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Archive for Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Sebelius cites longtime professional relationship in picking Biles for Supreme Court

Lawrence judge passed over again; governor first to appoint majority

Gov. Kathleen Sebelius appointed Dan Biles, Shawnee, to the state Supreme Court on  Wednesday. Biles, best known for his work for state agencies, represented the State Board of Education in a 1999 lawsuit that eventually forced the state to phase in an $892 million increase in school funding over the past four years. He’ll replace Chief Justice Kay McFarland, who is retiring Monday after more than 31 years on the court. Biles was joined by his family: from left Sydney, 12, Allison, 19, Claire, 10; and his wife, Amy McCart, who is assistant research professor at KU in the Department of Special Education.

Gov. Kathleen Sebelius appointed Dan Biles, Shawnee, to the state Supreme Court on Wednesday. Biles, best known for his work for state agencies, represented the State Board of Education in a 1999 lawsuit that eventually forced the state to phase in an $892 million increase in school funding over the past four years. He’ll replace Chief Justice Kay McFarland, who is retiring Monday after more than 31 years on the court. Biles was joined by his family: from left Sydney, 12, Allison, 19, Claire, 10; and his wife, Amy McCart, who is assistant research professor at KU in the Department of Special Education.

January 7, 2009

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Sebelius picks Biles for high court

The state welcomed a new supreme court justice on Wednesday. Overland Park attorney Dan Biles was named to the bench. Enlarge video

Sydney Biles, 12, sits behind her father, Dan Biles, during the press conference Wednesday to announce his appointment to the Kansas Supreme Court.

Sydney Biles, 12, sits behind her father, Dan Biles, during the press conference Wednesday to announce his appointment to the Kansas Supreme Court.

Gov. Kathleen Sebelius appointed Dan Biles, Shawnee, to the state Supreme Court on Wednesday. Amy McCart, Biles' wife, pictured at left in background, is assistant research professor at KU in the department of special education.

Gov. Kathleen Sebelius appointed Dan Biles, Shawnee, to the state Supreme Court on Wednesday. Amy McCart, Biles' wife, pictured at left in background, is assistant research professor at KU in the department of special education.

— Gov. Kathleen Sebelius said Wednesday that she had three excellent nominees to the Kansas Supreme Court, including Douglas County District Court Judge Robert Fairchild, but she selected Dan Biles, a Shawnee attorney, because of her personal and professional relationship with him.

Sebelius said of Biles, Fairchild and the other nominee, Kansas Court of Appeals Judge Thomas Malone, “there wasn’t a wrong decision to make.”

Both Fairchild and Malone have years of judicial experience, but Sebelius noted Biles’ legal work on complex constitutional cases before the Kansas Supreme Court.

For example, Biles represented the State Board of Education in the huge school finance lawsuit that eventually forced nearly $900 million in additional education funding.

Biles said he has argued cases before the state Supreme Court more than 20 times.

Biles’ law partner is Kansas Democratic Party Chairman Larry Gates, but Sebelius, a Democrat, denied that had anything to do with her selection process. Instead, she noted her longtime relationship with Biles.

“I have called on Dan professionally over and over again,” she said.

Biles and Sebelius’ husband, Gary Sebelius, a federal magistrate judge, worked for years as attorneys on school litigation stemming from the landmark Brown v. Board of Education desegregation lawsuit.

Sebelius said her husband was a “great judge of people” and is a fan of Biles.

The selection of Biles represented the third time Fairchild had made the final cut for a seat on the Kansas Supreme Court — and the third time that Sebelius didn’t pick him.

Fairchild said he was disappointed he wasn’t selected but honored to have been nominated. “I’m fortunate that I have a great position that I love and people I love working with,” he said.

He wished Biles “the best.”

Biles, 56, will fill the vacancy created by the retirement of Chief Justice Kay McFarland. Biles and his wife, Amy McCart, who is an assistant research professor in the department of special education at Kansas University, have three children.

