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The Kansas Supreme Court
301 SW 10th Avenue
Topeka Kansas 66612-1507

Office of Judicial Administration
Telephone:
 785.296.2256
Fax:  785.296.7076
Email: info@kscourts.org

Appellate Clerk's Office
Telephone:
 785.296.3229
Fax:  785.296.1028
Email: appellateclerk@kscourts.org


News Releases

01/11/13: Judicial Vacancy in the 9th Judicial District.
01/22/13: Sedgwick County Judge to Sit With Supreme Court
01/25/13: Supreme Court Orders New Trial in Topeka Capital Murder Case
01/31/13: State of Judiciary Released
02/01/13: Supreme Court Rules Topeka Helicopter Purchase, Deposit Void
02/25/13: 9th Judicial District Interviews Postponed
03/11/13: Court of Appeals Judge Swearing-In Friday
03/22/13: Nominees for 9th District Sent to Governor
05/03/13: Child Support Guidelines Advisory Committee Members Sought
06/27/13: Applicants sought for District Magistrate Judge vacancy in Morris County
06/27/13: New Officers of Kansas District Judge Assn. Elected
06/28/13: Two Kansas Court Officials to Receive Prestigious National Awards
06/28/13: Johnson County Judge Receives Prestigious Award
07/10/13: New Grant will enable Court E-Filing for 65% of State's Caseload
07/17/13: Applicants Sought for DMJ Vacancy
07/19/13: Chief Judge Wheeler Selected for Institute
08/05/13: Court of Appeals Judge Addresses African American Youth Day
08/06/13: Kansas Chief Justice Appointed to National Conference Board of Directors
08/08/13: Emporia Judge Named to Sentencing Commission
08/09/13: Two Kansas Court Officials Receive ABA Awards
08/12/13: Six Apply for 11th Judicial District Vacancy
08/15/13: New Civics Ed Program Launched
08/15/13: Magistrate Judge Appointed for Morris County
08/15/13: Four Apply for Republic County District Magistrate Judge
08/23/13: Supreme Court Sends Topeka Bethany Place Parking Lot Project Back to City Hall
08/23/13: Two Nominated for 11th Judicial District Judge Vacancy
08/28/13: Republic County District Magistrate Judge Appointed
09/20/13: Supreme Court Appoints Budget Advisory Council
10/04/13: Court Budget Advisory Council to Hold Organizational Meeting
10/28/13: Kansas Supreme Court has special session at Pittsburg State University
11/27/13: Judicial Branch Appoints New Public Information Director
11/27/13: Kansas Chief Justice Lawton R. Nuss Attends Conference of Chief Justices’ Board of Directors Meeting
12/13/13: Court Budget Advisory Council delivers report to Supreme Court
12/30/13: Caleb Stegall to be sworn in as Court of Appeals judge January 3

See the Archives for new releases dating back to 1997


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: December 30, 2013

For more information
contact Lisa Taylor
Public Information Director
785-296-4872

Caleb Stegall to be sworn in as Court of Appeals judge January 3

TOPEKA--Caleb Stegall will be sworn in as judge of the Kansas Court of Appeals at 2 p.m. Friday, Jan. 3, in the courtroom of the Supreme Court in the Kansas Judicial Center, Topeka.

Court of Appeals Chief Judge Thomas Malone will preside at the ceremony.

The public can access a live webcast of the ceremony by following the Watch Supreme Court Live! link in the right-hand column of the Kansas Judicial Branch website at http://live.kscourts.org/live.php

Stegall was appointed 14th judge of the Court of Appeals by Gov. Sam Brownback. He is the first Court of Appeals judge to be confirmed to the bench by the Kansas Senate under a new selection process enacted by the 2013 Legislature.

Prior to his appointment, Stegall served as chief legal counsel to Gov. Brownback, where he was the top legal adviser to the Kansas executive branch and oversaw the work of more than 100 executive branch attorneys in the legal departments of 13 cabinet agencies.

From 2005 to 2011, Stegall managed Stegall & Associates in Perry, Kansas, which was recognized by U.S. News & World Report as one of Kansas’ top law firms. Stegall was awarded the Kansas Bar Association’s 2010 Pro Bono Certificate for successfully representing American missionaries charged with serious crimes in Haiti following that country’s devastating earthquake in 2010.

From 2009 to 2011, Stegall served as the elected Jefferson County Attorney, where he oversaw a full-time staff that managed a yearly caseload of hundreds of misdemeanors and felonies.

Upon his admission to the bar in 2000, Judge Stegall served as a law clerk to the Honorable Deanell R. Tacha, chief judge of the Tenth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals. He then joined the Topeka office of the Foulston Siefkin law firm, where he practiced in the areas of commercial, tort and appellate litigation.

Stegall earned his Juris Doctorate in December 1999 from the University of Kansas School of Law, where he served on the Kansas Law Review; was awarded the William L. Burdick Prize, given to the top student in his or her class; and graduated Order of the Coif. He received his Bachelor of Arts degree from Geneva College in Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania.

Stegall and his wife, Ann, have five children—Simon, Jacob, Ethan, Theodore and Quentin. They are members of the Grace Evangelical Presbyterian Church in Lawrence.

Note to media: If you plan to cover Friday’s swearing-in ceremony, notify Lisa Taylor at 785-296-4872, or taylorl@kscourts.org, by noon Thursday, Jan. 2.


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: December 13, 2013

For more information
contact Lisa Taylor
Public Information Director
785-296-4872

Court Budget Advisory Council delivers report to Supreme Court

TOPEKA—The Court Budget Advisory Council delivered to the Kansas Supreme Court this morning its report identifying strategies to consider for addressing an $8.25 million shortfall in the Judicial Branch base budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1, 2014.

Although 11 strategies were considered, only seven were recommended and prioritized for their ability to provide immediate, short-term savings with the least amount of disruption to Kansans and their statewide court system.

The strategies include maintaining and possibly increasing job vacancies (which strains already understaffed courts), eliminating court services officer positions that perform necessary but not statutorily required duties, and furloughing nonjudicial employees.

Also included was a recommendation to delay filling judicial openings, which would require changes to Kansas statute, and to reduce a grant that historically has been awarded to Kansas Legal Services to promote access to justice by those with few financial resources.

The report was received by Chief Justice Lawton R. Nuss on behalf of the Supreme Court, who shared it with Judicial Branch employees and judges statewide, noting that the Supreme Court would continue to advocate for more funding for fiscal year 2015.

Chief Justice Lawton R. Nuss
Kansas Chief Justice Lawton R. Nuss
Chief Justice Lawton R. Nuss
Hon. Karen Arnold-Burger

“I appreciate the Court Budget Advisory Council’s hard work on this difficult subject. Their objective look at all potential outcomes reflects their thoroughness, as well as the central factor that 96 percent of the Judicial Branch’s budget is for salaries and wages,” Nuss said. “Their report makes it abundantly clear that if the Legislature does not appropriate more money, tough decisions – including closing Kansas courts – will need to be made.”

The report was presented to Nuss by Court of Appeals Judge Karen Arnold-Burger, chair of the 10-member Council that met over six weeks to study the consequences the budget shortfall will have on Kansans and their courts.

“The recommendations in this report reflect the gravity of the Council’s task given the potential for court closures, staffing cuts and resulting delays if additional appropriations are not added to the court system,” Arnold-Burger said. “To the extent that we could, we tried to minimize the effect the proposed strategies would have on the people and businesses of Kansas.”

The Council’s full report is available on the Kansas Judicial Branch website at http://www.kscourts.org/pdf/CBAC-Report-12132013.pdf.

Members of the Court Budget Advisory Council include leaders from business, legislative, executive and judicial sectors: Chief Judge Meryl Wilson of the 21st Judicial District (Clay and Riley Counties), who was named Council vice chair; Sheriff Don Ash, Wyandotte County; Bruce Buchanan, President, Harris Enterprises, Inc., Reno County; State Representative Pete DeGraaf, District 82, Sedgwick and Sumner Counties; District Magistrate Judge Ann Dixson, 16th Judicial District, Kiowa County; Marc Elkins, Vice-President and Associate General Counsel, Cerner Corporation, Wyandotte County; Jim Minnix, Scott County Commissioner; John Vanier, Chief Executive Officer, Western Star Agriculture, Inc., Saline County; and John Wheeler, retired Finney County Attorney.

Also see these resources November Presentation, October Presentation, October Agenda, October News Release


Chief Justice Lawton R. Nuss
Kansas Chief Justice Lawton R. Nuss

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: November 27, 2013

For more information
contact Lisa Taylor
Public Information Director
785-296-4872

Kansas Chief Justice Lawton R. Nuss attended the National Center for State Courts Conference of Chief Justices Board of Directors meeting November 21, 2013, in Washington, D.C.

Nuss is the first chief justice from Kansas to be appointed to the board of directors in more than 20 years. He was appointed in July 2013.

“The Council of Chief Justices provides great opportunities to compare notes and exchange ideas with fellow chief justices across the country. A highlight of our recent meeting was having dinner with United States Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts at the U.S. Supreme Court building,” Nuss said.

