Comment history

New judicial-selection plan fails

Why? They are sworn in, by the Kansas Supreme Court, as officers of the court. They take an oath to uphold the laws of the state of Kansas.

May 16, 2013 at 9:56 a.m. ( | suggest removal )

New judicial-selection plan fails

The lawyers themselves are a part of the judicial branch. Without the lawyers, the courts don't operate. So really, we have 5 members of the judicial branch (lawyers) sitting on the commission to determine who is qualified for the Supreme Court. Why this such a bad thing? And of course, the Governor still gets to pick 4 of the 9 members of that commission. And then the Governor gets to also pick the person who gets the job. Seems like a lot of input from the Governor.

The voters also have recourse if we disagree with the appointments. We can vote out the judge in the retention election. That's even better than going through the middle man of voting out the Governor if we disagree with his appointments. That is democracy in action.

May 15, 2013 at 5 p.m. ( | suggest removal )

Lawrence man arrested after rollover accident on Connecticut Street

If he would have remained in custody, the county would have had to pay for his hospital stay.

February 14, 2013 at 9:25 a.m. ( | suggest removal )

Statehouse Live: Opponents of anti-union bill say it could shut down nearly all union political speech

The Legislature may be violating federal law by attempting to pass this legislation.

18 U.S.C.A. § 241
§ 241. Conspiracy against rights

If two or more persons conspire to injure, oppress, threaten, or intimidate any person in any State, Territory, Commonwealth, Possession, or District in the free exercise or enjoyment of any right or privilege secured to him by the Constitution or laws of the United States, or because of his having so exercised the same; or
If two or more persons go in disguise on the highway, or on the premises of another, with intent to prevent or hinder his free exercise or enjoyment of any right or privilege so secured--
They shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both; and if death results from the acts committed in violation of this section or if such acts include kidnapping or an attempt to kidnap, aggravated sexual abuse or an attempt to commit aggravated sexual abuse, or an attempt to kill, they shall be fined under this title or imprisoned for any term of years or for life, or both, or may be sentenced to death.

February 8, 2013 at 10:21 a.m. ( | suggest removal )

Senate approves changes in selection of judges

The selection of judges based on merit is actually used by more states than direct appointment by an elected official. The proponents of change are trying to make it seem like our current system is unique. It's not. It's called the Missouri plan. It was developed to keep politics out of judicial selection. Very few states use a model like the federal system.

Here is a site that shows on a map how "different" Kansas is (spoiler alert - it's not).

If you'd like to read about Merit selection of judges, here is the wikipidea page for the process:

And the reason Kansas moved to merit selection was because of the Kansas "triple play." Basically, the outgoing governor, with about 10 days left in office, resigned and had his #2 appoint the him to be Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. We decided we didn't want this sort of scandal again. And we haven't had this sort of scandal again in over 50 years. But the powers that be want to fix something that isn't broken.

January 31, 2013 at 10:07 p.m. ( | suggest removal )

Senate approves changes in selection of judges

“The current system does not have the legitimacy for the voters of the state of Kansas that it needs to,” said Senate Vice President Jeff King, an Independence Republican who also serves as the chamber’s Judiciary Committee chairman.

And yet the Senator opposed an amendment to SCR 1601 that would have made sure that any vote by the people of Kansas on this constitutional amendment would be in a general election. As written, the constitutional amendment would be voted on by Kansans in the August 2014 primary election. The McGinn amendment, which King opposed, would have changed the date of the vote to the November, 2014 general election.

King's reasoning for opposing the amendment - we can't wait another three months. Of course, he admitted the current system has been in place since the 1950's with not so much as one noticeable problem. But we can't wait 3 months to put it to the voters in a general election.

As was pointed out during the discussion of the McGinn amendment, the voter turnout for general elections is much higher than for primaries. For example, the November 2012 turnout in Kansas was 66.8 percent, while the August 2012 turnout was 23.2 percent. Even after hearing these numbers, Senator King continued to oppose the amendment and still maintained that his proposal supported "the legitimacy for the voters of the state of Kansas." I'm sorry if I'm not convinced, Senator.

January 31, 2013 at 4:47 p.m. ( | suggest removal )

Lawrence man found guilty in retrial of 2006 murder case

The article should probably point out that he was convicted of a lesser version of second-degree murder than he was the first time (reckless second-degree murder instead of intentional second-degree murder).

January 18, 2013 at 3:14 p.m. ( | suggest removal )

Opinion: Chief justice defends selection system

Professor Ware,

Could you explain why retention elections do not satisfy your "one person one vote" argument? You claim that the current system violates equal protection of the law, but the federal courts that have considered the issue have held otherwise. If Kansans truly wanted to oust a judge, they have equal voting power to do so. But they have generally been happy with the judges selected based on merit. Your argument in the past has been "no judge has ever lost their seat in a retention election." But that shouldn't matter. When was the last time a Democrat won the presidential elector votes in Kansas? That doesn't mean the elections were unfair or lacking in legitimacy.

You also claim that there are "back room deals controlled by the bar." Your solution is to put more power in the hands of the governor. But the governor gets to appoint 4 of the 9 members of the judicial nominating commission and then gets to pick one of three finalists picked by the commission. That seems to be a whole lot of influence in the selection process. If there really were "back room deals" with preselected finalists, don't you think any one of the four gubernatorial appointments on the commission would report that back to the governor?

Maybe you would prefer the system Kansas used to have, where there were judicial elections and any temporary positions were made by appointment? But as you know, Kansans became outraged at that system when Governor Fred Hall, who was defeated in the primary election, pulled the "Kansas triple play" and got himself appointed as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. In the move, the Chief Justice, who was seriously ill, sent his resignation letter to Governor Hall. Hall then immediately gave the governor position to his lieutenant - who had already agreed to appoint Hall as Chief Justice. The lieutenant became governor for a period of 11 days, and his only official act was to appoint outgoing Governor Hall to the Chief Justice position.

Despite this prior history, you seem to support appointment by the governor with the additional "check" of Senate confirmation. Of course, in recent years, the governor has been financially injecting himself into Senate campaigns, so there is that. But more importantly, you claim that senate confirmation makes the system more open to the public - because the public can vote against the senators on Election Day to punish them for bad votes on judicial candidates. But the voters can actually vote against the judges and justices on Election Day. This seems to be a big whole in your argument that the current judicial system in Kansas takes power from the people. Each judge or justice can flat out be kicked out of office by the public. That is a whole lot of power.

December 18, 2012 at 8:37 a.m. ( | suggest removal )

Feds want answers from Kansas anti-abortion activist

There is caselaw that says that compelled speech violates the First Amendment. She might not want to say it violates her Fifth Amendment rights when she talks about it to the press because then it would imply that she would say something incriminating. Of course, she should assert her Fifth Amendment rights if she is brought in for any questioning by the Justice Dept.

November 30, 2012 at 9:37 a.m. ( | suggest removal )

ATF set up bogus Kan. pawn shop in sting operation

There is a great episode of the Simpsons where the cops get all of the characters with warrants to come down and pick up their "free boat." When Homer is arrested on an outstanding warrant, he yells - "Owww, my boating arm!!!"

November 16, 2011 at 7:36 p.m. ( | suggest removal )