The Buzz

District judge sues Kansas over court administration

A Kansas district court judge has sued the state, claiming the legislature illegally altered the way chief judges are chosen in Kansas.

Larry Soloman, chief judge of the 30th judicial district, filed the lawsuit Wednesday in Topeka.

Solomon’s lawsuit claims the legislature violated the state constitution when it ordered judges in a district to pick their chief, rather than have the state Supreme Court perform the function. He says taking the state Supreme Court out of the equation is unlawful.

The change “is a direct encroachment on the Kansas Supreme Court’s constitutional authority,” Soloman argues.

Supporters of the lawsuit say the legislature passed the changes to punish the court for its decisions on education. The Brennan Center for Justice at the New York University Law School is involved in the case.

“This law violates the Kansas constitution,” said Matthew Menendez, a counsel for the center, “and could delay justice for all Kansans.”

Solomon works in Kingman County, west of Wichita.

The suit says the entire court reorganization law should be thrown out because the judge selection language can’t be “severed” from the rest of the statute.