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TOPEKA—Keynen "KJ" Wall Jr., Lawrence, will be sworn in as a justice of the Kansas Supreme Court in a private ceremony at 11 a.m. today, August 3, at the Kansas Judicial Center.

Chief Justice Marla Luckert will preside at the ceremony, which will be broadcast live on the Supreme Court YouTube channel.

The ceremony will be considerably smaller than a typical swearing-in due to the need to allow for physical distancing. Wall's immediate family will attend the ceremony, as will Supreme Court Justices Eric Rosen and Evelyn Wilson. Assistant Secretary of State Catherine Gunsalus also will attend to present the certificate of appointment.

Justices usually are sworn in in the Kansas Supreme Court courtroom filled with current and past Supreme Court justices and Court of Appeals judges, federal judges, district court judges, members of the legislative and executive branches, law related organizations, and the justice's family members and friends. An overflow audience would view a livestream of the event in a secondary courtroom.

Governor Laura Kelly appointed Wall in March to fill a vacancy on the court created when former Chief Justice Lawton Nuss retired in December.

Wall has a bachelor's degree in communication from Kansas State University, a master's degree in scientific and technical communication from the University of Minnesota, and a law degree from the University of Kansas School of Law.

He had been in private practice with the Forbes Law Group of Overland Park since 2015. From 2013 to 2015 he was special projects counsel to the Supreme Court, which involved managing the court's capital appeals office. From 2008 to 2013 he was senior legal counsel for Federated Insurance in Owatonna, Minnesota, and from 2004 to 2008, he was an associate attorney with a law firm in Greeley, Colorado. He was a judicial law clerk from 2002 to 2004 for Judge John Lungstrum, when Lungstrum was chief judge of the U.S. District Court for the District of Kansas.

Merit-based selection process

Supreme Court justices are appointed through a merit-based nomination process that Kansans voted to add to the Kansas Constitution in 1958.

When there is a vacancy on the court, the Supreme Court Nominating Commission has 60 days from the date the vacancy occurs to submit names of three qualified nominees to the governor.

After receiving the list of nominees, the governor has 60 days to appoint one of them to the court.

Retention elections

After a new justice serves one year on the court, he or she must stand for a retention vote in the next general election to remain in the position. If retained, the justice serves a six-year term.

Nominating commission

The Supreme Court Nominating Commission is an independent body. Four of its members are appointed by the governor and represent each of the state’s four congressional districts. These appointees are not attorneys. Four more members are attorneys elected by other attorneys within each of the congressional districts. The commission chair is an attorney elected by attorneys in a statewide vote.

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