Kansas Governor Bill Graves appointed Nuss to the Supreme Court in August 2002. Nuss became the first court member in more than 20 years to move directly from the practice of law to the bench. He became chief justice in August 2010.

Before he was appointed to the Kansas Supreme Court, Nuss started a law practice with the Salina firm of Clark, Mize & Linville, Chartered, in August 1982. For the next 20 years, he was involved in a wide range of legal issues and proceedings. He represented the prosecution and the defense in various criminal matters and the plaintiff and the defendant in different civil matters.

Nuss is a member of the American, Kansas and Topeka Bar Associations. He was appointed an honorary Marshal of Dodge City in 2010. In 2011, he was selected to participate in the Henry Toll Fellowship, a nationwide leadership development program for highly recognized state leaders.

Nuss graduated from the University of Kansas in 1975, the U.S. Naval Justice School of Newport, Rhode Island, in 1977, and the University of Kansas School of Law in 1982. In between obtaining his degrees from the University of Kansas, Nuss served in the United States Marine Corps as a combat engineering officer in the Western Pacific.

The Conference of Chief Justices was founded in 1949 and is composed of the top judicial officers of each state, the District of Columbia and U.S. territories. The national court association promotes the interests and effectiveness of state judicial systems by developing policies and educational programs designed to improve court operations. Conference of Chief Justices also acts as the primary representative of the state courts before Congress and federal executive agencies.


Lisa Taylor
Public Information Director
Lisa Taylor

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: November 27, 2013

For more information
contact Lisa Taylor
Public Information Director
785-296-4872

The Kansas Supreme Court announced today that Lisa Taylor has been appointed public information director for the Kansas Judicial Branch. Taylor succeeds Ron Keefover, who founded the court’s public information office in 1981 and retired in September.

Taylor has more than a decade of state government communication experience, including working as communications director for the Kansas Department of Agriculture and as communications specialist with the Kansas Department of Revenue.

"While we will miss Ron Keefover’s invaluable service and contributions to the Kansas Judicial Branch, we are confident that Lisa Taylor is more than capable of taking over the responsibilities of the public information office. We are pleased she agreed to join us and to help the branch in its public communication and outreach efforts," Chief Justice Lawton Nuss said.

In her public information role, Taylor will facilitate information flow about Kansas courts to the media and the public. She also will respond to media inquiries about the court system, manage website design and content, help trial courts with high-profile cases, and develop and implement public education programs.

Taylor graduated from Washburn University with a bachelor’s degree in media writing and publishing and she serves on the board of the Topeka chapter of the International Association of Business Communicators. She lives in Topeka.

The Kansas Judicial Branch includes district courts in each of the state’s 105 counties, a soon-to-be 14-member Court of Appeals, and a seven-member Supreme Court. The Office of Judicial Administration implements the rules and policies of the Supreme Court as they apply to the operation and administration of the Judicial Branch, providing services in fiscal operations, education and training, personnel management, public information and communication, information services, caseload information, court programs and more.


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: October 28, 2013

For more information
contact Helen Pedigo

Kansas Supreme Court has special session at Pittsburg State University

Pittsburg State University will be the setting for a special session of the Kansas Supreme Court the morning of November 5, 2013, as the Court hears oral argument in four appeals. The Court will meet from 9 a.m. to noon in Sharon Kay Dean Recital Hall in McCray Hall at Pittsburg State University. The public is welcome to arrive and leave at any point during the court session.

This event is part of a Supreme Court public outreach program to hold dockets outside of Topeka so that the general public and students can learn about the justices—who they are, what they do and how they do it. The session will also highlight the differences between a trial at the local district court and oral arguments in the appeals process. To assist in understanding the cases to be heard by the Court, case summaries have been written and formatted into a tri-fold brochure, which will be distributed at the door during the court session. Those attending will hear arguments in three civil cases (employment/independent contractor, wrongful death, and eminent domain), as well as one criminal case (Jessica’s law).

A video stream will also be available on the Judicial Branch website at http://www.kscourts.org by clicking on the yellow button titled “Watch Supreme Court Live!”

Media representatives should arrive between 8:00 and 8:15 a.m. in order to check out their equipment. Members of the print and broadcast audio/video media pool should contact Ron Womble, Director, Media Relations, 620-235-4124, kwomble@pittstate.edu, to learn how to connect to the courtroom audio/video feeds. The usual provisions of Supreme Court Rule 1001 on cameras and other electronic devices remain in place. Any station wishing to receive the video feed directly from the courtroom should be plugged in and checked out prior to 8:45 a.m. that day. Jacob Anselmi, videographer, and Malcom Turner, photographer, of Pittsburg State University, will be the pool videographer and photographer. Please contact either of these photographers directly for a copy of the video or photos.

  • KOAM-TV Pittsburg news coverage
  • Pittsburg State University video coverage

  • Chief Justice Lawton R. Nuss
    Kansas Chief Justice Lawton R. Nuss

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: October 4, 2013

    For more information
    contact Helen Pedigo
    785-368-6327

    The Court Budget Advisory Council will conduct its organizational meeting in Topeka on October 7. The Council was created to study the consequences for Kansans and their courts if the Legislature makes no changes to its present Judicial Branch appropriation for Fiscal Year 2015.

    The 10-member Council's appointments were announced in September by Chief Justice Lawton R. Nuss. Its members include business, legislative, executive and judicial leaders. The meeting will begin at 8:45 a.m. in the Court of Appeals Courtroom of the Kansas Judicial Center, 301 SW 10th Ave.

    Chief Justice Nuss said, "The present multimillion dollar Judicial Branch funding shortage, if left unresolved through the legislative process, will mean serious consequences for many Kansans for the year beginning July 1, 2014. The Budget Advisory Council will help the Supreme Court plan for the worst – while we hope for the best during this upcoming legislative session." Council chair is Court of Appeals Judge Karen Arnold-Burger, former presiding Judge of the Overland Park Municipal Court, and former Assistant U.S. Attorney.

    Chief Justice Lawton R. Nuss
    Hon. Karen Arnold-Burger

    Judge Arnold-Burger said she views the Council's work as an important piece of responsible fiscal planning. "The Council will examine both long-term and short-term budget reduction strategies to aid the Supreme Court in making these very tough decisions," Judge Arnold-Burger said.

    Agenda items will include the Supreme Court's charge to the Council, presented by Chief Justice Nuss. It is expected that the Council will eventually prepare a prioritized listing of recommendations for reductions in Judicial Branch expenditures, which could include statewide court closures.

    Once the Council completes its work, it will submit its report to the Supreme Court by December 13, 2013, so that any Court proposals can be made to the Legislature in January 2014 for consideration.

    Court Budget Advisory Council membership includes Court of Appeals Judge Karen Arnold-Burger, Chair. In addition, Chief Judge Meryl Wilson of the 21st Judicial District (Clay and Riley Counties) has been appointed Vice-Chair. Other council members include Sheriff Don Ash, Wyandotte County; Bruce Buchanan, President, Harris Enterprises, Inc., Reno County; State Representative Pete DeGraaf, District 82, Sedgwick and Sumner Counties; District Magistrate Judge Ann Dixson, 16th Judicial District, Kiowa County; Marc Elkins, Vice-President and Associate General Counsel, Cerner Corporation, Wyandotte County; Jim Minnix, Scott County Commissioner; John Vanier, Chief Executive Officer, Western Star Agriculture, Inc., Saline County; and John Wheeler, retired Finney County Attorney.

    (Chief Justice Nuss and Judge Arnold-Burger will be available for questions immediately after their opening remarks to the Council October 7.)

    Meeting Agenda


    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: September 20, 2013

    For more information
    contact Helen Pedigo

    Chief Justice Lawton R. Nuss today announced the Supreme Court's creation of a 10-member budget advisory council tasked with studying the consequences for Kansans and their courts if the Legislature makes no changes to its present Judicial Branch appropriation for Fiscal Year 2015.

    During the 2013 legislative session the Governor and Legislature made appropriations for a two-year budget, including FY 2015 (the year beginning July 1, 2014). Chief Justice Nuss stated that the advisory council was formed because the current appropriation for FY 2015 is approximately $8.25 million less than the Judicial Branch's base budget request, and approximately $16 million less than its total budget request.

    The Chief Justice expressed concern about the impact on Kansans caused by any court underfunding because it restricts their access to justice and undermines their confidence in their justice system. But he is particularly concerned about the $8.25 million reduction.

    "Budget shortfalls in 2010 and 2012 resulted in the Supreme Court closing courts statewide and sending our 1500 employees home without pay," Chief Justice Nuss said. "Given this experience, we know that the simple solution to an $8.25 million reduction would be to close all state courts for about 7 weeks. This is a terrible prospect to consider. While the court budget advisory council will consider many solutions to the underfunding problem, some statewide court closures may necessarily be part of their recommendations."

    Nuss went on to say that the current reduced appropriations for FY 2015 will mean reduced services for users of the Kansas courts, including businesses. As the Chief Justice explained in a recent budget cover letter to legislators:

    "The importance of the Kansas Judicial Branch as a factor in the formula for private business success has been recognized by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's Institute for Legal Reform. According to the Chamber's 2012 national survey of senior business executives and corporate attorneys, Kansas courts rank fifth among the 50 states in the overall ranking of state liability systems, as perceived by U.S. businesses. Seventy percent of the business leaders surveyed report that a state's litigation environment is likely to impact their important business decisions, 'such as where to locate or do business.' . . ."

