Six months after having been sworn in as the newest judge on the Kansas Court of Appeals, Caleb Stegall is seeking a promotion to the Kansas Supreme Court.
Stegall, whose appointment to the bench by Gov. Sam Brownback sparked controversy, and 13 other judges and attorneys have applied to fill a vacancy on the state's highest court that was created by the departure of Justice Nancy Moritz to serve on the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
In 2013, Stegall, of Lawrence, had been serving as Brownback's chief counsel.
Brownback, a Republican, had approved a law that has the governor appoint Court of Appeals judges, subject to Senate confirmation. Previously, a commission screened applicants and named three finalists that the governor would chose from.
In the first appointment under the new process, Brownback picked Stegall.
Stegall, a former Jefferson County attorney, had gained notice in Kansas political circles for representing former attorney general Phill Kline, who is anti-abortion rights, in a legal dispute, as well as Kline's top deputy.
In 2005, Stegall encouraged "forcible resistance" to try to save the life of Terri Schiavo, the brain-damaged Florida woman who had been at the center of a national debate over the right to die.
Stegall's nomination to the appeals court was approved on a partisan vote during a special session last year. He wasn't sworn into office until January.
Vacancies on the state Supreme Court continue to be filled under the system in which a nominating commission screens applicants, conducts interviews and submits the names of three finalists to Brownback.
The commission will conduct the interviews of the candidates Aug. 4-5. The interviews are open to the public.
In addition to Stegall, the applicants include Karen Arnold-Burger, of Overland Park, who has been a judge on the Kansas Court of Appeals since 2011; Victor Braden, of Lawrence, who is deputy attorney general; Daniel Creitz, of Erie, who is a state district court judge; Dennis Depew, of Neodesha, an attorney; Linda Kirby, of Wichita, an attorney; David Klaassen, of Marquette, an attorney; Thomas Malone, of Topeka, who has been a judge on the Kansas Court of Appeals since 2003, and chief judge since 2012; Anthony Mattivi, of Topeka, an attorney; Steven Montgomery, of Spring Hill, who is a state district court judge; Steven Obermeier, of Olathe, an attorney; Anthony Powell, of Wichita, who is on the Kansas Court of Appeals; Curtis Roggow, of Shawnee, an attorney; and Merlin Wheeler, of Emporia, who is a state district court judge.