Clay County Commissioners have appointed Don Norris, a former associate circuit court judge, as their new legal adviser.
Norris had also previously served as the county prosecutor from 1999 to 2004 when he was appointed to the Clay County bench. He served in that capacity from 2004 to 2011.
Norris replaces Kevin Graham, who had served as county counselor from 2005-2013.
Graham has indicated that he was stepping down as county counselor so that he could devote more time to his private law practice in Liberty. Graham will remain with the county as assistant counselor, said Presiding Commissioner Pamela Mason.
Graham had served as an assistant county counselor from 1994 to 1997. He was then hired as county counselor in June 1997 and served in that position until February 2001. Graham was rehired as county counselor four years later.
Mason said Norris brings extensive legal experience and a great deal of knowledge about county operations to his new role as county counselor.
“It’s hard to find someone with that kind of experience. He’s got a long resume and he is a former officeholder so he knows how things work,” Mason said.
Commissioners also hired Matt Thompson, Pam Palmer and Trish Hughes as assistant county counselors.
Before being elected county prosecutor, Norris served as a municipal judge in Pleasant Valley and North Kansas City. He also was prosecutor in Liberty. Norris worked as a Clay County sheriff’s deputy while attending law school at UMKC.
Norris, who was appointed last week, said he was looking forward to being county counselor.
“I've done just about everything else for the county, I figured, I might as well be county counselor for a change,” said Norris, who also was a public defender. “It’s going to be a challenge, but I think it will work out just fine.”
Norris was recently selected to serve on the Clay County Charter Commission. The 14-member committee is tasked with drafting a new county constitution as part of an effort to reform county government.
Norris said he would continue to serve on the charter commission.