders should be reviewed every three years or anytime there is a significant change of circumstance, such as an increase or decrease greater than 10 percent in the earnings of one or both parents.

The Kansas Supreme Court is very interested in feedback from the public, judges and attorneys on these recommendations. The economist's report, the survey, a strikeout version of the Kansas Child Support Guidelines, and minutes of the committee meetings are available at www.kscourts.org. Completing the survey takes approximately 10 minutes. Using the web based survey is highly recommended. However, if unable or not interested in completing the online survey, letters may be submitted to: Kansas Child Support Guidelines, 301 SW 10th Ave, Topeka, KS 66612, or by email at kansascsg@kscourts.org.


 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: September 7, 2011

For more information
contact Ron Keefover
Education-Information Officer

The Johnson County District Court will implement electronic case filings for civil cases beginning September 19, it was announced today.

In doing so, that court will join Shawnee County as one of two courts in the state to have limited electronic case filings in place. Meanwhile, a statewide program of electronic case filings is on the drawing board.

"Moving from hard copy case filings to the modern electronic filing system ultimately will result in savings of both time and money," according to Justice Dan Biles, who serves as liaison between the Supreme Court and the statewide Judicial Branch Electronic Filing Committee.

"We will offer statewide electronic filing of court cases as soon as there are resources available to implement it," Biles said. "E-filing has been proven to enhance the efficiency of processing cases for the litigants, attorneys, and courts," he added. "It is something the state of Kansas needs to meet the expectations of those who use our court system."

The Johnson County electronic filing program is being implemented effective September 19 for civil case filings. The District Court next will develop a criminal e-filing program, followed by juvenile, Children in Need of Care, and probate matters.

The Johnson County program announcement follows several years of engineering, programming and re-programming, meetings with the Supreme Court, district court judges, staff and members of the bar, studying best practices and listening to input from design team volunteers from the practicing bar. Links to the system may be found at www.kscourts.org under "What's New" or at the Johnson County District Court website at https://www.jococourts.org.

Attorneys in Shawnee County have been able to e-file limited actions civil cases, some types of regular civil cases, traffic cases and some pleadings in domestic relations cases since 1997.

At the state level, the E-Filing Committee is working to implement an e-filing system in local pilot courts and the appellate courts.


Hon. Lawton Nuss
Chief Judge Richard Greene

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: September 6, 2011

For more information
contact Ron Keefover
Education-Information Officer

Kansas Court of Appeals Commemorates Constitution Day With Session at Wichita State University

A three-judge panel of the Kansas Court of Appeals will hear three appeals at Wichita State University September 21 as part of its Constitution Day activities. Oral arguments in the cases will be conducted in the CAC Theater at WSU, beginning at 9:30 a.m.

Chief Judge Richard Greene, and Judges Henry Green and Senior Judge Edward Larson will hear the cases. Chief Judge Greene is the presiding judge for the hearing.

He said all three appeals involve issues about rights guaranteed by U.S. Constitution, making the cases especially appropriate to hear around Constitution Day, September 17. "These cases were chosen because we thought they would present interesting constitutional issues for the students," Chief Judge Greene said. "The constitutional rights we all share are tested daily in cases like these."

Attorneys for each side will have an opportunity to present arguments to the judges, and the judges will have a chance to ask questions. After the hearings, the court will take each of the cases under consideration and will issue a written decision at a later date, usually within 60 days.

After each hearing is completed, the judges will be available to talk with students. The panel also will be available for questions following arguments in the last appeal that morning. The sessions at WSU are being sponsored by the Fairmount College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and the university's Pre-Law club.

These hearings are part of the Constitution Day observance at WSU. Congress has directed by law that federally funded educational institutions host educational events about the United States Constitution on or about September 17 each year. The Constitution was signed by a majority of the delegates to the Constitutional Convention on September 17, 1787.

The three cases to be heard are:

State v. Hung T. Dang, Sedgwick County, scheduled at 9:30 a.m., is an appeal of a drug conviction in which the defendant argues that his statements to law enforcement should not have been admitted because he did not receive a timely Miranda warning.

City of Wichita v. Patricia Stevenson, scheduled for 10:30 a.m., involves the constitutionality of a Wichita city ordinance prohibiting overcrowding in a building, here "Harry and Ollies" tavern.

State v. Marquez L. McCray, scheduled for 11:30 a.m., this case involves the appeal of burglary and theft convictions and has a Miranda issue, but the defendant also challenges the constitutionality of the trial court's response to the jury's questions during deliberations.


Hon. Thomas Malone Hon. Christel Marquardt Hon. Steven Hill
Hon. Thomas Malone
Hon. Christel Marquardt
Hon. Stephen Hill

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: September 6, 2011

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A hearing panel of the Kansas Court of Appeals will meet in special sessions September 20th-21st on the Washburn University campus in observance of Constitution Day, a federally proclaimed day commemorating the adoption of the U.S. Constitution, September 17, 1787.

Christel Marquardt, Judge of the Court of Appeals and liaison with Washburn for the Constitution Day activities, said a hearing panel will hear appeals at both the law school and in the university's student union. Constitution Day commemoration activities at Washburn will begin at 9 a.m. Tuesday, September 20th, when Court of Appeals Judges Marquardt, Thomas Malone, and Stephen Hill, hear four appeals in the Robinson Courtroom at the law school. On Wednesday, September 21st, the hearing panel will listen to arguments in three additional appeals in the Kansas Room of Washburn's Memorial Union. Both of these days, the arguments are open to the public as well.

She said the appeals involve issues about rights guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution, making the cases especially appropriate to hear around Constitution Day. "These cases were chosen because we thought they would present interesting constitutional issues for the students," Judge Marquardt said. "The constitutional rights we all share are tested daily in cases like these."

Attorneys for each side will have an opportunity to present argument to the judges, and the judges will have a chance to ask questions. After the hearings, the court will take each of the cases under consideration and will issue a written decision at a later date, usually within 60 days.

In addition, several presentations by Robin Wright, an internationally acclaimed journalist, author, and foreign policy analyst, will be offered to students and the public. The afternoon of the 21st, Wright will make presentations to student groups at the International House on issues related to two books she has written dealing with turmoil in the Middle East. The books are entitled "The Iran Primer: Power, Politics, and U.S. Policy," published in 2010, and "Rock the Casbah: Rage and Rebellion Across the Islamic World," which was published just last month. The books are the result of her experience and news reporting from more than 140 countries on six continents for the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, the Sunday Times of London, CBS News, and the Christian Science Monitor, among others.

Wright will speak in the Washburn Room of the student union at 7 p.m. Wednesday, September 21st, on the subject of "The Democracy Movement in the Middle East." The presentation is open to the public and will be followed by a book signing.

Constitution Day activities will conclude Thursday, September 22nd, when Wright speaks to law students at a noon forum.

Following are digests of the appeals to be argued at Washburn:

TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 20, 2011 – 9:00 a.m.
Robinson Courtroom, Washburn University School of Law

John R. Johnson v. Kansas Department of Revenue

John R. Johnson appeals the district court's decision affirming the suspension of his driving privileges by the Kansas Department of Revenue following his refusal to submit to alcohol tests. Johnson argues the district court erred in affirming the suspension because the arresting officer failed to satisfy the conditions of K.S.A. 2008 Supp. 8-1001(b) before requesting an alcohol test.

In the Interest of C.B.

Father appeals the district court's denial of his motion to withdraw the no contest plea he entered in a Child in Need of Care (CINC) proceeding. He argues that the district court, in summarily dismissing his motion, failed to adequately consider his contentions that (1) he was coerced by counsel into entering a no contest plea and (2) there was additional evidence discovered after the CINC adjudication was entered which would necessitate setting aside the adjudication.

Ben Frick, Lavelle Frick, et al. v. City of Salina, Kansas

In an eminent domain proceeding, the City of Salina purchased real property owned by Ben and Lavelle Frick. In two separate administrative appeals, the Fricks challenged the City's refusal to pay certain moving expenses, professional service expenses, storage expenses, and reestablishment expenses, and refusal to reimburse them for missing and destroyed items. The Fricks appealed the decisions of the administrative hearing officer to the district court, which affirmed the administrative agency. In this appeal, the Fricks challenge the district court's findings of fact and conclusions of law regarding numerous issues.

State v. Robert L. Smith

The Geary County District Court convicted Robert L. Smith of possession of cocaine with intent to sell under K.S.A. 65-4161(a) and possession of contraband without a drug tax stamp under K.S.A. 79-5204(a) and 79-5208. Smith appealed the district court's denial of his motion to suppress cocaine that was found after officers searched his shoes without consent or a warrant.

WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 21, 2011 – 9:00 a.m. Kansas Room, Washburn University Student Union

State v. Jacob Waldrup

A jury convicted Jacob Waldrup of two counts of sale of cocaine in violation of K.S.A. 65-4161(a). Waldrup now challenges the sufficiency of the evidence, the jury instructions, and the district court's limiting the scope of his cross-examination of a State's witness. Waldrup further contends that the State violated his constitutional and statutory rights to a speedy trial and that cumulative error denied him of a fair trial.

Kristin L. Wagner v. State of Kansas and Joan Wagnon, in her official capacity as Secretary of the Kansas Department of Revenue

Kristin L. Wagner filed a declaratory judgment action against the State and the Secretary of the Kansas Department of Revenue (Defendants) regarding the Director of Property Valuation's appraisal directive No. 98-033, which determined that county appraisers may consider a listing price of a property that is for sale as one factor in determining the property's value for Kansas property tax purposes. Wagner argued (1) that appraisal directive No. 98-033 incorrectly determined that listing price could be considered when determining fair market value and (2) that appraisal directive No. 98-033 infringed on her First Amendment right to freedom of speech by creating a chilling effect on her right to list her property for sale at a price of her choosing. Both parties filed motions for judgment on the pleadings. The district court granted the Defendants' motion, finding the appraisal directive properly interpreted the Kansas statutes on determining fair market value and did not infringe on Wagner's right to freedom of speech. Wagner appeals.

State v. Justin W. Neighbors

The State of Kansas appeals the district court's decision to grant Justin Neighbors' motion to suppress evidence obtained during the warrantless entry and search of an apartment where Neighbors was staying. At the property owner's request, responding officers entered the apartment to check on the wellbeing of the tenant. Narcotics officers, who arrived minutes later, obtained Neighbors' consent to search his clothing and discovered a bag of methamphetamines. Consequently, the State charged Neighbors with possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute within 1,000 feet of a school, failure to affix a drug tax stamp, and possession of drug paraphernalia. Before trial, the district court granted Neighbors' motion to suppress all physical evidence obtained from the search or found at the apartment, determining that responding officers legally entered the apartment based on the emergency exception but the narcotics officers unreasonably extended the length and scope of the search by asking to search his clothing after they determined Neighbors had permission to stay in the apartment.


Hon. Michael Buser Hon. David Bruns Hon. David Knudson
Hon. Michael Buser
Hon. David Bruns
Sr. Judge David Knudson

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: September 6, 2011

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Kansas Court of Appeals Commemorates Constitution Day With Session at Kansas City, KS, Community College

A three-judge panel of the Kansas Court of Appeals will hear two appeals at Kansas City Community College, September 20, as part of its Constitution Day activities. Oral arguments in the cases will be conducted at 9:30 a.m. and 11:00 a.m.

Court of Appeals Judges David Bruns and Michael Buser will be joined by Senior Judge David Knudson to hear the cases. Judge Bruns, a graduate of the community college, is the presiding judge for the hearing.

He said both appeals involve issues about rights guaranteed by U.S. Constitution, making the cases especially appropriate to hear around Constitution Day, September 17. "These cases were chosen because we thought they would present interesting constitutional issues for the students," Judge Bruns said. "The constitutional rights we all share are tested daily in cases like these."

Attorneys for each side will have an opportunity to present arguments to the judges, and the judges will have a chance to ask questions. After the hearings, the court will take each of the cases under consideration and will issue a written decision at a later date, usually within 60 days.

After each hearing is completed, the judges will be available to talk with students. The panel also will be available for questions following arguments in the last appeal that morning.

These hearings are part of the Constitution Day observance at the community college. Congress has directed by law that federally funded educational institutions host educational events about the United States Constitution on or about September 17 each year. The Constitution was signed by a majority of the delegates to the Constitutional Convention on September 17, 1787.

Following are digests of the appeals.

No. 104,817: State v. David M. Butts, from Wyandotte County, 9:30 a.m.:

In State of Kansas v. David M. Butts, a traffic stop led to convictions for possession of cocaine and driving under the influence of alcohol. One question on appeal is whether the traffic stop was justified by reasonable suspicion of criminal activity. Butts argues a video recording from the police vehicle's dash camera shows he did not commit a traffic violation. The second question is whether the case should have been dismissed because it violated the speedy trial statute. Butts argues the delay of his trial was caused by the State, not by the motions he had filed with the district court.

No. 103,846: State v. Roselynn Delisa Bethea, from Leavenworth County, 11:00 a.m.:

State of Kansas v. Roselynn D. Bethea, arises out of Bethea's conviction for aggravated battery of a family member. Bethea was accused of severely beating the victim with several objects, including a wooden cane, a fan, and a skillet. The first question on appeal is whether Bethea's constitutional right to confront the State's witnesses was violated when the district court refused to allow Bethea to ask the victim at trial whether the victim had used drugs the day of the incident and whether the victim's neighborhood was known for drug activity. The second question is whether the prosecution committed misconduct by misstating the law on aggravated battery and by telling the jury that it believed Bethea had caused great bodily harm to the victim. The final question is whether the district court violated Bethea's rights when it considered her criminal history in calculating her sentence.


Hon. Steve Leben Hon. Joseph Pierron Hon. Gordon Acheson
Hon. Steve Leben
Hon. Joseph Pierron
Hon. G. Gordon Atcheson

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: September 6, 2011

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Kansas Court of Appeals Commemorates Constitution Day With Session at Barton County Community College

A three-judge panel of the Kansas Court of Appeals will hear cases in Great Bend September 20 as part of Barton County Community College's Constitution Day activities. Oral arguments in two of the cases will be conducted in the Fine Arts Auditorium at Barton County Community College and in a third case at the Barton County Courthouse there.

The Barton County Community College hearings will be at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. The appeal to be heard at the Courthouse will begin at 3 p.m. The appeals are from Clark, Reno, and Saline counties.

Judges G. Joseph Pierron, Jr., Lawrence; G. Gordon Atcheson, Overland Park; and Steve Leben of Fairway, will hear the cases. Leben has been designated the presiding judge for the hearing.

Judge Leben said all three appeals involve issues about rights guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution, making the appeals especially appropriate to hear around Constitution Day.

"These cases were chosen because we thought they would present interesting constitutional issues for students and the public to consider," Leben said. "The constitutional rights we all share are tested daily in cases like these."

Attorneys for each side will have an opportunity to present argument to the judges, and the judges will have a chance to ask questions. The court will then take each of the cases under consideration and will issue a written decision at a later date, usually within 60 days.

After the hearings have been completed, the judges will be available to talk with students.

These hearings are part of the Constitution Day observance at Barton County Community College. Congress has directed by law that federally funded educational institutions host educational events about the United States Constitution on or about September 17 each year. The Constitution was signed by a majority of the delegates to the Constitutional Convention on September 17, 1787.

The three cases to be heard are:

Case No. 105,357: In re Guardianship of H.C., Appeal from Clark County (10:00 a.m.)

The biological mother of two children appeals the district court's order that terminated the mother's parental rights so that the children could be adopted by her parents. The mother had placed the children in the care of her parents at an early age through a formal guardianship. After the guardianship had been in place for several years, the mother asked the court to terminate it and place her in charge of the children. Her parents objected and sought to adopt the children based on a finding that the mother was an unfit parent. The district court ruled in favor of the grandparents after a contested trial. The mother now appeals, contending that the evidence presented was not sufficient to justify terminating her parental rights given the constitutional right of a natural parent to direct how his or her child is raised.

Case No. 104,689: State of Kansas v. Angela D. Piland-Brown, Appeal from Reno County (1:00 p.m.)

The defendant appeals her conviction for DUI, which took place after she had driven away from the Kansas State Fairgrounds. A Kansas Highway Patrol Trooper had seen her having difficulty with balance in the fairgrounds parking lot and had advised her not to drive. Another trooper later observed her driving away, and he considered her driving sufficiently erratic to justify stopping her for further investigation. The defendant maintains that the trooper's observations did not give him reasonable suspicion that she had committed a traffic infraction before he stopped her car. Because stopping a car is a seizure and the United States and Kansas constitutions prohibit unreasonable seizures, an officer usually must have reasonable suspicion that some offense has been or is being committed before stopping a car.

Case No. 104,697: State of Kansas v. Daniel Proctor, Appeal from Saline County (3:00 p.m.)

The defendant appeals the portion of his criminal sentence under which he is subject to supervision by the Department of Corrections for the rest of his life, which he argues is unconstitutional as cruel and unusual punishment. The defendant had pled guilty to aggravated indecent solicitation and to lewd and lascivious conduct; he had been 19 and the victim 12 when the crimes took place. Kansas law requires lifetime postrelease supervision for some sex offenders. The defendant claims that this is cruel and unusual, and thus unconstitutional, arguing that he is subject to many restrictions, such as not traveling out of state, and could be spent to prison for life if he commits a misdemeanor. The district court ruled that lifetime supervision did not constitute disproportionate or cruel and unusual punishment in this case.