    According to the Chief Justice, while a healthy Kansas court system is vital to economic growth in Kansas, "A court funding shortfall endangers the Kansas pro-business climate currently promoted by the Governor and many legislators."

    The Supreme Court appointed Court of Appeals Judge Karen Arnold-Burger to chair the court budget advisory council. In addition, Chief Judge Meryl Wilson of the 21st Judicial District (Clay and Riley Counties) has been appointed Vice-Chair. Other council members include Sheriff Don Ash, Wyandotte County; Bruce Buchanan, President, Harris Enterprises, Inc., Reno County; State Representative Pete DeGraaf, District 82, Sedgwick and Sumner Counties; District Magistrate Judge Ann Dixson, 16th Judicial District, Kiowa County; Marc Elkins, Vice-President and Associate General Counsel, Cerner Corporation, Wyandotte County; Jim Minnix, Scott County Commissioner; John Vanier, Chief Executive Officer, Western Star Agriculture, Inc., Saline County; and John Wheeler, retired Finney County Attorney .

    The council has scheduled its first meeting for October 7th in the Kansas Judicial Center in Topeka. The meeting will be open to the public. The council has been directed to report its findings and recommendations in writing to the Supreme Court by December 13, 2013 so any Court proposals may be made to the Legislature in January 2014 for consideration.


    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: August 28, 2013

    For more information
    contact Ron Keefover
    Education-Information Officer

    The 12th Judicial District Nominating Commission has selected Starla Borg Nelson, Jamestown, as District Magistrate Judge to succeed Judge John Eyer, who died, it was announced in Topeka today.

    She was selected following public interviews conducted in Belleville Tuesday.

    Nelson has been in private practice of law in Jamestown since 2009, during which she has primarily practiced in criminal, domestic, juvenile offender, and child in need of care cases. She also served as city prosecutor for the City of Delphos in 2011.

    Admitted to the bar in 2004, she began her legal career with Foulston Siefkin, LLP, in Wichita. Before opening her Jamestown office, she served as an attorney in the Salina office of the Kansas State Board of Indigents’ Defense Services from 2006-2008, and then with Condray & Thompson, LLC, in Concordia.

    Nelson received her law degree, Magna Cum Laude, from the Washburn University School of Law in 2004,  and her undergraduate degree from Kansas State University in 2001.


    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: August 23, 2013

    For more information
    contact Ron Keefover
    Education-Information Officer

    The names of two Crawford County attorneys today were sent to Gov. Sam Brownback as nominees to fill a district judge vacancy created by the June retirement Chief Judge John C. Gariglietti.

    Nominated by the 11th Judicial District Nominating Commission were Kurtis Ike Loy, Pittsburg, and David Kelley Markham, Parsons.  The governor will have 30 days in which to select one of them for the judgeship.

    Loy has been in the private practice of law since being admitted to the Bar in 1980, beginning as an associate in his father’s law firm, K.I. Loy, Attorney at Law, in Pittsburg, and continuing the practice at the same location since then. Through the years, his practice has been primarily transactional law, family law, and tax, but he also undertook insurance defense and civil litigation during his career. The firm is currently known as Loy & Sagehorn, LLC.

    Loy is a 1972 graduate of Pittsburg High school, a 1976 graduate of Pittsburg State University, where he received a BSBA degree in accounting, and a 1979 graduate of the Washburn University School of Law.

    Markham has been in the private practice of law in Parsons since 1977, where his firm is now known as Tucker and Markham, Attorneys at Law. During his 36 years as an attorney, he has continuously practiced in a variety of areas of the law, including commercial, family, real estate, probate, juvenile, traffic, criminal, civil litigation law, and appellate practice. As part of his practice, he has represented Unified School District 503, Labette Community College, and Labette Health for a number of years. In addition, he has represented the Great Plains Development Authority, which is attempting to redevelop the ammunition plant near Parsons, during the past three years.

    A 1970 graduate of Parsons High School, he received a BA degree from the University of Kansas in 1974 and his law degree from Washburn University School of Law with Dean’s Honors in 1977.


    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: August 23, 2013

    For more information
    contact Ron Keefover
    Education-Information Officer

    The Supreme Court today sent a dispute over the Grace Episcopal Church’s proposed parking lot next to Bethany Place back to the City of Topeka for further study about the impact the parking lot would have on the registered state historic site, which is adjacent to the cathedral and Topeka High School.

    The justices said in a 6-1 decision filed this morning that the City failed to take what state and federal caselaw characterizes as a “hard look” at all the relevant factors that must be reviewed before authorizing a project that “encroaches upon, damages, or destroys historic property.”  The controversy arose when an ad hoc community group called Friends of Bethany Place organized to protest the parking lot project, arguing there were reasonable alternatives that minimize harm to the green space, save several historic trees, and otherwise protect aesthetics and surrounding property values.

    Writing for the Court’s majority, Justice Dan Biles said the citizen’s group had legal standing under the state’s Historic Preservation Act to challenge the project in court because some Friends of Bethany Place members live within 500 feet of Bethany Place and had claimed construction would harm their property.  He said the law contemplated that residents and property owners in close proximity to historic sites could have a protectable interest and noted the law itself declared it was the public policy of Kansas and in the public interest “to engage in a comprehensive program of historic preservation and to foster and promote the conservation and use of historic property for education, inspiration, pleasure and enrichment of the citizens of Kansas.”

                “In this way, the legislature has expressed the significance to be given these protections for our state’s historic locations,” Biles wrote. “Our reading of the statute in this fashion to hold that standing exists for these individuals follows the statutory language, is consistent with our caselaw, and promotes the Act’s stated purposes.”

    After determining the Friends of Bethany Place had standing to challenge the City Council’s issuance of a building permit for the parking lot, the Court then reviewed the decision making and determined it fell “far short” under Kansas law. The Court held the Council had the statutory obligation to determine whether there were feasible alternatives to the parking lot project, and that there had been all possible planning to minimize harm to the historic site. The Court noted it had decided in 1997 to use a “hard look” test when deciding whether a governing body complied with its obligations under the state Historic Preservation Act and should continue to use it. The Court said this test reflected “both the deference owed to the governing body’s decision and the requirement that the governing body set forth sufficient alternatives and use common sense when deciding to approve a proposed project.”

    The Court said, “the Council’s failure to adequately perform its investigatory role to identify what feasible and prudent alternatives exist and what planning was or could be done to minimize harm to Bethany Place makes the Council’s determination arbitrary and capricious. It did not take into account the applicable law and the principles underlying the law.”

    A dissent in the case was filed by Sedgwick County District Judge Timothy G. Lahey, who had been assigned to hear the matter in place of Chief Justice Lawton R. Nuss, who recused. Judge Lahey would have found that Friends of Bethany Place lacked standing to file the suit, that the majority should not have applied the “hard look” test because it is derived from federal environmental law, and that the majority’s analysis is contrary to the state’s Historic Preservation Act.

    The case will now be remanded to Shawnee County District Court with directions to send the project back to the Topeka governing body with instructions to conduct another hearing after the necessary information is submitted to establish that no feasible and prudent alternatives exist and that all possible planning has been done to minimize harm to the historic property.


    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: August 15, 2013

    For more information
    contact Ron Keefover
    Education-Information Officer

    Four persons have applied for a District Magistrate Judge vacancy in Republic County created by the death of Judge John Eyer, it was announced in Topeka today.

    They include Joel E. Cates, Belleville, a Kansas Highway Patrol trooper; Candace J. Fielder, also of Belleville, with the Republic County Hospital; Paul J. Hickman, Salina, Assistant Regional Public Defender; and Starla L. Borg Nelson, Jamestown, an attorney in private practice.

    The 12th Judicial District Nominating Commission will conduct interviews August 27, 2013, in the Republic County Courthouse. Republic County is one of the six counties in the 12th Judicial District. They include Cloud, Jewell, Lincoln, Mitchell, Republic, and Washington Counties.

    The nominating commission includes Justice Nancy L. Moritz, as the nonvoting chair, and Dan Brewer, Concordia; Carol K. Good, Barnard; Jerry L. Harrison, Beloit; Dwight L. Daniels, Beloit; Daniel D. Metz, Lincoln; Michael E. Johnson, Courtland; Darrell E. Miller, Mankato; J. Bradley Lowell, Concordia; Douglas G. Simms, Belleville; Steven G. Melby, Mankato; Regine L. Thompson, Scandia; and Bruce E. Meyer, Palmer.


    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: August 15, 2013

    For more information
    contact Ron Keefover
    Education-Information Officer

    Margaret Francesca "Peggy" White, Council Grove, today was appointed Morris County District Magistrate Judge to succeed Judge Thomas H. Ball, who retired in May, it was announced in Topeka today.

    The appointment was made by the 8th Judicial District Nominating Commission, which conducted interviews of Judge White and R. Randall Heilman, a Council Grove attorney in private practice, who also applied for the position.

