List of Kansas Supreme Court candidates down to three; Names go to Kelly

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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) -- And, then there were three.

The Kansas Supreme Court Nominating Commission released the names of its three finalists for the state's highest court late Friday and the list includes two members of the District Attorney's Office as well as Shawnee County's top judge.

The nine-member commission is tasked by the Kansas Constitution with narrowing down all of the applicants to fill an open position on the state Supreme Court to three individuals. Gov. Laura Kelly will then have 60 days to pick her nominee.

The candidate's are:

  • Deputy Atty. General Dennis Depew, of Neodosha;
  • Asst. Solicitor General Steven Obermeier, of Olathe, and;
  • 3rd Judicial District Chief Judge Evelyn Wilson.

    The commission selected the three finalists from a list of 19 applicants, who were interviewed on Thursday and Friday. A twentieth person had withdrawn his application before the interview round.

    After the new justice takes his or her seat on the bench, they must stand for retention in the next general election following their first year on the bench.

    Earlier this week, Kansans for Life released a statement opposing Wilson's candidacy based on her husband's past political contributions to Kelly and other abortion-rights candidates.

    The Supreme Court Nominating Commission released the following summaries of each nominees qualifications:

    Depew, Neodesha, has worked for the Kansas Attorney General's Office since 2015 and currently is deputy attorney general and chief of the civil litigation division. He previously was an attorney and partner in Depew Law Firm, Neodesha, for nearly 32 years. He graduated from the University of Kansas School of Law in 1983. He received a bachelor's degree in business administration from the University of Kansas and an associate degree from Independence Community College.

    Obermeier, Olathe, has been assistant solicitor general for the Kansas Attorney General's Office since 2017. He was in private practice for a year after working for the Johnson County district attorney's office for 31 years. He graduated from Washburn University School of Law in 1982. He received bachelor's degrees in journalism and political science from the University of Kansas.

    Wilson, Topeka, has been a judge in the 3rd Judicial District, composed of Shawnee County, since 2004 and the district's chief judge since 2014. She was managing partner of Wright Henson Somers Sebelius Clark & Baker, Topeka, where she worked from 1992 to 2004. She was an adjunct professor at Washburn University School of Law from 2001 to 2004. She also was in private practice for seven years in Oberlin. She graduated from Washburn University School of Law in 1985 and received a bachelor's degree in business and economics from Bethany College.