 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: August 30, 2011

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The Supreme Court will undertake a historic road trip September 28-29th, when it hears oral arguments at special sessions to be conducted in Greensburg and Wichita, Chief Justice Lawton R. Nuss announced today.

"The Supreme Court traditionally sits in Topeka, but in 2011 initiated a limited travel schedule. These sessions represent the Supreme Court's desire to enhance our judicial outreach program so that citizens across the state may learn first-hand how their highest appellate Court works for all our citizens, regardless of geographical locale," Chief Justice Nuss said.

The Court first will sit in Greensburg at the Kiowa County Courthouse beginning at 9 a.m. September 28 to hear appeals in five matters on the Court's dockets, including two criminal and three civil case appeals. The next day, the Court will convene at 9 a.m. in the City Hall Council Chamber in Wichita to hear arguments in three civil and one criminal appeal.

While in Greensburg, the Court will be guided on a tour of the rebuilding effort that has been underway there since a devastating tornado struck that town in May 2007. In another nod to the success of the town's reconstruction, Greensburg Mayor Robert Dixson has been designated to serve as court bailiff for the justices when court convenes that morning.

The session in Wichita will be followed by another first, when all seven justices appear at the Wichita Bar Association to present a Continuing Legal Education session for attorneys. That session has been designed as a roundtable discussion of oral argument best practices.

"The Court wants to reach out to citizens throughout the state so they can better understand the court and how the justice system works at the appellate level in Kansas," Chief Justice Nuss said in announcing the Court's plans.

Both sessions are open to the public, but also will be streamed to the Internet via the Kansas Judicial Branch website, www.kscourts.org. The chief justice also has invited area high schools, colleges, and universities to bring students to the arguments.


 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: July 15, 2011

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The Supreme Court today ordered the case of a Johnson County defendant convicted of first-degree murder in a 1974 cold case involving the slaying of a 13-year-old girl returned to the district court for a determination of whether additional defense evidence should have been permitted after the jury began deliberations.

The interim Supreme Court decision came in the appeal of State v. John H. Horton, No. 101,054, who was convicted following a second trial that was conducted after his initial conviction was reversed on unrelated grounds.

The Supreme Court is retaining jurisdiction of Horton's appeal, but directed the district court to determine the "narrow issue" of whether the court should have reopened the presentation of evidence to allow the jury to hear evidence relating to the recording of a telephone conversation between a fellow inmate and the inmate's mother regarding his motivation for testifying against Horton at the second trial.

Justice Eric S. Rosen said in the Supreme Court's unanimous decision the defendant asserts in essence that the telephone conversation between the inmate, Sergio Castillo-Contreras, and his mother was "that a guard was recruiting Castillo-Contreras to testify because of some unspecified problem" with another inmate witness who testified that Horton also had told him that he had killed a girl under circumstances conforming to the state's theory of the case.

The Court said in today's decision that after the presentation of evidence and closing arguments and after the jury began deliberations, Horton's attorney asked that deliberations be suspended for two days in order to give the defense time to translate and analyze a recorded telephone call between inmate Castillo-Contreras and his mother. The trial court, however, denied the request on the belief that he had no discretion to reopen the evidentiary portion of the case, something the Supreme Court ruled today is contrary to numerous previous Kansas appellate court decisions dating back as far as 1875.

"The district court abused its discretion in refusing to hear and weigh evidence relating to the admissibility of the recorded telephone conversation and the possible impeachment of the witness," Justice Rosen wrote. "The analysis does not, however, end here. In general, if the district court abuses its discretion, the defendant has the burden of demonstrating resulting prejudice that warrants reversal," he said.

Once the trial judge concludes its determination of whether the case should have been reopened to allow the jury to hear evidence relating to the recording of the telephone conversation and any rebuttal evidence offered by the state, the case is to be returned to the Supreme Court for further proceedings.

Other decisions filed today include:

Appeal No. 101,634: State v. David McDaniel, unanimous decision authored for the Court by Justice Carol A. Beier, affirming a Seward County District Court decision assessing $7,444 restitution as part of the defendant's 34-month sentence for aggravated battery, even though the amount of the restitution was not resolved until after the prison sentence was imposed.

Appeal No. 101,785: State v. Andre Bailey, unanimous decision authored for the Court by Justice Eric S. Rosen, affirming the defendant's Sedgwick County convictions of one count of first-degree murder, two counts of aggravated robbery, one count of aggravated burglary, one count of criminal discharge of a firearm at an occupied building, one count of possession of marijuana with intent to sell, and one count of no tax stamp.

Appeal No. 100,150: State v. Brian A. Gilbert, unanimous decision authored for the Court by Justice Dan Biles, dismissing the defendant's appeal from a trial court decision ruling that a passenger in an automobile lacks standing to challenge a search of the car, affirming the Shawnee County District Court.

Appeal No. 103,840: State v. Bradley F. Whorton, unanimous decision authored for the Court by Justice Lee A. Johnson, affirming the defendant's Sedgwick County sentence of two concurrent life sentences arising from his guilty pleas to two counts of aggravated criminal sodomy and two counts of aggravated indecent liberties with an 11-year-old victim, rejecting requests from both the state and the defense for a downward departure they recommended as part of a plea negotiation.

Appeal No. 103,168: State v. Randy Chavez, unanimous decision authored for the Court by Justice Eric S. Rosen, affirming defendant's 25-year "Jessica's Law" prison sentence based on his guilty pleas to two counts of indecent liberties with a minor, but reverses a parole condition calling for lifetime monitoring on the basis that conditions of parole are the province of the parole board, not the court. Appeal No. 103,266: State v. Travis Holder, unanimous decision authored by Justice Eric S. Rosen, affirming the defendant's Sedgwick County sentence of 25 years that was imposed based on his guilty pleas to one count each of aggravated indecent liberties, criminal sodomy and indecent liberties with a child, but reverses a condition of parole for lifetime monitoring on the basis that that is a decision for the parole board, not the courts.

Docket No. 105,109: In Re: Marlin E. Johanning, original proceeding in discipline in which the Court indefinitely suspends the law license of an Atchison attorney based on numerous violations of the Kansas Rules of Professional Conduct.


 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: June 20, 2011

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Three Topeka attorneys Monday were nominated to fill a vacancy on the Shawnee County District Court that was created by the appointment of Judge David E. Bruns to the state Court of Appeals.

 Municipal Court Judge Steven R. Ebberts, Carl William Ossmann, chief of litigation for the Kansas Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services; and Fred C. Patton, who is a sole practitioner in Topeka, will be forwarded to Gov. Sam Brownback Tuesday morning for his consideration. The governor will have 30 days in which to pick one of the three.

The 3rd Judicial District Nominating Commission conducted interviews of the three, as well as of Jefferson County Attorney Robert A. Fox and Brian M. Vasquez, who also applied for the vacancy, Monday morning.

Ebberts, a native of Garden City, has been the Topeka Municipal Court judge since 2003, and had been engaged in private practice in several capacities since his graduation from the Washburn University School of Law in 1993.

 In addition to his position as SRS deputy general counsel, Ossmann also serves as an adjunct professor of law at the Washburn law school and supervises the work of several adjunct law professors.

Patton has maintained a broad based practice since his graduation from the University of Kansas School of Law in 2000, including serving as supervising attorney for the Shawnee County District Court Legal Research Staff from July 2000 to December 2004.

The name of the appointee will appear on the 2012 general election ballot when voters will decide whether to retain him for a four-year term.


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: June 06, 2011

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Five Topeka attorneys have submitted applications for a vacancy on the Shawnee County District Court that was created by the appointment of Judge David E. Bruns to the Court of Appeals.

Applying by the noon Monday deadline for the vacancy were Steven R. Ebberts, Robert A. Fox, Carl William Ossmann, Fred C. Patton, and Brian M. Vasquez.

The Third Judicial District Nominating Commission is scheduled to interview the five June 20 beginning at 9 a.m. in the Shawnee County Courthouse.

Ebberts, a native of Garden City, has been the Topeka Municipal Court judge since 2003, and had been engaged in private practice in several capacities since his graduation from the Washburn University School of Law in 1993.

Fox has been the Jefferson County Attorney since January, where he began work as an assistant county attorney in January 2009. He is a 1979 graduate of the University of South Dakota School of Law, Vermillion, SD.

Ossmann is Chief Litigation Attorney for the Kansas Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services, and also serves as an adjunct professor of law at Washburn University School of Law, where he supervises the work of several adjunct law professors.

