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Telephone:
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Fax:  785.296.7076
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News Releases Archive
Kansas Judicial Branch - News Releases for 1999

10/27/99 -- 10/14/99 -- 9/15/99 -- 6/4/99 -- 5/4/99 -- 4/16/99 -- 3/16/99


Office of Judicial Administration
Kansas Judicial Center
301 West 10th
Topeka, Kansas 66612-1507
(785) 296-2256
For More Information, contact Ron Keefover, Education-Information Officer

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: October 27, 1999

The Supreme Court Nominating Commission today nominated three persons to fill a vacancy on the Court of Appeals that was created by the death Sept. 1 of Judge M. Kay Royse.

Carol G. Green, clerk of the Supreme Court, delivered the names of Carol Ann Beier, Wichita; Lee Alan Johnson, Caldwell; and Dana Pogue Niceswanger, Lenexa, to the office of Gov. Bill Graves earlier today. The governor has 60 days in which to make an appointment.

The nominees were selected from a field of 25 persons who applied for the vacancy. Interviews of suggested nominees were conducted by the nine member Nominating Commission Monday and Tuesday.

Beier, 41, received her law degree from the University of Kansas School of Law in 1985, where she was Articles Editor for the Kansas Law Review. She received her undergraduate degree in journalism from KU in 1981. She has been in the private practice of law with the Wichita firm of Foulston & Siefken since 1988. She became a partner in that firm in 1993.

Prior to joining the Wichita law firm, Beier served a year as a law clerk for the Hon. James K. Logan, of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit, and then spent a year as a staff attorney at the National Women's Law Center in Washington D.C.

Johnson, 52, is a 1979 graduate of the Washburn University School of Law and received a BS degree in business administration from the University of Kansas in 1969. He has been in private practice in Caldwell since his admission to the bar in 1980. He served as mayor of the City of Caldwell from 1976 to 1977 and has been city attorney for both Caldwell and Argonia.

Niceswanger, 40, is a 1985 graduate of the Washburn University School of Law and a 1980 graduate of Stephens College, Columbia, MO. She was an associate attorney in the Salina firm of Clark Mize & Linville, Chtd., from 1985 to 1990 and served the firm as a shareholder from 1990 to 1995. She became a sole practitioner in Salina from 1995-1997 and then joined the Overland Park firm of McDowell, Rice, Smith & Garr, P.C., where she currently practices.


Office of Judicial Administration
Kansas Judicial Center
301 West 10th
Topeka, Kansas 66612-1507
(785) 296-2256

For more information contact
Ron Keefover
Education-Information Officer

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: October 14, 1999

Twenty-five attorneys, including three district judges and one municipal judge, have applied for appointment as a judge of the Court of Appeals to succeed Hon. M. Kay Royse, who died of cancer September 1, 1999.

A Supreme Court Nominating Commission consisting of five lawyers and four non-lawyers will narrow the list to three following interviews, which are scheduled Oct. 25-26. The governor will have 60 days from the date the names of the nominees are submitted to him to make an appointment.

Judges applying for the position include Karen Arnold-Burger, 42, chief judge of the Overland Park municipal court; Chief Judge Stephen Hill, 49, 6th Judicial District, headquartered at Paola; and District Judges John M. Keeley, 42, Great Bend; and Janice Russell, 49, Olathe.

Attorneys include G. Gordon Atcheson, 45, Overland Park; Carol Ann Beier, 41, Wichita; Marck R. Cobb, 51, Moline, IL.; Mary D. Feighny, 46, Topeka; Randall E. Fisher, 50, Newton; J. Lyn Entrikin Goering, 45; Topeka; Walker A. Hendrix, 50, Lawrence; David R. Hills, 59, Lake Quivira; Lee A. Johnson, Caldwell; Freddie L. Marrs, 57, Wichita; Stephanie A. Mathews, 44, Lawrence; Anne B. Miller, 43, Manhattan; Julene L. Miller, 39, Lawrence; Ronald W. Nelson, 43, Prairie Village; Dana P. Niceswanger, 40, Lenexa; Richard E. Oxandale, 63, Lawrence; David G. Shriver, 53, McPherson; Jeffrey S. Southard, 46, Lawrence; David H. Starkey, 52, Colby; Mark A. Stites, 40, Overland Park; and David P, Troup, 51, Manhattan.

