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Interview of Patrick Brazil, September 11, 2023

Interviewed by Richard Ross
Interview Description

This interview focused on the role of the Chief Judge of the Court of Appeals and the relationship of the intermediate appellate court to the state supreme court. In 1977 when the court composition was revised, it served in panels of three judges, traveling to hear cases statewide. In 1996 the number of appeals had grown to over 2,000. The interview discussed the appointment of the Chief Judge, caseloads, the philosophy of the judges and how they managed the work. The passage of the sentencing guidelines created what they described as a "Blitz Docket". There is also discussion of the utilization of a Judicial Nominating Commission and how that process worked. The COVID pandemic also forced changes upon this particular court.-- primarily stopping its travel and using Zoom and video calls instead.

Interviewee Biographical Sketch

J. Patrick Brazil, was born in Pittsburg, KS, but he grew up in Chanute, Kansas. He graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration from Rockhurst College, then he went to Washburn Law School where he got his juris doctorate in 1962. For a number of years, first in Pratt and then in Eureka, he was serving in private practice until he was appointed by Governor Robert Docking as a district judge for the 13th Judicial District in 1972. Governor John Carlin then appointed Chief Judge Brazil to the Kansas Court of Appeals in December 1985. He served as a judge for that court until the Kansas Supreme Court named him as the Chief Judge in 1995. Chief Judge Brazil retired from the court in January of 2001, but he didn’t stop working. He was a Senior Judge, appointed by the Kansas Supreme Court. He fully retired as Senior Judge in 2012.


Richard Ross: Today is September 11, 2023. It’s forever known in America as 9/11. It’s the twenty-second anniversary of the tragic terrorist attack on America’s innocence and American democracy. The events of that day forever changed the history of the world, often in disturbing ways, and we remember the details of that day vividly, and we honor those innocent people who died as a result of the plane crashes, collapsed buildings, and attempts at heroic efforts to rescue those people who were trapped.

With that brief note of remembrance, today we have another history in the making. This is a pleasant history. This is a history to save and to preserve what we know as the Kansas judicial history and how it operates and how it has operated. It has changed since the person we’re going to interview was on the bench, but what he did and the time he served are very important to illustrate how our judiciary has kept touch with the times and has continued to be a great service to the State of Kansas.

My name is Richard Ross. I’ve served for thirty-eight years as Reporter of Decisions for the Kansas Supreme Court and the Kansas Court of Appeals–it’s a Constitutional Office–, and I had the great pleasure of working with the person I’m going to interview today, retired Chief Judge Pat Brazil from the Court of Appeals.

Today’s interview is part of a series of interviews known as the Kansas Oral History Project sponsored by Humanities Kansas. Specifically, we are contributing to the collection from that interview process, and it’s known as The Kansas Courts and the Rule of Law. The Kansas Oral History Project is a not-for-profit corporation. It’s created to collect oral histories of Kansans who were involved in shaping and implementing public policy. Recordings and transcripts of these oral histories are available to researchers, educators, and anybody, on three different areas. You can go to the Kansas Historical Society, or the State Library of Kansas, or you can go online to Individual donors, corporations, and Humanities Kansas, a not-for-profit organization, provide the funding for this project.

Essential to the preservation of these oral histories is David Heinemann. He’s our videographer extraordinaire, and David has recorded over forty-five of these oral histories that comprise the three branches of government. So, David, thank you again, for your expertise and your time. David’s an attorney and lobbyist, and he was a former State Representative, including serving as Speaker Pro Tem in the Kansas House of Representatives.

Our guest today, Pat Brazil– J. Patrick Brazil–, was born in Pittsburg, KS, and he moved I believe at the age of one to Chanute, and he grew up in Chanute, Kansas. He graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration from Rockhurst College [NOTE: When I Googled the spelling, it was Rockhurst University. When Brazil went to Rockhurst, it was called Rockhurst College], and he went to Washburn Law School where he got his juris doctorate in 1962. For a number of years, first in Pratt and then in Eureka, he was serving in private practice until he was appointed by Governor Robert Docking as a district judge for the 13th Judicial District, and that was in 1972. Governor John Carlin then appointed Judge Brazil to the Kansas Court of Appeals in December 1985. He served as a judge for that court until the Kansas Supreme Court named him as the Chief Judge, and that was in 1995.