Patton is a sole practitioner and has maintained a broad based practice since his graduation from the University of Kansas School of Law in 2000.

Vasquez is a 1979 graduate of the Washburn Law School and has been the Deputy General Counsel, Kansas Health Policy Authority, since March 2008, and has worked for the Authority since 1992.

The 3rd Judicial District Nominating Commission includes Justice Marla J. Luckert, as the nonvoting chair, and Lee R. Barnett, Wakarusa; Toby L. McCullough, Rossville; Terry E. Beck, Mary M. Thomas, Mary D. Feighny, and C. Patrick Woods, all of Topeka.


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: May 09, 2011

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Three attorneys today were nominated to fill a district judge vacancy in the 31st Judicial District to succeed Neosho County District Judge Timothy E. Brazil, who retired in April.

Nominated by the 31st Judicial District Nominating Commission were Daryl D. Ahlquist, Erie, a partner in Hines & Ahlquist, P.A.; Charles H. Apt III, Iola; of Apt Law Offices, LLC, and city attorney for Iola and LaHarpe; Curtis E. Bolt, Chanute, a solo practitioner in Chanute.

Gov. Sam Brownback will have 30 days in which to select one of the three. The 31st Judicial District includes Allen, Neosho, Wilson, and Woodson counties.

The three are among seven applicants who were interviewed by the Nominating Commission on Friday. Other applicants included Ross L. Albertini, Parsons; Timothy D. Clover, Thomas P. Mikulka, and Linus Thurston, all of Chanute.


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: May 06, 2011

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A nominating commission charged with naming candidates to fill a district judge vacancy on the Shawnee County District Court has issued a request for assistance from the public.

The seven-member commission is responsible for submitting the names of two or three nominees to the Governor for the vacancy which was created by the appointment of Judge David E. Bruns to the state Court of Appeals.

"The nominating commission is especially interested in receiving recommendations of suggested nominees to fill the vacancy from the general public. All of the citizens of Shawnee County are requested to consider this matter and the names of suggested nominees submitted by the general public will be welcomed by the commission," according to Justice Marla J. Luckert, departmental justice and non-voting chair of the nominating commission.

Kansas statutes require that a judge be a resident of the district in which selected, be at least 30 years of age, have been in the active practice of law for at least five years, and have been admitted to the practice of law within the State of Kansas.

Applicants are requested to complete questionnaires for the position. The completed forms should be returned to Justice Luckert's office, Suite 315, Kansas Judicial Center, 301 SW 10th Avenue, no later than noon, June 6. The forms are available in the office of the Shawnee County clerk of the district court. They also are available online at www.kscourts.org and at www.shawneecourt.org.

The nominating commission will convene at 9:00 a.m., June 20, in the Shawnee County Courthouse to interview the suggested nominees. The meeting will be open to the public; however, the commission has the authority to adjourn to executive session to discuss personal traits of the suggested nominees.

The law requires that the commission submit at least two names, but not more than three, to the Governor who may appoint any of the suggested nominees.

Notices of the vacancy have been mailed to every attorney in this judicial district by the chairman of the commission.

The 3rd Judicial District judicial nominating commission includes Justice Luckert, as the nonvoting chair, and Lee R. Barnett, Wakarusa; Toby L. McCullough, Rossville; Terry E. Beck, Mary M. Thomas, Mary D. Feighny, and C. Patrick Woods, all of Topeka.


Hon. Lawton Nuss
Judge Thomas Malone

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: May 04, 2011

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Re: Appeal No. 105366: Stinemetz v. Kansas Health Policy Authority

The State Court of Appeals today ruled that a Kansas Health Policy Authority decision denying a Hill City Jehovah's Witness request for prior authorization for an out-of-state liver transplant violated her right to the free exercise of religion under the state and federal constitutions.

The decision came in a lawsuit filed by Mary D. Stinemetz against the KHPA after the agency denied Stinemetz' prior authorization for her surgery. Stinemetz, a practicing Jehovah's Witness, has been diagnosed with end-stage liver disease and needs a liver transplant, but her religious beliefs prohibit whole blood transfusions. Her religious beliefs also do not allow her own blood to be removed from her body and stored for later use in a surgical procedure.

Writing for a unanimous three-judge panel of the Court of Appeals, Judge Thomas E. Malone said the KHPA denial violated her right to the free exercise of religion guaranteed by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution and § 7 of the Kansas Constitution Bill of Rights. Besides Malone, the Court of Appeals panel included Judges Steven D. Hill and Michael B. Buser.

The Court held that the evidence showed there is a medically accepted technique, known as a bloodless liver transplant, in which liver transplant surgery can be performed without a blood transfusion, although many medical facilities do not consider this technique to be the safest procedure. There is no medical facility in Kansas that performs bloodless liver transplants, but the Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha is willing to perform the surgery.

"The available evidence indicates that the bloodless technique is less expensive than a procedure involving blood transfusions. The available evidence indicates that a bloodless liver transplant is a medically accepted technique offered by several medical facilities in other states, including the Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha and at the University of Oklahoma," Judge Malone wrote.

Because Stinemetz is a Medicaid beneficiary, she requested prior authorization from the KHPA for an out-of-state liver transplant. There is no question that the KHPA would authorize a liver transplant for Stinemetz in Kansas, including a bloodless liver transplant, if a medical facility was available in Kansas to perform the technique. However, the KHPA denied Stinemetz' request for out-of-state services on the ground that her religious preference did not constitute a medical necessity. The district court affirmed the KHPA's decision.

On appeal, the judges found there is nothing in the language of the Kansas Medicaid regulations to indicate that the regulations either were enacted or are enforced in such a way as to target Jehovah's Witnesses. However, the regulations allow for the KHPA to make exceptions to the general rule that out-of-state services are not covered by Medicaid. Because the regulations allow for exceptions, under the First Amendment the KHPA cannot refuse to grant an exception to cover Stinemetz' religious hardship without providing a compelling reason. "Here, the KHPA has failed to suggest any state interest, much less a compelling interest, for denying Stinemetz' request for prior authorization for the out-of-state liver transplant," Judge Malone wrote.

The Court of Appeals also determined, under existing Kansas precedent, that Stinemetz has even greater protections concerning the free exercise of religious beliefs under § 7 of the Kansas Constitution Bill of Rights than under the federal constitution. Here, the district court had found that Stinemetz' religious beliefs were sincerely held, and the KHPA did not challenge that finding on appeal. Because the KHPA failed to offer any compelling reason for denying Stinemetz' request for the surgery, the Court of Appeals determined that the KHPA's decision violated Stinemetz' rights under the Kansas constitution.

The Court of Appeals reversed the Graham County District Court and remanded the case with directions that the KHPA grant Stinemetz' request for prior authorization for the out-of-state liver transplant.


Hon. Lawton Nuss
Chief Justice Lawton Nuss

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: April 20, 2011

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Kansas Chief Justice Lawton R. Nuss has been named one of 48 state leaders from across the nation to attend the prestigious Toll Fellowship Program sponsored by the Council of State Governments, it was announced today.

The annual week-long seminar, named in honor of Henry Toll, a Colorado senator who founded CSG in 1933, seeks to develop leaders from all three branches of state government.  This year's program, September 9-14 in Lexington, Kentucky, will focus on trends analysis, policy development, media and constituent relations, and leadership and institutional changes.  The experience gives these leaders perspectives they would not ordinarily obtain during the course of their regular governmental service.

            “I am looking forward to exchanging ideas with leaders from around the country on how our state governments can be improved,” Nuss said. “The timing could not be better because the results of our weighted case load study and the recommendations of our Blue Ribbon Commission will be available several months after the seminar ends.”

Nuss was selected by a national committee of state elected and appointed officials.  This year's applicant pool included state leaders from all three branches and represented 42 states and two U. S. territories.  Past Toll Fellowship graduates include governors, U. S. Senators and members of Congress, as well as leaders in state government.

A former Marine Corps combat engineering officer, Nuss was appointed as a justice on the Kansas Supreme Court by Governor Bill Graves in August 2002.  He became chief justice in August 2010.  As chief justice, Nuss serves as spokesman for the Supreme Court and exercises its general administrative authority over all courts of the state.

Nuss also currently serves as Chairman of the Kansas Judicial Council, an organization created in 1927 by the Kansas Legislature.  The Judicial Council, whose members include the chairpersons of the judiciary committees of the Kansas Senate and House of Representatives, is authorized by the legislature to study any area of law and to recommend improvements in the administration of justice.

Chief Justice Nuss is a graduate of the University of Kansas and the University of Kansas School of Law, the Appellate Judges School at New York University School of Law and the United States Naval Justice School of Newport, Rhode Island.

