Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Commission narrows judge decision to two

By DOUG CARDER, Herald Senior Writer | 8/25/2014


Herald Senior Writer


Herald Senior Writer

Brandon Jones, an Ottawa resident and county attorney for Anderson and Osage counties, is one of two district court judge candidates whose names have been forwarded by the 4th Judicial District Nominating Commission to Gov. Sam Brownback.

The governor has 60 days to decide who will fill the vacancy created by the retirement of District Judge Thomas H. Sachse, according to a 4th Judicial District news release issued Monday. The other candidate is Douglas Witteman, who also is a veteran prosecutor in the 4th Judicial District as Coffey County attorney.

Jones and Witteman were two of four candidates — all seasoned attorneys — who the nominating commission interviewed Friday morning in the Franklin County District Court Building, 301 S. Main St., Ottawa — the same court building where the open district judge position would be based. The 4th Judicial District includes Anderson, Coffey, Franklin and Osage counties.

“I’m greatly honored to have my name selected to go to the governor,” Jones said Monday afternoon.

In addition to his role as county attorney for two counties, Jones’ past experience includes working as county counselor/administrator with the Osage County Attorney’s Office, as special assistant attorney with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Kansas, assistant district attorney with the Douglas County District Attorney’s Office, adjunct professor with the Neosho County Community College, and assistant county attorney with the Franklin County Attorney’s Office. He is a graduate of the University of Kansas School of Law in Lawrence.

Besides serving as Coffey County attorney, Witteman’s past experience includes working in private practice as a principal attorney for the law firm Patterson, Nelson, Nolla & Witteman, L.C., and as an associate attorney with Hinkle, Eberhart & Elkouri, L.L.C., both of Wichita. He is a graduate of Washburn University School of Law in Topeka.

Before selecting two applicants to recommend to the governor of the four who applied, the nominating commission reviewed each applicant’s qualifications in interviews that were open to the public.

The other two candidates were Sheila Marie Schultz, a Paola attorney and part-time municipal judge for the cities of Paola and Osawatomie, and Frederick Meier II, a private sector attorney in Emporia who previously served as assistant county attorney and deputy county attorney with the Franklin County Attorney’s Office. Both Schultz and Meier are graduates of the Washburn University School of Law.

Kansas law requires the commission to submit at least two names, but not more than three, to the governor, who will choose one to appoint.

A judge must be a resident of the district, be at least 30 years old, have actively practiced law for at least five years, and be admitted to practice law in Kansas.

The 4th Judicial District Nominating Commission consists of Justice Eric Rosen as the nonvoting chair; and James Campbell, Burlington; Sara Caylor, Ottawa; Craig Cole, Garnett; Thomas DeBaun, Osage City; Forrest Lowry, Ottawa; Eugene Highberger, Westphalia; Janet Walsh, Lyndon; and Timothy Sipe, Waverly.

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