Future of 5 Kansas Supreme Court justices hot election topic

Published: Oct. 19, 2016 at 6:36 PM CDT
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You've seen the ads from both sides. In just a few weeks, you'll decide whether five Kansas Supreme Court justices will keep their jobs.

It's quickly becoming one of the most talked about political races across the state.

"We just felt like it was time to form a group and try to help figure out what the court system was doing and that's when we figured out the Kansas Supreme Court was making a mistake," said Amy James, with Kansans for Justice.

Kansans for Justice released an ad with interviews from family members and friends of victims of the Carr brothers. The group feels the justices' decision to overturn the Carr brothers' death penalty sentence was wrong.

There are seven justices on on the bench. Voters will decide whether Chief Justice Lawton Nuss, Justices Carol Beier, Dan Biles, Marla Luckert, and Caleb Stegall will keep their jobs. If not, Governor Sam Brownback will appoint their replacements.

"Forget about all the politics," James said. "Forget about what party you belong to, forget any of that, and just think about the real issues on these cases and the impact that family and friends, and the community have to deal with when these cases are not resolved."

Former Sedgwick County District Attorney Nola Foulston prosecuted the Carr brothers. She and the group, Kansans for Fair Courts, want to keep the justices on the court.

In another ad, the group calls the whole thing, political.

"The governor has made this political and has put his campaign operatives in place to help with the anti-retention effort and so we're simply standing up for the rule of law in these justices."

Executive Director of Kansans for Fair Courts Ryan Wright said there are other issues these justices decide and influence.

"This is about maintaining fair and impartial courts for every Kansan, regardless of the issue and regardless of where you're at on that issue, and so we don't think politicians should be involved in courtroom dealings," said Wright.

The U.S. Supreme Court reinstated the Carr brothers' death sentences.

If voters decide not to keep the justices, the governor will select a new justice from nominees approved by a nine-member commission.