Gov. appoints first Hispanic female to Court of Appeals pending confirmation

Gov. Kelly has appointed the first Hispanic female Kansan to the Court of Appeals, pending Senate confirmation.
Published: Aug. 26, 2022 at 4:27 PM CDT
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - Gov. Kelly has appointed the first Hispanic female Kansan to the Court of Appeals, pending Senate confirmation.

On Friday, Aug. 26, Kansas Governor Laura Kelly says she appointed Judge Rachel L. Pickering to fill the vacancy on the Kansas Court of Appeals created by the retirement of Judge Anthony Powell.

Gov. Kelly noted that Pickering lives in Topeka and currently serves as a District Judge in the Third Judicial District in Shawnee County. If confirmed by the Kansas Senate, she said Pickering would be the first Hispanic Kansan on the Kansas Court of Appeals.

“When I first appointed Rachel to the bench in 2019, I knew she was a committed public servant based on her legal career and experience in nearly every area of criminal litigation,” Kelly said. “I am confident Rachel will bring her extensive legal knowledge and balanced perspective to the Kansas Court of Appeals.”

Kelly indicated that Pickering has significant experience in both criminal defense and prosecution. Before her time as a judge, she served as Appellate Defender, Public Defender, Assistant District Attorney and Assistant Solicitor General.

“Having dedicated my legal career to public service, I would be honored to continue to serve the people of Kansas alongside the distinguished jurists on the Court of Appeals,” Pickering said. “My experience with criminal defense and prosecution provides a balanced perspective, and I will continue to follow the law without favor or bias.”

As an appellate defender, Kelly said Pickering worked on criminal felony appeals from all counties in the Sunflower State, appearing in courthouses throughout Kansas. After she practiced criminal felony defense as a Public Defender with the Third Judicial District Public Defender Office, she was Assistant District Attorney in the Shawnee Co. District Attorney Office and was responsible for the prosecution of criminal cases and appeals.

The Governor noted that Pickering continued to work on felony cases and federal appeals in the Kansas Attorney General’s Office as Assistant Solicitor General. Here, she focused on appellate prosecution and state and federal habeas cases.

In her appellate practice, Kelly said Pickering argued 35 cases in front of the Kansas Supreme Court, over 40 cases in front of the Kansas Court of Appeals and authored over 300 briefs.

When she was appointed District Court Judge, Kelly said Pickering handled Child in Need of Care cases and probate adoption and truancy cases. She now is assigned to one of six criminal felony dockets in Shawnee Co. In this role, she was recently invited to sit with the Kansas Court of Appeals to hear and help decide cases.

In addition to her career in criminal law, Kelly indicated that Pickering also has a background in intellectual property having worked as a coordinator at the Kansas State University Research Foundation - now known as K-State Innovation Partners - and as an attorney with Hovey Williams LLP.

Pickering is also known to be active in the legal community locally and nationally through leadership roles and membership in various organizations. Currently, Kelly noted that she represented the 10th District for the National Association of Women Judges, is involved with the American Bar Association Criminal Justice Section, previously served as President of the Women’s Attorney’s Association of Topeka and recently completed a term as President of the Sam A. Crow American Inn of Court.

The Governor said Pickering has also been an adjunct professor at Washburn University School of Law since 2018 and has coached the law school’s moot court teams. She has also taught various courses in continuing legal education to attorneys and judges about topics including appellate practice and criminal law.

Kelly said Pickering graduated from the University of Missouri - Columbia School of Law in 2003 and earned a certificate in e-commerce and intellectual property and spent her third year of law school as a visiting student at the University of Kansas School of Law. She also earned her B.A. in History from the University of Missouri - St. Louis in 1994.

Kelly noted that Pickering’s appointment is subject to Senate confirmation and her materials are being forwarded to the Senate.

The nomination commission forwarded three candidates for Gov. Kelly’s consideration: Pickering, Meryl Carver-Allmond and Kristen Wheeler.