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TOPEKA—District Judge Eric Commer of the 18th Judicial District has been appointed to sit with the Kansas Supreme Court to hear oral arguments in one case on the court's September 14-18 docket conducted entirely by videoconference.

Oral arguments will be livestreamed on the Supreme Court YouTube channel.

After hearing oral arguments, Commer will join Supreme Court justices in their deliberations and decision drafting.

"The Supreme Court looks forward to Judge Commer hearing a case with us. He will read the case materials, prepare for oral argument, and deliberate with the court on its decision," said Chief Justice Marla Luckert. "We thank Judge Commer for helping us, especially because we know he already has a significant caseload in district court to handle."

Commer was elected a district judge in 2008 in the 18th Judicial District, composed of Sedgwick County.

“I appreciate this invitation to sit with the Supreme Court for one of the many difficult cases before them," Commer said. "I am humbled by the challenge of both the opportunity and the legal issues in the case to be decided.”

Commer is presiding judge for the civil department in the 18th Judicial District. He is one of five district judges assigned to major civil litigation. 

From 2007 to 2013, Commer served on the Supreme Court's Access to Justice Committee. From 2014 to 2020, he chaired the Supreme Court’s Language Access Committee on Interpreters.

Before becoming a judge, Commer practiced law in Wichita for 28 years. He received an undergraduate degree with honors from Sterling College in 1977, and he is a 1980 graduate of Washburn University School of Law. 

Commer will hear one case at 1:30 p.m. on the September 14 docket:

Appeal No. 118,035: Jayhawk Racing Properties LLC and Heartland Park Raceway LLC v. City of Topeka

Shawnee County: (Petition for Review) Jayhawk Racing sued the City for breach of contract when the City failed to pay the company, as promised in a contract, almost $2.4 million for its reversionary interest in the land where Heartland Park Raceway is located. When the City refused to issue bonds to pay for the sale, Jayhawk Racing sued, and the City moved to dismiss the action. With the agreement of the parties, the district court treated the motion as one for summary judgment and granted the motion, dismissing Jayhawk Racing's lawsuit. The Court of Appeals reversed the court's dismissal, finding the court in granting summary judgment ignored the fundamental purpose of the contract: to purchase an interest in real estate. The Court found this is a proprietary contract where the City was buying all interests in a racetrack. The Court indicated the district court improperly limited its view of the contract to a contingency promise made by the City to issue Sales Tax and Revenue (STAR) Bonds, and the City's financing method was an illegal attempt by one council to bind future city councils, thus making the entire contract unenforceable. The Court of Appeals held the City was not entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Issues on review are whether: 1) the Court of Appeals erred in holding the City's issuance of STAR bonds is the exercise of a proprietary rather than a governmental function; 2) under Kansas law, the City can be held to a contractual covenant of good faith and fair dealing to exercise the governmental function of issuing STAR bonds; and 3) the Court of Appeals misapplied the Kansas cash-basis and budget laws.

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