Former DA explains support of KS Supreme Court justices

Published: Oct. 27, 2016 at 4:56 PM CDT
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Former Sedgwick County District Attorney Nola Foulston breaks with the families of the Carr brothers' victims to speak out in favor of keeping the current Kansas Supreme Court Justices.

This is the latest in the volley in the battle over the Kansas Supreme Court. The family of the Carr brothers' victims want most of the sitting judges removed over their rulings in several death penalty cases, cases the U.S. Supreme Court later overturned.

Foulston prosecuted the Carr brothers for murder and the pair remains in the El Dorado state prison with no chance for parole.

Foultson spent years working with the families of the Carr brothers' victims. She calls them friends and says she understands and respects their opposition to the judges that they feel let them down.

"It was horrible. There is no way to ever explain what (the Carr brothers) did. And my heart has always gone out to the families," Foulston says.

However, when it comes to considering what's best for Kansas, Foulston is in support of retaining its supreme court justices.

"I have to say that we need to retain our supreme court justices because the alternative is something that would be absolutely catastrophic," she says.

She encourages voters to consider what will happen if the judges aren't retained and Brownback appoints replacements.

"His ability to be able to stack the Supreme Court with his clones is a much more dangerous precedent than retaining our supreme court justices," Foulston says. "...I didn't always like their decision. And I certainly didn't like it in the Carr case. But that's what appeals are for."

In the long run, she points out the Carr brothers will never see the light of day whether they're executed or die in prison.

Foulston says she's never lost sight of what happened to the Carr brothers' victims and the victims' families. She says she still cares for them all, but the push to replace the supreme court justices is the wrong decision.

"I was there with them and for them, and now all I want to do is say, 'I understand why you're doing this, but it's not the right thing for Kansas now," Foulston says.

She says it's not only criminal cases to consider when talking about the supreme court. She says consideration also needs to be made for the key issue of how the state spends its money.

"Brought to you by Brownback, the man who's bankrupting the state of Kansas," she says.

Foulston says she has talked with the families about her feelings on this case and explained why she can't agree with them.

Thursday night the group pushing to oust the justices met with voters in Garden City. The group, Kansans for Justice, includes members of the Carr brothers' victims. The group says the justice's decision to overturn the death penalty in the case caused them to relive traumas.

Those who attended the meeting Thursday say it helped them make a final decision on how they'll vote on Election Day.

Several people asked Eyewitness News how the Kansas Supreme Court justices are selected.

Here's how:

The governor appoints the justices from a lists of three people submitted by The Supreme Court Nomination Commission. That commission is made up of nine people, including four attorneys selected by attorneys in each of the state's four congressional districts. Four other non-attorneys are appointed by the governor. The commission chair is an attorney elected by attorneys across the state.

After the first year in office, a justice is subject to a retention vote in the next general election. If voters choose to retain the justice, he or she will remain in office for a six-year term.