Members of the Supreme Court Nominating Commission include attorneys Lynn R. Johnson, Overland Park, chairman; and Lowell F. Hahn, Phillipsburg; Thomas E. Wright, Topeka; Nancy Anstaett, Overland Park; and M. Kathryn Webb, Wichita. Non-lawyer members include Debbie L. Nordling, Hugoton; Jack Brier, Topeka; Suzanne S. Bond, Overland Park; and Dennis L. Greenhaw, Independence.


Office of Judicial Administration
Kansas Judicial Center
301 West 10th
Topeka, Kansas 66612-1507
(785) 296-2256

For more information contact
Ron Keefover
Education-Information Officer

For Immediate Release: September 15, 1999

The Supreme Court Nominating Commission will be accepting nominations until October 13th to fill a vacancy on the Court of Appeals that was created by the death September 1 of Judge M. Kay Royse.

Judge Royse died at a Topeka hospital following an extended battle with cancer. She had been on the Court of Appeals since 1993.

Interviews are to be conducted by the nine-member nominating commission October 25th and 26th in the Judicial Center in Topeka. Following the interviews, the names of three nominees will be submitted to Gov. Bill Graves for selection. The new judge will serve a year in office and then be placed on the next general election ballot for a vote on whether he or she should be retained for a four-year term.

Notices of the vacancy have been mailed to Kansas attorneys. Nomination forms are available in each office of the district court clerk, as well as in the appellate clerk's office in the Judicial Center.

Judges of the Court of Appeals must be at least 30 years old, and have been admitted to the Kansas bar for at least 10 years.

The Nominating Commission consists of an attorney elected to the commission from each congressional district, a nonlawyer from each congressional district appointed by the governor and a chairman, who is elected by attorneys statewide.

Nominating commission members include Lynn R. Johnson, Overland Park, chairman; Lowell F. Hahn, Phillipsburg; and Debbie L. Nordling, Hugoton, of the 1st District; Thomas E. Wright and Jack Brier, both of Topeka, from the 2nd District; Nancy Anstaett and Suzanne (Sue) S. Bond, both of Overland Park, from the 3rd District; and M. Kathryn Webb, Wichita, and Dennis L. Greenhaw, Independence, from the 4th District.


Office of Judicial Administration
Kansas Judicial Center
301 West 10th
Topeka, Kansas 66612-1507
(785) 296-2256

For more information contact
Ron Keefover
Education-Information Officer

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: June 5, 1999

Chief Justice Kay McFarland will present the 1999 Juror Employer of the Year Award to the Dillons Stores during a statewide meeting of Kansas judges June 10-11 in Wichita, it was announced in Topeka today.

The Dillons Stores, whose corporate headquarters is in Hutchinson, was nominated for the award by a committee of trial judges who were appointed to look into the status of jury management in Kansas with an eye toward improving the conditions of jury service whenever possible. Members of the committee include Judge Bob Schmisseur, Pratt; and Judges Terry Bullock and Jim Buchele, of Topeka.

Chief Justice McFarland said in presenting the award, the "Supreme Court is recognizing a major employer in Kansas who has made extra efforts to encourage their employees to serve on juries. Dillons Stores has demonstrated its dedication to providing the utmost flexibility for its employees to accommodate this important civic duty. The company's written policy concerning jury service specifies that employees are to be paid the difference between the statutory jury fee and their salary. It also provides for changes in working hours and days to accommodate jury service," the chief justice said.

The chief justice will present the award at a luncheon meeting scheduled for noon, Thursday, June 10th, in the Wichita Mariott Hotel.

Educational programs being presented to the judiciary during the two day meeting include a panel discussion by judges who have handled Kansas death penalty cases and sessions on managing foster care cases, nonverbal communication techniques, understanding forensic evaluations of persons with mental disabilities, and a legislative update on 1999 legislative enactments.


