TOPEKA—Chief Judge E. Leigh Hood of the 16th Judicial District will retire June 1 after nearly 20 years of service.
He was elected a district judge in 2000 and was appointed chief judge of the 16th Judicial District in January 2019. The district is composed of Clark, Comanche, Ford, Gray, Kiowa, and Meade counties.
"It is my hope the communities I served will judge me as a person who came to work every day and did the best job that I could do to be fair and just under the law when deciding the cases in front of me," Hood said.
A lifelong Kansan, Hood was raised on the family farm in the Bucklin-Kingsdown community. He graduated from Wichita State University with a criminal justice degree in 1977 and from Washburn University School of Law in 1982.
Hood was an assistant county attorney in Ford County from 1982 to 1989 and then was county attorney from 1989 to 2001, when he was sworn in as a district judge. During his tenure in the county attorney’s office, he also was special prosecutor for all of the counties in the 16th Judicial District.
As both county attorney and judge, he served on various boards and committees, including the juvenile and adult Community Corrections Advisory Boards, Court Appointed Special Advocates, and the Bucklin Better Life Foundation.
He and his wife will move to the Kansas City area.
"I will definitely miss my colleagues and all of the court staff in the six counties that I served," Hood said. "They have become like a second family to me. I wish nothing but the best for all of them as they continue working for our residents.
"I especially wish to thank my wife and two daughters for all their support. Without them, none of this would have been worth it,” he said.
His advice for new judges is "to stay humble, recognize you can’t be an expert in all fields of the law, lean on your colleagues for help, be prompt and on time for hearings, get your work done in a timely manner, and understand that every case is unique and the litigants deserve your best effort.”
District judges in the 16th Judicial District are elected by partisan ballot. State statute requires the governor to appoint a replacement when an incumbent leaves before his or her term of office expires. Hood was last elected to a four-year term in 2016.
The Kansas Supreme Court appointed District Judge Laura Lewis to succeed Hood as chief judge. Each of Kansas’ 31 judicial districts has a chief judge who, in addition to his or her judicial responsibilities, has general control over case assignments within the district, as well as general supervisory authority over the administrative and clerical functions of the court.