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Stephen Koranda / Kansas News Service

Kansas senators met Tuesday to formally vote down Gov. Laura Kelly’s nomination for a Court of Appeals seat. In a strange twist, even Kelly wanted her nominee rejected.

The outcome was already known before lawmakers returned to Topeka for the single vote.

Seg. 1: Transforming American Prosecution | Seg. 2: Where Were You?

May 14, 2019

Segment 1: District attorneys' exercise of power has affected mass incarceration and convicted the innocent. 

The United States is the only country in the world that elects its prosecutors who can exert greater influence over criminal cases than judges. The author of "Charged" explained that while these prosecutors can be the "cause of enormous injustice" the pendulum may be swinging the other way as voters are putting more reform-minded candidates in office.

Segment 1: Legal analyst Joan Biskupic dealves into the life of Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts. 

There are many interpretations of the law, and Chief Justice John Roberts has assured Congress that his stance is neutral. A new book on his life and times shows that's not always the case, and perhaps there's more that goes into Roberts' rationale than he wants to believe.   

The Trump administration more than doubled the number of judges it confirmed to federal appeals courts in 2018, exceeding the pace of the last five presidents and stocking the courts with lifetime appointees who could have profound consequences for civil rights, the environment and government regulations.

Kansas Court of Appeals

When voters head to the polls on Nov. 6, they’ll encounter a slew of down-ballot names they’ve likely never heard of: judges standing for retention.

In Kansas, 101 judges are on the ballot statewide; in Missouri, 58.

Are these retention votes really important?

Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3

Segment 1: Why voting to retain (or not retain) judges matters.

The confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court, and the shift to a more conservative court, has shown that persons picked to serve on the bench matter. This holds true at the state level too. But unlike the federal courts, judges who serve in the Kansas or Missouri state courts are required to stand for retention. That means you decide if they keep their jobs. Today, we got advice on informing yourself and voting responsibly in these oft-overlooked elections.

Kansas Judicial Branch

The Kansas Court of Appeals is sort of like the middle sibling of the justice system. They don't enjoy the same level of prestige as the state Supreme Court, and they're not as familiar to everyday folks as municipal or district courts. Today, we asked three appeals court judges about their place in Kansas' justice system, and discussed how single-issue advocacy groups and judicial selection rules affect public perception of this often overlooked court.

A person sits by a microphone in the KCUR talk show studio.
Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3

Today, a look at how a new initiative is gearing up to combat youth violence in Kansas City, Kansas. Then, we get some insight into the Kansas City Municipal Domestic Violence Court. The U.S. Department of Justice's  STOP Violence Against Women initiative recently awarded the court "mentor" status — the first municipal court to earn such a distinction.

Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3

We take a close look at election results from Kansas, Missouri, and the nation with a panel of political journalists. We're also joined by Kansas City 4th District Councilwoman Jolie Justus, U.S.

Matt Hodapp / KCUR

Kansas Rep. James Todd (R-Overland Park) provides an insider perspective on the Kansas Legislature as we discuss education funding, judicial appointments, and the budget.

This is an excerpt from Statehouse Blend. You can listen to the full episode here, or by subscribing on iTunes.

Guests:

Matt Hodapp / KCUR

Kansas Rep. James Todd (R-Overland Park) provides an insider perspective on the Kansas Legislature as we discuss education funding, judicial appointments, and the budget.

Guests:

They were not the best of friends but, as the two first female Supreme Court Justices, Sandra Day O'Connor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg were allies on key cases affecting the rights of women. Linda Hirshman, author of Sisters in Law, describes the lives and relationship of these two remarkable women.

Last week, Kathryn Gardner was the second judge confirmed under Kansas’s new method of selecting appellate court judges, and her confirmation gives the state a look at the system Gov. Sam Brownback wants to use for choosing state supreme court justices.

Confirmation by a process "comfortable" for Kansans

Washburn law professor Michael Kaye says he thinks Gardner was a good choice.

“When I think of her temperament, I think she would be an excellent judge,” he says. 

A Kansas Group's Push To Oust Judges Reveals A Gap In Campaign Finance Rules

Oct 27, 2014
Stephen Koranda / Kansas Public Radio

With just three weeks left before the upcoming midterm elections, a group called "Kansans for Justice" surfaced with the aim of persuading voters to oust two of their state Supreme Court justices.

"Your Kansas Supreme Court justices are using their political beliefs to rule against sound court cases," the group's website said. "On November 4th, vote No and remove Kansas Supreme Court Justices Eric Rosen and Lee Johnson from the bench."

Joe Gratz / Flickr--CC

In the upcoming election, Missouri voters will decide whether to change how judges are chosen in the Show-Me State.