Gov. Sam Brownback's chief spokesperson, Eileen Hawley, denied Tuesday the suggestion by Senate Minority Leader Anthony Hensley that the swearing in of Brownback's chief counsel to the Court of Appeals is being delayed for political reasons.
Hensley questioned having Caleb Stegall take his seat on the Court of Appeals on January 3. The Senate confirmed Stegall's appointment September 4.
Hensley suggested the timing was designed to delay a statewide vote on keeping Stegall on the bench by two years. Court of Appeals members are on the ballot every four years, with voters asked whether each should remain on the bench. A new judge faces such a vote in the first general election after a full year on the court.
If Stegall took his seat before November 4, he'd face his first statewide retention vote in November of next year. But with his swearing in set for next year, he won't be on the ballot until November 2016.
Judicial branch officials say the timing is dictated by the budget. Brownback's office pointed to a letter to that effect in August from Kansas Supreme Court Chief Justice Lawton Nuss.