Office of Judicial Administration
Kansas Judicial Center
301 West 10th
Topeka, Kansas 66612-1507
(785) 296-2256

For more information contact
Ron Keefover
Education-Information Officer

NEWS RELEASE--Justice Initiative Public Comments May 4, 1999

The Kansas Justice Commission, a 46-member citizen panel appointed by each of the three branches of government, today released a preliminary draft of its report and recommendations for improving the state court system.

In June 1997, the commission, which is co-chaired by former Gov. Robert F. Bennett and Wichita businesswoman Jill Docking, was appointed to undertake a "stem to stern" study of the courts. Appointments to the commission were made in equal numbers by the legislature's two judiciary committees, governor, and chief justice.

Bennett and Docking said in unveiling the preliminary report for public comment that they are pleased with the result of the two-year study. "We looked at virtually every aspect of the justice system, conducted listening post hearings across the state, commissioned scientific attitude surveys of citizens, lawyers, and judges, and spent hundreds of hours pouring over the results to arrive at this product," Bennett said. "The good news is that with limited financial resources, the judicial branch of government is doing an outstanding job of attempting to provide effective and efficient judicial services to Kansas citizens.

"We found nothing that is badly broken, but in many areas, some 23 in number, improvements are needed and could and should be made," the former governor said.

Docking said she "is impressed with the amount of hard work and dedication shown by the members of the Justice Commission over the past two years. These leaders of our communities met as a group for numerous day-long sessions and then worked in subcommittees between the full committee sessions to hammer out specific recommendations. All without compensation," she added.

Called the "Kansas Citizens Justice Initiative," the report is being made available for public comment until June 4th. The Justice Commission will meet in Wichita the following week to make any additional changes before it is formally presented to the governor, chairs of the judiciary committees of both houses of the legislature, and the chief justice.

The report addresses a wide range of issues surrounding the administration of justice in Kansas that were identified by commission members, as well as by many persons who spoke at public forums on the courts that were conducted throughout the state last summer and fall.

Among the Commission's 23 recommendations for court reform are:

That Kansas adopt a statewide uniform method of non-partisan selection of district judges. Currently about half such judges are elected in partisan elections and half in retention elections. The commission's recommendation includes a provision requiring public evaluations of each judge on the ballot prior to each retention election.

There is no demonstrated need to require one resident district judge in each county, but the legislature may, as it has in the past, choose to retain that requirement for political or other social reasons. The commission recommends that the choice of keeping that requirement should be made only if the legislature provides funding for additional judges and non-judicial personnel needed in the other areas of the state.

That the Court of Appeals be increased in size from 10 to 14 judges. The Commission cited an increasingly heavy caseload and the lack of adequate judicial resources to deal with it in recommending the additional positions.

That unified family courts should be evaluated, beginning with pilot programs in designated districts, to improve the quality of justice and increase public access and satisfaction with the court system.

Other issues addressed in the report range from the timeliness of trial court decisions and informal resolution of citizen and litigant complaints to increasing education requirements for new district magistrate judges. Numerous issues surrounding children and the courts were studied in addition to the way in which legal services are delivered in Kansas.

The full report has been posted at numerous Internet websites for public inspection and comment. They include the Kansas Bar Assn., www.ksbar.org; Kansas Supreme Court, www.kscourts.org/; the Washburn University School of Law, www.washburnlaw.edu; the University of Kansas School of Law, www.law.ukans.edu; and the Docking Institute for Public Affairs, which is at www.fhsu.edu/docking. Hard copies of the report may be requested from the Docking Institute for Public Affairs at Fort Hays State University (785) 628-5949. Persons wishing to make written comments on the report may send them to the Docking Institute for Public Affairs at Fort Hays State University, Hays, KS, or respond via email to contacts listed on the websites. All comments should be in writing and received no later than June 4th.


Office of Judicial Administration
Kansas Judicial Center
301 West 10th
Topeka, Kansas 66612-1507
(785) 296-2256

For more information contact
Ron Keefover
Education-Information Officer

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: April 16, 1999

Saying the question is simple, but the answer complex, the Supreme Court today unanimously ruled there is no counselor-patient privilege in a murder prosecution unless the counselor is licensed, even though the defendant may have reasonably believed the counselor was licensed.