The Council of State Governments is the premier multibranch organization forecasting policy trends for the community of states, commonwealths and territories on a national and regional basis.  CSG alerts state elected and appointed officials to emerging social, economic, and political trends; offers innovative state policy responses to rapidly changing conditions; and advocates multistate problem-solving to maximize resources and competitiveness.  CSG promotes excellence in decision-making and leadership skills and champions state sovereignty.

For more information about the Henry Toll Fellowship Program, contact Krista Rinehart at (859) 244-8249.


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: April 8, 2011

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Re: Appeal No. 102,786: Dissmeyer et al. v. State of Kansas

The Supreme Court today struck down a state statute making so-called "gray machines" illegal under Kansas gaming law as unconstitutionally too broad because it could include every mechanical device from spinners for children's games to a personal computer that has the capability of being used for gambling.

The decision came in a lawsuit by three persons who own or lease amusement game machines in Wyandotte County. Plaintiffs David A. Dissmeyer, Lester L. Lawson, and Terry Mitchell, amusement game owners or operators, filed the suit to enjoin the Kansas Lottery from enforcing a statute making it a felony to own or operate the gray machines. The machines are prohibited if they are mechanical, electro-mechanical, or electronic and capable of being used for gambling, but not a part of the state sanctioned lottery enterprises.

Justice Eric S. Rosen, writing for a unanimous Court, said under the statute in question, "Computers with Internet connections are electronic devices that can be used for online gambling. Computers without Internet connections are electronic devices that can be used to play games on which bets can be placed. The computer on which this opinion was drafted is a gray machine because it is electronic, it is capable of being used for gambling, and it is not linked to a lottery central computer system," Justice Rosen wrote.

"Telephones can be used for making or placing bets. Radios and televisions are electronic devices that can be used to listen and watch sporting events with consequent gambling applications. Automobiles can be raced and used in other ways that may be subject to gambling." He added, both "Chutes and Ladders and Twister children's games use spinners, which are mechanical devices and which can, of course, be used for gambling."

The Court noted that the statute allows the executive director of the Kansas Lottery to confiscate any device that is defined as a gray machine. "This statute, as it is currently drafted, essentially deprives citizens and businesses in Kansas of their fundamental rights to own property," Rosen wrote.

"The statutes make it a criminal act to have any of those devices in a place for public use, and they authorize the executive director to confiscate any of those devices even if they are hidden away in the basement closet of a citizen's home," he wrote.

The Court also noted that other statutes prohibiting the possession of actual gambling devices such as a slot machine is a class B misdemeanor, while the statute against maintaining a pinball machine or computer that "might be used" as a gambling device is a felony. "This suggests that no rational basis exists for the sweeping definition of gray machines that the legislature has adopted," the Court concluded.


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: April 6, 2011

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Kansas Court of Appeals to Hear Cases in Leavenworth

A three-judge panel of the Kansas Court of Appeals will sit at the Leavenworth County Courthouse April 12 and 13 to hear oral arguments in 11 appeals arising from Johnson, Leavenworth, and Wyandotte counties, it was announced today.

The court sessions will begin at 9:00 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. on Tuesday, April 12, and at 9:00 a.m. on Wednesday, April 13. Next week's docket marks the first time since October 2000 that a Court of Appeals panel will preside in Leavenworth. Court of Appeals Judge Henry W. Green, Jr., himself a lifetime Leavenworth resident, has been designated presiding judge for the hearings.

Green said the hearings will be somewhat special for him as he returns to his hometown to hear the appeals. While the judge still maintains his residency in Leavenworth, he has worked from the Judicial Center in Topeka since his appointment to the Court of Appeals in 1993. He said he is glad attorneys can have the cases heard locally rather than having to travel to Topeka to make their arguments.

"We also hope that those who are interested in how the courts of Kansas work may have a chance to observe and listen to arguments before our court as we travel throughout the state," Judge Green said.

The cases on the docket include appeals in two criminal cases, four domestic relations cases, two driver's license suspension cases, two civil cases, and one traffic infraction. Also presiding on the docket with Judge Green will be Court of Appeals Judge Tom Malone, of Topeka, and Senior Judge John J. Bukaty, a retired judge from Wyandotte County.

[Note: A summary of the cases to be heard, listing the county from which the case arose and the docket on which it has been set for argument, can be found here.]


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: April 4, 2011

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In what is believed to be a historical first in Kansas, Chief Justice Lawton R. Nuss today announced the Supreme Court will travel to Salina April 13 to hear appeals in four matters pending before the Court. The Court has never presided over cases in locations other than Topeka, historical records show.

The sessions, which will be conducted beginning at 1:30 P.M. in Room 107 in the Salina City County Building, are part of an on-going judicial outreach program in which the justices are reaching out to Kansas citizens across the state to educate and inform them of the operations of their highest court.

Besides being open to the public, the oral arguments will be audio-streamed via the judicial branch website, www.kscourts.org. Additionally, a brochure explaining the high court's procedures and operations, as well as summaries of the matters on appeal, are available at the courthouse and will be distributed at the afternoon-long session.

"Besides educating the public on the work of the Supreme Court, we want to better educate ourselves on the operations and needs of the local courts, so that together we can better serve our citizens," Chief Justice Nuss said.

In another historical first, the Supreme Court will be gaveled in by a woman. Rita McLain, Salina, judicial assistant to Chief Judge Jerome Hellmer, will serve as the Court's bailiff for the court session. And for two of the justices, Hon. Nancy L. Moritz and Chief Justice Nuss, the Salina sessions will be a return to their roots as both graduated from high school there.

Besides the seven justices, area District Judges Benjamin Sexton, Abilene, and Hannelore Kitts, Great Bend, will join them to hear one of the cases and later participate in the decision and opinion writing process. They will be sitting in place of Justices Nancy Moritz and Carol A. Beier, who have recused, to hear arguments in the appeal of a workers' compensation case.

The Supreme Court's outreach program was launched last summer when the justices traveled across the state to conduct departmental meetings with their assigned local judges from each of the state's 31 judicial districts. Following those meetings, the Court appointed two committees of judges and judicial branch employees to coordinate performance of a weighted case load study. The Court also appointed a Blue Ribbon Commission of citizens to study court operations and make recommendations for improvements in access and administration of justice in Kansas. "Commission members will conduct a series of 18 public hearings throughout the state to hear concerns and suggestions for improving court operations locally and statewide," Chief Justice Nuss said.

"We have authorized the Blue Ribbon Commission to consider such issues as the number of court locations needed to provide access to justice, the services to be provided in each court location, hours of operation, appropriate use of technology, cost containment or reductions, and flexibility in the use of human resources," he said. "However, the Commission is not limited to those subjects and has the authority to review other operational efficiencies associated with the court system."

"The Commission's upcoming public hearings and our travel to Salina are two major components of the judicial outreach program," the chief justice said. He added that the results of the weighted caseload study will be taken into consideration when the Blue Ribbon Commission makes its recommendations.

In addition to oral arguments scheduled for the afternoon of April 13, the Court will meet informally with judges and attorneys during their stay in Salina. Cases being argued that afternoon include three criminal cases and an appeal in a workers' compensation case. After the oral arguments are concluded that afternoon, the appeals will be taken under advisement with decisions to be filed later in the office of the Clerk of Appellate Courts.

(Courtroom photography and audio recordings of these proceedings are permitted under Supreme Court Rule 1001. In addition, Chief Justice Nuss and other members of the Supreme Court will be available for interviews before and after the oral arguments by contacting Ron Keefover, keefover@kscourts.org, Phone 785-296-4872.)


Hon. Benjamin Sexton
 
Hon. Hannelore Kitts

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: April 4, 2011

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Barton County District Judge Hannelore Kitts and Dickinson County Judge Benjamin Sexton will be sitting with the state Supreme Court in its historic session April 13 in Salina to hear an appeal in one of four matters on the Court's docket. The hearing marks the first session in which the Supreme Court is presiding at a location other than Topeka.

The Supreme Court designated Judge Kitts and Judge Sexton to join them in place of Justices Carol A. Beier and Nancy Moritz, who recused in the case of Cory Saylor v. Westar Energy, Inc., which is a petition for review of a Court of Appeals decision. The judges will hear oral arguments in a case involving a worker's compensation appeal and then participate in the high court deliberations and opinion drafting.

Chief Justice Lawton R. Nuss said the district judges were designated to join them for the appeal based on their reputation as good district court judges. "We are especially appreciative of their willingness to take time from their busy dockets to assist the Supreme Court in deciding this appeal," Chief Justice Nuss said.

Judge Kitts was appointed to her current position as district judge by former Gov. Bill Graves in 1995. Since that time, she has been handling criminal cases in Barton County and civil and criminal cases in the other counties of the 20th Judicial District, including Barton, Ellsworth, Rice, Russell and Stafford counties.

