TOPEKA—Dan Pfannenstiel, a 35-year employee of the 16th Judicial District, will serve as honorary bailiff for the Kansas Supreme Court when it convenes for a special session at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, November 14, at Dodge City High School.
Pfannenstiel is chief court services officer in the 16th Judicial District, a six-county district that includes Clark, Comanche, Ford, Gray, Kiowa, and Meade counties. He joined the district in 1988 as a court services officer and has been the chief court services officer since 1997. His favorite part of the job is the relationships he’s formed.
"I have been able to form great relationships with all law enforcement, county attorneys, magistrate judges, and the clerks of the court," Pfannenstiel said.
Chief Judge Laura Lewis of the 16th Judicial District nominated Pfannenstiel for the honorary bailiff role.
“Dan is known throughout the district for his integrity, honesty, and sincere desire to make the judicial system as positive and efficient as possible,” Lewis said. “He is quick to offer support in whatever capacity needed and has been successful in maintaining a solid team of court services officers, even when the system overall has seen a lot of turnover.”
During Pfannenstiel’s 26 years as chief court services officer, only three officers left the district, and all were due to retirements.
Pfannenstiel’s secret? An open-door policy.
“It’s very important to treat every individual as I would like to be treated,” Pfannenstiel said. “I have seven different personalities in the office and each one must be handled differently. Most importantly, my door is always open, and I think it’s important to just sit back and listen.”
Pfannenstiel is proud of the positive impact he’s had on the community during his career with the judicial branch.
“To have a person walk up to me on the street and say, ‘you don’t remember me, do you’ and continue to say they have been clean and sober for five years because of me is pretty awesome,” Pfannenstiel said.
Now, as honorary bailiff, Pfannenstiel will take on a new role.
“I served as a ‘fill-in bailiff’ years ago on local jury trials,” Pfannenstiel said. “However, it was nothing of this magnitude.”
As honorary bailiff, Pfannenstiel will call to order the audience assembled at Dodge City High School, and then the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in two cases. After oral arguments end, justices will greet attendees in a public reception.
Information about the Supreme Court’s special session, including details about the cases to be heard, are online at www.kscourts.org/TravelDocket.
While Pfannenstiel looks forward to serving as bailiff, he is also eager for the community to attend the session.
“Most of the community has really never been exposed to hearings at the municipal, district, or appellate level,” Pfannenstiel said. “It will be very interesting because most are not involved with the judicial system and do not understand how it all comes together.”