    Judge White, who also has been the White City Attorney and Municipal Judge for Council Grove, is a 1992 graduate of the Washburn University School of Law. She has been in private practice in Council Grove in her firm, White Law Office. Her professional memberships have included the Morris County Bar Association, Eighth Judicial District Bench Bar Committee, Morris County Youth Court, and the Morris County Multi-Disciplinary Team.

    Her appointment will be effective upon swearing-in.

    The Eighth Judicial District Nominating Commission includes Justice Marla J. Luckert, non-voting chair; and members Darrel W. Bryant, Council Grove; Victor A. Davis Jr., Junction City; Edwin M. Wheeler Jr. and Kevin R. Fruechting, both of Marion; Douglas G. Thompson, Chapman; Carol L. Gaston, Milford; Kevin O. Harris, Abilene; and Darrell L. Miller, Dwight.


    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: August 15, 2013

    For more information
    contact Ron Keefover
    Education-Information Officer

    The Kansas Supreme Court and the Kansas Bar Association (KBA) initiated a new effort to encourage use of an on-line game-based educational curriculum - iCivics – to reinvigorate civic learning in Kansas classrooms.

    iCivics is a free on-line civics education program started by U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor in 2007 following her retirement from the high court.  The Kansas iCivics Coordinator, Overland Park attorney Ted J. McDonald, Adam & McDonald, PA, is being assisted and supported by a Kansas iCivics Advisory Committee formed at the request of Supreme Court Chief Justice Lawton R. Nuss.  The Chief Justice is excited about the educational possibilities iCivics offers, and he and several other state Chief Justices around the country are very supportive of the program.  The Advisory Committee includes judges, teachers, attorneys, other professionals, and staff members at the Supreme Court, the Office of Judicial Administration, the KBA, and the Department of Education.  Current teacher/curriculum director committee members include Deborah K. Brown of the Shawnee Mission Schools, and Debra Stewart and Susan Sittenauer of the Topeka schools, and all currently use iCivics in theirwork.

     The Committee plans to promote the curriculum’s use during “Celebrate Freedom Week,” which was enacted during the 2013 legislative session as an opportunity to educate school children on the Constitution and Declaration of Independence. 

                “Celebrate Freedom Week” can be presented to students during any full school week as determined by local school boards.  During the week, public schools are required to teach to grades kindergarten through eight the history of the country’s founding, with particular emphasis on the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution, and to eventually include their relationship to the nation’s diversity by way of immigration, major wars, and social movements in American history.  The State Board of Education, along with other volunteers, is required to promote “Celebrate Freedom Week.”

    The Advisory committee also plans to facilitate contacts with local educators, principals, curriculum developers, school boards, and “home school” organizations and individuals to assist with the introduction of iCivics into the educational system. In addition, the KBA may seek to use its lawyer members and others to reach out locally to educators and schools about iCivics. 

     iCivics seeks to improve civics education and support teachers by providing off-the-shelf solutions that can be integrated with existing curricula, by taking a digital approach to engage students and by leveraging media that the students are already using – video games. 

    iCivics currently has several curriculum units:  Foundations of Government; The Constitution;  Three Branches; The Judicial Branch; The Executive Branch; The Legislative Branch; Government & the Market; Persuasive Writing; Citizenship and Participation; Budgeting; Influence Library; Politics and Public Policy; International Affairs; Landmark Library; State and Local Governments; Civil Rights; County Solutions; and Media and Influence.  iCivics also develops new curriculum units periodically.  Each unit has corresponding lesson plans, web quests and a game that allows teachers to approach the curriculum in a variety of ways.  If used together, iCivics’ lesson plans and games make up more than a semester’s worth of instruction and learning.  If teachers pick up lesson plans and games here and there, each curriculum unit can independently supplement the teacher’s existing plans.

    More information is available at the iCivics website,  http://www.icivics.org/.  You may also contact Ted McDonald at TMcDonald@mam-firm.com, and 913-647-0670.


    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: August 12, 2013

    For more information
    contact Ron Keefover
    Education-Information Officer

    Six Crawford County attorneys have applied for a judicial vacancy that was created by the retirement of Chief Judge John C. Gariglietti. Friday was the deadline to apply for the vacancy in the 11th Judicial District, which includes the counties of Cherokee, Crawford, and Labette.

    Applicants include: David Brake, of Henshall, Pennington & Brake in Chanute; Michael Gayoso, Jr., Crawford County Attorney in Girard; Kurtis Loy, of Loy & Sagehorn, LLc, Pittsburg; David Markham, of Tucker and Markham, Parsons; John Mazurek, of Mazurek Law Office, Pittsburg; and Steven Stockard, of Wilbert & Towner, P.A., Pittsburg.

    The seven-member 11th Judicial District Nominating Commission will interview the applicants during public sessions on August 22 in the Pittsburg Courthouse. The commission is responsible for submitting the names of two or three nominees to the governor, who will have 30 days in which to make a selection. The 11th district judicial nominating commission includes Justice Lee A. Johnson, as the nonvoting chair, and Sara S. Beezley, Girard; James K. Cook, Parsons; Hon. Oliver K. Lynch, Baxter Springs; John W. Lehman, Girard; Richard G. Tucker, Parsons; and Charles W. Sweeton, Baxter Springs.


    ABA Award
    Judge Mary B. Thrower, Minneapolis, (left), and Denise Kilwein, Topeka, smiled broadly after receiving prestigious awards at the annual meeting of the American Bar Assn. Thursday, August 8, 2013, in San Francisco.

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: August 9, 2013

    For more information
    contact Ron Keefover
    Education-Information Officer

    Two Kansas court officials Thursday were recognized by the American Bar Assn. Thursday when they were presented prestigious awards as part of the ABA's annual meeting, in San Francisco.

    Receiving the national awards were District Magistrate Judge Mary B. Thrower, Minneapolis, and Denise Kilwein, Director of Judicial Education, at the Office of Judicial Administration in Topeka.

    Judge Thrower received the Franklin N. Flaschner Award, which is given to a judge who "embodies the high ideals, personal character, and competence in performing judicial duties that were exemplified by the late Chief Justice Franklin N. Flaschner of Massachusetts." She was nominated by Chief Justice Lawton R. Nuss of the Kansas Supreme Court for her significant contributions on local and state levels for improving the quality of justice in courts with special and limited jurisdiction. Judge Thrower's many contributions include serving on the Judicial Needs Assessment Committee for the only weighted caseload study performed in the 152-year history of Kansas.

    Ms. Kilwein received the Judicial Education Award in recognition of her excellence as Director of Judicial Education for the Kansas Judicial Branch. Court of Appeals Judge Karen Arnold-Burger wrote in nominating her for the award that "although most states have entire staffs dedicated to judicial education, Denise has done it all. At the same time, she has developed a relationship with the National Judicial College and the ABA that have resulted in the judges of Kansas receiving the best training available. As budget cuts loomed, she also was able to establish in-house training programs and train-the-trainer programs."

    Chief Justice Nuss said he is particularly proud of Judge Thrower and Ms. Kilwein. "The ABA's Judicial Division of Specialized Court Judges is presenting only four national awards this year. And Kansans won half of them. I believe this is a first for our state. Judge Thrower and Ms. Kilwein are among the best of the many fine judges and judicial staff who every day proudly serve the citizens of Kansas despite difficult circumstances." Chief Justice Nuss said.


    Judge W. Lee Fowler
    Judge W. Lee Fowler

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: August 8, 2013

    For more information
    contact Ron Keefover
    Education-Information Officer

    Chief Justice Lawton R. Nuss announced today that he has appointed Judge W. Lee Fowler to the Kansas Sentencing Commission. Judge Fowler has served as a district judge since 1997 in the 5th Judicial District. He presides over cases in Lyon and Chase Counties. Judge Fowler joins Judge Evelyn Wilson of Shawnee County as one of two district judges appointed by the Chief Justice to the commission.

    Judge Fowler said, "I am honored to have the opportunity to serve as a member of the Kansas Sentencing Commission. I look forward to being able to participate in addressing issues that face our state in the criminal justice system."

    Fowler, a native of Parsons, Kansas, is a graduate of Emporia State University and Washburn University School of Law. He served on the 5th Judicial District Community Corrections Advisory Board from 1990 through 1992, and again from 2007 to the present. He currently serves as chairman. Judge Fowler created a drug court in Emporia in 2004 and has presided over it since that time. He brings a unique perspective to the commission, having served as Chase County Attorney from 1985 – 1993, and later as defense counsel in private practice. He replaces Judge Richard M. Smith of Linn County on the commission.

    Chief Justice Nuss said, "I am very pleased to announce Judge Fowler's appointment. His longtime interest in corrections, and in the connection between the use of drugs and alcohol and the commission of crimes, will be a definite asset to the Kansas Sentencing Commission." The Kansas Sentencing Commission consists of seventeen members appointed from all three branches of government. The Commission evaluates sentencing practices as they relate to correctional resources and policies, determines the impact of sentencing practices on the state's prison population, and recommends statutory modifications to the Legislature. The Commission is the sentencing information resource for the Legislature and criminal justice agencies.