The decision, which was written for the court by Justice Bob Abbott, paves the way for the prosecution of Thomas A. Berberich, who is accused of kidnapping and first-degree murder in the 1979 slaying of 12-year-old John "Jack" Hanrahan, whose body was recovered from a creek in Osage County near the Shawnee County line.

The slaying remained unsolved for the next 10 years until Berberich allegedly admitted the murder to Dr. Don Strong, who was not a licensed counselor at the time of the 1989 sessions with Berberich. The state filed the murder and kidnapping charges on January 30, 1998, nearly nine years later.

The Osage County District Court suppressed the statements Berberich made to Strong as "confidential communications."

"The issue is simple," Justice Abbott wrote in today's decision. "The answer is complex. Dr. Strong was not a licensed counselor when the alleged statements by Berberich were made. By statute, confidential relations and communications between a licensed professional counselor and a counselor's clients are privileged. The question before us is whether the legislature...intended to grant a privilege concerning communications between a client and a person who the client reasonably believes is a person licensed as a professional counselor." The court ruled it did not.


Office of Judicial Administration
Kansas Judicial Center
301 West 10th
Topeka, Kansas 66612-1507
(785) 296-2256

For more information contact
Ron Keefover
Education-Information Officer

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: March 16, 1999

The Commission on Judicial Qualifications, an advisory board charged with investigating ethical complaints against the state's judges, has been expanded from nine members to 14, under a Supreme Court order released today.

Justice Fred N. Six, liaison between the commission and the Supreme Court, said the board is being expanded to create two panels of seven members each. The commission will continue to consist of a mix of lawyers, non-lawyers, and judges from different parts of the state.

Under today's order, each panel will alternate between the preliminary investigation of complaints against judges and determining the merits of the allegations. If the investigative panel determines a violation may have occurred, the other seven-member panel, which has not participated in the investigation, will conduct proceedings to determine whether the violation occurred and make recommendations to the Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court order is effective May 1, and will include new appointees John W. Mize, a Salina attorney; Marcia Poell Holston, former executive director of the Kansas Bar Association, Topeka; Judges Jennifer Jones, Wichita, and Robert J. Fleming, Parsons; and Bruce Buchanan, vice president of the Harris newspaper group, Hutchinson.

They will join existing members David J. Waxse, Overland Park attorney; Judge Kathryn Carter, Concordia; Chief Judge J. Patrick Brazil, of the Kansas Court of Appeals, Topeka; Ray Call, retired editor of the Emporia Gazette, Wichita; Robert A. Creighton, an Atwood attorney; Carol Sader, Prairie Village community volunteer and former legislator; Mikel L. Stout, a Wichita attorney; and Judges Theodore B. Ice, Newton, and James W. Paddock, Lawrence.

The commission chair, David Waxse, said the commission hopes the division of labor between those investigating complaints against judges and those sitting as a tribunal to determine their merit will add to the appearance of integrity that commissioners "strive very hard to achieve. We want to not only be fair, but to be perceived as fair by both the public and by those who are the subject of investigations by the commission."

Waxse said judicial decisions that can be appealed to a higher court constitute the majority of complaints. "These arise from a misconception by the public that the commission functions as an appellate court," Waxse said. He cited examples of these inquiries as disputes in domestic cases, disagreement with the judge's application of the law, and procedural matters, particularly in criminal cases.

In 1998, the commission received 322 inquiries concerning judges by telephone, letter, or by personal visit to the office of Clerk of the Appellate Courts, which serves as secretariat for the commission. Of the 322 inquiries, 123 resulted in a complaint being filed. The commission determined 95 to be without merit with no further action warranted and 28 to warrant an investigation. Those 28 matters were placed on the commission's docket, along with 11 matters pending from the prior year. The commission issued two cease and desist orders, two letters of informal advice, and conducted one formal hearing. The remaining matters were dismissed after further investigation or are pending before the commission.