Chief Judge Brazil retired from the court in January of 2001, but he didn’t stop working. He was a Senior Judge, and that was appointed by the Kansas Supreme Court. Senior Judges serve 40 percent of the time, and he did that in his role continuing with the Kansas Court of Appeals. And then he worked for many years—maybe you’re still doing it—as a mediator and arbitrator with Associates and Dispute Resolutions, an LLC.

That’s a brief bio. I didn’t even mention the numerous, numerous organizations that you belonged to professionally, often that you served as the president of the different organizations. But I will just state that it’s numerous, and you are so well known in this state, and you’re a favorite judge of so many people of this state.

With what I did say, was there anything that you’d like to add, or were there any corrections you need to make?

Pat Brazil: Well, just one, Richard, and that was that I have completely retired. I’m not doing mediations anymore. I fully retired as Senior Judge in 2012. I had served on the Judicial Qualifications Commission for about twenty-seven years in addition, which I thought was very important work in Kansas to not only educate the judges but to discipline if necessary. That was a wonderful experience with the Court and with the Commission. Also, I was on the Judicial Ethics Advisory Committee, which was as a member of three retired judges or justices, and I just retired from that fully in June of this year.

So I had forty years as a district judge and appellate judge and probably the best years of my life in a lot of ways. But other than that, I appreciate your remarks, and I’m happy to be here.

RR: We’re happy to see you here, too. Following graduation from college, I know there were a couple of years before you decided to go to law school. Can you tell us what caused you to make that shift and what you were doing?

PB: Well, a couple of things. First of all, I graduated from Rockhurst fully intending to return home with my father who was in the cattle business. I had been raised around cattle. That was my intention. I also had joined the National Guard and had a six-month active duty in basic training. So that took up six months of that time.

While engaged in the cattle business, I happened to come across a book called  “A Country Lawyer.” It was about a lawyer from a small town, as I was from Chanute. It just caught me. It just seemed such a wonderful vocation to have.

So I just took a shot at it. I applied for entering law school at Washburn and was accepted. I don’t know if I could be today or not, but at least then. After graduation, I thought one thing: Going to law school opened up so many doors, whether I wanted to practice law; if I couldn’t practice law for whatever reason, there were other non-practice jobs such as with corporations and legal counsel, that sort of thing.

But I did get an opportunity to enter a firm in Pratt, Kansas. It was a wonderful experience. I  was married to my wife Char during that period. We loved it. But I didn’t have much advancement in the particular partnership I was in. So I had an opportunity to move to Eureka to join a firm there with an elderly attorney who unfortunately went into the hospital a month after I got there. That was in September. He went in in October. He died in the hospital in January.

So I brought in a good friend of mine from law school, Ron Myers. He had been with the Internal Revenue Service in the Estate and Gift Tax Division. Since we had a lot of state practice, he came and joined the firm. And I practiced until 1972 when, as you said, I was appointed to district court. So basically that’s the only additions I have to your question.

RR: So what then made you decide to apply to be a district judge?

PB: The District Judge George Reynolds at that time suffered from a hearing loss, Meniere’s disease. He contacted me one day. I had no thought of becoming a judge, and he contacted me and said that he was thinking of retiring. He had talked to attorneys in town, and they all seemed to agree that I would be a good choice, and he thought I would.

So I thought, “Well, it sounds like a wonderful career.” So I agreed. The only thing I didn’t think of after I was appointed was when I learned what the salary was for a district judge. At that time, I had two daughters. My son had not yet been born. I was thinking education. How in the world are we going to do it on that?

But over the years, the salaries were increased actually by the legislature, and we survived. We didn’t live a stylish life. Fortunately as a judge, my wife and I were able to take nice trips because of judicial conferences and what not. I became active in the District Judges Association and was on their executive committee. So we had a wonderful life. I just have to say that.