Judge Sexton was appointed to the bench in January 2001, also by Gov. Graves. A 1983 graduate of Kansas State University, he received his law degree from the Washburn University School of Law in 1986. He was engaged in private practice upon his graduation until his judicial appointment.

The oral arguments will begin at 1:30 p.m. in the Salina City County Building.


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: March 17, 2011

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A nominating commission charged with naming candidates to fill a district judge vacancy in the 31st Judicial District has issued a request for assistance from the public.

The 31st Judicial District includes Allen, Neosho, Wilson, and Woodson counties.

The nine-member commission is responsible for submitting the names of two or three nominees to the Governor for the vacancy which will be created when Judge Timothy E. Brazil retires effective April 2.

"The nominating commission is especially interested in receiving recommendations of suggested nominees to fill the vacancy from the general public. All of the citizens of the 31st Judicial District are requested to consider this matter and the names of suggested nominees submitted by the general public will be welcomed by the commission," according to Supreme Court Justice Lee A. Johnson, departmental justice for the 31st Judicial District.

Kansas statutes require that a judge be a resident of the district in which selected, be at least 30 years of age, have been in the active practice of law for at least five years, and have been admitted to the practice of law within the State of Kansas.

Suggested nominees are requested to complete questionnaires for the position. The completed forms should be returned to Justice Johnson, 301 SW 10th Avenue, Room 338, Topeka, KS 66612 no later than noon, April 6, 2011. The forms are available in the office of clerk of the district court, any of the counties in the district. They also are available online at www.kscourts.org.

No date for interviews of applicants by the nominating commission has been set. The meeting will be open to the public; however, the commission has the authority to adjourn to executive session to discuss personal traits of the suggested nominees.

The law requires that the commission submit at least two names, but not more than three, to the Governor who may appoint any of the suggested nominees.

Notices of the vacancy have been mailed to every attorney in this judicial district by the chairman of the commission.

The 31st Judicial District judicial nominating commission includes Justice Johnson, as the nonvoting chairman, and John K. Chenoweth, Fredonia; James M. Immel, Iola; R. Kent Pringle, Chanute; William N. Lacy and Nicky C. Hay, Yates Center; Rochelle R. Chronister, Neodesha, David L. Ensminger, Moran; and James G. Keath, Stark.


Hon. Henry W. Green, Jr.
 
Hon. Steve Leben
 
Hon. G. Gordon Atcheson

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: March 11, 2011

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Kansas Court of Appeals to Hear Cases in McPherson

A three-judge panel of the Kansas Court of Appeals will sit at the McPherson County Courthouse on March 15 and 16 to hear arguments in 14 cases that arose primarily in southcentral and southwest Kansas. The court sessions will begin at 9:00 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. on Tuesday, March 15, and at 8:30 a.m. on Wednesday, March 16.

The cases that the judges will hear include seven criminal cases from Reno, Sedgwick, and Kingman counties, a contract dispute arising out of an agreement to sell a wheat crop in Reno County, and several workers'-compensation appeals.

Judges Henry W. Green, Jr., of Leavenworth, Steve Leben, of Fairway, and G. Gordon Atcheson, of Overland Park, will hear the cases. Leben has been designated as the presiding judge for these hearings.

"I'm told by my colleagues that it has been more than a decade since our court has heard cases in McPherson," Leben said. "We are delighted to make a return visit so that attorneys and parties in this area can have cases heard locally rather than having to travel to Topeka."

"We also hope that those who are interested in how the courts of Kansas work may have a chance to observe arguments before our court as we travel throughout the state," he said.

 

 

 

 

 

 


Nancy M. Dixon
Nancy M. Dixon

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: March 11, 2011

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Chief Justice Lawton R. Nuss announced today the Kansas Supreme Court's appointment of Nancy Maydew Dixon, Topeka, as the new state Judicial Administrator, the highest ranking nonjudicial employee in the Kansas court system.

She succeeds Dr. Howard Schwartz, whose retirement is effective today.

"The Court feels very fortunate to have hired Ms. Dixon," Chief Justice Nuss said in announcing the appointment. "Besides her high academic credentials, which include a law degree from the University of Kansas, she has had considerable management experience during her professional career. We very much look forward to working with her, particularly as we continue with our weighted caseload study and review of Kansas court operations during the rest of 2011," the Chief Justice said.

As Judicial Administrator, Dixon will implement the Supreme Court's rules and policies concerning operation and administration of the Kansas courts. The Office of Judicial Administration's duties include management of fiscal operations, personnel, education, statistical caseload information, public information, court services, and other matters involving the trial and appellate courts. The Kansas court system contains approximately 260 judges, 1,600 non-judge employees, and administers an annual budget of more than $100 million.

Dixon is currently Chief Counsel for the Kansas Department of Transportation, but will leave that position for her new job effective Monday, March 14. Before becoming Chief Counsel, she had her own consulting firm in Dublin, OH, which provided process improvement, ethics, and compliance services to organizations primarily in the healthcare industry.

She began her legal career upon graduation from the KU School of Law in 1979 as an attorney with Allied Corporation, South Bend, IN. She then served as Senior Counsel for the Whirlpool Corporation in Benton Harbor, MI, before returning to Kansas in 1990, when she was counsel to the law firm Davis Wright Tremaine LLP. After departing that firm, she practiced law for six years with the Wichita firm of Foulston Siefkin, LLP, where her practice focused on environmental, employment, and general business issues.

In 1998, Dixon became Senior Counsel for Cardinal Health in the Chicago, Illinois area, and then transferred to Cardinal's corporate headquarters in Dublin, OH, where she served as Vice President, Ethics & Compliance before starting her consulting services firm. She returned to Kansas in December.


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: March 8, 2011

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A hearing panel of the Kansas Court of Appeals will sit in the Crawford County Judicial Center in Pittsburg March 15 and 16 to hear arguments in 14 area appeals, it was announced in Topeka today.

In addition to hearing oral arguments in the appeals, the three judges will participate in a variety of public outreach programs while in Pittsburg. Hearing the appeals will be Chief Judge Richard D. Greene, and Judges Karen Arnold-Burger and G. Joseph Pierron.

Chief Judge Greene said he views the forthcoming session as fulfilling a major goal of the legislation that re-established the Court of Appeals in 1977. "They wanted to bring justice to the people, and save time and money by having the judges travel to locations across the state rather than having the public pay to send attorneys great distances to have their appeals resolved.

"There typically are at least two attorneys, one for each side, to argue the appeals, meaning a typical Court of Appeals docket of 15 cases would require 30 attorneys to travel to Topeka if the three-judge panel did not sit in various locations across the state as caseloads warranted," Chief Judge Greene said.

"After all, in the vast majority of appeals, the Court of Appeals is the Court of last resort," he said. "Even more, we see this as a wonderful opportunity to educate and inform Kansas citizens about the work of the Court, and how appeals from the district courts are resolved. Judicial outreach is a priority for us," he said.

The Court's docket includes four criminal cases, as well as a variety of civil cases and two domestic relations appeals. All sessions will be in the Pittsburg Judicial Center and will be open to the news media and public. Public outreach programs planned for the Court's visit, the first in many years, include:

  • A guest lecture by Chief Judge Greene and Judge Arnold-Burger to students at Pittsburg State University Monday morning, March 14, the day before the Court sessions, on the role of the Court of Appeals in the judicial system. The judges will present "you be the judge" scenarios, framing historic and constitutional questions for audience participation.

  • Presentations by Judge Pierron that Monday to classes at both Ft. Scott and Pittsburg high schools. The judge will present recent U.S. Supreme Court cases interactively in which students role play the parts of the litigants, lawyers, and judges. The students ultimately vote on the cases and learn how the Supreme Court decided them.

  • A luncheon with the local bar association on Wednesday, March 16, at Parrot Bay Restaurant, 408 N. Locust.

(Click here for summaries of the appeals on the Court of Appeals dockets. News photographers and reporters are welcome at all sessions and public outreach programs.)


Chief Justice Lawton Nuss
Chief Justice
Lawton Nuss

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: March 2, 2011

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The Blue Ribbon Commission that will make a comprehensive study of the court system to assist the Supreme Court in finding improvements in the way the courts serve Kansans will conducts its organizational meeting in Topeka March 9.

The 24-member Commission's appointments were announced in January by Chief Justice Lawton R. Nuss. The membership includes legislative and executive branch appointees, as well as those appointed by the Supreme Court. The meeting will be in the Fatzer Courtroom in the Kansas Judicial Center, 301 SW 10th Ave.

The Commission potentially could recommend the most dramatic changes to the judicial branch of government since court unification in 1977, Chief Justice Nuss said. Named Commission chair is Court of Appeals Judge Patrick D. McAnany, a former two-term chief judge of the Johnson County District Court.

