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Kansas Supreme Court

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Kansas Supreme Court
Court information
Justices:   7
Location:   Topeka, Kansas
Chief:  $
Associates:  $
Judicial selection
Method:   Comm. select., Gov. appt.
Term:   6 years
Active justices

Lawton Nuss  •  Lee Johnson  •  Marla Luckert  •  Carol Beier  •  Eric Rosen  •  Daniel Biles  •  Caleb Stegall  •  

Seal of Kansas.png

The Kansas Supreme Court is the highest court in Kansas. It consists of seven justices, each of whom is appointed by the Governor of Kansas, currently Sam Brownback. The court is located at the Kansas Judicial Center in Topeka, Kansas.


Justices of the Kansas Supreme Court

The court has seven justices; they are chosen by a commission, and serve renewable six-year terms subject to retention votes. The mandatory age of retirement for a Kansas Supreme Court justice is 70, but a justice may choose to finish out their term if they turn 70 prior to its expiration. [1]

The current justices of the court are:
JudgeTermSelected by
Chief Justice Lawton Nuss2002-2016Gov. Bill Graves
Justice Lee Johnson2007-1/10/2021Gov. Kathleen Sebelius
Justice Marla Luckert2003-2016Gov. Bill Graves
Justice Carol Beier2003-2016
Justice Eric Rosen2005-1/10/2021
Justice Daniel Biles2009-2016Gov. Kathleen Sebelius
Justice Caleb Stegall2014-2016Gov. Sam Brownback

Chief justice

As designated by the Kansas Constitution, Chief Justices are appointed according to seniority, and have the responsibility of supervising the court and the "unified judicial department."

When former Chief Justice Kay McFarland retired in January 2009, Robert Davis became the court's Chief Justice. Davis resigned on Aug. 3, 2010 and died the next day [2]. Lawton Nuss became the Chief Justice when Davis resigned.


The Kansas Supreme Court has mandatory jurisdiction in civil, criminal, administrative agency, disciplinary, certified questions from federal courts and original proceeding cases, and discretionary jurisdiction in civil, criminal, administrative agency, juvenile, original proceeding, and interlocutory decision cases.[3]

Judicial selection

Kansas chooses its justices using a selection commission. The Supreme Court Nominating Commission selects three potential candidates for placement as a supreme court justice and presents their recommendations to the governor. The governor must then appoint one justice from the list. If a justice is appointed, he must stand for a retention vote after one year. Election to the Kansas Supreme Court gives a term of six years.[4]

Political outlook

See also: Political outlook of State Supreme Court Justices

In October 2012, political science professors Adam Bonica and Michael Woodruff of Stanford University attempted to determine the partisan outlook of state supreme court justices in their paper, State Supreme Court Ideology and 'New Style' Judicial Campaigns. A score above 0 indicated a more conservative leaning ideology while scores below 0 were more liberal. The state Supreme Court of Kansas was given a Campaign finance score (CFscore) which was calculated for judges in October 2012. At that time, Kansas received a score of 0.12. Based on the justices selected, Kansas was the 17th most conservative court. The study is based on data from campaign contributions by judges themselves, the partisan leaning of contributors to the judges or, in the absence of elections, the ideology of the appointing body (governor or legislature). This study is not a definitive label of a justice but rather, an academic gauge of various factors.[5]

Nominating commission

: See : Kansas Supreme Court Nominating Commission.

The Supreme Court Nominating Commission is comprised of representatives from each congressional district, and, during times of judicial vacancy, is in charge of compiling a list of potential supreme court justices to present to the governor.


To be qualified to serve on the court, a candidate must have had "ten years of active and continuous practice of law in Kansas."[6]

Removal of justices

Kansas judges may be removed by impeachment and conviction, according to Article 2 of the Kansas Constitution, may be removed by the supreme court on recommendation of commission on judicial qualifications, and or may be removed by the governor due to incapacitation.[7]


Fiscal Year Filings Dispositions
2012 1,934 2,815
2011 1,817 2,577
2010 1,854 2,784
2009 1,957 2,972
2008 1,862 2,693
2007 2,016 3,005


Please note: These statistics include the Supreme Court and Court of Appeals. The state does not provide separate caseload numbers for each court.

Notable decisions


Financial disclosure

See also: Center for Public Integrity Study on State Supreme Court Disclosure Requirements

In December 2013, the Center for Public Integrity released a study on disclosure requirements for state supreme court judges. Analysts from the Center reviewed the rules governing financial disclosure in each of the 50 states and the District of Columbia, as well as personal financial disclosures for the past three years. The study found that 42 states and Washington D.C. received failing grades. Kansas earned a grade of F in the study. No state received a grade higher than "C". Furthermore, due in part to these lax disclosure standards, the study found 35 instances of questionable gifts, investments overlapping with caseloads and similar potential ethical quandaries. The study also noted 14 cases in which justices participated although they or their spouses held stock in the company involved in the litigation.[10]

History of the court

The Kansas state capitol in Topeka, Kansas, which houses the Kansas Supreme Court

At its inception, the Kansas constitution provided that one chief justice and two associate justices would consist of the Supreme Court, and would be elected for six year terms. In 1900, the court increased from three justices to seven. In 1958, the selection of justices changed from partisan election to an appointment process.[11]


The Kansas Supreme Court sits in Topeka in the Kansas Judicial Center, which was completed in 1978. The building holds the 22-foot white marble statute, created by artist Bernard "Poco" Frazier. According to the "Eight Wonders of Kansas," "'Justice' kneels on a granite pedestal at the center of the Kansas Judicial Center. In a departure from the more traditional depictions of justice as a woman wearing a blindfold, in the Frazier statute, "Justice" is seen in a kneeling posture, eyes open, looking at her upraised arm at the symbolic figure of the Prairie Falcon, native to Kansas. The Prairie Falcon is native to Kansas and its vision is thought to be eight times more powerful than human vision. In 1976, work stopped with the artists' death; Malcolm Frazier, his son, was approved to complete the piece.[12]

Notable firsts

See also

External links



JudgeIncumbencyDivisionRetention voteRetention Vote %
MoritzNancy Caplinger-Moritz   ApprovedAYes666,22870.9%ApprovedA


See also: 2010 State Supreme Court elections

Daniel Biles, Marla Luckert, Lawton Nuss, and Carol Beier were up for retention in 2010; all were retained.

Kansas Supreme Court
2010 General election results
Candidates Votes Percent
Daniel Biles BallotCheckMark.png n/a n/a
Kansas Supreme Court
2010 General election results
Candidates Votes Percent
Marla Luckert BallotCheckMark.png n/a n/a
Kansas Supreme Court
2010 General election results
Candidates Votes Percent
Lawton Nuss BallotCheckMark.png n/a n/a
Kansas Supreme Court
2010 General election results
Candidates Votes Percent
Carol Beier BallotCheckMark.png n/a n/a


See also: State Supreme Court elections, 2008

Eric Rosen and Lee A. Johnson were up for retention in 2008; both were retained.

Kansas Supreme Court
2008 General election results
Candidates Votes Percent
Eric Rosen BallotCheckMark.png n/a n/a
Kansas Supreme Court
2008 General election results
Candidates Votes Percent
Lee A. Johnson BallotCheckMark.png n/a n/a

KansasKansas Supreme CourtKansas Court of AppealsKansas District CourtsKansas Municipal CourtsUnited States District Court for the District of KansasUnited States bankruptcy court, District of KansasUnited States Court of Appeals for the Tenth CircuitKansas countiesKansas judicial newsKansas judicial electionsJudicial selection in KansasKansasTemplate.jpg