Gov. Laura Kelly nominated Shawnee County District Court Judge Rachel Pickering to the Kansas Court of Appeals. If confirmed, she would replace retired Court of Appeals Judge Anthony Powell, who was appointed by Gov. Sam Brownback. (Thad Allton for Kansas Reflector)
TOPEKA — Judge Anthony Powell is preparing to retire from the Kansas Court of Appeals after nine years in the role.
Powell, appointed to the state appeals court in January 2013 by then-Gov. Sam Brownback, will step away June 30, the court announced Monday. After his appointment, Powell was the first judge to continue to live and primarily work in Wichita.
Two more judges on the Court of Appeals now live and work in Wichita and another in Salina, a geographic diversity that Powell said benefits the court.
“My hope was that by proving this could be done successfully, it would encourage others from outside of northeast Kansas to apply and serve on the Court of Appeals,” Powell said. “I think I have succeeded.”
During his time on the court, Powell heard more than 2,000 cases and wrote 672 opinions.
Before his appointment, Powell served four terms in the Kansas House of Representatives, while he worked in private practice before becoming a district judge in Sedgwick County for 11 years. He was inspired to become a judge after filling the role in a moot court competition at Washburn University School of Law.
“I’m very proud that I kept my promises to the people of Kansas when I became a judge — to faithfully follow the law and remember that every case is important to the litigants,” Powell said. “I have been very proud to be a guardian of our constitutional rights.”
Powell was born in Minnesota, graduated from George Washington University and worked in the U.S. House and Senate before coming to Topeka to attend law school.
“Judge Powell has been a state representative, lawyer, and congressional aide, and an active member of his community,” Brownback said in a news release at the time of Powell’s appointment. “He is an accomplished attorney, and I’m confident that he will serve with honor and distinction.”
Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly has 60 days from June 30 to appoint a replacement, subject to a majority confirmation vote in the Senate. After serving one year in office, a new judge must stand for a retention vote in the first general election.
Once retained, the judge serves a four-year term.
A state appeals court judge must be at least 30 years old and have been a Kansas lawyer, judge or full-time teacher for a minimum of 10 years.
Kelly has successfully appointed five judges to the Kansas Court of Appeals: Sarah Warner in 2019, Amy Cline, Jacy Hurst and Lesley Ann Isherwood in 2021, and Angela Coble in 2022. The Senate twice rejected the nomination of Carl Folsom to the court, complaining of his singular career experience in public defense.
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