Keith L. Collett, a partner in the Marion law firm of Brookens & Collett, has been appointed Dickinson County District Magistrate Judge for the 8th Judicial District, effective June 6.
Collett will replace John E. Barker, who retired April 16 after serving 25 years in the position.
While Collett is eager for the new professional challenge, he said it will not be easy to leave his law partner, J. Robert Brookens, and the client base he has built since joining Morse, Batt, and Brookens as an associate in 1989.
“I’m going to miss it horribly, but I was ready for a change. We don’t have a magistrate in Marion. This was the opportunity, and I jumped,” Collett said.
“It’s a decidedly mixed blessing. There are people around here who I have come to love, who are among my clients that I will have to give up. That’s not an easy thing to do,” Collett said.
The change goes beyond Collett’s professional endeavors. Court rules require that he establish residence in Dickinson County prior to taking office.
“It does require a change of residence, and that’s pretty painful for a bunch of reasons,” Collett said.
The move means Collett will resign as Marion City Attorney, give up his seat on the Marion-Florence USD 408 Board of Education, and leave the position of co-chairman of the Democratic Central Committee.
One change that will be a little easier is stepping down as municipal judge for Ramona.
“We met once about a year ago, and we’re scheduled to meet again Wednesday night. We have a hearing,” Collett said.
Brookens said the partners talked before Collett applied for the position. He offered the same advice Collett gave to Brookens when the latter decided to run for the Kansas Legislature.
“Do what you should do, and we’ll figure it out from there,” Brookens said.
“I celebrate with him. The office will continue. In due course, in good time, I would hope to have an associate come in, and we won’t skip a beat,” Brookens said.
“That firm will be open five days a week for many, many years to come. Bob can handle anything anybody can give him,” Collett said.
Collett received his law degree from Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio, and B.A. degree from Kansas State University. He has been in private practice in Kansas since 1985, following a brief stint as an associate attorney in an Ohio law firm. He served as Marion County Attorney from 1989 to 1995.