New Douglas County district judge sworn in as court expands

photo by: Chris Conde/Journal-World

Douglas County District Judge James McCabria swears in Carl A. Folsom III as a new judge Friday, Dec. 2, 2022, at the Judicial and Law Enforcement Center. Folsom was accompanied by his wife, Karen Ebmeier, and daughter Evelyn.

Updated at 6:30 p.m. Friday

Douglas County welcomed a new District Court judge Friday with the swearing-in of Carl A. Folsom III.

Folsom was sworn in to one of two vacant positions in Douglas County. Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly in October announced Folsom’s appointment to the court along with Catherine Theisen, both of Lawrence, to fill a position vacated by retiring Judge Kay Huff and a new position created by the Kansas Legislature. Theisen is expected to be sworn in on Dec. 30.

photo by: Chris Conde/Journal-World

A crowded courtroom awaits the swearing-in ceremony of Carl A. Folsom III Friday, Dec. 2, 2022, at the Judicial and Law Enforcement Center.

Folsom, an alumnus of the University of Kansas School of Law, previously served as an assistant federal public defender for the District of Kansas and also serves on the board of directors of Lawrence food bank Just Food.

During the ceremony Friday, Folsom’s longtime friend and former law partner Branden Bell praised Folsom’s professional and personal qualities, saying the people of Douglas are fortunate to have him deciding cases.

Bell also shared a few stories from when he and Folsom were younger, including a time when Folsom forgot his passport while on a boat to the British Virgin Islands and jumped into the water and swam some 200-300 yards back to shore to retrieve it, despite the captain of the boat having offered to return to get it.

Bell’s stories had the crowd of more than 100 people at the Judicial and Law Enforcement Center laughing as he turned the floor over to Folsom’s wife, Karen Ebmeier, who shared a few jokes and praise of her own.

photo by: Chris Conde/Journal-World

Karen Ebmeier, left, helps her husband, Carl Folsom III, put on his judicial robe for the first time at his swearing-in ceremony on Friday, Dec. 2, 2022.

“Carl brings integrity, empathy and fairness to the bench,” she said. “I think we all know that. Many here are well acquainted with his brilliance and acumen. I think it will surprise no one to learn that Carl is the exact same person in the courtroom that he is in everyday life. He brings his full heart and his full energy to everything that he does. Whether he is researching or doing a dad daughter night or riding bikes with our family, he is his authentic self at all times.”

Chief Judge James McCabria, who swore in Folsom, spoke of some of Folsom’s career highlights, including that in 2019 the Kansas Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers honored Folsom with the Clarence Darrow Award for outstanding criminal defense performance, and in 2021 the Kansas Bar Association honored Folsom with the Courageous Attorney Award, which recognizes a lawyer who has displayed exceptional courage in the face of adversity.

Folsom thanked the governor for appointing him and also gave thanks to family members, teachers and colleagues who have helped him along the way.

“I’ve spoken many times about the impact that my mother had. The most important thing that she did for me was to allow me to witness her success,” he said.

Folsom said his parents divorced when he was 8, and his mother raised him and his sisters in an old farmhouse that had one heated room and no indoor running water. His mom worked as she put herself through college, and she eventually became a nurse.

“She raised our family out of poverty and I got to see that firsthand. She showed me the power of that hard work, but mostly the power of education and how it can transform lives,” Folsom said.

“I’m just excited to get started and help the people of Douglas County,” he told the Journal-World after the ceremony. “I am looking forward to providing procedural fairness and making sure everybody has their case heard and is treated with dignity and respect.”

photo by: Chris Conde/Journal-World

The swearing-in of new Douglas County District Court Judge Carl Folsom on Friday, Dec. 2, 2022, was attended by many judges, including, left to right, District Judges Mark A. Simpson, Stacey L. Donovan, Pro Tem Judges Blake Glover and Paul R. Klepper, and Retired Judges Jean Shepherd, Kay Huff and Peggy C. Kittel.


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