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TOPEKA—District Judge Robert Bednar of the 1st Judicial District will retire January 11 after 22 years of service.

Bednar became a judge in 1998. He served in Leavenworth County until moving to Atchison County District Court in 2008. The 1st Judicial District is composed of those two counties.

Bednar has overseen juvenile, civil, and criminal dockets.

He said he found overseeing juvenile court both satisfying and discouraging.

"It's sad and heartbreaking seeing the circumstances of some of our youth—the lack of family, parenting, and education. They have a huge mountain to climb," he said. "As a juvenile judge you always have to bear in mind the long-term effects of your decisions. I remember those who succeed with great fondness, but unfortunately there are far too few of them."

He had been in private practice for 25 years when he sought appointment as a judge.

"I wanted the opportunity to continue in the law but from a different vantage point," he explained. "As a lawyer you represent the interests of your client, but as a judge you need to see the entire picture so you can decide a case on its merits in a fair and impartial manner. 

"I think every judge hopes that when the parties leave the courtroom, whether they agree with your decision or not, they believe they have received fair shake," he added.

His advice to a lawyer wanting to become a judge is to be well-rounded.

"They should get as much experience in as many areas as they can. It never ceases to amaze me the broad spectrum of cases I hear and for which I must render a decision," he said.

Bednar graduated from Washburn University in 1967 and Washburn University School of Law in 1973. 

Bednar and his wife, Susan, have been married 53 years. They have three children, Matthew, Jennifer and Erin, and nine grandchildren.

"I would never have been able to succeed without the support of my wife, who has always been there for me," he said.

District judges in the 1st Judicial District are appointed following a merit selection process. State statute requires a nominating commission to accept nominations, interview nominees, and forward the names of finalists to the governor, who appoints a replacement. After serving one year in office, the new judge must stand for a retention vote in the next general election to remain in the position. If retained, the incumbent will serve a four-year term.

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