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301 SW 10th Avenue
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Telephone:
 785.296.2256
Fax:  785.296.7076
Email: info@kscourts.org

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Telephone:
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News Releases Archive
Kansas Judicial Branch - News Releases for 2006

11/22/06 | 11/21/06 | 11/09/06 | 10/27/06 | 10/16/06 | 10/4/06 | 9/29/06 | 9/11/06 | 8/18/06 | 7/26/06 | 6/9/06 | 6/1/06 | 5/15/06 | 5/12/06 | 4/20/06 | 2/3/06 | 2/1/06


For more information
contact Ron Keefover
Education-Information Officer

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: November 22, 2006

A nominating commission charged with appointing a district magistrate judge in Clay 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 vacancy which was created when Hon. Paul Wright was not retained for another term during the general election.

“The nominating commission is especially interested in receiving recommendations from the general public. All of the citizens of Clay 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 Marla J. Luckert, departmental justice for Clay and Riley Counties.

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

Suggested appointees are requested to complete questionnaires for the position. The completed forms should be returned to Rodney C. Olsen, Commission Secretary, 232 Poyntz Ave., Suite 204, Manhattan, KS 66502, no later than noon, December 14, 2006. The forms are available in the office of clerk of the district court of Clay County.

The nominating commission will convene at 9:00 a.m., December 18, 2006, in the Clay 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 vacancy have been mailed to every attorney in the 21st Judicial District by the chairman of the commission. Clay County is one of two counties in the 21st Judicial District.

The nominating commission includes Justice Luckert, nonvoting chairman; Derrick L. Roberson, Manhattan; Rodney C. Olsen, Manhattan; Barry A. Clark, Manhattan; James W. Morrison, Manhattan; Steven C. McMahan, Clay Center; Wade A. Bauer, Clay Center; Janet J. Kruh, Manhattan; and Frank A. Tillman, Manhattan.


For more information
contact Ron Keefover
Education-Information Officer

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: November 21, 2006

The Shawnee County Third Judicial Nominating Commission Tuesday submitted the names of three attorneys to Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, who will name one of them to succeed Judge Terry E. Bullock, who is retiring in January after 30 years on the bench.

The nominees include Ruth E. Graham, Larry E. Hendricks, and Larry G. Karns. The three were picked from a list of 13 who applied for the judgeship. The Nominating Commission interviewed the applicants Monday and Tuesday. The governor will have 30 days in which to make her selection.

Also applying for the position were James E. "Jeb" Benfer, David B. Debenham, Pantaleon Florez, Jr., Cheryl Rios Kingfisher, Jan Haley Maxwell, Jill A. Michaux, Steven M. Roth, Cheryl L. Whelan, Karen C. Wittman, and Brian M. Vazquez


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

For more information
contact Ron Keefover,
Education-Information Officer

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: November 9, 2006

The Supreme Court Nominating Commission today submitted the names of three judges to Gov. Kathleen Sebelius to fill a vacancy on the Supreme Court that will be created by the January retirement of Justice Donald L. Allegrucci.

They include Court of Appeals Judges Lee A. Johnson and Tom Malone, and Douglas County District Judge Robert W. Fairchild. The governor has 60 days in which to appoint one of the three.

Judge Johnson has been a member of the Court of Appeals since 2001. Prior to his appointment to the Court of Appeals, he practiced law in Caldwell in Sumner County since 1980.

A native of Caldwell, he received a B.S. in Business Administration from the University of Kansas in 1969. After serving two years on active duty with the U.S. Army, Corps of Engineers, he became a licensed, multi-line insurance agent. In 1977, he entered Washburn University School of Law and graduated summa cum laude with the class of 1980. Upon graduation, he practiced law in Caldwell, first in partnership with Don B. Stallings and later as a sole practitioner.

Judge Johnson was active in numerous community organizations, including serving on the Sumner Mental Health board for 16 years. He served as mayor of Caldwell in 1975-1976, and as Caldwell City Attorney from 1987 to 1997. He is a member of the Kansas and Sumner County Bar Associations, serving as the local bar association president in 1992.

Judge Malone has been a member of the Court of Appeals since 2003. Before that, he served as a Sedgwick County District Judge from January 1991 until his appointment to the Court of Appeals. He was in private practice in Wichita from 1979 to 1990 in the firm of Redmond & Nazar.