Comments

LWC 5 years, 8 months ago

To Judge Fairchild:It is a shame that the governor did not appoint you to the Kansas Supreme Court. You are unquestionably the most qualified of the three nominees. But, unfortunately you are not a crony of the governor. Once again it appears that "who you know" is more important than "what you know." While the governor's failure to appoint you to the Supreme Court is a great loss to the entire State of Kansas, it is a blessing to all of the people of Douglas county who will enjoy our good fortune of continuing to have such an excellent judge presiding over the Douglas County Court. Thank you for your service to this county.

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63BC 5 years, 8 months ago

If Kansas had Senate confirmation for judicial appointments, as the federal courts do, we'd have an open forum for airing these issues and getting some answers. Instead, we have nothing. Whatever the Governor, any Governor, says goes.We need reform of the judicial selection process in Kansas.

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Uhlrick_Hetfield_III 5 years, 8 months ago

Roundheels' appointments have gone almost universally to major contributors and cronies. I thought Dick Bond's puppet, Bill Graves, had a horribly corrupt administration. I sincerely thought that Roundheels would offer an honest alternative that would lead to a real change in Kansas government. Didn't happen. In fact, I'm stunned at how fast this woman flopped her administration into the sewer.One can only hope that Dennis McKinney will not be too handicapped by having to follow her embarrassing show.

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Strontius 5 years, 8 months ago

"This smells of cronyism."Got to love the voice of the people. Ignorant, uneducated, and vile.

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Danimal 5 years, 8 months ago

It does reek of cronyism. It's no coincidence that the former President of the Kansas Trail Lawyers Association appointed a trail lawyer with no experience on the bench to the highest court in the state. Especially considering that he isn't the best candidate available. I'm sure he will do a passable job, but the fact that the best person was passed over for purely political reasons (again) is shameful.

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Flap Doodle 5 years, 8 months ago

When do we get to see the DNA evidence proving that he and his wife are the biological parents of those children?Could the state of Ohio help us with that?

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Flap Doodle 5 years, 8 months ago

Cha-ching! went the register.Pay to play is alive and well in the Democratic culture of corruption.

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juscin3 5 years, 8 months ago

I wonder what Amy's mom and dad thought when they found out that their son n law is 14-16 yrs older than she. I remember goin to church with her back in the day and she is the same age as my oldest cousin. Not to mention I'm surprised that she kept her ex husbands last name instead of taking Biles or go back to her maiden name. Oh the stories I could tell....LOL

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Left_handed 5 years, 8 months ago

It's her name and her choice, but the fact that she made that choice indicates that she is a bra-burning feminazi, and Mr. Biles is a weak-kneed milksop.

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juscin3 5 years, 8 months ago

Good grief, beo, I didn't mean to step on your toes. hands beo a cup of coffee It's no one's business really...and uh, my stories are true...a person who lies is a fool!Get over yourself.Anyone and everyone is entitled to state their own opinion..opinions are like *ssholes, everyone has one. :)~

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junco_partner 5 years, 8 months ago

Cronyism, You betcha… We are facing serious budget deficits and just last week the Gov said that education may face cuts as well. This was met by challenges of lawsuits if the budgets do in fact get cut. So what does our wonderful Gov do? She appoints a judge who will help guarantee that if the cuts do get made, the inevitable lawsuit that follows will favor the schools. She will end up costing us taxpayers millions because the cuts will never end up taking place and buttloads of moneys will be wasted on the legal process. Thanks Kathleen! Education should have to help in the budget crisis just like everyone else. To use terms you hear every day in the media, why should they get a golden parachute? There should be public transparency in the State of Kansas education accounting system.

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hammysammy 5 years, 8 months ago

I don't pretend to know the qualifications of either candidate, but I would be interested in hearing some actual evidence from someone that would indicate why exactly they believe Fairchild is more qualified than Biles. Something like that would certainly lend credence to your claims that the choice was attributable only to their personal relationship, something Sebelius acknowledges as a factor, which was supplementary to his experience with the Supreme Court amongst other things. Seriously, not trying to be snarky, just curious.

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Flap Doodle 5 years, 8 months ago

How much did he pay for that tie? The people have a right to know!

