TOPEKA -- Court of Appeals Judge Carol Beier was appointed Tuesday to the Kansas Supreme Court, the first appointee by Gov. Kathleen Sebelius and the third woman to sit on the bench.
Beier, 44, of Topeka, fills the vacancy left by Justice Bob Abbott, who retired in June. She joins Chief Justice Kay McFarland and Justice Marla Luckert as the women on the seven-member court.
McFarland was appointed in 1977, while Luckert, 48, was appointed in December by Gov. Bill Graves.
"Carol will be there a long time," Sebelius said.
Beier becomes the fourth new justice in the past two years and the third justice to be promoted from the lower courts.
In addition to Luckert, Graves appointed Salina attorney Lawton Nuss, 50, and Court of Appeals Judge Robert Gernon, 60.
Sebelius said the new justices provided a new age and gender mix for the court. But she added that she selected Beier because she was the best candidate, not because she was female or Democrat.
"There's certainly, I think, the old court and maybe the new court," Sebelius said. "I think the dynamics of adding personalities to any group is always intriguing."
The veterans on the Supreme Court are McFarland, 68, Justice Don Allegrucci, 66, who was appointed in 1986, and Justice Robert Davis, 63, who was appointed in 1993.
Beier said she would apply common sense in reaching her decisions, though she said the courts had some latitude.
"The founders didn't think of everything and they couldn't have thought of everything," Beier said. "So obviously there are gaps to be filled and interpretations to be made."
However, she said, that requires caution and being true to the residents of the state in ruling on matters of law.
Beier was appointed to the Court of Appeals in 2000. Before that she was a partner with Foulston and Siefkin in Wichita beginning in 1988. From 1987 to 1988, she practiced white-collar criminal defense in Washington, D.C. She also has been a staff attorney at the National Women's Law Center and was a clerk for Judge James Logan of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit.
She graduated from the University of Kansas with a bachelor's in journalism in 1981 and her law degree in 1985. She and her husband, Richard Green, live in Topeka with their three children.
The Kansas Supreme Court will begin its new term in September.
On the Net:
Governor's Office: http://www.ksgovernor.org
Judicial System: http://www.kscourts.org