Governor Laura Kelly today appointed Lori Dougherty-Bichsel to fill the vacancy created by the departure of former Chief Judge and now Justice Evelyn Wilson.

“Lori is a committed and experienced public servant, and I am confident she will serve Shawnee County and the state well,” Kelly said. “Lori’s leadership and experience as administrative judge for the City of Topeka will be instrumental in her work moving forward.”

Dougherty-Bichsel is the Administrative Judge and Department Director for the City of Topeka Municipal Court, where she presides over court dockets and oversees court operations. As Administrative Judge she also spearheaded efforts to hold “clean slate” days to help give people with legal problems a fresh start. Her prior experience includes time as Senior Counsel for the Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services, Associate Litigation Counsel for the Kansas Board of Healing Arts, as well as time in private practice with an emphasis in medical malpractice. Dougherty-Bichsel is also active in the community, as a member of the Kansas Women Attorney’s Association, Topeka Bar Association and the Kansas Municipal Judges Association. Additionally, in October 2018 she helped launch the “Food for Fines” program. Dougherty-Bichsel graduated from the University of Arizona in 2002 and earned her juris doctor from University of Kansas School of Law in 2006.

“It is an honor to be chosen to serve alongside the excellent judges of our district court,” Dougherty-Bichsel said. “Moving from the municipal court to the district court is a significant change, but my approach to each case and to each person in my courtroom will be the same: to keep an open mind, to hear each side, to be fair and impartial, and above all, to always follow the law.”

Judges in Shawnee 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 Dougherty-Bichsel is being appointed will be subject to a retention election in 2022. The three other nominees selected by the district nominating commission were Kevin Cook (private practice, Cook Law Office), Jessica Domme (Assistant Attorney General, Kansas Attorney General’s office) and Todd Thornburg (Staff Attorney for the Kansas Department of Labor).