Salina Lawyer Among Supreme Court Candidates

A Salina attorney is among 17 people who are vying to be a Kansas Supreme Court Justice.

According to the high court, Five judges and 12 lawyers applied by a noon deadline Monday to fill a Kansas Supreme Court vacancy created by the December 17 retirement of Chief Justice Lawton Nuss.

The applicants are:

  • Kristafer R. Ailslieger, lawyer, Topeka
  • Daniel Cahill, judge, Kansas City
  • Angela D. Coble, lawyer, Salina
  • Henry R. Cox, lawyer, Shawnee
  • Dennis D. Depew, lawyer, Neodesha
  • Randall L. Hodgkinson, lawyer, Topeka
  • Michael P. Joyce, judge, Leawood
  • Russell J. Keller, lawyer, Fairway
  • Michael C. Leitch, lawyer, Lawrence
  • Thomas E. Malone, judge, Topeka
  • Steven J. Obermeier, lawyer, Olathe
  • David A. Ricke, judge, Rose Hill
  • Lyndon W. Vix, lawyer, Maize
  • Brenda S. Watkins, lawyer, Olathe
  • Kristen D. Wheeler, lawyer, Wichita
  • Evelyn Z. Wilson, judge, Topeka
  • Marcia A. Wood, lawyer, Wichita

The Supreme Court Nominating Commission will meet by phone conference November 20 to finalize the date to interview applicants and other procedural matters.  Applicant interviews will be public pursuant to the Kansas Open Meetings Act.

The full interview schedule and brief biographical information about each applicant will be posted to the Kansas judicial branch website at under the heading “What’s New” as soon after the November 20 phone conference as possible.

Supreme Court justices are appointed through a merit-based nomination process that Kansans voted to add to the Kansas Constitution in 1958.

When there is a vacancy, the Supreme Court Nominating Commission reviews applications and conducts public interviews. The commission narrows the pool to three names that it sends to the governor. The governor chooses one person to appoint.

The Supreme Court Nominating Commission is an independent nine-member body. Four of its members are appointed by the governor from each of the state’s four congressional districts. These appointees are not attorneys. Four other members are attorneys elected by attorneys in each of the state’s congressional districts. The commission chair is an attorney elected by attorneys in a statewide vote.

Members of the commission are: Mikel L. Stout, Chair, Wichita; Gerald O. Schultz, Garden City; Linda B. Weis, Manhattan; Terrence J. Campbell, Lawrence; Frances Gorman Graves, Bartlett; Lenin V. Guerra, Olathe; Robert Hayworth, Stilwell; Gloria Farha Flentje, Wichita; and Dennis Hedke, Wichita.

To be eligible, a Supreme Court applicant must be:

  • at least 30 years old; and
  • a lawyer admitted to practice in Kansas and engaged in the practice of law for at least 10 years, whether as a lawyer, judge, or full-time teacher at an accredited law school.

When the Supreme Court Nominating Commission reviews applicants for the Supreme Court, they look at the person’s:

  • legal and judicial experience
  • educational background
  • character and ethics
  • temperament
  • service to the community
  • impartiality
  • respect of colleagues

Justices must follow the law and not be influenced by politics, special interest groups, public opinion, or their own personal beliefs.

Justices demonstrate their accountability by following a Code of Judicial Conduct that establishes standards of ethical behavior. They also take an oath of office that includes swearing to support, protect, and defend the U.S. Constitution and Kansas Constitution.

After a new justice serves one year on the court, he or she must stand for a retention vote in the next general election to remain in the position. If retained, the justice serves a six-year term