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TOPEKA—District Judge Steven Hornbaker of the 8th Judicial District will retire June 1 after more than 21 years of service.

Hornbaker was appointed district judge serving in Geary County in 2000. The 8th Judicial District is composed of Dickinson, Geary, Marion, and Morris counties.

"I have had a great and satisfying career as a judge and lawyer and enjoyed every minute, but it is time to retire after nearly 50 years in the legal profession," Hornbaker said.

He said he has worked hard to provide justice to all.

"Every case, whether it involves $10 or $10 billion, is important," he said. "All judges know it isn’t the amount of money involved; it is the welfare of our citizens that is important. People have to know the judiciary treats them all the same, independent of any other factors."

He said a continuing issue during his years as a judge has been low salaries for court personnel, making it difficult to keep court clerks who could earn more working for a county or city.

"The job is a public service, and if the Legislature does nothing to raise pay for all judiciary employees—especially the clerks and nonjudicial staff—the court system will be unable to handle the hundreds of thousands of cases that are filed each year in Kansas," he said.

Hornbaker received a bachelor’s degree from Washburn University in 1970 and a law degree from Washburn University School of Law in 1973. He was a lawyer for 27 years for the firm Harper, Hornbaker, Abbott, Opat and Altenhofen in Junction City.  

District judges in the 8th Judicial District are appointed through a merit selection process. State statute requires a nominating commission to accept nominations, interview nominees, and forward 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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