TOPEKA—The 8th Judicial District Nominating Commission reports that 13 people applied to fill two district judge vacancies within the district.

The vacancies are due to two retirements. Judge Steven Hornbaker, who served in Geary County, retired June 1. Chief Judge Michael Powers will retire August 20. His position is based in Marion County.

The 8th Judicial District is composed of Dickinson, Geary, Marion, and Morris counties.

Who applied

Samantha Angell, an attorney in private practice

Krista Blaisdell, Geary County Attorney

Keith Collett, district magistrate judge, Dickinson County

Amy Coppola, district magistrate judge, Geary County

Joel Ensey, Marion County Attorney

Bobby Hiebert, assistant county attorney, Geary County

Douglas Jones, district magistrate judge, 5th Judicial District

Valorie Leblanc, district magistrate judge, 6th Judicial District

Jason Oxford, assistant county attorney, Geary County

Susan Robson, an attorney in private practice

Britain Stites, city attorney, Junction City

Laura Viar, Morris County Attorney

Jennifer Wyatt, an attorney in private practice

Public interviews

The nominating commission will meet to interview nominees at 9 a.m. Wednesday, August 18. Interviews will take place at the Geary County Courthouse, 138 E 8th Street, Junction City.

The interview schedule will be announced once it’s finalized.

Anyone who attends the interviews must follow minimum standard health protocols set by the Supreme Court. These include answering questions at check-in about symptoms of or possible exposure to COVID-19, wearing a face mask while in the building, and maintaining 6 feet of physical distance from others.

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, preferably 10 working days before the meeting date:

ADA Coordinator


TTY at 711

Eligibility requirements

Nominees for 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

meet residental requirements specific to the position.

Nominees for Hornbaker’s position must be a resident of the judicial district at the time of taking office and while holding office.

Nominees for Powers’ position must be a resident of Marion County 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 whose names will be submitted to the governor to fill the position according to statutory qualification and residency requirements. The governor has 60 days after receiving the names to decide whom to appoint.

If there are not three nominees who reside in the judicial district who are deemed qualified by the commission, the commission may consider nominees who reside outside the district.

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 8th Judicial District Nominating Commission consists of Justice Caleb Stegall of the Kansas Supreme Court as the nonvoting chair; Kevin Harris and Douglas Thompson, Abilene; Ashley Iverson, Council Grove; Darrell Miller, Dwight; Keith Henry, Junction City; Daryl Enos and Edwin Wheeler Jr., Marion; and Eric Coffman, Milford.

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