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TOPEKA—The 2nd Judicial District Nominating Commission will convene at 9 a.m. Tuesday, November 17, and at 1:30 p.m. Friday, November 20, in the Kansas Judicial Center, Topeka, to interview nominees seeking to fill a district judge and a district magistrate judge vacancy.
 
The vacancies are the result of two retirements. Chief Judge Gary Nafziger of Jefferson County will retire January 11, and District Magistrate Judge Blaine Carter of Wabaunsee County will retire December 8.
 
The 2nd Judicial District is composed of Jackson, Jefferson, Pottawatomie, and Wabaunsee counties.
 
Interview process
 
Nominees can choose to be interviewed in person at the Judicial Center, 301 SW 10th Ave., Topeka, or by videoconference. Interviews are open to the public.
 
The interviews will be livestreamed on the Kansas judicial branch YouTube channel.
 
Anyone who attends the interviews in person must follow public health requirements for Judicial Center visitors. These include answering questions at check-in about symptoms of or possible exposure to COVID-19, wearing a face mask while in the building, and maintaining 6 feet of physical distance from others. 
 
Any person with a disability who requires accommodation to access the nominating commission meeting should notify the judicial branch ADA coordinator as early as possible, preferably 10 working days before the meeting date:
 
ADA Coordinator
reimere@kscourts.org
785-296-2256
TTY at 711
 
District judge nominees
 
The nominees for district judge are: 

  • Amy Crawford, Salina, former assistant county attorney for Dickinson County; 

  • Christopher T. Etzel, Havensville, private practice lawyer and city attorney for Onaga, Havensville, and Wheaton; 

  • Douglas A. Hager, Valley Falls, attorney for Kansas Department of Labor; 

  • Shawna R. Miller, Holton, county attorney for Jackson County and municipal judge for Hoyt and Mayetta; 

  • Joshua A. Ney, Lawrence, county attorney for Jefferson County; 

  • Darla Ottensmeier, Oskaloosa, private practice lawyer; 

  • Stephen O. Phillips, Perry, assistant attorney general for Kansas Attorney General's Office; and 

  • Ted E. Smith, Lawrence, attorney for Kansas Department of Revenue.

District judge eligibility requirements
 
Nominees for district judge must be: 

  • at least 30 years old; a

  • lawyer admitted to practice in Kansas and engaged in the practice of law for at least five years, whether as a lawyer, judge, or full-time teacher at an accredited law school; and

  • a resident of the judicial district at the time of taking office and while holding office.

The nominating commission will interview nominees and then select from three to five people whose names will be submitted to the governor to fill the position according to statutory qualification and residency requirements. The governor has 60 days after receiving the names to decide whom to appoint.

If there are not three nominees who reside in the judicial district who are deemed qualified by the commission, the commission may consider nominees who reside outside the district. 
 
District magistrate judge nominees
 
The nominees for district magistrate judge are: 

  • Angela M. Anderson, Alma, clerk of the district court for Wabaunsee County; 

  • Michael L. Clark, Wamego, court services probation officer for Pottawatomie County; 

  • Amy Crawford, Salina, former assistant county attorney for Dickinson County; 

  • Ralph Dunn, Alma, sergeant, Wabaunsee County Sheriff's Office; 

  • Jonathan L. Ehrlich, Oskaloosa, law clerk for Jefferson County Attorney's Office; 

  • Joel S. Fager, Alma, EMT-paramedic, Topeka; 

  • Luka D. Henderson, Alma, master trooper, Kansas Highway Patrol; and 

  • Eric G. Kirsch, Alma, chief of police for Maple Hill and detective for Wabaunsee County Sheriff's Office. 

District magistrate judge eligibility requirements
 
Nominees for district magistrate judge must be: 

  • a resident of Wabaunsee County at the time of taking office and while holding office;

  • a graduate of a high school, a secondary school, or the equivalent; and

  • either a lawyer admitted to practice in Kansas or able to pass an examination given by the Supreme Court to become certified within 18 months. 

The nominating commission will interview nominees and then appoint a district magistrate judge.
 
Term of office
 
After serving one year in office, a 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.
 
Nominating Commission
 
The 2nd Judicial District Nominating Commission consists of Supreme Court Justice Evelyn Z. Wilson, interim nonvoting chair; David Allen, Circleville; Charles Waugh, Eskridge; J. Richard Lake, Holton; D. Max Fuller, Maple Hill; Norma Dunnaway, Perry; and Edward Pugh, Eugene Scherer, and John Watt, Wamego.

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