RR: Well, I know that–and I don’t know how much this occurred–, but I know that the Court of Appeals sometimes appointed district judges to sit in on panels.

PB: Yes.

RR: And you received those appointments on occasion. You were doing appellate work. That was sort of an introduction to the next step in your career. Is that what made you decide, “I like that kind of work”?

PB: Yes. In fact, Chief Judge Bob Abbott at the time, one day on a golf course, of all places, in Wichita where they have an invitation in the court for Judges Day, and the golf tournament was part of it. Well, we happened to be two different groups teeing off, but we were waiting on a group in front of his, and he just turned to me. Chief Judge Richard Foth had died that summer. In fact, I happened to be on the panel, his last panel in June of that year, and we sat in Chanute.

So Justice or Judge Abbott at that time asked if I’d—he said, “Why don’t you consider putting your name in?” And I thought about it, went home and talked to my family first, and some of the attorneys. They seemed to all be supportive of it as well as the Bar. Maybe they wanted to get rid of me as a trial judge, I don’t know.

RR: I doubt it.

PB: Anyway, I did submit my name and application, and then the rest is history.

RR: Well, we are glad you did that.

PB: I am, too. It was kind of a traumatic move at the time. We had raised our children in Eureka basically, but our daughters were at the age where one of them had already gone on to college, KU, and the other one was just a year and a half behind her. She was in her senior year. Actually she was done, graduated before we actually moved the family. So it worked out.

RR: I know your son was in debate because I was a judge on some of his debates.

In my prior interviews, I’ve interviewed the five retired justices for this oral history project. Four of the five went from the Court of Appeals to the Supreme Court, and during the interviews, I get a little sampling of what the work was like in the Court of Appeals, and from their viewpoint, what the switch was like, how it was so different from one court to the next to go there.

But there’s been no one who’s been interviewed to this date who was a Chief Judge on the Court of Appeals. And that is a really special designation, and I think the gist that this interview will be about that, what that entails, all the hoops you have to work through working with the Supreme Court because you’re an Intermediate Appellate Court, but also your court represents so much of the people of the state because you hear so many more cases.

So that’s where I want to get to, and I’ll let you do a lot of the talking, and when I hear something that causes me to think of another question, then I’ll interrupt that. First off, describe the Court of Appeals, how it operates, just a little lesson here for the people viewing it.

PB: By statue, I should say, by recommendations of the Judicial Study Advisory Committee, which recommended the creation of our court, one of the requirements they recommended was that we serve in panels of three. And we started out in 1977. That was when our court was created. We were not the first court. The first intermediate court was created back in 1895 and served until 1901 when the Supreme Court was increased from three judges to seven.

Anyway, we were the second. And the basic reason, of course, if you don’t mind me straying a little from your question, the Court was created initially in 1895 because the Supreme Court caseload had gotten to the point that they were struggling. So that was good for six years until the Supreme Court was expanded. Then they went from that time in 1901 until 1977, the same thing happened. The case load was just too much for the Supreme Court. That’s why we were created. We ended up being a very popular court because the caseloads, the appeals actually increased, I’m not sure by how—but drastically, because one of the JSAC Study Commissions recommended, one of the observations was, that every litigant was entitled to at least one appeal, and we made that possible.

As I said, we were originally seven judges, and we sat in panels of three, and we rotated our panels so we didn’t have permanent panels, and we traveled. We traveled and heard cases all over the state of Kansas from Liberal to Kansas City, Kansas, to the northwest and down to the southeast. So we did cover all the state which I think was beneficial to the public. The litigants didn’t have to miss out on the oral arguments that their attorneys made in the court in Topeka. They could attend, and many of them did. We also got to speak to a lot of schools, classes, and small towns particularly really appreciated having the court there.

Now, these panels of three. We received a brief from the appellants and the appellees, and then we have staff, research attorneys, that will prepare a memorandum. We’re known as a hot court. We always read the briefs and read the memorandum before we heard the oral arguments. That made us more informed. We could ask better questions.

