Interim chief judge assigned to court district
Judge Benjamin Sexton will serve as chief judge for the 8th Judicial District Aug. 22 to Dec. 31 in the wake of judge Michael Powers’ Aug. 20 retirement.
Sexton’s term ends at the end of the year because his will finish the remainder of Powers’ current term. Powers is chief judge for the district, which includes Dickinson, Geary, Marion, and Morris counties.
Sexton has been a judge for the district since 2001. Before that he was an attorney.
His served as judge in Dickinson, Morris, and Geary counties. He has also been assigned to cases in other districts.
Sexton was selected as chief judge for the district after the supreme court sent out a notice.
“I, of course, said I was interested,” Sexton said. “I think the other judges signed on for me.”
“In a case like here, where there is a retiring chief judge, they ask the opinions of the other judges in the district and appoint,” Powers said.
Powers said the next two-year term of chief judge will begin in January. The same selection process will repeat.
Sexton said the new challenge is what motivated him to throw his hat in the ring.
“I think you go through your career and you look to find challenges,” he said. “It’s always good to have a new challenge.”
His new duties will include case assignments and supervision of administrative and clerical functions of the court, including probation and community corrections officers.
“I’ll be the liaison between the district and the supreme court,” Sexton said.
Powers has been a judge in Marion County district court 30 years.
A retirement reception for him is planned for 3:30 p.m. Aug. 20.
The search for someone to replace Powers on the Marion County bench is ongoing. A nominating commission will interview nominees 9 a.m. Aug. 18 at the Geary County Courthouse, 138 E. 8th Street, Junction City.
District court administrator Nikki Davenport said no decision has been made whether to live stream the interviews.
The nominating commission will make a recommendation to the governor, who will have 60 days to appoint a new judge.
After a year, the appointed judge must be re-elected to remain in the position. Judges serve four-year terms.
Sexton said that having practiced in a given county doesn’t disqualify someone from serving as judge there.
The chief judge assigns cases to judges, and any potential conflict of interest are considered in making the assignment.