TOPEKA—The Kansas Supreme Court will meet in special session at 2 p.m. Friday, January 24, to swear in Evelyn Wilson as the newest Supreme Court justice.
Wilson fills a vacancy created by the retirement of Justice Lee Johnson in September.
Chief Justice Marla Luckert will preside at the ceremony.
Wilson will be presented to the court by Natalie Haag, a longtime Kansas attorney.
The public can watch a livestream of the ceremony on the Kansas judicial branch website at www.kscourts.org.
The Supreme Court Nominating Commission nominated Wilson for the vacancy, and Governor Laura Kelly appointed her to the Supreme Court on December 16.
Justice Wilson biography
Wilson most recently served as chief judge of the 3rd Judicial District, composed of Shawnee County.
She was appointed a district judge of the 3rd Judicial District in 2004 and was appointed chief judge in 2014. Her assignments in the 3rd Judicial District included domestic, felony criminal, civil, and probate dockets, and she presided over more than 80 felony jury trials.
Wilson was born in Smith Center and graduated as valedictorian of Smith Center High School. She received a bachelor's degree in business and economics, graduating magna cum laude in 1982, from Bethany College in Lindsborg. She received a law degree with dean's honors in 1985 from Washburn University School of Law.
From 1985 to 1992, she was an associate in the Lund Law Firm of Oberlin. Her practice included criminal, personal injury, municipal, contract, probate, divorce, adoption, appellate, and workers compensation law. She also served as Oberlin city counselor and prosecutor for several years.
She was managing partner, partner, and associate at Wright, Henson, Somers, Sebelius, Clark & Baker law firm of Topeka from 1992 to 2004. She was a civil litigation attorney, obtaining an "AV" rating from Martindale/Hubbell, the highest rating that can be given by an attorney's peers. Her Topeka practice included personal injury, divorce, administrative, and workers compensation law. As managing partner, she supervised the day-to-day business operations of the law firm.
From 2001 to 2004, she also was an adjunct professor of law at Washburn University School of Law, where she taught trial advocacy and advanced trial advocacy classes.
She is a member of the Kansas Bar Foundation, Kansas District Judges Association, Kansas Women Attorneys Association, and Topeka Bar Association.
She is a member of First Lutheran Church in Topeka and helped spearhead the development of the Shawnee County Crisis Intervention Team.
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.
Supreme Court 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.