Kansas governor appoints public defender Stacey Donovan as Douglas County judge

photo by: Contributed and File Photos

Pictured at left is Stacey Donovan, appointed Douglas County District Court judge on Jan. 17, 2020. At right is the Douglas County Judicial and Law Enforcement Center, which houses court operations.

Gov. Laura Kelly has appointed Stacey Donovan, currently the chief public defender in Shawnee County, to fill the vacant judgeship in Douglas County District Court.

Donovan, of Lawrence, will fill the position that former Chief Judge Peggy Carr Kittel vacated with her Dec. 31 retirement, according to a Friday news release from the governor’s office.

Donovan graduated from the University of Kansas School of Law in 1997, and she has been an adjunct professor there since 2008, according to the release. She currently represents clients in criminal cases in addition to overseeing the day-to-day operations of the Shawnee County Public Defender’s office, according to the release. She is a member of the Kansas Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, the Topeka Bar Association, the Lawrence High School PTO, the Kansas Sentencing Commission and the Kansas Task Force for Lawyer Well-Being.

Donovan said in the release that she was thankful for the chance to serve.

“It has been my distinct privilege to represent people from all walks of life,” Donovan said in the release. “I’ve seen defendants struggle to understand their rights and navigate our criminal justice system. I’m eager to get to work serving in my new role, and no matter the case — big or small, civil or criminal — I will work to make sure that everyone in my courtroom has equal access to justice and a fair hearing under the law.”

The last three judges to join the bench in Douglas County District Court — James McCabria in 2014, Amy Hanley in 2016 and Mark Simpson in 2019 — were all working as prosecutors at the time of their appointments.

Kelly said in the release that Donovan was “a talented and accomplished public servant with a reputation of integrity and hard work.”

“Her experience helping Kansans deal with legal problems and working to improve our criminal justice system makes her a valuable addition to the Douglas County bench,” Kelly said, according to the release.

The two other nominees Kelly was considering for the vacancy were Carl Folsom III and Shon Qualseth.

It was not immediately clear Friday when Donovan would be sworn in.


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