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TOPEKA—District Judge Thomas Foster of the 10th Judicial District will retire November 29 after 21 years of service.

Foster became a judge in 1999 and was chief judge from 2009 to 2013. The 10th Judicial District is composed of Johnson County.

He has worked to improve child support guidelines and juvenile facilities. He said serving on the Kansas Juvenile Justice Review Committee from 2015 to 2016 was his most significant contribution as a judge.

"The committee's recommendations led to closing ineffective and inefficient juvenile group homes in Kansas and hopefully will lead to better community programs for juveniles, while saving over $10 million per year in taxpayer money," he said.

His focus on family issues includes serving as chairman of the Kansas Child Support Guidelines Committee the last 11 years and helping to start the Johnson County Family Court docket in 2006.

"Our goal in starting a family court was to encourage parents and their attorneys to resolve family disputes and avoid costly litigation and emotional distress on the minor children," he said.       

He also has been active in the National Council for Juvenile and Family Court Judges.

As past president of the Kansas District Judges Association, Foster worked to improve judicial branch salaries.

"I was disappointed we were not able to convince the Legislature to give our grossly underpaid court employees simple cost-of-living and merit raises," he said.

Foster spent many years helping plan a new Johnson County Courthouse, but he will be retiring before the $193 million facility opens in January.

"We spent over a decade analyzing, planning, traveling, discussing, testifying, arguing, pleading, and begging for a new courthouse," Foster said.

Foster graduated from Regis University in 1975 and Washburn University School of Law in 1978. He was a private practice lawyer for 21 years before becoming a judge.

District judges in the 10th 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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