He graduated from Kansas Newman College in 1976, summa cum laude, and from Washburn Law School in 1979, with honors, where he was an associate editor of the Washburn Law Journal.

During his 12 years in private practice, he concentrated on business and commercial litigation in federal and state courts and taught upper division Business Law at Kansas Newman College. Judge Malone was elected to the Sedgwick County district bench in 1990 and served as district judge 12 years. He was primarily a trial judge, presiding over more than 250 jury trials and hundreds of bench trials.

He is a member of the Wichita Bar Association, Kansas Bar Association, American Bar Association, and the Kansas Trial Lawyers Association. He serves on the Kansas Judicial Council: Pattern Instructions in Kansas Advisory Committee, which drafts pattern jury instructions for civil and criminal cases for statewide use by the Kansas judiciary. He is also a member of the Board of Editors of the Kansas Bar Association Journal.

Judge Fairchild has been a Douglas County District Judge since 1996 and was appointed chief judge of that judicial district in January 2002. During his tenure as a district judge, Judge Fairchild was appointed to sit with the Court of Appeals three times.

He has continuously practiced law as an attorney or judge for 33 years since being admitted to the bar in 1973. He practiced with the firm of Norwood, King & Fairchild in Lawrence from 1973 through 1978 when the firm merged with another firm to form Riling, Burkhead, Fairchild & Nitcher, Chtd., where he practiced until his appointment as judge.

Judge Fairchild received a B.A. in Economics from Texas Tech University in May 1970, where he was graduated with honors and was a member of Phi Kappa Phi honorary society. He graduated from the University of Kansas School of Law in 1973, graduating sixth in his class of 176. He was a member of the Order of the Coif and the Board of Editors of the Kansas Law Review.

Judge Fairchild previously was the chair of the Supreme Court Advisory Council on Dispute Resolution and presently serves as chair of the Kansas Board of Examiners of Court Reporters. Since 1993, he has served as an adjunct professor at the KU law school, teaching Alternative Dispute Resolution. He also taught criminal law in the spring of 2005 and served as a mediator for 10 years prior to becoming a judge.


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

For more information
contact Ron Keefover,
Education-Information Officer

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: October 27, 2006

A nominating commission charged with naming candidates to fill a district judge vacancy in the 8th Judicial District has issued a request for assistance from the public.

The 8th Judicial District includes the counties of Dickinson, Geary, Marion and Morris.

The nine-member commission is responsible for submitting the names of two or three nominees to the Governor for the vacancy which will be created by the retirement of District Judge Larry Bengtson.

“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 8th 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 Marla J. Luckert, departmental justice.

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 Victor A. Davis, Jr., secretary, 819 N. Washington, P.O. Box 187, Junction City, KS 66441 no later than 5:00 p.m., November 17, 2006. The forms are available in the office of the clerk of the district court in Dickinson, Geary, Marion, and Morris Counties. There is also a copy on this web site.

The nominating commission will convene at 9:00 a.m., December 1, in the Geary County Courthouse, to interview the suggested nominees. The meeting will be open to the public; however, the commission has the authority to adjourn to executive session to discuss personal traits of the suggested nominees.

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

Notices of the vacancy are being mailed to every attorney in this judicial district by the chair of the commission.

The 8th Judicial District Nominating Commission includes Justice Luckert as the nonvoting chair; Victor A. Davis, Jr., Junction City; Edwin M. Wheeler, Jr., Marion; Darrel W. Bryant, Council Grove; Douglas G. Thompson, Abilene; Kevin O. Harris, Abilene; Kevin Fruechting, Marion; C. Dale Rein, Council Grove; and Carolyn L. Gaston, Milford.


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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: October 16, 2006

The names of 14 persons were submitted by the noon Monday deadline as applicants to fill a vacancy on the Kansas Supreme Court created by the retirement of Justice Donald Allegrucci, effective January 8, 2007.

The Supreme Court Nominating Commission will review the applications and conduct interviews November 7-8, with the names of three on the list to be submitted to Governor Kathleen Sebelius shortly after for appointment. Sebelius will have 60 days in which to make her selection.

Applying for the position are William D. Biles, Shawnee; Glenn R. Braun, Hays; Katherine Carter, Jamestown; Martha J. Coffman, Lawrence; Henry R. Cox, Shawnee; Judge Robert W. Fairchild, Lawrence; Richard L. Hathaway, Tecumseh; Judge Stephen D. Hill, Topeka; Judge Lee A. Johnson, Topeka; Judge Steve A. Leben, Fairway; Judge Thomas E. Malone, Topeka; Timothy J. Moore, Wichita; John M. Parisi, Leawood, and Judge Gregory L. Waller, Wichita.

