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Top Dem, Kan. Gov.'s Staff Spar Over Court Choice

Kansas Court of Appeals nominee Caleb Stegall has submitted more than 300 pages of documents to the Senate Judiciary Committee that will review his appointment by Gov. Sam Brownback.

Stegall currently serves as Brownback's chief counsel.

He also submitted dozens of pages of magazine articles and online columns he has written, including book reviews and commentaries that hint at his conservative politics.

Brownback nominated Stegall last week to fill a new seat on the state's second-highest court; his appointment is subject to confirmation by the state Senate.

The Senate will consider the appointment during a special legislative session that begins Tuesday, with a Judiciary Committee hearing that afternoon.

Stegall is not without his critics, however.

Senate Minority Leader Anthony Hensley is questioning whether the nominee is qualified for the position.

Hensley said Wednesday that Stegall isn't qualified to serve if one or more district court judges also applied for the seat.

Though Stegall has experience as an attorney, he has not been a judge.

Gov. Brownback has chosen not to disclose the names of the other Court of Appeals applicants.

Hensley says the public can't compare Stegall to other candidates.

The League of Women Voters recently filed an Open Records Act request to see the list of applicants, as well as the daily calendars from Brownback, Stegall, and two of the governor's top aides.

However, the governor's office removed the other applicants' names from copies of calendars it released Wednesday, citing a provision of the Act allowing government agencies to keep records about "applicants for employment" confidential.

Gov. Brownback's spokeswoman, Eileen Hawley, says Hensley is the only person so far who has publicly questioned whether Stegall is qualified.