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Kansas governor renominates lawyer for appeals court spot

August 25, 2020 GMT

BELLE PLAINE, Kan. (AP) — Gov. Laura Kelly renominated a federal public defender for a spot on Kansas’ second-highest court despite his initial rejection by the Republican-led state Senate, saying he is undoubtedly the most qualified person for the job.

The Democratic governor cited Carl Folsom III’s experience, passion for the law and understanding of how it affects people’s daily lives in announcing his nomination Monday to the Kansas Court of Appeals.

Folsom, an assistant federal public defender in Topeka, would fill a vacancy created by the retirement of Judge Steve Leben.


Kelly previously appointed Folsom to replace former appeals Judge G. Joseph Pierron Jr., but the Senate rejected the nomination in June largely because Folsom once represented a man convicted of possessing child pornography.

Senate President Susan Wagle, a Wichita Republican, said Folsom indicated during his hearing that he would be “another activist judge.”

“We want judges to rule in accordance with our constitution, while Governor Kelly wants unelected judges to continue to legislate from the bench,” Wagle said.

Kansas law prohibits appointing a rejected nominee for the same vacancy again, but there is no such prohibition for a different vacancy on the same court.

Kelly told reporters that when the Senate rejected Folsom’s first nomination, she was “quite clear about how disappointed and actually appalled” she was by that action and has since heard from some senators that they regret the vote they took or passed on.

“So I fully expect that the Senate will come back and do the right thing this time and confirm Carl Folsom to the Court of Appeals,” Kelly said. “He is by all measures qualified for this. He is a good person, he deserves to be on the court.”

Folsom received his law degree from the University of Kansas in 2005. He worked for the state office that defends poor defendants in appellate cases and then was an attorney in private practice before becoming a federal public defender. He worked in the federal system in Muskogee, Oklahoma, before arriving in Topeka.


Associated Press reporter John Hanna in Topeka contributed to this report.