Once the case was submitted to us either in oral form, oral arguments, or by brief, the panel would meet. We would consider all the cases and make our decisions. Each judge would be assigned a third of the cases, and their responsibility was to write the opinions and then prepare for the next panel which eventually got to be every three weeks.

I came on the court, as you said, in 1985, and already the case load was getting to be more than we could bear. By then, the legislature upon recommendations of the Study Commission had then increased the Court to ten judges. Now there were only seven when I got on to the Court. It was about two years before we did get the additional judges, and that helped for about ten years, and then we had to ask the legislature for more help. They agreed to expand the Court to fourteen, creating one judge per year starting in 2001, I believe, until 2003. Well, that didn’t happen.

RR: It took a long time. I remember that.

PB: It’s only recently that they’ve actually finally grown to fourteen judges. The Court during the period that I was Chief Judge—I was appointed by Chief Justice Richard Holmes in June of 1995. I served as Chief until I retired. In that time, we had not only a natural increase in the number of our appeals, but also the legislature had enacted sentencing guidelines. You probably recall those days well because the Supreme Court initially looked at the question of the retroactivity effect on people that were already sentenced under the old laws, before the new law had been enacted, and the Court initially said, “No, they’re not retroactive.”

The Court then corrected itself in a second opinion and said, “Yes, certain cases are retroactive.” That created another several hundred cases under an already-growing backlog. We had to call in—as you mentioned earlier, in the early eighties, when I was still a district judge, the Court had called in trial judges and even some Supreme Court Justices to sit with the Court to hear the backlog of cases. We had to do that again in the middle nineties. So that was one of the reasons again I think for the legislature approving the expansion of the Court.

But as an example, I got the statistics, the last three years, the Court has been getting approximately 1,000 to 1,100 appeals a year with fourteen judges and two senior judges. In 1996, our Court had reached 2,260 appeals.

RR: I remember it was about 2,000.

PB: So, anyway, it’s been a long struggle to catch up, to be able to address all the appeals that are filed in the State of Kansas. It looks like for now, and let’s keep our fingers crossed, it looks like for now the Court is adequately funded. They have an adequate staff and a number of judges that can meet the needs of the people.

RR: You mentioned several things that I just want to note a little bit when you talked about, right off the bat, appeals started increasing in Kansas. Still today I believe every case from the trial court can be appealed, right?

PB: Right.

RR: And it’s not just the trial courts. It’s administrative courts—

PB: Exactly.

RR: Some states I do know have limits on what can be appealed, but Kansas still allows people to appeal whatever.

PB: Yes. Right.

RR: The other thing you said I’d kind of forgotten about it, but when you mentioned the Supreme Court has on occasion sat in on panels. I remember now that there was a huge deal to get backlog eradicated. So many panels were created. It was a major effort. I don’t remember how many panels there were. There were a lot more than the normal.

PB: Yes.

RR: To make that happen, but it did help a lot, obviously.

PB: Right. I think we had—I can’t recall now. It was about twelve or fifteen panels.

RR: Some people who are watching this will know this. Other people will have no idea if they’re not attorneys. There was something called “unpublished opinions and published opinions.”

PB: Yes.

RR: Generally, the Supreme Court, 95 percent of their cases were published, and they’re in the Kansas Reports, which is what I was responsible for. In the Court of Appeals, it was more like 90 percent–is that accurate?–that were unpublished.

PB: Probably.

RR: Eighty-five to ninety percent. And now a lot of that has shifted because everything’s online and people can research, and it took a while before you could start citing unpublished opinions. I don’t know where all that stands now. I think there’s still published and unpublished opinions, and primarily published opinions should represent precedent or a fact that may not have occurred before.

PB: That’s correct.

RR: So that’s kind of the point of unpublished opinions to help move things along because the law had been settled.

