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Archive for Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Brownback won’t set date for naming court appointee

August 6, 2013

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TOPEKA — Republican Gov. Sam Brownback promised Monday to move “aggressively” to name a new Kansas Court of Appeals judge but wouldn’t pin down the date, even though a top Democratic legislator has called for the nomination to come this week.

State law gives Brownback until Aug. 29 to nominate the new judge to the state’s second-highest court. The Republican-dominated Legislature is scheduled to start a special session Sept. 3, and the Senate will be legally required to consider the appointment after lawmakers convene.

Brownback called the special session so lawmakers can rewrite a law that allows judges to sentence some convicted murderers to life in prison with no chance of parole for 50 years, rather than life with parole eligibility after 25 years. A U.S. Supreme Court decision in June raised questions about the Kansas statute’s constitutionality.

The governor and GOP leaders have insisted the special session — to be formally called Tuesday — should last only a few days. Senate Minority Leader Anthony Hensley, a Topeka Democrat, argues that senators and others won’t have enough time to scrutinize Brownback’s judicial nominee if the governor waits to name that person until late August.

Brownback said he’s interviewing candidates this week, but they’ll have to undergo background checks by the Kansas Bureau of Investigation, preventing him from committing to a date for an early appointment. He didn’t say how many candidates he’ll be interviewing, and his office won’t release a list of applicants.

“We want to move it aggressively as we can, but I don’t have a date,” Brownback told reporters after a meeting with legislative leaders about the sale of surplus state properties. “But we want to get it out there in plenty of time for people to look the nominee over.”

The Court of Appeals appointment is the first under a law that took effect last month allowing the governor to appoint the judges, subject to Senate confirmation. Under the old system — still in place for the Kansas Supreme Court — a nominating commission screened applicants and named three finalists, with no role for lawmakers after the governor’s appointment.

Hensley said last week that the governor should name the new judge by Friday.

“We have to an ample amount of time in order to vet this appointment,” Hensley said Monday. “This is the first court of appeals appointment under this new law, and I think we need to do it right.”

Comments

nick_s 8 months, 2 weeks ago

Hey folks, his hands are simply tied. Nothing more he can do about it. Come on, cut him a break, he's trying so hard. He just cant get anyone to cooperate with him. Ha ha.

3

Centerville 8 months, 2 weeks ago

This whole circus is getting tedious. Any reporter, even most politicians, can read in the regs that the deadline is August 29.

0

Boston_Corbett 8 months, 2 weeks ago

Transparency is evidently not what is occurring with the "new" system of appellate judicial appointees. PS, Professor Ware.... Where is the promised transparency you wrote and talked about so much on this issue you have advocated about for so long? Seems that it is pretty much lost, don't you think.

How about transparency in other Kansas judicial matters? How about transparency of the court docket involving domestic abuse charges, just as an example? Might be a good idea to protect the public, I would think.

Anyone else have ideas?

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