Today Governor Laura Kelly appointed Mark A. Simpson, Lawrence, Kan., to fill the district court vacancy created by the retirement of Judge Paula Martin.
“Mark is an incredibly talented and dedicated public servant, and I know he will serve Douglas County and the state well,” Kelly said. “Mark’s work ethic, compassion, and legal skills have impressed people from all walks of life and perspectives, and I was impressed with his ability to both uphold the law and think creatively about how to address the challenges facing our judicial and criminal justice systems. I’m confident he will continue to impress on the district court.”
Simpson is a Senior Assistant District Attorney in Douglas County, where he has been a prosecutor for the last eleven years. His experience runs the gamut of criminal prosecutions; he has handled murder, rape, domestic violence, child abuse, drug, and traffic cases. Simpson has been instrumental in the creation and operation 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. He is also active in the community, having graduated from the Leadership Lawrence program and served in various leadership roles at Plymouth Congregational Church. Simpson grew up in Stillwater, Okla., graduated from the University of Kansas in 2003, and earned his juris doctor from KU Law 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.
“I appreciate the confidence Governor Kelly and the judicial nominating commission have in my ability to do the difficult and important work of a district judge,” Simpson said. “I have learned so much from the Douglas County judges in front of whom I’ve appeared in my career, and I hope to follow their examples as I work to ensure that each person in my courtroom receives a fair hearing that leads to a just result under the law. And I’m excited to work with the legal community and the wider community to adapt the court to new challenges as they arise.”
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. The three other nominees selected by the district nominating commission were Stacey Donovan (the Chief Public Defender for the 3rd Judicial District), Carl Folsom (an Assistant Federal Public Defender), and Shon Qualseth (an Assistant Attorney General and Senior Trial Counsel).