Archive for Thursday, August 22, 2013

Judicial commission chair denies that politics had anything to do with bypassing Stegall earlier

August 22, 2013


— The chairwoman of the judicial nominating commission that passed over Gov. Sam Brownback's chief counsel, Caleb Stegall, twice for vacancies on the Kansas Court of Appeals today denied that politics had anything to do with it.

"I can assure you that in my experience on the Supreme Court Nominating Commission that commission members typically have no idea of the applicants' current or past political affiliation," said Anne Burke.

Her comment was made in response to an allegation made by Felita Kahrs, another member of the commission, after Brownback nominated Stegall to the Court of Appeals on Tuesday.

Kahrs said in a letter to Brownback that Stegall's references and interviews were exemplary. "It is my opinion that Caleb was one of the top candidates that appeared before the Commission but due to politics, his name was not submitted," Kahrs wrote.

Kahrs, who was appointed to the nominating commission by Brownback, did not elaborate on the allegation, and attempts to reach her at her Washington, D.C- area job were not successful.

Stegall was overlooked by the nominating commission last year, but this year, at Brownback's behest, Republicans in the Legislature changed state law so that Brownback could make direct nominations to the Court of Appeals with Senate approval.

Prior to the change, the Supreme Court Nominating Commission took applications, screened and interviewed candidates for both the Kansas Court of Appeals and Kansas Supreme Court and then forwarded three names to the governor to pick from.

The nominating commission still exists to handle vacancies on the Kansas Supreme Court. Brownback has said he would like to change the Supreme Court selection process, as well, but that would require a change in the Kansas Constitution.

Burke said the commission may have known Stegall's political affiliation because of his employment on Brownback's staff, but added that Stegall's "political affiliation was never discussed during the interviews when he applied for two Court of Appeals judgeships. That includes both inside and out of the meetings. The goal of the Nominating Commissions, whether at the state or local levels, has been to nominate the most qualified person possible."

When Brownback announced Stegall, he said, "If confirmed, Caleb will be one of the most, if not the most qualified person to go on the Kanas Court of Appeals over the past several decades."

But Burke argued that the two persons ultimately picked by Brownback for those two vacancies that Stegall had sought to fill had many years' experience as sitting judges. Stegall, 41, has no experience as a judge.

The two that Brownback picked from nominees forwarded by the commission were Kim Schroeder, who had been a district court judge for 14 years, and Anthony Powell, who had been a leading conservative Republican legislator before serving as a district court judge for 10 years.


chootspa 4 years, 9 months ago

Hmmm, picking experienced judges as appellate judges. What a concept!

Mike1949 4 years, 9 months ago

Why when I hear something isn't political that these people can say it with a straight face? Why do politicians think we are morons?

olddognewtrix 4 years, 9 months ago

Ann Burke is a dynamic woman attorney who has excellent judgement , just like her father before her.

question4u 4 years, 9 months ago

"Brownback has said he would like to change the Supreme Court selection process, as well..."

At last! Something believable came out of Flim-Flam Sam's mouth. Who could doubt that his hands are itching to fill the Supreme Court with puppets?

"Stegall, 41, has no experience as a judge."

Well, in Kansas backwards land that makes him the perfect pick. Shame on those past selection committees for choosing two candidates with 10 and 14 years of experience respectively! Kansas dodged a bullet this time. If Brownback hadn't changed the rules, we might have another qualified nominee this year. Felita Kahrs is obviously right. The person with zero experience is always the best person for the job and if they don't get it, it's because of politics.

Now if Flim-Flam Sam can just get the people of Kansas to change the constitution, we can have a Supreme Court filled with appointees with no experience.

onemansopinion 4 years, 9 months ago

Memo to Sam: Whenever you feel compelled to go on the record to explain yet another bad decision, don't. You just make a bad situation worse. You aren't credible, you aren't serious.

EveryMan 4 years, 9 months ago

"House Minority Leader Paul Davis, a Lawrence Democrat and lawyer who opposes changing the selection process, called Stegall “well-qualified” for the Court of Appeals. Davis said he wouldn’t be surprised to see Stegall among the finalists. “Caleb is an experienced attorney who’s practiced in a number of different settings,” Davis said. "

Now, Paul Davis feels Stegall is not qualified and Davis is running for Governor...shocker.

deec 4 years, 9 months ago

Nice job of truncating a quote. "“Caleb is an experienced attorney who’s practiced in a number of different settings,” Davis said. “But there may be people with more experience than he has, and I think we have to trust the people on the nominating commission to do their job.”

nick_s 4 years, 9 months ago

I dont believe any of them: Republican, Democrat, Independant, Unaffiliated. To be a politician means to open yourself to corruption, bribery, kickbacks, & influence. Even the most well-intended individuals are coerced into the game these individuals play. Everyone has an agenda, & that agenda has nothing to do with actually serving the people of their district, state, or country. I believe Mr. Stegall is no different. The secrecy & track-record of this administration does not prove this belief to be wrong. It can be spun however they see fit, but if it walks like a duck & talks like a duck...

This man is a religious fanatic (see link below) & this man is being given the opportunity to thrust his extreme religious values on me. I have no problem with religion, but it has no place in a court of law in this country that strives to seperate Church & State.

Uhlrick_Hetfield_III 4 years, 8 months ago

The real problem is that the process is so anti-democratic. From what I've seen the Commission usually gives the Governor candidates that fit in with their particular perspective so I don't think anything is going to change under the new system. After all, Anthony Powell is by far more conservative than Stegall and he was picked by the Commission.

However, from the standpoint of the legitimacy of the selection, having the Senate vet the choice is far preferable from a little d democratic position than having a hand full of lawyers do the job. Does anyone here from any party actually trust a room full of lawyers?

Secondly, now the choice is a direct commentary on the decision-making of the Governor whereas the Commission gives them deniability that the choice really wasn't theirs. The choice of Stegall is the perfect example. It subjected Brownback to far more criticism than when he put the even more conservative Powell on the bench.

jafs 4 years, 8 months ago

Well, we could easily combine those two things, and have the selection of nominees continue as before, but also have them confirmed by the Senate. Then we sort of get the best of both worlds.

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