TOPEKA—Angela Coble will be sworn in as judge on the Kansas Court of Appeals at 2 p.m. Tuesday, May 17, before an invited audience in the Supreme Court courtroom in the Kansas Judicial Center, Topeka.
Chief Judge Arnold-Burger, Kansas Court of Appeals, will preside over the ceremony. Coble will be introduced by retired U.S. Magistrate Judge Karen M. Humphreys and sitting U.S. Magistrate Judge Gwynne E. Birzer.
The public can access a live webcast of the ceremony on the Kansas Supreme Court YouTube channel at www.youtube.com/KansasSupremeCourt.
Coble was appointed to the Court of Appeals by Gov. Laura Kelly to fill a vacancy created when Judge Michael Buser retired January 31. Her appointment was confirmed by the Kansas Senate in March.
On becoming a lawyer
Coble grew up in Stockton, Kansas, and was introduced to the justice system through the discomfort of a child in the family court system. This planted in her the desire to become part of a solution to other people’s problems and to make sure every person has equal access to justice.
When Coble attended Kansas Wesleyan University, where she studied criminal justice, she was introduced to then-District Judge David Knudson, who was one of her professors.
"Judge Knudson encouraged me to pursue a career in law, but I was unsure where in the system I might fit,” Coble said.
After she graduated, Coble went to work for the clerk’s office of the U.S. District Court in Kansas City. That experience helped solidify her desire to pursue a career in law, first as a lawyer and then as a judge.
Two distinct legal careers
Coble said she has had two distinct legal careers since graduating from law school, and it’s the variety and depth of her experience that prepared her to become an appellate judge.
“During my time practicing as a lawyer, I met with clients, counseled them on which legal avenues to pursue, and appeared with them before judges across Kansas,” she said.
Then, as chambers counsel in the federal court system, Coble advised judges on the law applicable to parties’ disputes. She also drafted hundreds of judicial decisions from the court’s neutral perspective.
“Between these two careers, I have been able to sit in nearly every seat in the courtroom, which was excellent preparation for becoming a judge,” Coble said.
On becoming a judge
What Coble looks forward to most about becoming a Court of Appeals judge is the court’s traveling dockets. The court recently resumed its traveling docket after conducting oral argument only by videoconference during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I look forward to getting out into the communities across the state to meet litigants, attorneys and the people of Kansas,” she said. “Judges want people to know we are everyday people and we want you to understand how the system works.”
Coble graduated from Kansas Wesleyan College with a degree in criminal justice. She earned her law degree from the Washburn University School of Law, where she was on the Washburn Law Journal staff.
Before she was appointed to the Court of Appeals, Coble was law clerk to Magistrate Judge Gwynne Birzer and retired Magistrate Judge Karen Humphreys, both of the U.S. District Court for the District of Kansas.
Before she joined the federal court, Coble was with Kennedy Berkley Yarnevich & Williamson, Chtd., Salina, first as an associate attorney and later as a junior partner. She practiced primarily in civil litigation, including employment, domestic, insurance and personal injury law, and in vaccine injury law before the Court of Federal Claims in Washington, DC.
Coble is a member of the Kansas Women Attorneys Association, Wichita Women Attorneys Association, Kansas Bar Association, Federal Bar Association, American Bar Association, and was a part of the Rule 1 Committee of the U.S. District Court for the District of Kansas. She also served as president, vice president, secretary, and treasurer of the Saline-Ottawa County Bar Association. She was on the board of directors of the Salina Airport Authority and the Salina Emergency Aid Food Bank, and she is the past president of the Salina Family Healthcare Center.
After a new judge serves one year on the court, they must stand for a retention vote in the next general election to remain in the position. If retained, the judge serves a four-year term.