Hon. Patrick McAnany
Hon. Patrick McAnany

Judge McAnany said he views the Commission's work as an important and much-needed step in modernizing the state's courts to meet today's challenging economic conditions. "We may look to technology, such as electronic filing of court cases, staffing patterns, and a myriad of other things to undertake this comprehensive review," Judge McAnany said.

Agenda items will include the Supreme Court's charge to the Committee, which will be presented by Chief Justice Nuss. It is to include the Court's suggestions for undertaking the review, as well as a compilation of previous studies of the Kansas court system for the Commission's review. He said the Commission also will have the results of the weighted caseload study that is currently being conducted to assist it in developing the recommendations.

The chief justice said the Commission is authorized to consider such issues as the number of court locations needed to provide Kansans access to justice, the services to be provided in each court location, hours of operation, appropriate use of technology, cost containment or reductions, and flexibility in the use of human resources. But he said the Commission would not be limited to those subjects and will have the authority as its work progresses to review other operational efficiencies associated with the court system.

Once the Commission completes its work, a report to the Supreme Court will be submitted. It is expected the report will contain recommendations for action the Court can take on its own authority, as well as action that may require statutory or state constitutional change, He said the Commission will have authority as its work progresses to review other operational efficiencies associated with the court system.

(Chief Justice Nuss and Judge McAnany will be available for questions immediately after their opening remarks next week. Attached is a complete list of the Blue Ribbon Commission membership - http://www.kscourts.org/Judicial-Branch-Review/default.asp.)


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: March 1st, 2011

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The Court of Appeals will meet in special session Friday at 2 p.m. to swear-in the newest member of that court, Hon. Karen Arnold-Burger, former presiding judge of the Overland Park Municipal Court.

Judge Arnold-Burger was appointed to the Court of Appeals by former Gov. Mark Parkinson to fill vacancy created by the retirement of Chief Judge Gary W. Rulon. Prior to her appointment, she served as presiding judge of the Overland Park Municipal Court since 1996, and was a member of that court since 1991.

Judge Arnold-Burger will be presented to the Court of Appeals by Judge Janice Miller Karlin, Topeka, a federal bankruptcy judge for the U.S. District Courts of Kansas. The swearing-in ceremony will be in the Supreme Court Courtroom in Topeka, with a reception immediately following in the Judicial Center atrium.

Judge Arnold-Burger served as First Assistant City Attorney for the City of Overland Park before accepting a position as an Assistant U.S. Attorney in Kansas City, Ks, prior to her appointment to the city court.

Judge Arnold-Burger has served as President of the Johnson County Bar Association, the Kansas Municipal Judges Association, and the Earl E. O'Connor Inn of the Court. She currently serves on the Executive Board of the NCSCJ, a section within the Judicial Division of the American Bar Association. She has been an adjunct faculty member of the National Judicial College since 2000, and was elected by her fellow faculty members to serve on the Faculty Council beginning in 2010.

She is a graduate of the Institute for Faculty Excellence in Judicial Education at the University of Memphis and is a frequent presenter at judicial programs nationwide. In 2006, she was awarded the Justinian Award for Professional Excellence by the Johnson County Bar Association, an award given annually to an attorney who exemplifies integrity, service to the community, and service to the legal profession.

Judge Arnold-Burger is a 1979 graduate of the University of Kansas and a 1981 graduate of KU's School of Law.


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: February 18, 2011

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The Supreme Court Nominating Commission Friday sent the names of two district judges and a Topeka attorney to Gov. Sam Brownback as nominees to fill a vacancy on the Court of Appeals that was created by the appointment of Justice Nancy L. Moritz to the Supreme Court.

Nominated were Shawnee County District Judge David E. Bruns, Labette County District Judge Jeffry L. Jack, and Topeka attorney Teresa Watson. The three were selected following inter views of 19 persons who applied for the vacancy. The interviews were open to the public.

Judge Bruns has been on the Shawnee County bench since 1999. Prior to his appointment as judge, he was in private practice with the Topeka law firm of Goodell, Stratton, Edmonds & Palmer, L.L.P., where he became a partner in 1989. He had practiced in that firm since his graduate from the Washburn University School of Law in 1984. He has been an adjunct professor of law at the Washburn law school since 1977. Judge Bruns received his undergraduate degree from the University of Kansas in 1981.

Judge Jack was appointed to the position in 2005 and before that served in the House of Representatives from January 2003 until his judicial appointment. The judge practiced law in Parsons from 1989 until 2005. In addition to his service as judge, he has been active in a number of Parsons civic organizations, including Big Brothers/Big Sisters of Labette County, Labette County Local Emergency Planning Committee, Parsons Downtown Business Redevelopment Task Force, Juvenile Justice Citizens Advisory Board, and the Kansas Army Ammunition Plant Task Force. He is a 1983 cum laude graduate of Harvard University and a 1987 graduate of the University of Kansas School of Law.

Watson, who is a member of the Topeka firm of Fisher, Patterson, Sayler & Smith L.L. P., is included on the Best Lawyers in America in the area of Appellate Law for 2010 and 2011. She was named "Boss of the Year" by the Topeka Paralegals Association for 2010. During her legal career, she has served as a research attorney for both the state Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court. She has been a member of the Fisher, Patterson firm since 2003. She is a 1994 magna cum laude graduate of the Washburn University School of Law where she also received an undergraduate degree with high honors.

The governor will have 60 days in which to make an appointment.


Dr. Howard Scwhartz
Dr. Howard Schwartz

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: February 14, 2011

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Dr. Howard Schwartz, longtime Kansas Judicial Administrator, announced his retirement after 32 years as head of the Office of Judicial Administration, the Supreme Court's administrative arm. He is the longest serving State Court Administrator in the nation.

As Judicial Administrator, Dr. Schwartz oversaw much change in the Kansas courts over the years, including the automation of the state's courts, implementation of statewide child support guidelines, development of a case management system, and administering a now 30-year program to reduce delay in the courts. He presided over court unification in the 1980s, which consolidated the many local courts throughout the state into a single, efficient, and responsive court system operating under the Supreme Court.

His retirement is effective March 5th. A retirement ceremony is scheduled in the Supreme Court Courtroom for February 25th, with a reception following. Schwartz is only the second person to be appointed as head of the Office of Judicial Administration, which provides administrative services for the state court system. Besides being responsible for implementing the rules and policies of the Supreme Court as they apply to court administration, Schwartz and his staff perform duties related to fiscal operations, personnel management, education, statistical caseload information, public information, court services, and many other administrative matters involving the trial and appellate courts.

He began public service in Kansas in 1975, when he became Director of Employment Services in the state's Division of Personnel, a position he held until 1978, when he accepted a position as Personnel Officer in the Office of Judicial Administration. He received the 1989 Distinguished Service Award of the National Center for State Courts for an outstanding career in court administration in Kansas and for national leadership in the areas of court delay reduction, jury management, and child support enforcement. He also was awarded the 1999 Kansas Public Administrator of the Year Award and the Kansas Bar Association's Honorary Membership Award in 2007, one of only four recipients in Bar Association history.

Schwartz is married to Elaine Schwartz and has four children and nine grandchildren.


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: January 31, 2011

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The Supreme Court Nominating Commission today released its interview schedule for applicants to fill a vacancy on the state Court of Appeals that has been created by the appointment of Supreme Court Justice Nancy L. Mortiz, who was a member of that court before her appointment to the state's highest court.

The Nominating Commission will interview 19 applicants February 17-18 in an open session that will be conducted in the Court of Appeals Courtroom on the second floor of the Judicial Center in Topeka. The interviews will be open to the public pursuant to Commission guidelines that were adopted earlier this month.

The guidelines specify that interviews will run 20-30 minutes each, during which the applicant will begin with an opening statement of no longer than five minutes. Commission members then will ask questions.

No questions or comments will be taken from spectators at the interviews, although the Commission will accept written public comment until one week prior to the interviews. The comments may be addressed to the Supreme Court Nominating Commission, Attn. Anne Burke, Chair, 301 S.W. 10th Ave., Topeka, KS 66612.

The guidelines specify that a portion of an interview may occur in closed session if necessary to protect the privacy interests of the applicant. Closing any portion of an interview is disfavored, the guidelines state.

The guidelines also prohibit cameras, cell phones, or electronic devices from being used in the interview room. That provision was included for several reasons, including the Commission's desire to maintain a professional comfort level during the questioning, and to guard against later applicants gaining an unfair advantage by hearing or seeing recordings of earlier interviews.

The guidelines and interview schedule are attached. The schedule includes links to additional biographical information for each applicant.


