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Archive for Thursday, September 22, 2005

Justice cleared of any ethics violation

September 22, 2005

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— Kansas Supreme Court Justice Lawton Nuss, who had once represented the school district that sued the state over school funding, was cleared of any ethics violation for ruling in the school finance lawsuit.

The Kansas Commission on Judicial Qualifications found the allegation contained "no facts evidencing judicial misconduct," according to a letter released Wednesday by Karl Peterjohn, the executive director of the Kansas Taxpayers Network. The decision cannot be appealed.

Peterjohn had filed the complaint against Nuss, who before joining the Kansas Supreme Court in 2002 had been a private attorney whose clients included the Salina school district.

The district became one of the main plaintiffs in the school funding lawsuit.

Earlier this year, Nuss was among a unanimous court that ruled the school finance system was unconstitutional and ordered increased funding. The decision led to a $290 million, or approximately 10 percent increase in school funding this year. The court has said it may order more increases next year.

Peterjohn said because of Nuss' prior relationship with the Salina school district, he should have disqualified himself from considering the case.

"This is judicial ethics 101," Peterjohn said. "A lawyer who represents a client and becomes a judge should recuse himself in a case of that client."

The commission disagreed and said in the letter that it investigated the matter and now it was closed.

Peterjohn had also filed a complaint against Kansas Supreme Court Justice Donald Allegrucci for ruling in the school finance case because Allegrucci is married to Gov. Kathleen Sebelius' former chief of staff, Joyce Allegrucci. The commission rejected that complaint too.

Carrol Gilliam Green, secretary of the commission, said she could not comment on the actions because commission proceedings are confidential unless they advance to more formal proceedings.

Nuss did not return a telephone call for comment. Ron Keefover, a spokesman for the Kansas Supreme Court, declined to acknowledge a complaint against Nuss existed.

Parties in the case aren't bound by the confidentiality rule.

Though Nuss as an attorney had represented the Salina district, he was never part of the legal team hired by several school districts in the school funding lawsuit, said Rob Winter, superintendent of the Salina district.

Peterjohn's group has been highly critical of the state Supreme Court in its decisions on school funding.

Comments

John1945 8 years, 12 months ago

The legal profession in this country is out of control. This is the perfect example of a profession that drastically needs independent oversight.

What do you call a crooked lawyer? In Kansas, a Supreme Court Justice.

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KSMeadowlark 8 years, 12 months ago

Here's Karl Peterjohn's version of this story:

Karl Peterjohn: Judicial Abuse Authorized in Kansas http://www.saljournal.com/blogs/?p=158

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