Members of the public are encouraged to comment on the qualifications of any of the applicants by writing to Richard C. Hite, c/o Carol G. Green, 301 S.W. 10th Avenue, Topeka, Kansas 66612. All written comments will be distributed to the full Commission for their review.

The Supreme Court Nominating Commission is chaired by lawyer Richard C. Hite of Wichita. Others on the Commission include: First Congressional District, Kerry E. McQueen of Liberal (lawyer member) and Dr. Janet A. Juhnke of Salina (lay member); Second Congressional District, Patricia E. Riley of Topeka (lawyer member) and Dale E. Cushinberry of Topeka (lay member); Third Congressional District, Thomas J. Bath Jr. of Overland Park (lawyer member) and Vivien B. Jennings of Fairway (lay member); Fourth Congressional District, Lee H. Woodard of Wichita (lawyer member) and David N. Farnsworth of Wichita (lay member).


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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: October 4, 2006

A nominating commission charged with naming candidates to fill a district judge vacancy in the 3rd Judicial District has issued a request for assistance from the public.

The 3rd Judicial District is comprised of Shawnee County.

The seven-member commission is responsible for submitting the names of two or three nominees to the Governor for the vacancy which will be created by the retirement of District Judge Terry Bullock.

“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 3rd 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 Marla J. Luckert, departmental justice and chair of the nominating commission.

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

Suggested nominees are requested to complete questionnaires for the position. The completed forms should be returned to Justice Luckert, Kansas Judicial Center, 301 SW 10th Ave., Topeka, KS 66612 no later than noon, November 6, 2006. The forms are available on-line at www.kscourts.org and in the office of the Clerk of the District Court in Shawnee County.

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

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

Notices of the vacancy are being mailed to every attorney in this judicial district by the chair of the commission.

The 3rd Judicial District Nominating Commission includes Justice Luckert as the nonvoting chair; Alan F. Alderson, Topeka; Terry E. Beck, Topeka; Melissa A. Wangemann, Topeka; Thomas W. Kirker, Topeka; Ginger A. Barr, Auburn; and Mary M. Thomas, Topeka. # # # #


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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: September 29, 2006

Chief Justice Kay McFarland today named long-time Topeka attorney Gerald L. Goodell as the Supreme Court's appointee to the state Governmental Ethics Commission.

He succeeds former Chief Justice Robert H. Miller, who has resigned after 15 years service on the Ethics Commission. Miller said in his letter of resignation that "it was a great privilege" to serve on the commission, "but the time has come to step down and let someone else have a wonderful experience."

Miller was designated as the Supreme Court's appointee to the commission following his retirement as chief justice in 1990. He had served as a justice on the Supreme Court from 1975 until 1988 and as chief justice from 1988-1990.

Goodell serves as "of counsel" to Goodell, Stratton, Edmonds & Palmer, a Topeka law firm, which he joined upon his graduation from the Washburn Law School in 1958. A past president of the Topeka and Kansas Bar Associations, Goodell is currently listed as a leader in the field of real estate law in the publication Best Lawyers in America.

He has been active in education, civic and professional associations throughout his legal career, including service as the current president of the Washburn Endowment Association, and past president of the Washburn Alumni Association, Washburn Law School Alumni Association and the Washburn Law School Foundation.

He is a former chair of the Kansas Board of Law Examiners, which makes recommendations to the Supreme Court concerning applications to practice law. He also served on the Shawnee County District Judge Nominating Committee for nearly 25 years.

The Kansas Governmental Ethics Commission is charged with administering, interpreting and enforcing the Campaign Finance Act and laws relating to conflict of interests, financial disclosure and the regulation of lobbying.


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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: September 11, 2006

The Supreme Court Nominating Commission has set noon, October 16, as the deadline for persons to apply for a vacancy on the Supreme Court that will be created by the January 8, 2007, retirement of Justice Donald L. Allegrucci.

Justice Allegrucci is retiring pursuant to Kansas statutes that specify members of the Supreme Court retire at age 70 or at the end of the six-year term in which they become 70 years old. Justice Allegrucci’s 70th birthday will be September 19th.

