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3rd Judicial District Nominating Commission to interview nominees for two ...

TOPEKA—The 3rd Judicial District Nominating Commission will meet at 9 a.m. Thursday, May 26, to interview nominees to fill two district judge vacancies.   The district judge vacancies are due to two retirements. Judge David Debenham will retire June 14 and Judge Nancy Parrish June 24.

The 3rd Judicial District is Shawnee County.

Public interviews  

Interviews are open to the public. They will take place at:   Shawnee County Courthouse 200 SE 7th St. Topeka, KS   The interview schedule will be announced once it’s finalized.  

The nominees:

  • Athena Andaya, Topeka, administrative law judge, Kansas Office of Administrative Hearings

  • Jay Befort, Topeka, general counsel, Kansas Department of Revenue  

  • Joseph Behzadi, Topeka, deputy district attorney, Shawnee County  

  • Christopher Gunn, Topeka, private practice  

  •  Andrew Holmes, Berryton, deputy district attorney, Shawnee County

  • Melissa Johnson, Topeka, senior assistant attorney general

  • Kai Mann, Topeka, assistant appellate defender

  • Jonathon Noble, Lawrence, chief public defender, Northeast Kansas Conflicts Office

  • Matthew Spurgin, Topeka, administrative law judge, Kansas Office of Administrative Hearings

  • Todd Thornburg, Topeka, deputy chief counsel, Kansas Department of Labor

  • Brett Watson, Topeka, chief deputy district attorney, Shawnee County

  • Maban Wright, Topeka, chief public defender, 3rd Judicial District Public Defender’s Office

ADA accommodation  

Any person with a disability who requires accommodation to access the nominating commission meeting should notify the judicial branch ADA coordinator as early as possible:  

ADA Coordinator 785-296-2256   TTY at 711  

Eligibility requirements 

A nominee for this district judge must be: 

  • at least 30 years old;

  • a lawyer admitted to practice in Kansas and engaged in the practice of law for at least five years, whether as a lawyer, judge, or full-time teacher at an accredited law school; and 

  • a resident of the 3rd Judicial District at the time of taking office and while holding office. 

Nominees to governor 

The nominating commission will interview nominees and then select from three to five people for each vacancy whose names will be submitted to the governor to fill the positions according to statutory qualification and residency requirements. The governor has 60 days after receiving the names to decide whom to appoint. 

Term of office 

After serving one year in office, the new judge must stand for a retention vote in the next general election to remain in the position. If retained, the incumbent will serve a four-year term. 

Nominating commission  

The 3rd Judicial District Nominating Commission consists of Justice Caleb Stegall as the nonvoting chair; Toby McCullough, Rossville; and Whitney Casement, Thomas Lemon, Randall Phillips, Rebecca Sanders, and Eric Stafford, Topeka.