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Crime and Courts

Kansas Supreme Court Hears Argument In Judicial Selection Dispute

Stephen Koranda, File Photo
Kansas Public Radio

The Kansas Supreme Court is considering whether lawmakers violated the Constitution when they changed how chief judges are selected.

Chief judges have administrative control over local courts. Lawmakers took the power to select them away from the Supreme Court and gave it to local judges.

Attorney Pedro Irigonegaray is representing a judge from central Kansas and says the state Constitution gives that administrative power to the state's high court--and that system has worked well for years.

“The last thing we want are 31 separate districts perhaps creating conflicting rules and procedures,” Irigonegaray says.

An attorney for the state, Stephen McAllister, argued Thursday that the Kansas Constitution doesn’t specifically talk about chief judges. He says that’s left up to lawmakers.

“Because the Legislature could create the position, it could abolish the position, it should be able to say ‘here’s how the position will be filled,’” McAllister says.

The case is tied into the issue of court funding. Lawmakers passed a bill saying if the law is overturned, the Kansas judicial branch loses all of its funding.