Commission nominates three for district court vacancy

John Richmeier
Kansas Supreme Court Justice Eric Rosen, left, prepares to resume a meeting of the 1st Judicial District Nominating Commission following a short break Tuesday at the Justice Center. Also pictured are members of the commission Ron Bates and Kevin Reardon.

A commission is forwarding the names of three area attorneys to the governor for consideration for a vacant judge position in Leavenworth County.

Gov. Laura Kelly will appoint one of the nominees to fill the position of district judge.

Members of the 1st Judicial District Nominating Commission voted Tuesday to forward the names of Keyta D. Kelly, Joan M. Lowdon and Michael G. Jones to the governor.

The vote came after members of the nominating commission interviewed six candidates.

The 1st Judicial District is made up of Atchison and Leavenworth counties. There is a vacant judge position following the recent retirement of District Judge Michael Gibbens.

Keyta Kelly, Tonganoxie, is an attorney with a private practice.

Lowdon, who lives in the Bonner Springs area, serves as the deputy county attorney for Leavenworth County.

Jones, Lansing, also works in private practice.

The other attorneys who were interviewed by the commission were Pamela Campbell Burton, Natalie M. Teemer Washington and John Kurth.

The interviews took place in a courtroom at the Justice Center in Leavenworth. One member of the commission participated through an online videoconferencing service.

After completing the interviews, members of the commission met behind closed doors in executive session to review confidential materials.

Kansas Supreme Court Justice Eric Rosen, who served as the non-voting chairman of the commission, said the confidential materials included information such as disciplinary background checks and credit background checks of the candidates.

Once the open session portion of the meeting resumed, Rosen said the law allowed the commission to recommend three to five people to the governor. Members of the commission decided they wanted to forward the names of only three nominees.

Members of the commission then voted by ballot on the candidates they wished to recommend to the governor. Each member was asked to vote for three people.

According to Rosen, who tallied the votes, Lowdon received the most votes – seven. Jones received the second highest number of votes – six, and Kelly received the third highest number of votes – five.

Commission member Ron Bates made a motion to submit the names of the top three vote-getters to the governor. The motion was seconded by commission member Todd Thompson.

The motion was approved with one commission member, Julia Clem, voting against it.

“I’m going to call all of the candidates and let them know," Rosen said at the end of the meeting.

He said a letter with the names of the three nominees will be hand delivered to the governor today.

Rosen said the recommendation to the governor will not rank the three nominees. He said they will be listed in alphabetical order.

The governor will have 60 days to decide on the appointment.

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