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TOPEKA—The Supreme Court Nominating Commission will convene October 5 to interview applicants to fill a vacancy on the Kansas Supreme Court created by Justice Carol Beier's September 18 retirement.

The commission will convene at 8 a.m. Monday, October 5, in a meeting room on the first floor of the Kansas Judicial Center, 301 SW 10th Ave., Topeka. Interviews will start at 8:30 a.m. Interviews are open to the public and will be broadcast live on the Kansas judicial branch YouTube channel.

Anyone attending the interviews 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. 

Interview schedule, biographical statements

Interview schedule
Brief biographical statements
Interview guidelines

Open process

The nominating commission will conduct its work according to the Kansas Open Meetings Act, the Kansas Open Records Act, and Kansas Supreme Court Rules 1101 and 1102.

By a majority vote, the commission can recess into executive session to discuss sensitive financial information contained in the personal financial records or official background checks of the applicants.

Cameras and recording devices are allowed, but the commission can set reasonable rules to ensure orderly conduct.

In fairness to all applicants, the commission requests applicants not attend another applicant's interview and also not seek or accept information about questions asked of other applicants during interviews.

Public comment

The public cannot ask questions or make comments during the interviews, but written comments will be accepted until September 28. Comments can be sent to:

Supreme Court Nominating Commission
Attn: Mikel L. Stout
301 SW 10th Ave., 1st Floor
Topeka KS 66612
scnc@kscourts.org

Merit-based selection process

Supreme Court vacancies are filled through a merit-based nomination process that Kansans voted to add to the Kansas Constitution in 1958. The process involves the Supreme Court Nominating Commission, which reviews nominees, and the governor, who makes the appointments.  

When there is a vacancy on the court, the Supreme Court Nominating Commission reviews applications and conducts public interviews of nominees. The commission narrows the nominee pool to three names that it sends to the governor. The governor chooses one nominee to appoint.

Eligibility requirements

To be eligible to serve as a Supreme Court justice, a nominee must be:

  • at least 30 years old; and

  • a lawyer admitted to practice in Kansas and engaged in the practice of law for at least 10 years, whether as a lawyer, judge, or full-time teacher at an accredited law school.

Selection criteria

When members of the Supreme Court Nominating Commission review nominees for the Supreme Court, they look at the person’s:

  • legal and judicial experience;

  • educational background;

  • character and ethics;

  • temperament;

  • service to the community;

  • impartiality; and

  • respect of colleagues.

Judicial conduct

Justices must follow the law and not be influenced by politics, special interest groups, public opinion, or their own personal beliefs. Justices demonstrate their accountability by following a Code of Judicial Conduct that establishes standards of ethical behavior. They also take an oath of office that includes swearing to support, protect, and defend the U.S. Constitution and Kansas Constitution.

Retention elections

After one year in office, a newly appointed justice must seek retention by voters in the next general election to remain on the bench. Justices retained by voters serve six-year terms.

Supreme Court Nominating Commission

The Supreme Court Nominating Commission has nine members. There is one lawyer and one nonlawyer from each of the state’s four congressional districts, plus one lawyer who serves as chairperson.

Nonlawyers are appointed by the governor. Lawyers are elected by other lawyers within their congressional districts. The chairperson is elected by lawyers statewide.

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