Topeka Democratic Gov. Mark Parkinson appointed Court of Appeals Judge Nancy Moritz Caplinger of Topeka on Monday to fill a vacancy on the Kansas Supreme Court.
That fills the slot on the seven-member court created by the Aug. 3 retirement of Chief Justice Robert Davis, who died the next day.
Caplinger said in a statement that she was "humbled and honored" by the appointment.
"I have loved serving on the Kansas Court of Appeals and I look forward to bringing my experience as an attorney and judge to Kansas' highest court."
No date was announced for when Caplinger would join the bench. Supreme Court posts do not require legislative confirmation.
Caplinger is expected to be Parkinson's final appointment to the Supreme Court. He leaves office in January after assuming the post in 2009 when then-Gov. Kathleen Sebelius resigned to become U.S. secretary of Health and Human Services. He decided not to run for a full term and will enter the private sector in January, working for a Washington health care organization. Kansas voters select Parkinson's successor on Tuesday.
The 50-year-old Caplinger has served on the Kansas appeals court since 2004. Before that, she was an assistant U.S. attorney in Kansas City, Kan., and Topeka. She was a civil litigator and later represented the federal government in nonlitigation matters.
She grew up in Tipton and moved to Salina in high school. Caplinger earned a bachelor's degree in business in 1982 from Washburn University, where she also earned her law degree in 1985.
"As someone from a small town who put herself through college and law school, she has been able to rise to extraordinary heights and build a respected reputation in the legal circle," Parkinson said in a statement announcing his choice.
The governor had been given three names by the Supreme Court Nominating Commission and had until Nov. 27 to make his decision. Also considered were Court of Appeals Judge Tom Malone and Lyon County District Judge Merlin Wheeler.
Previous selections by Sebelius and Parkinson were Justices Dan Biles, Lee Johnson and Eric Rosen.