News

News

Douglas County prosecutor selected to replace retired judge

On July 19, 2019, Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly appointed Mark A. Simpson, a Douglas County prosecutor, to fill the vacancy created by the retirement of Douglas County District Court Judge Paula Martin.

Simpson, of Lawrence, is a senior assistant district attorney in Douglas County, where he has been a prosecutor for the last 11 years, according to a news release from Kelly’s office.

In Douglas County, Simpson has handled murder, rape, domestic violence, child abuse, drug and traffic cases, and he was instrumental in the creation of the Douglas County Behavioral Health Court, which has enabled many criminal defendants to avoid prosecution and receive mental health treatment instead of being incarcerated.

Simpson grew up in Stillwater, Okla., graduated from the University of Kansas in 2003, and earned his law degree from the University of Kansas in 2008. Before law school, Simpson worked as a staffer at the Kansas Democratic Party and managed former Attorney General Paul Morrison’s 2006 campaign, according to the release.

Judges in Douglas County are appointed by the governor and selected from among nominees chosen by a district nominating commission. Judges in nominating commission districts are subject to retention elections every four years. The position to which Simpson is being appointed will be subject to a retention election in 2020

Mary Shultz
Information from Douglas County Appraiser’s July Newsletter

The Douglas County Appraiser’s Office published the following information in the July Appraisal Newsletter:

Property values — The county’s total 2019 assessed value, including state assessed property, is $1.46 billion compared to $1.39 billion in 2018. This represents an increase of approximately 5.2 percent.

Sales - During the first six months of 2019, the Douglas County Appraiser’s Office worked:

  • 530 existing residential home sales; average price was $238,182.

  • 50 new homes sales; average price was $339,322.

  • 33 commercial sales; average price was $1.5 million.

For more info, click on the County Appraisers’ July newsletter.

Mary Shultz
Douglas County employee garden is thriving

Five years ago, the Douglas County employee garden grew as an initiative of the Court Wellness Committee and a grant it received from WorkWell Douglas County

This year, there are a dozen employees who take care of the garden: planting, watering, weeding and harvesting. They added a trellis this year, which has several varieties of green beans and cucumbers growing on it. In the spring, they planted an early spring crop of lettuce, spinach, carrots, beets, radishes and sugar snap peas. This summer, they are growing tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, okra, Swiss Chard and a variety of herbs.

“I love being a part of the garden crew,” said Mary Beth Diaz, Assistant Court Trustee for District Court. “I have made connections with other people who work in the building that I would not have met otherwise. And I really enjoy sharing extra produce with co-workers.”

The garden crew consists of employees who work in the Douglas County Courthouse and Judicial and Law Enforcement Center. The garden is located on the south side of the Law Enforcement Center.

Mary Shultz
Proposed Adoption of Supreme Court Rule 356A

The Kansas Supreme Court is accepting public comment on proposed Supreme Court Rule 356A, which will incorporate the rates for district court transcripts contained in Board Rule No. 10 and address the electronic availability of transcripts. Board Rule No. 10 of the Rules Adopted by the State Board of Examiners of Court Reporters will be repealed.

Proposed Supreme Court Rule 356A is available on the Kansas judicial branch website at www.kscourts.org under the heading "What's New."

Comments may be submitted by email to rulenotice@kscourts.org with "Rule 356A "in the subject line until 5 p.m. Saturday, August 10, 2019.

Mary Shultz
July/August Art Display

Our current art exhibit is from 3 artists who are members of the Eudora Art Coalition. Featured artists are Debbie Burchett Carden, Steven Richardson & Haley Sellmeyer. Please enjoy this exhibit by visiting the District Attorney’s office, the Division IV/V/VI office area, Division III office area, Clerk of the District Court & Law Library.

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Mary Shultz
BIDS Notification - Advice to Assigned Counsel

From Pat Scalia:

The current proration of the hourly rate to $75 per hour expires at midnight, June 30, 2019. 

For attorney services performed on and after July 1, 2019, the statutory rate of $80 per hour is in place. 

The claim form listing services performed on and after July 1, 2019 at $80 per hour is on the BIDS web.

The regulations to reflect the rate change will be in place as soon as possible. 

Mary Shultz
Updates to Kansas child support guidelines open for public comment

Every 4 years, an advisory committee reviews Kansas' child support guidelines to
ensure that the roughly $35 million mothers and fathers pay in support each month is equitable
for the parents and appropriate for the day-to-day essential needs of the children they support.

Child support pays for housing, clothing, transportation, recreation, health care, child care, and
other expenses that would have been shared by the parents had the family remained intact.

Federal law requires states to review their child support guidelines every four years, and Kansas
has reviewed and revised its guidelines nine times since they were initially established in 1989.

Reviews are by a 13-member advisory committee that has included parents who either pay or
receive child support, tax professionals with expertise in child support, attorneys, and judges. An
economist is enlisted to help with the review.

The committee spent nearly a year reviewing the guidelines and making proposed updates, and
those updates are now open for public review and comment.

The proposed guidelines, a copy of the economist's report, and other relevant documents are
available on the Kansas judicial branch website at www.kscourts.org under the heading What's
New.

Comment can be made through an online survey accessible from the Kansas judicial branch
website at www.kscourts.org under the heading What's New. Comment will be accepted until 5
p.m. Saturday, August 10.

After receiving public comment, the Kansas Supreme Court will decide whether to adopt
changes to the guidelines as proposed by the advisory committee.

Mary Shultz
Part-Time Assistant District Court Trustee Job Opening

Position and Grade: PART-TIME Assistant District Court Trustee (20 hrs/wk)

Grade 44: $30,221 annually with possible step increases at 6 months and 12 months; includes insurance and benefits.

This position is a county funded position but subject to State of Kansas Judicial Branch Personnel Rules.

Job Duties: Day to day administration of contract with the Office of Judicial Administration to collect court debt and restitution assessed in Douglas County criminal cases, supervise experienced criminal staff of three, and work closely with other district court offices.

Desired Education and Experience: Must be an attorney in good standing licensed to practice law in Kansas, a resident of Douglas County, have two years of practice experience, and possess basic knowledge of criminal law and collection law. Previous supervisory experience preferred. Candidate should possess excellent interpersonal and problem-solving skills.

Email cover letter and resume to: Katy Nitcher

District Court Trustee

knitcher@douglascountyks.org

Application deadline: Position open until filled

Douglas County District Court is an EEO employer.

Mary Shultz