A former Johnson County judge received a prestigious national award Thursday night for judicial excellence.
Steve Leben, a judge on the Kansas Court of Appeals, became the first Kansas judge to receive the annual William H. Rehnquist Award from the National Center for State Courts.
The award was presented by Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. at a ceremony at the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington, D.C.
Leben, who served as a Johnson County district judge for about 14 years before his appointment to the court of appeals in 2007, received the award for his efforts to promote procedural fairness in the courts. Leben said he has worked to educate other judges about the importance of treating everyone with respect in the courtroom.
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“People need to feel like they are listened to by a neutral judge who explains his or her decision,” he said after the award was announced earlier this fall. “The public’s view of the justice system is driven more by how they are treated by the courts than whether they win or lose their case.”
In 2007, Leben co-authored a paper for the American Judges Association on procedural fairness and also has helped start the website proceduralfairness.org.
“Judge Leben has dedicated his career to ensuring that ‘justice for all’ is actual, not merely aspirational,” said Mary C. McQueen, president of the National Center for State Courts. “As a result of his groundbreaking work in procedural fairness, Judge Leben has personally contributed to enhancing the public’s trust and confidence in our country’s court system.”