The Kansas Judicial Branch announced Tuesday by press release that the 8th Judicial District Nominating Commission will be convening to discuss a renewed call for nominees for the district magistrate judge vacancy in Dickinson County.  No applications were submitted by the deadline Dec. 16. The commission will meet Jan. 7 via telephone conference to discuss the next steps.

Doug Thompson, Dickinson County lawyer member of the commission, said the commission will set a new time frame for advertising the position statewide and for the selection of the new magistrate. during the meeting. Thompson said he estimates the renewed call will begin five to six weeks after the meeting. 

“Maybe part of the problem was the time of the year we opened it up for applicants,” Thompson said. “It may be better now that we’re after the first of the year because everyone was busy with their end of the year activities.”

Usually, there are always applicants to these positions, Thompson said. This is the first time Thompson has witnessed no applicants for such a position.

“When I started as an attorney years ago, there were lots of attorneys in all these areas, in Geary and Dickinson counties,” Thompson said. “Now, there are only a few attorneys and it appears those getting out of law school are more interested in being in the larger cities than the smaller communities.” 

Currently, the workload that would go to the open magistrate position is being split between the current judges. This current situation is why consistency in the district is important, Thompson said. All judges should be interacting with courts in all four counties to be familiar with their proceedings and staff.

“We try to have a procedure that’s consistent although the 8th judicial district. So if I go to Council Grove and file a case, I know the procedure, the process, the judge, for the purpose of who to talk to for scheduling and things like that. That’s awfully important to have consistency within your district.”

Thompson said the district magistrate position is “a good stepping stone,” to the district judge. That same situation caused the magistrate position to be open when former magistrate Kieth Collett changed positions to district judge in October.

To be eligible for the position according to Kansas law, applicants must a resident of Dickinson County at the time of taking office and while holding office; a graduate of a high school, a secondary school or the equivalent; and either a lawyer admitted to practice in Kansas or able to pass an examination given by the Supreme Court to become certified within 18 months.

The commission consists of nine members from the 8th judicial district who are from the county seats of Dickinson, Geary, Marion and Morris counties. There is one lawyer and one non-lawyer from each county with a nonvoting chair. The members are Justice Caleb Stegall as the nonvoting chair; Kevin Harris and Douglas Thompson from Abilene; Ashley Iverson from Council Grove; Darrell Miller from Dwight; Keith Henry from Junction City; Daryl Enos and Edwin Wheeler Jr. from Marion; and Eric Coffman from Milford. 

“I’m certain of this: we will have good applicants for the position, and the person who will step in will do a very good job. They’ll have the support of all the administration, judges and staff,” Thompson said.  

The telephone conference will be public. To listen in, call 1-877-400-9499 and enter conference code 2199381974. 

According to the press release, 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. They should be contacted preferably 10 working days before the meeting date. Contact ADA at or 785-296-2256.


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