    Chief Justice Lawton R. Nuss
    Kansas Chief Justice Lawton R. Nuss

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: August 6, 2013

    For more information
    contact Lorri Montgomery
    Director of Communications
    National State Courts
    757.259.1525
    lmontgomery@ncsc.org

    Kansas Chief Justice Lawton R. Nuss appointed to
    Conference of Chief Justices’ Board of Directors


    Williamsburg, Va. (Aug. 6, 2012) — Kansas Chief Justice Lawton R. Nuss was appointed to the Conference of Chief Justices’ Board of Directors during the Conference of Chief Justices and Conference of State Court Administrators (CCJ/COSCA) annual meeting on July 31 in Burlington, Vermont.

    “When I consider all the talented people in the Conference of Chief Justices, I am greatly honored by this appointment,” Chief Justice Nuss said shortly after being selected.

    Kansas Governor Bill Graves appointed Nuss to the Supreme Court in August 2002. Nuss became the first Court member in more than 20 years to move directly from the practice of law to the bench. He became Chief Justice in August 2010.

    Prior to his promotion with the court, Chief Justice Nuss began his law practice with the Salina firm of Clark, Mize & Linville, Chartered in August 1982. For the next 20 years, he was involved in a wide range of legal issues and proceedings.   He represented the prosecution and the defense in various criminal matters and the plaintiff and the defendant in different civil matters. Chief Justice Nuss is a member of the American, Kansas, and Topeka Bar Associations. He was appointed an honorary Marshal of Dodge City in 2010, and in 2011 was selected to participate in the Henry Toll Fellowship, a nationwide leadership development program for highly recognized state leaders.

    Chief Justice Nuss graduated from the University of Kansas in 1975, the United States Naval Justice School of Newport, Rhode Island in 1977, and the University of Kansas School of Law in 1982. In between obtaining his degrees from the University of Kansas, Nuss served in the United States Marine Corps as a combat engineering officer in the Western Pacific.

    The Conference of Chief Justices was founded in 1949 and is comprised of the top judicial officers of each state, the District of Columbia, and U.S. territories. The national court association promotes the interests and effectiveness of state judicial systems by developing policies and educational programs designed to improve court operations. CCJ also acts as the primary representative of the state courts before Congress and federal executive agencies.

    The National Center for State Courts, headquartered in Williamsburg, Va., is a nonprofit court reform organization dedicated to improving the administration of justice by providing leadership and service to the state courts. Founded in 1971 by the Conference of Chief Justices and Chief Justice of the United States Warren E. Burger, NCSC provides education, training, technology, management, and research services to the nation’s state courts.


    Chief Judge Merlin Wheeler
    Judge Henry W. Green addressed student leaders at the annual African American Youth Day at the Capitol

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: August 5, 2013

    For more information
    contact Ron Keefover
    Education-Information Officer

    Court of Appeals Judge Henry W. Green, Jr., a Leavenworth resident, swore in and spoke to the student legislators at the annual African American Youth Day at the Capitol on Friday, August 2, 2013, hosted by the Kansas African American Affairs Commission. The event brought in 50-60 middle school students from across the state to learn about Kansas policymaking, civil service, and community leadership. The student legislators received exposure to the political process in Kansas and received training in leadership, government policymaking, and community advocacy, specifically around the critical issue of bullying.

    Judge Green was appointed to the Kansas Court of Appeals in 1993. He is a graduate of Kansas State University and the University of Kansas School of Law. He is a former president of the Leavenworth County Bar Association. He serves as pro bono counsel for the Buffalo Soldier Monument Committee, which raised more than $l million for the erection of the Buffalo Soldier Monument. This bronze statue was dedicated by General Colin Powell at Fort Leavenworth on July 25, 1992, in recognition of the first All-Black Cavalry Units commissioned after the American Civil War.


    Chief Judge Merlin Wheeler
    Chief Judge Merlin Wheeler

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: July 19, 2013

    For more information
    contact Ron Keefover
    Education-Information Officer

    Chief Judge Merlin Wheeler, Fifth Judicial District, headquartered at Emporia, has been invited to attend the National Governors Association Three Branch Institute on Child Social and Emotional Well-Being in Philadelphia, PA, July 24-26, it was announced in Topeka Friday.

    Kansas is one of six states invited to send a team representing the judicial, executive, and legislative branches of government to work together to create a plan for improving child welfare in their states. Mark Gleeson, Director of Trial Court Programs with the Office of Judicial Administration, will join Judge Wheeler as representatives of the Kansas judicial branch.

    The goal of the institute is to "develop state specific plans to promote and measure well-being among children and youth receiving child welfare services; consider evidence-based and research informed strategies that will have a positive effect; and coordinate and enhance existing efforts through the cross-system collaboration and by leveraging Medicaid and other federal and state dollars to fund innovative practices.

    Senator Forrest Knox, Altoona, and Representative Jene Vickrey, Louisburg, will represent the legislative branch. Kathy Armstrong and Brian Dempsey, attorneys with the Kansas Department for Children and Families, will represent the executive branch.

    The other states selected to participate in the Institute include Connecticut, Illinois, New Mexico, Virginia, West Virginia and Wisconsin. Sponsors of the institute are the National Governors Association, the National Conference of State Legislatures, the Casey Family Programs, the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges, and the National Center for State Courts.

    Judge Wheeler has been a District Judge in the 5th Judicial District since 1990 and also has previously served as an assigned judge for the Supreme Court and Kansas Court of Appeals. In addition, he has been appointed to hear cases from other counties. During his tenure as chief judge, he implemented a Child Visitation and Exchange Center, the Citizens Review Board, Child Advocacy Center, Multi-Disciplinary Teams, and Drug Court.

    He was admitted to practice law in 1977 upon his graduation from the Washburn University School of Law. He received an Associate of Arts degree from Dodge City Community College in 1972 and a Bachelor of Arts from Emporia State University in 1974. He has had additional course work at the National Judicial College, including general jurisdiction, advanced evidence, settlement and mediation techniques, computer uses, and handling capital cases.

    Chief Judge Wheeler served as City Attorney for Emporia from 1977 to 1980 and then joined the firm of Perkins and Hollembeak, Chtd., where he rose to shareholder and director before leaving that firm to start his own firm in 1988. He was the owner of Merlin G. Wheeler, Chtd. from 1988 until his appointment to the bench in 1990.


    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: July 17, 2013

    For more information
    contact Ron Keefover
    Education-Information Officer

    A nominating commission charged with appointing a district magistrate judge in Republic County has issued a request for assistance from the public.

    The twelve-member commission is responsible for selecting a district magistrate judge to fill the vacancies which was created by the death of Judge John Eyer.

                “The nominating commission is especially interested in receiving recommendations from the general public.  All of the citizens of Republic 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 Justice Nancy L. Moritz, departmental justice for the 12th Judicial District. 

    Kansas statutes require that a district magistrate judge be a resident of the county in which appointed at the time of swearing in, 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 appointees are requested to complete questionnaires for the position.  The completed forms should be returned to Darrell E. Miller, commission secretary, 208 N. Commercial, Mankato, KS  66956 no later than August 9, 2013.  The forms are available in the office of clerk of the district court of Republic County and online at www.kscourts.org under “What’s New.” 

    The nominating commission will convene at 9 a.m., August 27, 2013, in the Republic County Courthouse, Belleville, to interview the suggested appointees.  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 appointees.

    Notices of the vacancies have been mailed to every attorney in the 12th Judicial District by the chairman of the commission.  Republic County is one of the six counties in the 12th Judicial District.  They include Cloud, Jewell, Lincoln, Mitchell, Republic, and Washington Counties.

    The nominating commission includes Justice Moritz, as the nonvoting chair, and Dan Brewer, Concordia; Carol K. Good, Barnard; Jerry L. Harrison, Beloit; Dwight L. Daniels, Beloit; Daniel D. Metz, Lincoln; Michael E. Johnson, Courtland; Darrell E. Miller, Mankato; J. Bradley Lowell, Concordia; Douglas G. Simms, Belleville; Steven G. Melby, Mankato; Regine L. Thompson, Scandia; and Bruce E. Meyer, Palmer.


    Chief Justice Lawton R. Nuss
    Chief Justice Lawton R. Nuss

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: July 10, 2013

    For more information
    contact Ron Keefover
    Education-Information Officer

    The Kansas Supreme Court has been awarded a $205,152 federal grant to continue implementing a statewide electronic court case filing system, Chief Justice Lawton R. Nuss announced today.

    Called the Federal Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant, it was awarded via the Kansas Criminal Justice Coordinating Council.  The grant will be used to fund the installation of electronic case filing (e-filing) in six additional district courts during the fiscal year that began July 1 and will end June 30, 2014.

    Chief Justice Nuss said in announcing the grant, the courts are excited to be able to continue implementing this technological advancement begun by the Supreme Court several years ago.  “This federal grant means that by the end of this fiscal year, e-filing will be implemented in counties with caseloads totaling 65 percent of our statewide filings.”