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Satirical 5 years, 8 months ago

W. Daniel Biles (sometimes, William D. Biles, like in his April 2008 Statement of Substantial Interests Form) is the most political active among the three candidates. (Gov. Sebelius in the past often shows preference to Democratic party donors and activists in her appointments.) “Dan Biles” gave $1050 to Sebelius in 2001-2002 and “William Biles” gave $1500 to Sebelius in 2003 and 2005. “Dan Biles” gave $250 to Dennis Moore in 2004, $100 to John Vratil in 2000, and $100 to Greta Goodwin in 1998. “William Biles” gave $250 to Barack Obama in 2008.Biles’ wife, Amy McCart, gave $1250 to Sebelius in 2002-2006, $250 to Paul Morrion in 2006, and $200 to Barack Obama in 2008. Biles is an unaffiliated voter, even though he mostly gives to Democrats. Biles’ wife, McCart, is a Democrat.Biles, who has practiced law for 28 years, has been a member of the law firm, Gates, Biles, Shields & Ryan, P.A., in Overland Park sine 1985.The “Gates” in that law firm is senior partner Lawrence Gates, who is the current chair of the Kansas Democratic Party, a close friend and confidant of Kathleen Sebelius, and huge donor to Kathleen Sebelius and other Democrats. Gates was Sebelius’ choice for KDP chair after she became governor.The “Ryan” in that law firm was both Thomas Kelly Ryan and Nancy R. Ryan. Thomas Kelly Ryan was appointed by Gov. Sebelius to be a Johnson County District Judge in Sept 2008. T. Kelly Ryan is a Democrat and contributor to Sebelius, while his his wife, Nancy R Ryan is a Republican for Moore in 2008.The law firm donated $2000 to Sebelius’ Inaugural in 2007. Should we be concerned that an appointment of Biles to the high court would be little more than a quid pro quo for the Gates’ $15,000 to Sebelius’ gubernatorial campaigns?Biles was part of the legal battle over the definition of a “suitable education” in the Kansas Supreme Court as the General Counsel for the State Board of Education. Biles was part of the legal battle over the definition of “lottery” as an attorney for the Kansas Lottery Commission. (In 1994, the Supreme Court ruled the term “lottery” was broad enough to cover slot machines and other casino games.) Should we fear what other words may have different definitions for Biles?http://kansasmeadowlark.com/2008/12/08/whom-will-sebelius-appoint-to-supreme-court/

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Satirical 5 years, 8 months ago

Correction: the previous posting should have been entirely in quotes.

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Danimal 5 years, 8 months ago

BABBOY, fair enough, politics has always been this way. It troubles me that it's so blatant. I agree with some posts that we need to reform the judicial selection process in Kansas to require legislative approval of candidates. That would endow Kansas with a system that actually has checks and balances between the branches of its government.

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hammysammy 5 years, 8 months ago

I'm sorry, I'm still not seeing any evidence of why Fairchild is more qualified for the job.

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Satirical 5 years, 8 months ago

hammysammy....Fairchild has been a long time judge, while Biles has never been a judge. This is the reason some people feel Fairchild is more qualified to be on the KS Supreme Court. If you want any more details about Fairchild's resume compared to Biles try using www.google.com and look it up yourself.

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hammysammy 5 years, 8 months ago

I'm just saying, since you're apparently so riled up about it, I thought you might have some actual concrete evidence to support your arguments. I guess not. Simply having a lengthy appointment as a district judge does not a supreme court judge make. Google it. That's funny.

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Satirical 5 years, 8 months ago

hammysammy....What evidence did you use to conclude I am "so riled up about it"? "I thought you might have some actual concrete evidence to support your arguments." - hammyI have not made any arguments. But I could make arguments both ways (as I always can). Would you like me to make an argument of why a long-time district judge is likely more qualified than a trial lawywer to be on the Supreme Court? If so, I would be happy to oblige. Or perhaps you would rather start by defending the appointment then I could counter your argument?

