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TOPEKA—The Kansas Supreme Court has appointed District Judge Steve Johnson to serve as chief judge of the 20th Judicial District effective January 11 through December 31, 2021.

Johnson succeeds Chief Judge Mike Keeley, who will retire in January. Keeley has served as chief judge since 2004.

The 20th Judicial District is composed of Barton, Ellsworth, Rice, Russell, and Stafford counties.

“We appreciate that Judge Johnson is willing to take on the additional responsibilities of chief judge and provide continuity in capable leadership in the 20th Judicial District,” said Marla Luckert, chief justice of the Supreme Court. “We look forward to working with him in this new capacity.”

Johnson was elected district judge in 2012.

"I have enjoyed the challenges of being a district judge the past eight years and look forward to the additional responsibilities as chief judge," Johnson said. "I hope to continue the long tradition of the 20th Judicial District, alongside our other judges and dedicated employees, of providing those who come before us with the fairness and dignity they deserve."

Johnson grew up on a small farm in Gove County and graduated from Healy High School, Fort Hays State University, and Washburn University School of Law. He was in private practice in Great Bend from 1985 to 2012.

Each of Kansas’ 31 judicial districts has a chief judge who, in addition to his or her judicial responsibilities, has general control over case assignments within the district, as well as general supervisory authority over the administrative and clerical functions of the court.

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