    The Chief Justice said the Supreme Court had requested $1.1 million from the 2013 Legislature to implement e-filing statewide, but the legislature denied the appropriation. “Despite that denial, with federal funds the Supreme Court is still able to proceed with a next step in bringing an important technological innovation to case processing in even more Kansas courts.   Electronic processing will increase productivity and reduce the task time and expense for the benefit of all court users,” Chief Justice Nuss said. “This is a good deal for Kansans.”

    The grant will enable electronic filing of court documents in Wyandotte, Butler, Reno, Saline, Finney, and Geary counties. Pilot projects already are in place in the Kansas Supreme Court and Court of Appeals and in Leavenworth, Douglas, and Sedgwick counties. Shawnee County, which will implement e-filing following the pilot courts, is scheduled for its installation this fall. Johnson County already has e-filing available for several types of cases. The federal grant will also permit “batch filing” of cases, so that groups of like cases can be filed at one time, such as limited action debt proceedings involving multiple litigants.

    Statewide, 443,779 cases were filed in Kansas district courts during fiscal 2012, the latest data available. This includes 35,002 criminal cases, 17,854 juvenile offender and child-in-need-of-care cases, and 43,118 domestic cases in addition to traffic, fish and game and similar less time-consuming cases.

    Among cost savings and other efficiencies, the e-filing system working in conjunction with case management and document management systems will:

    • Reduce the amount of time spent by court staff to process a case filing and to search for and handle case files.
    • Enable court clerks, judges, and e-filing participants to access court files at any time, reducing the need for clerks’ offices to produce paper records during the workday.
    • Increase the reliability of the official court record, reducing the chance for lost or misfiled documents, or damage to a file.
    • Reduce the chance of data error because the need for multiple entries of data is eliminated.
    • Reduce physical storage costs.
    • Reduce expenses by eliminating or reducing costs for postage, delivery, photocopying, file assembly, and similar expenses for the courts, attorneys, and court users.

    Johnson County District Judge Thomas M. Sutherland
    Johnson County District Judge Thomas M. Sutherland

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: June 28, 2013

    For more information
    contact Ron Keefover
    Education-Information Officer

    Judge Thomas M. Sutherland, Lenexa, formerly of Prescott, has received the Kansas District Judges Association Judicial Outreach program, a prestigious award that is presented to one judge each year for their exemplary professional and civic outreach at the local, state, and national levels, it was announced in Topeka today.

    Judge Sutherland, who has been a Johnson County District Court Judge since 2003, has been a leader in several professional and civic organizations throughout his legal career, which began upon his graduation from the Washburn University School of Law in 1984.

    Judge Sutherland's civic leadership includes board memberships and other positions on the American Lung Association's Leadership Council, including a stint as its chair from 2010-2012; Head Start of Shawnee Mission; Head Start Ethics Committee; Baker University Alumni Board; Bonjour Elementary School PTA; Lenexa United Methodist Church Children's Council and that church's preschool board.

    Professionally, he is currently a member of the Earl E. O'Connor American Inn of Court, the American Judges Association, and the Kansas District Judges Association. He and his wife, Melany, have two children, Emily and Hannah.

    Johnson County Chief Judge Thomas Foster praised the judge for his volunteerism in the legal profession, as well as for his civic activities. "Judge Sutherland truly deserves this award He is truly devoted to his profession and the Johnson County community," Chief Judge Foster said.


    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: June 28, 2013

    For more information
    contact Ron Keefover
    Education-Information Officer

    The American Bar Assn. will recognize two Kansas court officials by presenting them prestigious awards August 8, 2013, as part of the ABA’s annual meeting, in San Francisco, it was announced in Topeka today.

    Receiving the national awards will be District Magistrate Judge Mary B. Thrower, Minneapolis, and Denise Kilwein, Director of Judicial Education, at the Office of Judicial Administration in Topeka.

    Judge Thrower will receive the Franklin N. Flaschner Award, which is given to a judge who “embodies the high ideals, personal character, and competence in performing judicial duties that were exemplified by the late Chief Justice Franklin N. Flaschner of Massachusetts.” She was nominated by Chief Justice Lawton R. Nuss of the Kansas Supreme Court for her significant contributions on local and state levels for improving the quality of justice in courts with special and limited jurisdiction.  Judge Thrower’s many contributions include serving on the Judicial Needs Assessment Committee for the only weighted caseload study performed in the 152-year history of Kansas.

    Ms. Kilwein will receive the Judicial Education Award in recognition of her 25 years as Director of Judicial Education for the Kansas Judicial Branch. Court of Appeals Judge Karen Arnold-Burger wrote in nominating her for the award that “although most states have entire staffs dedicated to judicial education, Denise has done it all. At the same time, she has developed a relationship with the National Judicial College and the ABA that have resulted in the judges of Kansas receiving the best training available. As budget cuts loomed, she also was able to establish in-house training programs and train-the-trainer programs.”

    Chief Justice Nuss said he is particularly proud of Judge Thrower and Ms. Kilwein.  “The ABA’s Judicial Division of Specialized Court Judges is presenting  only 4 national awards this year.  And Kansans won half of them.  I believe this is a first for our state.  Judge Thrower and Ms. Kilwein are among the best of the many fine judges and judicial staff who every day proudly serve the citizens of Kansas difficult circumstances.” Chief Justice Nuss said.


    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: June 27, 2013

    For more information
    contact Ron Keefover
    Education-Information Officer

    The Kansas District Judge Association, an organization open to all state district court judges, has elected officers for the fiscal year beginning July 1, it was announced in Topeka today.

    Named president is Chief Judge Thomas Foster, 10th Judicial District, a one-county district consisting of Johnson County. Other officers include Hon. Daniel Duncan, Wyandotte County District Court, president-elect; Chief Judge Michael Powers, 8th Judicial District, which includes Dickinson, Geary, Marion and Morris counties, secretary; and Chief Judge Patty Macke Dick, 27th Judicial District, a one-county district consisting of Reno County.

    Outgoing president will be Hon. Mike Keeley, Chief Judge of the 20th Judicial District, which includes Barton, Ellsworth, Rice, Rusell, and Stafford counties. The new officers were elected at a recent statewide judges conference that was conducted in Wichita.


    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: June 27, 2013

    For more information
    contact Ron Keefover
    Education-Information Officer

    A nominating commission charged with appointing a district magistrate judge in Morris County has issued a request for assistance from the public.

    The nine-member commission is responsible for selecting a district magistrate judge to fill the vacancies which has been created by the May 2013 retirement of District Magistrate Judge Thomas H. Ball, Council Grove.

    The nominating commission is especially interested in receiving recommendations from the general public.

    A district magistrate judge is required to be a graduate of a high school or secondary school or the equivalent; to be a resident of the relevant county at the time of taking the oath of office and to maintain residency in the relevant county while holding such office; and to either be a lawyer admitted to practice law in Kansas or pass an examination given by the Supreme Court and become certified within 18 months.

    Suggested appointees are requested to complete questionnaires for the position. The completed forms should be returned to Victor A. Davis, Jr., PO Box 187, Junction city, KS 66441, no later than 5:00 p.m., August 2, 2013. The forms are available in the office of clerk of the district court in Dickinson, Geary, Marion, and Morris counties.

    The nominating commission will convene at 9 a.m., August 15, 2013, in the Morris County Courthouse to interview the suggested appointees. 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 appointees.

    Notices of the vacancies are being mailed to every attorney in the 8th Judicial District by the chairman of the commission.

    The nominating commission includes Justice Luckert, as the nonvoting chair, and Darrel W. Bryant, Council Grove; Victor A. Davis, Jr., Junction City; Douglas G. Thompson, Chapman; Edwin M. Wheeler, Jr., Marion; Kevin R. Fruechting, Marion; Carolyn L. Gaston, Milford; Kevin O. Harris, Abilene; and Darrell L. Miller, Dwight.


    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: May 3, 2013

    For more information
    contact Ron Keefover
    Education-Information Officer

    The Kansas Supreme Court is actively recruiting child support payors and recipients for appointment as community members to the Child Support Guidelines Advisory Committee. These appointees will be voting members on the committee and will serve four-year terms. The committee reviews the general rules governing how child support is established, evaluates the economic basis for the guidelines, and analyzes how courts may use adjustments to tailor child support obligations to meet the needs of a family.

    These four community members will work with the committee to review the general rules governing how child support is established, evaluate the economic basis for the guidelines, and analyze how courts may use adjustments to tailor child support obligations to meet the needs of a family. The committee's meetings typically occur on the fourth Friday of each month during the review period. Because the guidelines are complex and committee members often present widely differing opinions, members must be able to work together, have good written and oral communication skills, and be able to attend most meetings.

    The Court urges all interested and qualified persons to view additional details and submit the application found at kscourts.org.

    The application for this position may be found here: http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/KsCSGmembershipapplication2013


     

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: March 22, 2013

    For more information
    contact Ron Keefover
    Education-Information Officer

    The 9th Judicial Nominating Commission has sent the following names to the governor for an appointment to succeed Judge Anderson: John Klenda and William Mills, both of McPherson, and Marilyn Wilder, Newton.

    Judge Anderson, 66, had been the longest serving district judge in Kansas at the time of his retirement, which was effective January 12, 2013.