The nine-member Nominating Commission will conduct interviews November 7-8th and submit the names to the governor on November 9th. The governor will have 60 days in which to make the appointment. Application forms for the position are available in each of the offices of the clerk of district court, plus the office of the Clerk of the Appellate Courts.

The Nominating Commission consists of one lawyer and one non-lawyer from each of the state’s four congressional districts, plus a lawyer member who is elected statewide by registered attorneys. A justice must be at least 30 years of age and have engaged in the practice of law for at least 10 years.

Members of the Nominating Commission include Richard C. Hite, Wichita, chair; Kerry E. McQueen, Liberal, and Janet A. Juhnke, Salina, 1st Congressional District; Patricia E. Riley, Topeka, and Dale E. Cushinberry, Topeka, 2nd Congressional District; Thomas J. Bath Jr., Overland Park, and Vivien B. Jennings, Fairway, 3rd Congressional District, and Lee H. Woodard, Wichita, and David N. Farnsworth, Wichita, 4th Congressional District.

Justice Allegrucci was born in Pittsburg where he was graduated from Pittsburg State University with an AB degree in 1959. He was graduated from the Washburn University School of Law with a JD degree in 1963. Upon his admission to the bar, he entered into private practice from 1963 to 1982 in El Dorado and Pittsburg. His practice included serving as an assistant county attorney in El Dorado from 1963 to 1967 and as executive director of Mid-Kansas CAP Inc. from 1967-68. He also was an instructor of business and criminal law at Pittsburg State University from 1969 to 1972.

Justice Allegrucci was a member of the Democratic State Committee from 1974-1980 and served as a state senator from 1976-80. He was a Democratic candidate for the Fifth Congressional District in 1978. Gov. John Carlin appointed him to the Public Employee Relations Board in 1981 and as District Court Judge of the 11th District in 1982. He was appointed administrative judge of the 11th District by the Supreme Court in December 1983. While a district judge, Justice Allegrucci served as a member of the executive committee of the Kansas District Judges Association from 1982-1987, chairman of the KDJA Legislative Coordinating Committee from 1982-1986, and as a member of the Judicial Council Court Unification Advisory Committee from 1984-85.

He has attended the four-week general jurisdiction course of the National Judicial College, Reno, Nev. and the following American Academy of Judicial Education conferences: Conduct of a Trial, Judicial Writing, Hearsay, Evidence, and Judicial Administration. He is a member of the Kansas Bar Association. and served as former president and member of the Crawford and Butler County Bar Associations. He is a veteran of the Air Force and served on active and reserve duty from 1959-66. He was appointed by Gov. John Carlin to the Supreme Court in January 1987. He and his wife, Joyce Ann, have two sons, Scott David and Bowen Jay.


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

TO: Statehouse Media

FROM: Ron Keefover

RE: Inquiry Concerning Lawton R. Nuss, Justice

Attached is the final disciplinary report by the Commission on Judicial Qualifications regarding its investigation of a March 1 luncheon conversation involving Justice Lawton R. Nuss and two state senators.

By Supreme Court Rule, the panel's decision is final since the Commission chose to admonish the justice and order that he not violate the Canons of Judicial Conduct again, but did not recommend discipline to the Supreme Court.

Following is the judicial discipline rule governing disposition of complaints against judges:

Rule 620
HEARING PANEL DISPOSITION OR RECOMMENDATIONS

(a) If a hearing panel finds the charges proven by clear and convincing evidence it shall (1) admonish the judge, (2) issue an order of cease and desist, or (3) recommend to the Supreme Court the discipline or compulsory retirement of the judge. "Discipline" means public censure, suspension, or removal. The affirmative vote of four members of a hearing panel is required for a finding that the charges have been proven and for a recommendation of discipline or compulsory retirement.

(b) In the absence of a finding that the charges have been proven, or if the charges have been proven but no recommendation is made to the Supreme Court, then the proceedings shall be terminated and the judge and the complainant, if any, shall be notified. Other interested persons may be notified at the discretion of a hearing panel.


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

July 26, 2006

TO: Statehouse Media
FROM: Ron Keefover
RE: Appeal No. 92,032: Montoy et al. v. State of Kansas et al.

Chief Justice Kay McFarland announced today that the Supreme Court is in the final stages of drafting the decision in Montoy et al. v. State of Kansas et al. and the opinion is expected to be filed this Friday at 9:30 a.m.

