Today Governor Laura Kelly appointed Carl A. Folsom III to fill the vacancy created by the retirement of Judge Steve Leben. Folsom lives in Lawrence and is an Assistant Federal Public Defender in Topeka.

“Carl is not only an extremely bright lawyer, but he also has a passion for the practice of law and a real understanding of how it affects Kansans’ daily lives,” Governor Kelly said. “Carl is not afraid to stand up for the people of our state and protect their fundamental rights, no matter the cost. During the interview process, he once again stood out as a qualified candidate who will serve Kansans well on the Court of Appeals, with fairness and compassion.”

Folsom is a fifth-generation Kansan, and grew up in Tonganoxie. He earned his bachelor’s degree in Political Science from the University of Kansas, graduating with honors and highest distinction. While he was in college, he interned in the Kansas Legislature for former Rep. Gerry Ray (R – Overland Park) and Rep. Carl Holmes (R – Liberal). He attended the University of Kansas School of Law and graduated in 2005.

After law school, Folsom worked in the Kansas Appellate Defender’s Office, representing indigent defendants and arguing numerous cases before Kansas appellate courts. He then spent two years in private practice handling civil and criminal cases before becoming an Assistant Federal Public Defender, first in Muskogee, Okla., and then in Topeka. Folsom also currently works as an adjunct professor at the University of Kansas School of Law.

“I am honored and humbled that Governor Kelly has confidence in my ability to serve the people of Kansas as a judge on the Kansas Court of Appeals,” Folsom said. “I am looking forward to continuing Judge Leben’s commitment to procedural fairness, to ensure a transparent process where all litigants are given a voice, and are treated fairly, evenly, and with dignity and respect.” 

Folsom’s appointment is subject to Senate confirmation and his materials are being forwarded to the Senate today. The statutory deadline for the governor to submit his appointment to the Senate is August 26, 2020. As a result, under the statute controlling Court of Appeals appointments (K.S.A. 20-3020), his appointment is available for Senate consideration during the next Legislative session.

Additionally, under the statute, the Governor cannot appoint a rejected appointee for one vacancy to the same vacancy again. However, there are no such prohibitions for a different vacancy. In the June 2020 special legislative session, the Senate rejected Folsom for the vacancy created by the retirement of Judge G. Joseph Pierron.

Before 2013, Court of Appeals judges were not subject to Senate confirmation and were selected by the governor from a group of finalists named by the Supreme Court Nominating Commission. To reinstitute a version of that merit-based selection process, Kelly signed Executive Order 20-01 in January of this year creating the Court of Appeals Nominating Commission.

Pursuant to Executive Order 20-47, in the event an appointee to the Court of Appeals does not receive Senate consent the Court of Appeals Nominating Commission will forward an additional nominee for the Governor’s consideration. That nominee will be selected fromthe applicants for the same vacancy and will be considered along with the two remaining nominees already submitted for that vacancy.

The Commission handled the initial application and interview process, and ultimately forwarded three candidates for consideration, including Folsom and attorneys Lesley A. Isherwood and Russell J. Keller.  

“Lesley Isherwood and Russell Keller and are both incredibly talented attorneys, and I appreciate their time and patience during the selection process,” Governor Kelly said. 

You can read more about Carl Folsom here:

Kansas Reflector

The Kansas City Star

The Kansas City Star

The Topeka Capital-Journal

The Wichita Eagle

Leavenworth Times