Kansas

Current Methods of Judicial Selection

SELECTION OF JUDGES

  Supreme Court Court of Appeals District Court
Number of judgeships 7 11* 160
Number of districts --- --- 31
Geographic basis for selection statewide statewide district
Method of selection (full term) gubernatorial appointment from nominating commission gubernatorial appointment from nominating commission gubernatorial appointment from nominating commission (17 districts); partisan election (14 districts)
Length of term 1 yr 1 yr 1 yr; 4 yrs
Method of retention retention election retention election retention election/reelection
Length of subsequent terms 6 yrs 4 yrs 4 yrs; 4 yrs
Method of filling interim vacancies gubernatorial appointment from nominating commission gubernatorial appointment from nominating commission gubernatorial appointment from nominating commission/ gubernatorial appointment
When interim judges stand for appointment/election next general election after at least 1 yr in office next general election after at least 1 yr in office next general election after at least 1 yr in office; next general election
Selection of chief judge/justice seniority supreme court supreme court
Term of office for chief judge/justice indefinite indefinite 2 yrs
Qualifications 30-70 yrs old; 10 yrs active and continuous practice of law in state 30-70 yrs old; 10 yrs active and continuous practice of law in state state resident; maximum age is 70; member in good standing of state bar > 5 years

*Until 2003, the court of appeals consisted of 10 judges. Under an act passed in 2001, the court of appeals will add one justice each year from 2003 to 2006 so that by 2006, there will be 14 judges on the court of appeals.

JUDICIAL NOMINATING COMMISSIONS
The supreme court nominating commission submits a list of qualified individuals to the governor for both supreme court and court of appeals appointments. The supreme court nominating commission is composed of five lawyer members and four nonlawyer members (one lawyer and one nonlawyer member from each congressional district, and one additional lawyer member who serves as chairperson). Lawyer members are elected by their peers in each congressional district, and nonlawyer members are appointed by the governor. Commission members serve four-year terms.

There are judicial nominating commissions for each judicial district. The size of each commission varies according to the number of counties in the judicial district. However, there must be an equal number of lawyers and nonlawyers on each commission. Lawyer members are elected by their peers in each judicial district, and nonlawyer members are appointed by the board of county commissioners. A supreme court justice or district court judge from another district serves as chairperson. Commissioners serve four-year terms.

For more information, see Judicial Merit Selection: Current Status.

REMOVAL OF JUDGES
Kansas judges may be removed in one of three ways:

  • Judges may be removed by impeachment and conviction, as prescribed in Article 2 of the Kansas Constitution.

  • Judges of the court of appeals and district court may be removed by the supreme court on the recommendation of the commission on judicial qualifications. The commission on judicial qualifications is authorized to investigate allegations of misconduct and to recommend a formal hearing. If the charges are proven by clear and convincing evidence, the commission may admonish the judge, issue a cease-and-desist order, or recommend to the supreme court public censure, suspension, removal, or compulsory retirement of the judge.

  • Supreme court justices are subject to retirement upon certification to the governor (after a hearing by the supreme court nominating commission) that the justice is so incapacitated as to be unable to perform his duties.

JUSTICES OF THE SUPREME COURT
Kay McFarland
Chief justice since 1995. Appointed 1977 by Governor Bennett. Retained 1978, 1984, 1990, 1996, and 2002. Term expires 2008.

Donald L. Allegrucci
Appointed 1987 by Governor Carlin. Retained 1988, 1994, and 2000. Term expires 2006.

Robert E. Davis
Appointed 1993 by Governor Finney. Retained 1994 and 2000. Term expires 2006.

Lawton R. Nuss
Appointed 2002 by Governor Graves. Stands for retention 2004.

Marla J. Luckert
Appointed 2003 by Governor Graves. Stands for retention 2004.

Robert L. Gernon
Appointed 2003 by Governor Graves. Stands for retention 2004.

Carol Beier
Appointed 2003 by Governor Sibelius. Stands for retention 2004.

LIMITED JURISDICTION COURTS

  Jurisdiction Selection of
judges
Retention of
judges
Qualifications
Municipal Court violations of municipal ordinances and miscellaneous traffic matters; exclusive jurisdiction for ordinance and parking violations  appointment by district nominating commission  reappointment high school graduate; county resident; lawyer admitted to practice in state or certified by supreme court after passing examination