Chief Justice McFarland will make a brief statement in the Supreme Court courtroom at that time and copies of the opinion will then be released there. The opinion will be subsequently posted on the Judicial Branch website,www.kscourts.org


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

TO: Statehouse Media
FROM: Ron Keefover
RE: Chief Justice Alumni Award

Chief Justice Kay McFarland is to receive the Washburn University School of Law Distinguished Alumni Award Saturday (June 10) at the law school's annual luncheon during the Kansas Bar Association meeting that is underway in Overland Park.

She is the first woman in the law school's history to receive the award. It is bestowed on those law school alumni "who have distinguished themselves and brought recognition to the school through exceptional accomplishments in their professional, business, or academic careers."

Chief Justice McFarland graduated magna cum laude from Washburn University with dual majors in English and History-Political Science. She is a 1964 graduate of Washburn law school and was admitted to the Kansas Bar the same year.

After graduation, she entered private practice in law. In 1971, she became the first woman to be elected to a judgeship in Shawnee County. During her two years as judge of the Probate and Juvenile Courts in Shawnee County, she reduced serious juvenile offenses by more than half.

In 1973, Chief Justice McFarland became the first woman to serve as a district court judge in the history of Kansas when she was elected judge of the Fifth Division of the Shawnee County District Court.

In September 1977, then Judge McFarland was appointed as a justice of the Kansas Supreme Court, the first woman to hold that office. She became the first woman chief justice of the Kansas Supreme Court in 1995.

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

For More Information,
Contact Ron Keefover
Education-Information Officer

June 1, 2006

TO: Statehouse Media
FROM: Ron Keefover
RE: Commission on Judicial Qualifications Answer

A formal answer to an ethical complaint pending before the Commission on Judicial Qualifications was filed today on behalf Justice Lawton R. Nuss, respondent in the matter.

I have attached a copy of the answer. No date for a hearing in this matter has been set.


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

For More Information,
Contact Ron Keefover
Education-Information Officer

May 15, 2006

TO: Statehouse Media
FROM: Ron Keefover
RE: New Judge Positions

The Supreme Court today certified vacancies to Secretary of State Ron Thornburgh for new district court judge positions in Shawnee and Miami Counties.

The 2006 Legislature authorized funding for the two new judgeships, but did not include funding for support staff. The Supreme Court is designated by statute as the entity that decides where new judiciary positions are to be located.

Chief Justice Kay McFarland said in today's order that Shawnee County has the highest caseload per judge in civil and criminal cases in the state. Last year, Shawnee County also had the highest caseload per judge-390 cases-more than the next highest district, and 1,250 more than the statewide average.

The Sixth Judicial District, which includes Miami, Linn, and Bourbon Counties, experienced an increase of 153 percent in major case filings over the last 10 years. "During that period, it is the only district with an increase of over 100 percent, the next highest being 80 percent," today's order states.

Each of the district judge positions certified in the order have been recommended by the chief judge of the judicial district in which the division is to be located and by the Office of Judicial Administration.


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

For More Information,
Contact Ron Keefover
Education-Information Officer

May 12, 2006

TO: Statehouse Media
FROM: Ron Keefover
RE: Commission on Judicial Qualifications Complaint

A formal ethical complaint was filed with the Commission on Judicial Qualifications today against Supreme Court Justice Lawton R. Nuss following a preliminary inquiry that was presented to the judicial disciplinary board last week.

I have attached a copy of the complaint. Justice Nuss has until June 1st to respond to today's complaint. A hearing date will be set after that.


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

For More Information,
Contact Ron Keefover
Education-Information Officer

April 20, 2006

TO: Statehouse Media
FROM: Ron Keefover
RE: Appeal No. 92,032: Montoy et al. v. State of Kansas et al.

The Supreme Court today announced that one of its members, Hon. Lawton R. Nuss, has recused from any further proceedings in this matter.

The recusal arose following a court conference today in which it was disclosed for the first time to the members of the Supreme Court that Justice Nuss had discussed this pending litigation with two Kansas state senators to determine whether figures he had read in the media regarding proposed school funding legislation were accurate.

In that regard, in February Justice Nuss prepared on his own a three-column tabulation showing figures from the Augenblick & Myers cost study and the Division of Legislative Post Audit study, as well as proposed funding from a pending House bill. He shared a copy of his tabulation during a March 1 lunch with Sens. Pete Brungardt and Stephen Morris, a copy of which is attached. Justice Nuss has advised that his purpose in preparing the comparison of the two school finance cost studies and the House bill was to clarify in his mind the exact amounts of funding that were proposed in the pending House bill.