    The 9th Judicial District encompasses both McPherson and Harvey counties and has four judges who go between the two counties. Anderson was the district court judge in McPherson County. He served as chief judge of the district for 10 of his 36 years on the bench.

    Also applying were Gregory Bell, attorney from Hutchinson; David Harger, attorney with Wise & Reber, McPherson; Steve Hilgers, district magistrate judge from McPherson; JoAn Lindfors, attorney from Marquette; Gregory Nye, attorney in Newton; David Page, McPherson County attorney; Gary Price, attorney with Boyer and Price, McPherson; and David Yoder, Harvey County attorney.


     

    26th Judicial District Court Judge Kim R. Schroeder
    26th Judicial District Court Judge Kim R. Schroeder

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: March 11, 2013

    For more information
    contact Ron Keefover
    Education-Information Officer

    26th Judicial District Court Judge Kim R. Schroeder will be sworn in as a judge of the state Court of Appeals at 1:30 p.m. on Friday, March 15, in the Supreme Court Courtroom, it was announced today.

    Judge Schroeder was appointed by Gov. Sam Brownback to succeed Judge Christel Marquardt of the 13-member court, who retired on January 14, 2013.  Judge Schroeder, who has been a district judge since 1999, will be presented to the Court of Appeals by Wayne R. Tate, an attorney from Hugoton, Kansas.

    The ceremony will be webcast live from the courtroom, and made available to the public on the judiciary's website, www.kscourts.org, by following the link "Watch Supreme Court Live" on that page.  Court of Appeals Chief Judge Thomas Malone will preside at the ceremony.

     Judge Schroeder was first elected to the 26th Judicial District Court in 1998, and currently serves as a trial judge.  During his tenure, Judge Schroeder has presided over cases involving civil, criminal, juvenile & domestic issues.

     He is a past member of the Board of Governors Kansas Bar Association.  He is also a board member of the southwest Kansas Bar Association and has served as a member and its treasurer since 1992.

    Prior to Judge Schroeder's election to the bench, he practiced law in Hugoton, KS with the law firm of Brollier, Wolf & Schroeder for almost 17 years in general practice of law.

     Judge Schroeder received his undergraduate degree from Washburn University in Topeka, Kansas, and his law degree from Washburn University in 1981.

    Judge Schroeder is married and has two children.  He is a member of First Christian Church of Hugoton, KS.


     

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: February 25, 2013

    For more information
    contact Ron Keefover
    Education-Information Officer

    Due to the approaching snow storm, the 9th Judicial District Nominating Commission has rescheduled interviews of applicants to succeed District Judge Carl B. Anderson, who died February 7th, has been postponed until March 19th, it was announced in Topeka today.

    Judge Anderson, 66, had been the longest serving district judge in Kansas at the time of his retirement, which was effective January 12, 2013.

    The 9th Judicial District encompasses both McPherson and Harvey counties and has four judges who go between the two counties. Anderson was the district court judge in McPherson County. He served as chief judge of the district for 10 of his 36 years on the bench.

    The nominating commission had been scheduled to interview 11 candidates starting at 9 a.m. Tuesday in the McPherson County Courthouse. Following the March interviews that will begin at the same time and place, the commission will choose two to three names to present to Gov. Sam Brownback, who will pick the next judge within 30 days of receiving the recommendations.

    Nominees include Gregory Bell, attorney from Hutchinson; David Harger, attorney with Wise & Reber, McPherson; Steve Hilgers, district magistrate judge from McPherson; John Klenda,  attorney with Karstetter and Klenda, McPherson; JoAn Lindfors  attorney from Marquette; William Mills, attorney in McPherson; Gregory Nye, attorney in Newton; David Page, McPherson County attorney; Gary Price, attorney with Boyer and Price, McPherson; Marilyn Wilder, attorney with Adrian and Pankratz, Newton; and David Yoder, Harvey County attorney.


    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: February 1, 2013

    For more information
    contact Ron Keefover
    Education-Information Officer

    The Supreme Court today upheld a Shawnee County decision that the City of Topeka's 2008 contract to purchase a $740,000 helicopter violated the state's cash basis law, because only five of the 10-member governing body voted for the lease-purchase, instead of six required under the law.

    Today's unanimous decision also affirms Shawnee County District Judge Larry D. Hendricks' ruling in the case that a $74,000 deposit paid to Schreib-Air, the helicopter dealer, must be returned. The case arose in December 2007 when the city council voted 5-3 to authorize the city manager to enter into a lease-purchase agreement to buy a Robinson helicopter from Schreib-Air with financing by Municipal Services Group (MSG).

    The city manager at the time subsequently signed the contract with Schreib-Air, but Topeka Mayor Bill Bunten vetoed the council action authorizing the contract. "Despite the veto, on January 4, 2008, Schreib-Air billed the city for the $74,000 deposit, which the city manager authorized MSG to pay," the Court ruled. The mayor also vetoed a follow-up council resolution that was approved 5-4 in April 2008 authorizing a lease-purchase agreement with MSG to finance the helicopter purchase. "Not surprisingly, that resolution was again vetoed by the mayor," the Court ruled.

    The lawsuit was filed by former Shawnee County District Attorney Robert D. Hecht, but the City filed a motion to dismiss, claiming that the issues were moot because the helicopter was never actually purchased.

    Schreib-Air contended on appeal that its contract with the City was valid at the time it was signed and that any violations of the case-basis law related to the City's financing agreement with MSG, not the contract for purchase. The company also contended that the payment it received was from MSG, not the City; therefore, Schreib-Air had no obligation to the City to return the deposit. Instead, it suggested that the City's obligation, if any, was to MSG alone.

    But the Supreme Court ruled today that the facts clearly show that the lease-purchase agreement with MSG was never approved by six affirmative votes.

    "The city council could only muster five votes in favor of the lease-purchase agreement with MSG, and the mayor repeatedly vetoed the agreement. Accordingly, the agreement with MSG was never validly authorized under the cash-basis law, rendering that agreement void. Consequently, without a valid means of financing the purchase of the helicopter, the City's agreement with Schreib-Air was…void and unenforceable due to the agreement being entered into in violation of the cash basis law," the Supreme Court ruled.

    Decisions in other appeals filed today, include:

    • Appeal No. 102,114: Milano's Inc. v. Kansas Department of Labor, Contributions Unit, affirming a Shawnee County District Court decision that exotic dancers are employees rather than independent contractors for purposes of unemployment insurance. (Unanimous decision authored for the Court by Justice Carol A. Beier, affirming an unemployment compensation claim by a Club Orleans dancer, saying that the Club Orleans dancers' tips qualified as wages, thus making them employees, not independent contractors.)

    • Appeal No. 99,595: State v. Melvin H. Martinez, reversing a Johnson County decision denying the defendant's motion to suppress drug evidence that was obtained when law enforcement encountered Martinez while searching for a suspect in another matter.

    • Appeal No. 100,178: State v. Anthony R. Murphy, affirming the defendant's Geary County convictions of possession of cocaine with intent to sell and possession of cocaine without a tax stamp.

    • Appeal No. 103,028: State v. Bruno Edgar, reversing a Cowley County decision denying a motion to suppress evidence obtained during and following a preliminary breath test (PBT) that was submitted to after the arresting officer told the defendant he had no right to refuse the PBT. (Unanimous, authored for the Court by Justice Dan Biles.)

    • Docket No. 108,494: In Re: John C. Davis, disbarring an Overland Park attorney based on his conversion of $83,000 of an elderly client's trust fund to pay his personal marital income tax liabilities. (The client was unable to communicate effectively after suffering strokes.)

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: January 31, 2013

    For more information
    contact Ron Keefover
    Education-Information Officer

    Chief Justice Lawton R. Nuss Thursday suggested legislators create and fund 22 new judicial positions as an alternative to repealing a statute that mandates at least one judge be located in each of the state's 105 counties and essentially prevents the Judicial Branch from transferring some of those judges to where they are most needed.

    The proposal was contained in the chief justice's 2013 State of the Judiciary Report, which was delivered to legislators in writing Thursday afternoon.

    "For fiscal year 2014, the Supreme Court proposes that rather than eliminating these statutory restrictions on judge transfers, the Legislature instead can create and fund the 22 judicial positions and accompanying staff needed to meet judicial needs in the underserved areas identified by the weighted caseload study," (an historic exhaustive analysis of the state's judicial caseload led by the National Center for State Courts). "If the Legislature chooses not to do so, however, then these statutory restrictions should be removed," Chief Justice Nuss wrote in the annual report.

    He noted that the extensive weighted caseload study revealed that "while Kansas has enough judges, some are not placed where they are most needed. That is partially due to a 30-year-old statute that absolutely requires at least one judge to reside in, and have principal office in, each county—regardless of the existing demands of the legal market there," Chief Justice Nuss wrote in the report.

    The weighted caseload study was part of a statewide review of Judicial Branch operations that included a 24-member Blue Ribbon Commission, composed of citizens "from a variety of backgrounds and leadership positions from across the state."

