Archive for Thursday, August 5, 2010

Kansas Supreme Court Chief Justice Robert Davis dies one day after retiring

August 5, 2010, 11:56 a.m. Updated August 5, 2010, 12:59 p.m.


Kansas Supreme Court Chief Justice Robert E. Davis announced Tuesday morning that he would resign immediately because of health reasons.

Kansas Supreme Court Chief Justice Robert E. Davis announced Tuesday morning that he would resign immediately because of health reasons.

— Former Kansas Supreme Court Chief Justice Robert Davis has died at age 70, only a day after retiring from the bench, the court said Thursday.

The court said Davis died late Wednesday at his home in Leavenworth. Its announcement did not list a cause, but Davis had been on medical leave in the spring and summer, handling limited judicial duties.

Davis joined the Supreme Court in 1993 and became its chief justice at the start of last year, and legislators who watched the court considered him a centrist who avoided politics. Friends and acquaintances also described him as gracious and gentlemanly.

"He was just a perfect person to work for," said Supreme Court spokesman Ron Keefover. "He made time for anybody and anything. He went out of his way to accommodate others."

Funeral arrangements were pending in Leavenworth.

Davis' retirement, effective Tuesday, had automatically elevated Lawton Nuss, the seven-member court's next senior justice, to the chief justice's position.

Democratic Gov. Mark Parkinson will appoint a new justice to fill the vacancy on the court, before leaving office in January. A state nominating commission will screen applicants and pick three finalists for the governor, mostly likely this fall.

Davis was born Aug. 28, 1939, in Topeka, and received his law degree from Georgetown University in Washington in 1964.

After graduating law school, he served as a trial counsel in South Korea for the U.S. Army Judge Advocate General's Corps and worked as an appellate counsel for the federal government in Washington.

He returned to Leavenworth for a private law practice in 1967. While still in private practice, he served as an attorney for the state Board of Pharmacy and, starting in 1981, Leavenworth County attorney.

In 1984, then-Gov. John Carlin, a Democrat, appointed Davis an associate district judge in Leavenworth County. Two years later, Carlin appointed Davis to the state Court of Appeals.

After seven years on the appeals court, Gov. Joan Finney, also a Democrat, named Davis to Kansas' highest court. He automatically became chief justice in January 2009, upon the retirement of Kay McFarland, the first woman to serve on the court.

"I have truly loved my judicial career in this dedicated court system, and will miss working with the district courts and my colleagues on the Kansas Supreme Court, whose members without doubt comprise one of the best appellate courts in the country," Davis wrote in his retirement letter to Parkinson.


Ricky_Vaughn 7 years, 9 months ago

At least you can say the man left it all on the bench...literally.

garyr 7 years, 9 months ago

" Would we want to require anybody to just give up and die, if keeping busy might give them purpose and a will to fight their illness?"

Yes. If that person was Rosanne Barr.

Ricky_Vaughn 7 years, 9 months ago

I wouldn't call that a lack of effort on his part though. Excuse him for dying!

hawkman8950 7 years, 9 months ago

damn, i have quite a few years to go before anything retiring-wise but gives me more reason to never retire and die working my butt off like family members in the past have. Condolences to the family regardless, really tough time i am for sure

Aimee Polson 7 years, 9 months ago

Hmmm. That's interesting. You took from the article that you should work longer and never retire. I, on the other hand, am leaning towards the notion of retiring earlier so that I get to enjoy some of it.

tolawdjk 7 years, 9 months ago

Wow. I had an uncle, Jay Parker, who went in similar circumstances. Retired as KS Supreme Court Judge and shortly thereafter died. I think it was about a month later.

Sympathy to the family.

somebodynew 7 years, 9 months ago

I agree completely with artful_dodger - - unfortunately I didn't think of that early enough and now my banker doesn't quite agree with that idea.

Stuart Evans 7 years, 9 months ago

I'd imagine that his caregivers coaxed a signature from him on his death bed. it's not like he suddenly died because he retired. he retired because he was about to die.

anitliars 7 years, 9 months ago

For those of you who did not know this man, show some respect. I did. And a more nobel caring and good person never lived. He will be missed and mourned.

igby 7 years, 9 months ago

Back in 1986, my 23rd wife at the time's father worked right up until the day before he died. He had been sick for two years with cancer and was being flown to the Mayo clinic regularly. He hide it well and work on Saturday and died on Sunday. Now if I could just get my 94th wife to die and her father and mother. Lol.

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