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hammysammy 5 years, 8 months ago

Yeah, I was asking why a long-time (since 96') district court judge is more qualified, in your opinion. It seems that your disqualification of Biles is simply that you disagree with some of his arguments and previous positions. Is that what makes Fairchild more qualified? He has offended you less often? Please spare me the biased rhetoric of publications such as "the kansas meadowlark".In the appointment of federal supreme justices, non-judicial experienced (41 out of the 109) ones are mentioned here:"Many of those have been among the most influential justices - John Marshall, Earl Warren, Louis D. Brandeis, Robert H. Jackson, Felix Frankfurter and William H. Rehnquist, to name a few. As recently as the early 1970's, prior judicial experience was not much of a factor in picking Supreme Court candidates. The early Warren court in the 1950's, for instance, included three former senators, two former attorneys general and Chief Justice Warren, a three-term governor of California and the Republican vice-presidential nominee in 1948.Among those who joined the court from 1962 to 1972, in addition to Justice Rehnquist, who was an assistant attorney general, were Arthur J. Goldberg, a labor lawyer who had been labor secretary; Abe Fortas, a federal official in the New Deal who became a prominent corporate lawyer; Byron R. White, who was deputy attorney general; Lewis F. Powell Jr., a top lawyer who had been president of the American Bar Association and president of the Richmond, Va., School Board; and Thurgood Marshall, who had been an appeals court judge for four years but whose main experience was as a civil rights lawyer and solicitor general."http://www.nytimes.com/2005/10/04/politics/politicsspecial1/04judge.htmlCompared to these much more prominently positioned judges, Biles' local political involvement seems laughable. These judges were all politically active trial lawyers. It's not as if Sebelius is flouting custom to appoint an unqualified candidate.

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Satirical 5 years, 8 months ago

Hammysammy…Let me help you out by more concisely stating your argument: You can still be a good justice/judge without ever having served as one before.I completely agree it is entirely possible to be good at something one has never done before. Just like Brownie could have been great as the FEMA director without having the necessary experience (turned out he didn’t do such a great job), or it is possible Panetta could do a great job as Obama’s appointment as Director of the CIA despite having zero experience in intelligence. However, history is the best indicator of future events. So if KU had to hire a coach it would likely hire someone who had previously coached and had a great record. While there is no guarantee it is a good indicator he will do a good job based on his history. If KU hired a coach who had never coached the sport before, but had been around a the sport a long time, there would be no way to know for sure how well this guy would preform. A lot of people might think he would do a great job, but you just never know until he after a few years. However, unlike a coach who can be fire, a Supreme Court Justice cannot be removed just because they do a poor job. This is why most people want to look at history before making such a major commitment. I never stated Biles is completely unqualified and should have never received the appointment. However if I were to pick someone to build a house, I would be more likely to choose the person who has built houses for 12 years and built great houses, rather than someone who has never built a house but has worked in the construction for a while. Plus if I were a public official deciding who to build a public house, I definitely choose the guy with experience, especially if the guy who had never built a house had given me a ton of money. But maybe it is because I have integrity.

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hammysammy 5 years, 8 months ago

Satirical- I think it's funny that you take such great pride in your ability to argue..."Let me help you out by more concisely stating your argument""But I could make arguments both ways (as I always can)." Maybe you should be a trial lawyer!!!Then maybe you could be a judge!Sure, incompetence exists everywhere, regardless of previous experience. I still don't quite understand why this makes Fairchild more qualified. The examples you provided don't really make sense, because judges are lawyers. That's it. Fairchild has experience as a district judge. Not as a judge for the supreme court. Biles has much experience as a litigator within the supreme court. Now, to use your logic, if I were building a house that I wanted to withstand a hurricane, provided that "Brownie" were in charge of FEMA, who would I hire between these two architects? One who had been actually and actively building homes of these type, in New Orleans for years, or the architect that has been building regular homes in another city for 12 years? The truth of the matter is, both Fairchild and Biles are just lawyers. That is what judges are! Lawyers. Lots of judges to Supreme Court benches are appointed without any previous judicial experience. And I honestly don't care who has the job. I was just hoping someone might have some definitive information (not opinion) on why exactly Fairchild is more qualified. But I haven't gotten that. Or any superior arguments. Peace! Time for me to go to work.

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