Candidates announced for Kansas Court of Appeals vacancy

Titus Wu
Topeka Capital-Journal
Randall Hodgkinson, left, speaks to the Supreme Court Nominating Commission during his interview Monday for a Kansas Supreme Court seat back in October. He is now seeking a seat at the Kansas Court of Appeals.

Sixteen Kansans have submitted applications to be the next judge on the Kansas Court of Appeals, the governor's office announced Wednesday. 

The Court of Appeals, an intermediate-level court right below the Kansas Supreme Court, contains 14 members. The vacancy was created when Gov. Laura Kelly appointed Melissa Standridge to the state Supreme Court.

Applicants include Angela D. Coble of Salina, Kevin Grauberger of Topeka, Randall Hodgkinson of Topeka and Eunice Peters of Carbondale. Twelve others from the Wichita, Lawrence or Kansas City areas also applied.

From the Topeka area, Hodgkinson is a law professor at Washburn University and was a public defender and appellate defender in previous careers. He previously had applied for the Kansas Supreme Court as well as the Court of Appeals.

Grauberger is an attorney at a private commercial, banking and business law firm. Graduated from Washburn, he also served as a law clerk for a U.S. district judge for the District of Kansas and a U.S. bankruptcy court.

Peters is president-elect of the Kansas Women Attorneys Association, according to the organization's website. She is the deputy chief counsel for the Kansas Department of Labor.

Coble, another Washburn graduate, had applied for the Court of Appeals and Supreme Court in the past, as well. She is a U.S. District Court attorney and was a summer associate at Shook, Hardy & Bacon.

A nominating commission will interview the candidates on Jan. 20 and 21 in Wichita, from which three will be nominated. The governor will then choose to appoint one for the vacancy.

Unlike the Supreme Court process, however, the governor will need confirmation from the Kansas Senate. In a much more conservative Legislature, this may prove difficult for the Democratic governor's pick. 

In the state's most recent Court of Appeals selection process back in August, Kelly had tried to seat federal public defender Carl Folsom III for a second time, whom she had called “without a doubt the most qualified person for the job.” But Republican legislators disagreed, blocking his selection and some citing that his credentials were too narrow for the position.

As of late 2020, no one has been confirmed by the Senate to fill that seat. Kelly's nomination of Amy Cline for another vacancy is still awaiting confirmation, as well.

Including Standridge's vacancy, there are now three spots on the state Court of Appeals that Kelly is trying to fill, whose picks will face likely resistance from conservative lawmakers. 

Judges go through a retention election after their initial appointment.