Justice Nuss was meeting with the senators without the knowledge of any other member of the court and acting on his own. His recusal resulted from his decision to avoid any appearance of impropriety, even though there was no discussion with the senators of what amount of funding might eventually be acceptable to him or to the court as a whole.


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

For More Information,
Contact Ron Keefover
Education-Information Officer

February 3, 2006

To: Statehouse Media

From: Ron Keefover

Re: Appeal No. 93,383: Alpha Medical Clinic and Beta Medical Clinic et al. v. Hon. Richard Anderson, Judge of the Third Judicial District, et al.

Saying three federal constitutional privacy interests are threatened by Attorney General Phill Kline's inquisition subpoenas for patient records from two Kansas abortion clinics, the Supreme Court today unanimously ordered Shawnee County District Judge Richard Anderson to reconsider whether the subpoenas should issue and, if so, to adopt tightly drawn restrictions.

In its opinion in Alpha Medical Clinic et al. v. Anderson et al., the Court also declined the clinics' request to hold the attorney general in contempt of court for alleged violations of an order sealing documents and proceedings related to the inquisition.

Today's rulings came in a lawsuit filed directly with the Supreme Court by the clinics, seeking to quash subpoenas of unredacted patient files for 90 women and girls who obtained abortions at the clinics in 2003.

Justice Carol A. Beier, writing for the Court, said the inquisition focused on "at least allegedly unjustified 'late-term' abortions and possible unreported child abuse." She noted that the attorney general also had suggested crimes other than violations of the criminal abortion and child abuse reporting statutes could be uncovered.

The clinics, she wrote, did not seek to stop the entire investigation but "appear to insist only that their patients' privacy rights must be balanced with the State's compelling need for information relative to the criminal investigation."

The privacy interests at stake in the inquisition are "the right to maintain the privacy of certain information," "the right to obtain confidential health care," and "the fundamental right of a pregnant woman to obtain a lawful abortion without government imposition of an undue burden on that right." The opinion observed that, if the inquisition subpoenas "are not handled sensitively, the fundamental rights of women who may seek abortions in the future could be substantially impaired or the assertion of those rights prevented."

Under today's decision, Judge Anderson must "first evaluate the inquisition and subpoenas in light of what the attorney general has told him regarding his interpretation of the criminal statutes at issue."

If Judge Anderson requires additional information to assess the validity of the inquisition and subpoenas, he is directed to seek the information from the attorney general. The Court held that neither the clinics nor their attorneys are to be included in any hearings held for that purpose.

"Only if Judge Anderson is satisfied that the attorney general is on firm legal ground should he permit the inquisition to continue and some version of the subpoenas to remain in effect," the Court decided. If the subpoenas are reissued, Judge Anderson also must impose at least the following safeguards to protect patient privacy:

  • The clinic's attorneys must be permitted to redact patient-identifying information from the files before they are delivered to the judge under seal;

  • The files should be reviewed initially in private by a lawyer and a physician or physicians appointed by Judge Anderson, who will advise the judge if further redactions should be made to eliminate information unrelated to the "legitimate purposes of the inquisition"; and

  • The initial review also should determine whether any of the files demonstrates "nothing more than the existence of a reasonable medical debate about some aspect of the application of the criminal abortion and/or mandatory child abuse reporting statutes, which the attorney general's office already has acknowledged would not constitute a crime."

On the contempt issue, the Court stated it was giving the attorney general "the benefit of the doubt," although "the actions complained of here might well be characterized as criminal contempt in a different case." The opinion cautioned "all parties to resist any impulse to further publicize their respective legal positions, which may imperil the privacy of the patients and the law enforcement objectives at the heart of this proceeding."


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

For More Information,
Contact Ron Keefover
Education-Information Officer

TO: Statehouse Media
FROM: Ron Keefover
RE: Appeal No. 93,383: Alpha Medical Clinic and Beta Medical Clinic v. Hon. Richard Anderson, Judge of the Third Judicial District

As a heads-up, I anticipate a decision by the Supreme Court to be filed in this matter at 9:30 a.m. Friday, February 3. As usual, I will bring copies to the Statehouse and it will be posted on the kscourts.org website at that time.