Topeka — Senate Minority Leader Anthony Hensley, D-Topeka, has pre-filed legislation that would require the governor to make public the names of people who apply for an appointment to the Kansas Court of Appeals.
Last year, Gov. Sam Brownback, a Republican, and his conservative allies pushed through a change in the way Court of Appeals judges were selected.
Now those judges are selected by the governor subject to confirmation by the Senate.
Prior to the change, the governor selected an appeals court judge from a list of nominees provided by a nominating commission.
Brownback selected his chief counsel, Caleb Stegall, as the first nominee under the new law.
The new selection process became more controversial when Brownback refused to divulge the names of those applying for the vacancy on the state's second highest court. Under the former system, the nominating commission released the names of those applying, its final recommendation and had even opened up to the public its interview process.
Brownback declined to make the applicants' names public, saying it would hurt the chances of getting qualified individuals to apply.
Under Senate Bill 252, the governor would be required to make each applicant's name and city of residence available to the public once the application process is over. The 2014 legislative session starts Monday.
Topeka — Gov. Sam Brownback will announce his appointee to the Kansas Court of Appeals at a news conference on Tuesday.
Eighteen people expressed an interest in the vacancy and completed at least one portion of the application process, the governor's office said today. Thirteen people interviewed with senior staff, with the three referred to Brownback for a second interview. Five individuals did not complete paperwork, were not statutorily eligible or withdrew from consideration, the office said.
This will be the first appeals court selection under a new law that increased the power of the governor to fill vacancies on the court.
During the recently concluded legislative session, Republicans in the Legislature approved a bill that allowed the governor to make appointments to the Kansas Court of Appeals, subject to Senate confirmation. Brownback signed that bill into law.
The new process replaced one in which a nominating commission screened applicants and named three finalists from which the governor made a selection.
The Legislature will meet in special session on Sept. 3, and the Senate will be required to consider Brownback's appointment.
Brownback called the special session after a U.S. Supreme Court decision raised questions about a Kansas law that allows some convicted murderers to be sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole for 50 years.
The appeals court selection has raised some controversy after Brownback refused to disclose the names of applicants for the position.
Under the previous process, the nominating commission had released the names of appellate court applicants, and even opened to the public interviews with candidates.