Record number of judges sworn in at Johnson County District Court on a single day

Exterior of tall tan building with glass windows

It has been 16 years since a new judge has been added to the 10th Judicial District of Kansas, commonly called Johnson County District Court, at the Johnson County Courthouse in downtown Olathe.

On Tuesday, Jan. 10, the district court had five separate afternoon judicial swearing-in ceremonies filling three new district judge positions and two vacancies from recent retirements of magistrate judges. It marked a historic milestone for Johnson County District Court to have five judges taking their judicial oaths on a single day.

“It is an exciting and unprecedented time. Having three new judges will allow greater access to justice, additional jury trials and more expeditious handling of cases,” said District Court Administrator Laura Brewer.

The new district court judges are:

  • Judge Stephanie Goodenow of Lenexa who will serve on the new Division 20.
  • Judge Catherine Decena Triplett of De Soto, new Division 21.
  • Judge Jason Billam of Olathe, new Division 22.

The last time a new district court judge position was received in Johnson County was 2007 which resulted in the creation of Division 19 when Judge Sara Welch was appointed by Governor Kathleen Sebelius.

The two new magistrate judges are Judge Curtis Sample of Olathe in Division M3 and Judge John McEntee of Leawood in Division M4. They filled vacancies of retired Judge Daniel Vokins and Judge James Phelan. The last time a magistrate position was filled occurred in 2017.

With the three new appointments, the 10th Judicial District in Johnson County will have 22 district court judges and four magistrate judges.

All five judges were appointed by Governor Laura Kelly from a list of nominees by the 10th Judicial Nominating Committee. The new judges are among 14 new district court judges and nine magistrate judges authorized statewide by the 2022 Kansas Legislature.

After serving an initial one-year term, the new judges will be up for a retention vote in the next general election. If voters approve the incumbent candidates, they will each serve a four-year term.

In preparing for three additional district court judges at the courthouse, the Johnson County Board of County Commissioners, in its role at the Johnson County Public Commission, approved an amendment to the JE Dunn Construction Design/Build contract and authorized $245,389 for the design and pre-construction phase of the project at the courthouse. Work is expected to start in the first quarter of 2023 and take up to a year to complete.

Funding of the courthouse improvements is coming from a portion of existing budgeted contingency dollars for the new courthouse. Construction of the courthouse, which opened at the start of 2021, and the new Medical Examiner Facility, completed in 2020, is funded from the quarter-cent, 10-year public safety sales tax approved by Johnson County voters in 2016. The sales tax is scheduled to end on March 31, 2027.

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