Public interviews set for Kansas Supreme Court applicants

07/27/2014 6:44 PM

08/06/2014 12:42 PM

Editor’s note: An earlier version of this story contained incorrect information. The Supreme Court Nominating Commission is made up of nine members. The Kansas Court of Appeals no longer has open interviews for applicants to a vacant seat.

Applicants to fill a vacant seat on the Kansas Supreme Court will be interviewed Aug. 4 and 5 in Topeka in the first interview session open to the public, according to a news release from the Office of Judicial Administration.

The Supreme Court Nominating Commission – a nine-person board that will conduct the interviews – adopted new guidelines in 2010 to conduct interviews that are open to the public in an effort to increase public confidence in the appointment of a justice, said Lisa Taylor, spokeswoman for the Office of Judicial Administration.

Two Wichitans are among 14 attorneys and judges who applied for the seat, which became vacant following the departure of Justice Nancy Mortiz this month to the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Wichita lawyer Linda Kirby and Anthony Powell, a Kansas Court of Appeals judge, submitted their applications for the seat.

Three judges have been appointed using the open interview process in the Kansas Court of Appeals, Taylor said, but new legislation in the last year has eliminated the open interview process for the Court of Appeals. Now, Governor Sam Brownback makes the appointment with confirmation from the Senate.

This is the first time, though, that the state Supreme Court vacancy will have open interviews, she said.

After the interviews and after considering public comments, the nominating commission will select three applicants to recommend to Gov. Sam Brownback, who will then appoint the justice within 60 days of receiving the recommendations.

Applicants to the seat will be interviewed starting at 9 a.m. Aug. 4 and 5 in the Fatzer Courtroom at the Kansas Judicial Center in Topeka. The interview schedule and biographies of the applicants are available at kscourts.org.

The other nominees are Karen Arnold-Burger, Overland Park, Kansas Court of Appeals; Victor Braden, Lawrence, Kansas Army National Guard; Daniel Creitz, Erie, chief judge of the 31st Judicial District; Dennis Depew, Neodesha, partner in Depew Law Firm; David Klaassen, Marquette, lawyer; Thomas Malone, Topeka, Kansas Court of Appeals; Anthony Mattivi, Topeka, assistant U.S. attorney for Kansas; Steven Montgomery, Spring Hill, Miami County District Court judge; Steven Obermeier, Olathe, Johnson County District Attorney’s Office; Curtis Roggow, Shawnee, lawyer; Caleb Stegall, Lawrence, Kansas Court of Appeals; and Merlin Wheeler, Emporia, chief judge for the 5th Judicial District.

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