Previous district magistrate judge to take over Manhattan’s municipal bench

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Published: Nov. 23, 2022 at 7:36 AM CST
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MANHATTAN, Kan. (WIBW) - A previous district magistrate judge will take over the City of Manhattan’s municipal bench as Judge Caffey steps down after 40 years.

Manhattan City Manager Ron Fehr announced on Tuesday, Nov. 22, that James R. Kepple has been named as the city’s new Municipal Court Judge. Kepple, who currently serves as a District Magistrate Judge for the 21st Judicial District in Riley Co., will start his new position on Nov. 28.

The City indicated that Kepple will replace current Municipal Judge Patrick Caffey, who is set to retire on Dec. 9. Caffey served the City of Manhattan for 40 years.

“We are fortunate to have someone with Judge Kepple’s experience and qualifications right here in Manhattan,” Fehr said. “As we transition from Judge Caffey’s part-time status to Judge Kepple’s full-time position, we are grateful for Judge Caffey’s dedication to the community for the past 40 years and wish him well in his retirement.”

The City noted that the municipal judge hears all cases brought to the Municipal Court and has the power to bring all parties for trial upon complaints that are properly made. Kepple will also set bonds and review requests for appointed counsel, perform legal research and work with the Court Administrator and City Attorney to ensure a responsible Municipal Court.

“I appreciate the opportunity to serve the community as municipal judge, and I look forward to working with Municipal Court staff and other stakeholders to ensure a smooth transition to a new judge,” Kepple said.

Before he served in the Riley Co. District Court, the City said Kepple was a District Magistrate Judge for the 24th Judicial District in Ness Co. between 1993 and 2017. He also served as Ness City’s part-time municipal judge between 2016 and 2017 and in a similar capacity in LaCrosse between 2001 and 2015.

A Kansas native, the City indicated that Kepple began his career as an associate attorney with Marhofer Law Office in Ness City between 1985 and 1992. He then transitioned into government as a part-time city attorney in November 1991 and served in that position for a year.

The City said Kepple earned a bachelor of science degree from Kansas State University and a Juris Doctorate from Washburn University School of law. He has been a member of the Kansas Bar Association since 1985.

For more information about the city’s Municipal Court, click HERE.