Second Judicial District Nominating Commission to interview candidates for judgeships

Published: Oct. 31, 2020 at 12:01 PM CDT
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - The 2nd Judicial District Nominating Commission will meet to interview candidates for district judge and district magistrate judge.

The 2nd Judicial District Nominating Commission says it will meet on Tuesday, Nov. 17, at 9 a.m., and Friday, Nov. 20, at 1:30 p.m. in the Kansas Judicial Center in Topeka to interview nominees for district judge and a district magistrate judge vacancy.

According to the Commission, the vacancies are the result of the retirements of Chief Judge Gary Nafziger of Jefferson County, who will retire on Jan. 11, and District Magistrate Judge Blaine Carter of Wabaunsee County, who will retire on Dec. 8.

The Commission said the 2nd Judicial District is made up of Jackosn, Jefferson, Pottawatomie and Wabaunsee counties.

According to the Commission, nominees can choose to be interviewed in person or via videoconference. It said the interviews are open to the public

The Commission said interviews will be livestreamed on the Kansas judicial branch YouTube channel.

According to the Commission, those that attend the interviews in person are required to follow public health requirements for the Judicial Center. It said this includes answering questions about symptoms or possible exposure to COVID-19, wearing a face mask while in the building and maintaining 6 feet of social distancing.

The Commission said any person with a disability requiring accommodations should notify the judicial branch ADA coordinator as early as possible, at least 10 working days before the meeting. The ADA coordinator can be reached at the following:

According to the Commission, the nominees for district judge are as follows:

  • Amy Crawford, Salina, former assistant county attorney for Dickinson County;
  • Christopher T. Etzel, Havensville, private practice lawyer and city attorney for Onaga, Havensville, and Wheaton;
  • Douglas A. Hager, Valley Falls, attorney for Kansas Department of Labor;
  • Shawna R. Miller, Holton, county attorney for Jackson County and municipal judge for Hoyt and Mayetta;
  • Joshua A. Ney, Lawrence, county attorney for Jefferson County;
  • Darla Ottensmeier, Oskaloosa, private practice lawyer;
  • Stephen O. Phillips, Perry, assistant attorney general for Kansas Attorney General’s Office; and
  • Ted E. Smith, Lawrence, attorney for Kansas Department of Revenue.

The Commission said nominees for a district judge must be:

  • at least 30 years old; a
  • lawyer admitted to practice in Kansas and engaged in the practice of law for at least five years, whether as a lawyer, judge, or full-time teacher at an accredited law school; and
  • a resident of the judicial district at the time of taking office and while holding office.

According to the Commission, it will interview nominees and then choose from three to five people whose names will be sent to Governor Laura Kelly to fill the position according to statutory qualification and residency requirements. It said Gov. Kelly will have 60 days after receiving the names to choose whom to appoint.

The Commission said district magistrate judge nominees are as follows:

  • Angela M. Anderson, Alma, clerk of the district court for Wabaunsee County;
  • Michael L. Clark, Wamego, court services probation officer for Pottawatomie County;
  • Amy Crawford, Salina, former assistant county attorney for Dickinson County;
  • Ralph Dunn, Alma, sergeant, Wabaunsee County Sheriff’s Office;
  • Jonathan L. Ehrlich, Oskaloosa, law clerk for Jefferson County Attorney’s Office;
  • Joel S. Fager, Alma, EMT-paramedic, Topeka;
  • Luka D. Henderson, Alma, master trooper, Kansas Highway Patrol; and
  • Eric G. Kirsch, Alma, chief of police for Maple Hill and detective for Wabaunsee County Sheriff’s Office.

According to the Commission, district magistrate judge eligibility requirements are as follows:

  • a resident of Wabaunsee County at the time of taking office and while holding office;
  • a graduate of a high school, a secondary school, or the equivalent; and
  • either a lawyer admitted to practice in Kansas or able to pass an examination given by the Supreme Court to become certified within 18 months.

The Commission said it will interview nominees and then appoint a district magistrate judge.

According to the Commission, after serving one year in office, a new judge must stand for a retention vote in the next general election to stay in the position. It said if retained, the incumbent will serve a four-year term.

The 2nd Judicial District Nominating Commission is made up of Supreme Court Justice Evelyn Z. Wilson, interim nonvoting chair; David Allen, Circleville; Charles Waugh, Eskridge; J. Richard Lake, Holton; D. Max Fuller, Maple Hill; Norma Dunnaway, Perry; and Edward Pugh, Eugene Scherer, and John Watt, Wamego.

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