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Selecting judges

Published on -12/26/2012, 8:46 AM

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Selecting judges

I read with interest the letter written to your paper by the Chief Justice of the Kansas Supreme Court Lawton Nuss. His very dedicated effort to gain an appointment as an appellate judge was one that demonstrated much persistence in achieving his goal. I was personally unaware he had applied three times before he finally succeeded. I was aware that he was either a classmate or grew up in Salina at the same time Gov. Graves did and, as such, probably had the inside track. His dedication to his job as chief justice is demonstrated by his participation with the bar association and individual judicial districts. He is well known to everyone and is to be commended for his diligence and administrative ability.

I am also aware Gov. Brownback is dissecting the various government agencies by privatizing some and seeking to change the method and manner in which we select our appellate judges by requiring they be interviewed and approved by the Kansas Senate much as we do on a national level.

Based upon his past performances and the information I have gained from talking to others, the governor is attempting to make the state of Kansas some kind of showplace to support his future efforts to again announce for the presidency -- this time, as I understand it, with the encouragement and funds supplied by the Koch brothers in Wichita. In my personal opinion, Brownback is a very dangerous individual, and the damage that he is doing to my state and Chief Justice Nuss's state is regrettable.

Finally, Lawton Nuss' reference to Gen. Patton is also of great interest to me because my brother-in-law Lt. Col. William Goers was a battalion commander with General Patton and the Third Army in the Battle of the Bulge.

Patton was an outstanding military man but was inclined at times to get a little carried away. His slapping of two enlisted men in northern Italy during that campaign when they were in the hospital required the assistance of Gen. George Marshall and Dwight Elsenhower to convince the president not to withdraw him from the European campaign. Patton later publicly apologized to those two enlisted men for his impulsiveness. Based upon my conversation of great length with my brother-in-law, he was quite successful in the campaign in France and western Germany and was moving along so rapidly capturing hamlet after hamlet, the Germans seized upon that opportunity to attack him on his flank, which created what we have known as the Battle of the Bulge. My brother-in-law has told me his battalion was holding a bridge on a river in Germany when the Germans started to shell his position. Patton had just driven up. Bill told me everyone in his battalion dove for cover, but Patton stood up in his Jeep to watch the action. He had a pearl-handled pistol that was quite visible to everyone, because he liked to emulate conduct of Civil War officers and officers who were engaged in the Indian wars. I personally recall when Japanese surrendered, Patton requested he be given the white horses Hirohito had. He met his death untimely in a Jeep accident in Germany in 1945 when he suffered a broken neck and died as a result of that accident. My brother-in-law being under his command had nothing but admiration for his skill as a military man and he acquired the nickname of "Old Blood and Guts." I don't know how Patton's philosophy would apply to our appellate judges, but the chief justice has artfully woven that story into his letter.

Patton was an outstanding military man but was inclined at times to get a little carried away. His slapping of two enlisted men in northern Italy during that campaign when they were in the hospital required the assistance of Gen. George Marshall and Dwight Elsenhower to convince the president not to withdraw him from the European campaign. Patton later publicly apologized to those two enlisted men for his impulsiveness. Based upon my conversation of great length with my brother-in-law, he was quite successful in the campaign in France and western Germany and was moving along so rapidly capturing hamlet after hamlet, the Germans seized upon that opportunity to attack him on his flank, which created what we have known as the Battle of the Bulge. My brother-in-law has told me his battalion was holding a bridge on a river in Germany when the Germans started to shell his position. Patton had just driven up. Bill told me everyone in his battalion dove for cover, but Patton stood up in his Jeep to watch the action. He had a pearl-handled pistol that was quite visible to everyone, because he liked to emulate conduct of Civil War officers and officers who were engaged in the Indian wars. I personally recall when Japanese surrendered, Patton requested he be given the white horses Hirohito had. He met his death untimely in a Jeep accident in Germany in 1945 when he suffered a broken neck and died as a result of that accident. My brother-in-law being under his command had nothing but admiration for his skill as a military man and he acquired the nickname of "Old Blood and Guts." I don't know how Patton's philosophy would apply to our appellate judges, but the chief justice has artfully woven that story into his letter.

The chief justice's overall purpose is one in which I join and that is to eliminate the passage of legislation that would require our appellate judges to be approved by the state Senate so Brownback can have input into selecting those nominees.

His parents were missionaries and he came to New York after he grew up and worked with his uncle who was the author of the New York Code of Civil Procedure. He then came to Missouri for a short time and engaged in the practice and then to Leavenworth, where he became a district judge and then ran for the Supreme Court of Kansas. He was elected in 1870, at which time he was nominated to the U.S. Supreme Court by President Harrison and was confirmed by the U.S. Senate. He served until 1910 on the U.S. Supreme Court. He was the product of the elective process on an individual basis. Additionally, I can name several chief justices, namely Harold R. Fatzer, who was an outstanding chief justice nominated by Gov. Hall, and who ran for election as attorney general. Jay Parker, who lived in Graham County, was attorney general and ran for the Kansas Supreme Court and many others. One of the outstanding judges who was chief justice I believe was first nominated to fill an unexpired term and that was Chief Justice David Prager, who later ran for the position and served as chief justice for a number of years. We have had many outstanding justices on the Kansas Supreme Court who were a product of the elective process, and there are a good number of Kansas lawyers who would like to go back to that procedure. Some of the criticism of the merit system is that the larger law firms have controlled the nominees and as a result of that attorneys from the western part of the state have not been very successful in gaining positions in the appellate court system.

All of that being said, I have nothing but favorable comments about the chief justice's article, although I may disagree with some aspects of it. I would join him in being opposed to the governor's attempt to dilute the quality of justices who attain that position. I have practiced law for 59 years since Feb. 14, 1956, in Hays and have nothing but admiration and respect for the members of our bar and the justices in our court system.

Thomas C. Boone

Hays

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