Governor Laura Kelly today appointed Melissa Taylor Standridge to the Kansas Supreme Court. Standridge will fill the vacancy created by the retirement of Justice Carol Beier.

“As governor, the process of appointing justices to the Kansas Supreme Court is one I take very seriously,” Governor Kelly said. “Not only must justices have knowledge of the law, but also a complex and nuanced understanding of the world and the people the law is intended to govern.”

“There’s no question that Melissa has gathered a wealth of legal expertise that makes her more than prepared to join the Supreme Court. But there’s more to her unique career trajectory and life experience that makes her a perfect fit for our state’s highest court.

“As a foster and adoptive parent, she has firsthand experience navigating the system both as a judge, and as a foster parent to numerous youngsters, doing her best to provide security, stability and love to kids who sorely needed it. 

“The totality of her life and career experience makes her preeminently qualified to sit on the Kansas Supreme Court.”

Standridge has been a judge on the Kansas Court of Appeals since 2008, where she has heard thousands of cases and authored nearly one thousand opinions. Previously, from 1999 to 2008, she served as chambers counsel to U.S. District Magistrate Judge David Waxse. Before her tenure as chambers counsel to Judge Waxse, Standridge worked as an associate attorney for Shook, Hardy, and Bacon – one of the premier Kansas City firms – and was a founding member of the firm’s award-winning diversity and inclusion initiative. 

Standridge received a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of Kansas in 1984, going on to pursue her law degree at the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law. During her tenure at UMKC, she served as the Editor-in-Chief of the Law Review and the student leader of the Moot Court program, graduating in 1993.

Standridge has received numerous awards for her performance, including the Outstanding Service Award from the Kansas Bar Association, the Sandra Day O’Connor Award for Professional Service from the American Inns of Court, and in 2006 she was selected as Kansas City Leader of the Year by “The Daily Record.”

Additionally, in 2007, her work enriching the lives of children earned her the Angel in Adoption award from the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute.

“To serve on our state’s highest court is the honor of a lifetime – but I don’t view joining the Supreme Court as just a capstone to my career,” Standridge said. “The justices of our Supreme Court have difficult jobs. So I am keenly aware that my appointment is more than just moving my office from the second floor of the judicial center to the third floor.

“But I believe that my years as a judge on the Court of Appeals, my extensive experience working with judges and lawyers from across our state, and my broad life experiences outside the law have prepared me for this challenge.”

Kansas Supreme Court Justices are appointed through a merit-based nomination process. When there is a vacancy on the court, the Supreme Court Nominating Commission submits the names of three nominees to the Governor, and the Governor then has 60 days to make the appointment.   

To be eligible, a nominee must be at least 30 years old and admitted to practice in Kansas and engaged in the practice of law for at least 10 years, whether as a lawyer, judge, or full-time teacher at an accredited law school.   

Every justice must stand for a retention vote in the general election following their first year of service on the court. If retained by voters at that time, they then face retention votes every six years for as long as they serve on the bench.