Governor appoints local judge; another round will determine 2nd seat
Gov. Kathleen Sebelius has named a Tonganoxie attorney to be the new district judge for Leavenworth and Atchison counties.
Michael Gibbens, 58, was named to the bench on Friday, filling the vacancy left by retiring Judge Philip C. Lacey.
On Tuesday, Gibbens said he was honored to be selected.
“I’m very pleased that the governor had faith in me and made this appointment,” Gibbens said. “I’m reminded of all my friends in Tonganoxie that helped me.
“Many people wrote letters on my behalf and I certainly appreciate all of their help.”
Gibbens has an extensive legal background, including serving as a prosecutor, civil litigator and municipal judge. He graduated from Baker University and earned his law degree from Washburn University.
He is currently a managing member of the law firm of Gibbens, Sutton and Sonntag. Gibbens is married with four children and five grandchildren.
In addition, the First Judicial District Nominating Commission on Monday certified the names of three area attorneys to fill another judge vacancy that was created by the October retirement of Judge Frederick N. Stewart.
Nominees are Gerald R. Kuckelman, Atchison County attorney; and Michael F. Willcott and Danny K. Wiley, who are in private practice in Leavenworth.
Sebelius will have 30 days in which to make the appointment. The Nominating Commission interviewed 15 applicants last month for the two vacancies in the First Judicial District.
Kuckelman, who also was among nominees for the first vacancy, has been Atchison County Attorney since 2001 and has maintained a private practice since 1987. Before that, he served as an assistant Harvey County Attorney and as an assistant attorney general. He is a graduate of Washburn University and the WU law school.
Willcott, who resides in Tonganoxie, has a Leavenworth law office and has been in private practice since 1977. He is a 1969 graduate of Washburn University and a 1976 graduate of the WU law school.
Wiley has been a member of the firm of Murray, Tillotson & Wiley since 1993. He also has been Municipal Judge for the City of Leavenworth since 1997, and has served as a judge pro-tem of Leavenworth District Court since 2003.
The First Judicial District Nominating Commission includes Justice Eric S. Rosen as the nonvoting chair; Robert D. Beal, Leavenworth; John R. Kurth, Atchison; J. David Farris, Atchison; E. Roger Horsky, Leavenworth; Rosemary Niles, Atchison; Mildred G. McMillon, Tonganoxie; Julie A. Clem, Atchison; and Dr. Roy A. Braum, Easton.