Kelly nominates first woman of color to appeals court


Gov. Laura Kelly on Thursday nominated a Lawrence attorney with a legal practice focused on healthcare, employment law and business to the Kansas Court of Appeals.

Kelly named Jacy J. Hurst to replace Melissa Standridge, who was named to the Kansas Supreme Court last year.

Hurst would be the first woman of color to serve on the state appeals court.

Kelly picked Hurst over Fairway lawyer Russell J. Keller and Salina lawyer Angela Coble.

The state Senate will have to confirm the nomination.

Jacy Hurst

Hurst is a partner in the Kutak Rock law firm, where she has worked since 2017.

An experienced commercial litigator, Hurst has a background in negotiating and drafting contracts for healthcare organizations including provider employment contracts, service agreements, referral agreements and  affiliation agreements.

Before joining Kutak Rock, she worked as general counsel and chief compliance officer for Swope Health Services in Kansas City, Missouri.

She also was an attorney for seven years at Stinson Leonard Street LLP.

Hurst has a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of Kansas. She also has a law degree from KU.

Hurst led Keller and Coble in balloting when a special screening panel evaulated candidates for the position.

All nine members of the commission created by Kelly to review appeals court appointments backed Hurst for the judgeship in three separate rounds of voting.

Hurst led all candidates with nine votes in each round of voting.

After the first round, she led Coble who had eight votes, while Keller, state Labor Department lawyer Eunice Peters and Johnson County District Judge Rhonda K. Mason each received six votes.

In Round 2, the field was narrowed to seven candidates, with Hurst and Coble leading the pack with nine and eight votes respectively, followed by Keller, Peters and Washburn law professor Russell Hodgkinson each with six votes.

In the third round, Hurst, Coble and Keller led the field and were recommended to the governor. Hurst received nine votes, while Coble and Keller each received eight.

Hodgkinson finished with seven and Peters three.

Here are bios on all 16 candidates who sought the position.

The latest appointment is separate from the vacancy created when Judge Steve Leben stepped down to teach law.

The Senate rejected public defender Carl Folsom III for that position. Kelly has yet to nominate a replacement.