    Thursday's State of the Judiciary message outlined progress made the last twelve months in implementing the Commission's recommendations in 11 main categories, which include the development of statewide electronic filing (e-filing) of court cases. Nuss said current e-filing funding through the end of this fiscal year, including legislative appropriations and federal grants, will cover the two appellate courts and the district court in Shawnee County as well as pilot projects in Douglas, Leavenworth, and Sedgwick county district courts.

    "Additional legislative funding [from the State General Fund] is being sought for fiscal year 2014 to allow full statewide implementation of EFS (e-filing system) by the end of calendar year 2015," Chief Justice Nuss wrote.

    He said the Supreme Court ultimately intends to develop and implement a complete centralized statewide e-courts environment—EFS plus electronic case management systems (CMS) and document management systems (DMS).

    "Upon completion, such a combination of statewide systems could allow court personnel in any location to work virtually on court business in any other location, once again allowing the Supreme Court to more effectively and efficiently manage the state's court system. Properly used, such statewide systems could help us to keep a functioning 'open for business' court clerk's office in all 105 counties.

    "It might be suggested that these electronic systems are absolutely critical to keeping some of these offices open, and further suggested that keeping these offices open is absolutely critical to providing access to justice for our fellow Kansans living in those areas," Chief Justice Nuss wrote.

    In his report's conclusion, Chief Justice Nuss observed that "Several themes have been emphasized recently in the State to set the course for the conduct of Kansas government. First, government should become more efficient, but still provide essential or core services to the people we all serve. Second, government should promote economic growth of existing businesses and those that Kansas hopes to attract to our state." He pointed out that the Kansas Judicial Branch is doing all of these.

    Looking at these themes, Nuss noted increased efficiencies and the growing application of sound business management principles in the Judicial Branch. As for providing essential services, the Chief Justice wrote, "administering justice to all Kansans has been an original function of government performed by the Judicial Branch since 1861. Indeed, since 1861 the Kansas Constitution Bill of Rights has provided that Kansans are entitled to 'remedy by due course of law' and [civil] 'justice administered without delay.' "

    "Adequate court funding is critical to providing these essential services—while inadequate funding undermines not only access to justice, but also the people's belief in the justice system itself," the Chief Justice wrote.

    The Chief Justice concluded that if promoting economic growth is now the set course for Kansas government, "then the Kansas Judicial Branch should be recognized as a vital factor in that formula for success." He emphasized that Kansas courts have been deciding business disputes since 1861.

    Nuss further observed that the excellence of the Kansas courts was acknowledged in a 2012 business survey by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. He pointed out the survey ranked our courts "fifth among the states in the overall ranking of state liability systems." The Chamber declared these rankings were important to the business community because "a state's litigation environment is likely to impact important business decisions . . . such as where to locate or do business."


    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: January 25, 2013

    For more information
    contact Ron Keefover
    Education-Information Officer

    The Supreme Court today ordered a new trial of Phillip D. Cheatham Jr.'s capital murder case, based on ineffective assistance of counsel, as well decisions in a medical malpractice and workers compensation appeal. Links to the full text of these decisions follow the summaries below:

    Appeal No. 95,800: State v. Phillip D. Cheatham Jr.

    The Supreme Court today remanded a Topeka capital murder case for a new trial based on ineffective assistance of counsel for among other things volunteering to the jury that the defendant had a prior manslaughter conviction and repeatedly referring to his client as a "professional drug dealer" and "shooter of people."

    The murder trial of Phillip D. Cheatham Jr. arose from the December 2003 shooting deaths of Annette Roberson and Gloria Jones and the severe wounding of Annetta Thomas at a Topeka residence. Following trial, the state agreed with the appellate defender that Cheatham received ineffective assistance of counsel during the penalty phase of the proceeding, but disputed that he received ineffective assistance during the guilt phase.

    Following a previous remand in the appeal process, the Shawnee County District Court reversed the death penalty, based on the state's stipulation that the penalty phase was handled improperly, and said in its ruling that Cheatham's attorney, Ira Dennis Hawver, "had no business taking on a death penalty case."

    Justice Dan Biles, writing for a unanimous Supreme Court said, "But despite those findings, the district court upheld Cheatham's convictions. We hold that trial counsel's representation denied Cheatham the fair trial he is guaranteed by both the federal and state constitutions.

    "Specifically, we hold that counsel's performance was deficient in several respects, which were most seriously problematic when he volunteered to the jury that Cheatham had a prior voluntary manslaughter conviction and referred repeatedly to his client as a 'professional drug dealer' and 'shooter of people.' This denied Cheatham his right to a fair trial," Biles wrote for the Court.

    "We hold further that under the circumstances in this case, counsel's fee arrangement created an actual conflict of interest that adversely affected the adequacy of Cheatham's defense. We reverse his convictions and remand the case for a new trial."

    The Court noted the fee arrangement gave Hawver an incentive not to prepare adequately for Cheatham's trial and to reject offers by the Board of Indigents Defense Services to furnish co-counsel, investigators, consultants, and expert witnesses to assist in defense efforts. The Court characterized the 200 hours that Hawver spent on Cheatham's case as "appallingly low for a death penalty defense and even more stunning when all but 60 of those hours, as Hawver testified, were spent in trial."

    Also Friday, the Supreme Court filed decisions in medical malpractice and workers compensation appeals, including:

    • Appeal No. 104,951: Martha Fernandez v. McDonald's, affirming a Workers Compensation Appeals Board decision that Fernandez can be awarded disability benefits even though she was an unauthorized alien at the time of her workplace injury, which occurred at a Topeka McDonald's restaurant. (Unanimous, authored for the Court by Justice Lee A. Johnson.)
    • Appeal No. 98,932: Donna Schlaikjer v. James D. Kaplan, M.D., reversing a Johnson County District Court decision granting summary judgment in favor of Kaplan in a case arising out of surgeries to treat the plaintiff's tracheal stenosis. (Unanimous decision, remanding for further proceedings to permit Schlaikjer's expert witness to testify about the standard of care relating to Kaplan's treatment of the plaintiff.)

     

    Sedgwick County District Judge Joseph Bribiesca
    Sedgwick County District Judge Joseph Bribiesca

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: January 22, 2013

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    Education-Information Officer

    Sedgwick County District Judge Joseph Bribiesca has been appointed to sit with the state Supreme Court Tuesday, January 29, to hear oral arguments in a review of a Court of Appeals decision affirming the dismissal of a Lyon County personal injury case.

    The Supreme Court appointed Judge Bribiesca to join them for the appeal in place of Justice Marla Luckert. Judge Bribiesca will hear oral arguments in Appeal No. 102,662: Adam Simmons v. Richard W. Porter and Sarah M. Porter, doing business as Porter Farms, and then participate in the high court deliberations and opinion drafting.

    Judge Bribiesca will join the Court to review an appeals court decision affirming the Lyon County District Court's grant of the Porter Farms' motion for summary judgment in a suit arising from a farm shop accident in which Simmons was severely burned. Simmons sued Richard and Sarah Porter, doing business as Porter Farms, contending Porter Farms was negligent by failing to provide him with a reasonably safe workplace.

    Simmons was burned and permanently injured when a shop light fell and ignited gasoline that had been spilled during his removal of a fuel tank from a truck he had been working on. Simmons contends the district court improperly applied the assumption of risk doctrine in granting summary judgment to Porter Farms.

    Judge Bribiesca has been on the Sedgwick County bench since 1994. Prior to becoming a district court judge, Bribiesca served 14 years as the Maize Municipal Court Judge, while maintaining a private law practice that began in 1977, upon his graduation from the Washburn University School of Law. A graduate of the Wichita State University with a BA in Spanish, he also holds an Associate of Arts degree from Hutchinson Community College.

    During his career in private practice, Judge Bribiesca also served as a prosecutor for the cities of Mulvane and Wichita, as a guardian ad litem and judge pro tem in the Sedgwick County Juvenile Court and as a prosecutor for parental severance litigation in the legal department of the former Social and Rehabilitation Services.


    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: January 11, 2013

    For more information
    contact Ron Keefover
    Education-Information Officer

    A nominating commission charged with naming candidates to fill a district judge vacancy in the 9th Judicial District has issued a request for assistance from the public.

    The 9th Judicial District includes the counties of Harvey and McPherson.

    The nine-member commission is responsible for submitting the names of two or three nominees to the Governor for the vacancy which was created by the retirement of District Judge Carl B. Anderson.

                “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 9th 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 Justice Carol A. Beier, departmental justice for the 9th 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 the Office of the Clerk of Appellate Courts, Attn: Julie Meyer, 301 SW 10th Ave., Topeka, KS  66612, no later than noon, February 1, 2013.  The forms are available in the office of the clerk of the district court in Harvey and McPherson Counties.

    The nominating commission will convene at 9:00 a.m., February 22, in the McPherson County Courthouse, McPherson, 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 9th district judicial nominating commission includes Justice Beier, as the nonvoting chair, and Thomas A. Adrian, Newton; William E. Gusenius, Lindsborg; John S. Robb, Newton; Robert W. Wise, McPherson; Michael L. Androes, McPherson; Ronnie L. Krehbiel, Burrton; Harris G. Terry, McPherson; and George Rogers, Newton.