Hon. Lawton Nuss
Chief Justice Lawton Nuss

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: January 27, 2011

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The Supreme Court will conduct an historic session Thursday, January 27, when it convenes in the former Supreme Court Courtroom in the Statehouse to hear appeals in four cases.

Chief Justice Lawton R. Nuss said the temporary relocation from the Judicial Center to the Statehouse is to commemorate the state's sesquicentennial, which is January 29. To his knowledge, the Court has not used the former Courtroom since its move to the Judicial Center in 1978. He said the justices will be gaveled into session by Tim Rues, historic re-enactor and administrator of Constitution Hall, a state historic site at Lecompton. Rues said he will be in period costume and that other similarly dressed re-enactors have been invited to attend a hallway reception at 4:30 following the Court's session.

The Court's docket for the session, which begins at 1:30 p.m., contains four appeals. They include a murder case from Manhattan, an automobile negligence appeal arising from a motor vehicle fatality accident, an appeal from a Kansas Corporation Commission decision, and a jurisdictional dispute in a trade secrets matter. Read a summary of the appeals here.

"This is an excellent opportunity for all legislators and the public to learn more about the work of the Court, as well as commemorate the Court's rich history over the 150 years of Statehood," Chief Justice Nuss said. He noted that the oral arguments, as in all of the other Supreme Court's hearings, will be audio-streamed live over the Internet at www.kscourts.org. "The justices believe Kansans should have direct access to their courts and know who we are and what we do," the Chief Justice said.

Moving the Supreme Court oral arguments to the former Courtroom for the day is the brainchild of Sen. Jeff King, an attorney-legislator from Independence. Chief Justice Nuss said Sen. King telephoned last summer, suggesting the Court hear arguments in its former courtroom. "I was very interested in the idea," said Nuss, who himself is an avid fan of Kansas history. "I told him I would submit the idea to my colleagues, and they also were enthusiastic about it," he said.

King said in commemorating the 150th year of Statehood it is vital that legislators and the public learn more about the Supreme Court. "We think it's important to make the oral arguments more accessible to the Legislature and the public," he said. King praised House Judiciary Chair Rep. Lance Kinzer, R-Olathe; and Senate Judiciary Chair Tim Owens, R-Overland Park, for their assistance in making the courtroom and a committee room available for the session, and for encouraging their colleagues to attend as time permits.

Statehouse Architect Barry Greis said the courtroom has been renovated to accommodate legislative committee hearings, which is now its primary use, but has been restored as closely as possible to its appearance in 1903, the year a photograph used for the restoration was taken. For example, the room is carpeted using the exact pattern in the photograph; however, the colors had to be guessed, because the photo is in black and white.

He said the room's detail includes the recreation of its six chandeliers, which at the time could be lit with either gas or electricity. The lamps on each end of the bench also are true to their depiction in the photo. One renovation discovery revealed that the bench of the Supreme Court had been expanded and moved forward several feet in the 1930s to accommodate a "robing room" immediately behind a false wall where the justices could meet before taking their seats on the bench.

"We moved the bench back to where it was in 1903 and eliminated the room behind the courtroom," Greis explained. The bench also was shortened to mirror its earlier size. Behind the bench above the justices' chairs are some of the same photographs of previous justices that were hanging there in the 1903 photograph

Meanwhile, in a nod to a "back to the future" concept, the latest in high tech equipment, including data and electricity ports and assisted listening devices, have been installed, making the room compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act, Greis said.

A reception sponsored by the newly created Appellate Practice Section of the Kansas Bar Association will wrap up the day in the hallway just outside the courtroom beginning at 4:30 p.m.


Hon. Lawton Nuss
Chief Justice Lawton Nuss

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: January 5, 2011

For more information
contact Ron Keefover
Education-Information Officer

Chief Justice Lawton R. Nuss today announced the appointment of a 24-member “Blue Ribbon Commission” that will conduct an intensive review of state court operations and structure. The Commission’s effort will assist the Kansas Supreme Court in finding improvements in the way the courts serve Kansans.

In making the announcement, Chief Justice Nuss said, “The Commission’s recommendations will have the potential to provide the most dramatic changes to the judicial branch of government since court unification in the 1970s.”

Kansas Court of Appeals Judge Patrick D. McAnany, a former two-term chief judge of the Johnson County District Court, was appointed to chair the Commission.  He has been a Judge of the Court of Appeals since 2004.

“The Supreme Court is committed to finding ways to function as efficiently as possible so that we can assure Kansans receive justice that is sensitive, compassionate, swift, and accurate,” Chief Justice Nuss said. “Additionally, this Commission will have precise information about the work of the Kansas courts that has not previously been available, thanks to a weighted caseload initiative that was launched in August.”  The weighted caseload study is the first review in Kansas history to accurately measure the time and personnel required to process cases by considering such influences as case complexity, the driving time for some judges in less populated areas to travel from court to court within their district, and administrative burdens.

Chief Justice Nuss said the Blue Ribbon Commission is authorized to consider such issues as the number of court locations needed to provide Kansans access to justice, the services to be provided in each court location, hours of operation, appropriate use of technology, cost containment or reductions, and flexibility in the use of human resources.  He added, though, that the Commission would not be limited to those subjects and will have authority as its work progresses to review other operational efficiencies associated with the court system.

Once the Commission completes its work, a report to the Supreme Court will be submitted. It is expected the report will contain recommendations for action the Court can take on its own authority, as well as action that may require legislative approval or state constitutional change.  “We want many alternatives presented that could lead to a better system of justice in Kansas,” Chief Justice Nuss said.  “We also want to ensure we are being optimum stewards of our taxpayer resources.”

Chief Justice Nuss said the Court’s appointment of the Blue Ribbon Commission, and the weighted caseload study, were in large part the result of a historic Spring 2010 in which the state’s courts were forced to close, for the first time in their nearly 150-year history, due to lack of money.

The Commission membership was appointed to reflect the wide diversity of the state’s population, both geographically and professionally.  It includes appointments of one member each by Gov. Mark Parkinson, Gov.-Elect Sam Brownback, House Speaker Mike O’Neal, and Senate President Steve Morris.  Their appointees are: Joseph F. Harkins, a Kansas Corporation Commission commissioner; Sam H. Sheldon, an Ottawa attorney; State Sen. Jeffrey R. King, Independence; and Gerald O. Schultz, a Garden City attorney, respectively.

During the most recent reporting period between July 1, 2009, and June 30, 2010, Kansas state courts handled approximately 500,000 of all types of cases, which included more than 170,000 traffic cases. There are approximately 266 judge positions and 1,590 non-judicial positions authorized for the state courts, but budget cuts require the system to currently maintain on average 75-80 vacancies, which represents about five percent of the non-judicial work force.

(Chief Justice Nuss has agreed to make himself available for follow-up interviews throughout the day today.  They may be arranged by contacting me. Additional information is available on a website that has been set up for this project.  The address is: http://www.kscourts.org/Judicial-Branch-Review/default.asp)      

Hon. Patrick McAnany
Hon. Patrick D. McAnany,
Chair

Committee Membership

The full membership of the Blue Ribbon Committee includes: Court of Appeals Judge Patrick McAnany, Chair, Topeka; Wyandotte County District Judge Constance Alvey, Kansas City; Bob Boaldin, of Epic Touch communications company, Elkhart; Barton County Counselor/Administrator Richard A. Boeckman, Great Bend; Wabaunsee County District Magistrate Judge Blaine A. Carter, Alma; 12th Judicial District Chief Judge Kim W. Cudney, Washington; and Graham County Clerk of the District Court Donna L. Elliott, Hill City.

Trego County District Magistrate Judge Richard Flax, Wakeeney; Kansas Corporation Commissioner Joseph F. Harkins, Topeka; Karen H. Hester, University of Kansas School of Law, Director of Career Services and Director of Diversity and Inclusion, Lawrence; Martha Hodgesmith, University of Kansas Associate Director for Disability Policy, Lawrence; State Sen. Jeffrey R. King, Independence; Susan Lynn, editor and publisher of The Iola Register, Iola; Doris Miller, Co-Owner of Rocking M Radio, Manhattan; Mike Padilla, Kansas Department of Revenue, Alcoholic Beverage Control Chief Enforcement Officer, Topeka; and Linda Parks, Attorney and Managing Partner, Hite, Fanning & Honeyman, Wichita;

Reginald Robinson, Washburn University School of Law Professor, Topeka; Gerald O. Schultz, Attorney, Garden City; Sam H. Sheldon, Haley Title Company attorney and owner, Ottawa; State Sen. John Vratil, Overland Park; Finney County Attorney John P. Wheeler, Jr., Garden City; Calvin Williams, Attorney, Colby; Sam Williams, managing partner/CPA, Sullivan Higdon & Sink, Wichita; and Riley County District Judge Meryl D. Wilson, Manhattan.