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Wednesday, August 06, 2014

Courts - "Nominees to Kansas Supreme Court question that court's timeliness in issuing rulings"

Steve Fry reported Aug. 4 to the Topeka Kansas Capital-Journal Online:

The chief judge of the Kansas Court of Appeals, in his interview Monday seeking appointment to the Kansas Supreme Court, criticized the high court for the time it took to resolve a controversial capital murder case in Wichita.

Chief Judge Thomas Malone appeared before the nominating commission that will recommend candidates to fill a vacancy on the Kansas Supreme Court. The commission will submit a short list of candidates to Gov. Sam Brownback, who will appoint the justice.

Malone told the commission it was "not acceptable" that the case involving Jonathan and Reginald Carr — convicted of killing five people, four of them together in execution style — was pending before the high court for 10 years before the ruling was issued July 10.

“I’m sorry, but that’s not acceptable,” Malone said. “The court needs to be aware of the timeliness of its decisions.”

Malone told the commission he had a reputation for getting the job done in a timely manner. * * *

Malone was one of several nominees to bring up the timeliness issue.

"I think timeliness is a big issue on this court," Kansas Court of Appeals Judge Karen Arnold-Burger said. "I think there needs to be an improvement in timeliness."

District Court Judge Steven Montgomery, of Miami and Bourbon counties, recalled a woman who asked him repeatedly whether her case on appeal would ever be ruled on, adding she almost would rather lose the case than have it hanging over her head.

"I don't think that's the way our system is intended to be," Montgomery said. A "shorter turnaround" would increase public confidence in the supreme court, Montgomery said.

Court of Appeals Judge Anthony J. Powell, of Wichita, said it was more important for the ruling to be right, but it is important for it to be timely. Powell has been an appellate judge for 18 months and formerly was a Sedgwick County District Court judge and a state legislator.

Merlin Wheeler, of Emporia, chief judge for the 5th Judicial District, said it was important to deliver a timely opinion.

Wheeler said he writes decisions in cases only when "absolutely necessary."

The story continues with brief reports on many more of the applicants, including:
Victor J. Braden, deputy Kansas attorney general, appeared before the nominating commission via Skype.

Braden, who is a brigadier general in the Kansas Army National Guard and is the deputy commanding general of the Combined Arms Center at Fort Leavenworth, was in Bogota, Columbia, as part of a military tour of Central America and South America. He has been in the National Guard for 32 years.

Braden, who is under consideration for promotion to major general, was asked how he could be a general and Supreme Court justice at the same time. If chosen to be Supreme Court justice, he said he would resign from the Guard.

Arnold-Burger was asked whether it mattered that only one woman applied for the vacancy. Arnold-Burger said it is important to select the best person for the job.

"Is it important to have gender and racial diversity? Absolutely," Arnold-Burger said. If the Supreme Court doesn't reflect the community, that triggers distrust, she said.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on August 6, 2014 10:21 AM
Posted to Courts in general