PB: I might mention these are some of the reasons. We were initially created by statute and on recommendation of the Judicial Study Advisory Commission to be a trial-error-correcting Court, which meant that we were not to get into interpretation of the law or developing any new laws, so to speak. Justice Lawton Nuss mentioned in his article in the Kansas Bar Journal in 2002, over the years because only about 3 percent of the petitions for review from our Court to the Supreme Court—it was about 3 percent I think at that time—were being accepted, that meant about 97 percent of all the cases we heard were final. So necessarily it became more and more necessary for the Court of Appeals to address matters of law and in some cases, develop the law, remembering, of course, that we were always subject to review by the Supreme Court in our decisions.

Another problem that we had was that the legislature amended the statute with respect to utility rate cases. They originally were heard in the district court and then appealed to the Court of Appeals, and by statute, the amendment, they made those appeals direct to us rather than from the trial court. Those cases involved volumes of material, briefs and notes and research memorandum and really slowed us down. We were supposed to be a fast docket. Those cases really slowed us down.

RR: And there’s nothing you can do except take that time.

PB: Right.

RR: But everything else gets pushed aside because they want those decisions out.

PB: It took extra staff, and it had to be within sixty days, I think.

RR: A quick turnaround. You saw a lot of changes when you were on the Court, I think. You certainly worked with a lot of judges. What was the relationship like among the members of the Court?

PB: I’d have to say in two words, very cordial. One of the main reasons I believe for that is that we traveled, in panels of three. We would stay overnight for one or two nights on the road and then drive to our destinations and back home. It gave us an opportunity to really get to know one another, to visit with one another, and to appreciate their talents.

And the staff and the attorneys, I’ve told this many, many times, but I found it the most pleasant years of my life because of the cordiality and morale of the staff.

RR: It was a team and is a team today.

PB: Yes.

RR: I’m not sure people recognize how that is, and I think that’s a really good thought about traveling together. It doesn’t mean that people who have strong views on certain subjects will change their views, but it will help your understanding and maybe there are some changes in there.

PB: The other thing, too, I learned over the years with respect to people’s beliefs, conservative or moderate or liberal, whatever, and we had all of them on our court, was the fact that we could agree on cases 99 percent of the time. I just didn’t see politics or that sort of thing influencing our decisions. That was a real eye-opener for me. Today in this era of certain distrust of the institutions, legislative and judicial, there’s an awful lot of political discussion about the courts. But that’s the one thing I found on our court, regardless of political belief, we decided we’re really remarkable of how we could agree on the case set forth.

RR: I believe that sentiment was shared with everybody I interviewed, and I’m hoping that’s one of the main things that comes about from this project is the faith in our system and the quality of the people who are making the decisions. Regardless of maybe their past politics, they are all very bright people, but they all want to do the right thing.

PB: Correct.

RR: There are ways to interpret the law in different ways.

PB: Yes.

RR: That’s why we have this, but Kansans can be proud and should be proud of our system and that it really maintains an integrity. And the collegiality, I think that’s really an important thing to note.

PB: In that regard, on a couple of occasions when we were really at the height of these backlogs, people were on edge—staff, I’m sure, as well as the judges—and overloaded. We created—I suggested—I was Chief Judge then—that maybe we should have a retreat. A couple of different times I know, the Court would go to a destination either in state or out of state on a retreat. It was our own expense. We didn’t bill the State for anything. But we would also plan a program that would discuss legal questions and problems that we were having in the Court and how we might address them and also play a little golf, eat some fine meals, and then come home. Our spouses were invited at times, you could just see the stress melt a lot of times. By the end of the weekend, everybody was in a lot better mood which, I’m sure when we got home, made the staff in a better mood. So those were very helpful.

RR: It didn’t stop the appeals from coming.

PB: No, but we thought we had better ideas.

RR: Exactly. That was a great idea you had.

PB: There was about a half day of CLE [Continuing Legal Education] usually.

RR: Let’s talk about the relationship of the Court of Appeals with the Supreme Court, how that operates, and as Chief Judge, it’s a lot different for you than any of the other judges. So talk about your relationship there.

PB: As I said, Chief Justice Holmes appointed me as Chief Judge. He retired about three months later, and Justice McFarland became a Chief Justice. So, on our Court, we had to prepare a budget every year and then submit it to the Supreme Court who would then either accept parts of it or not. It would be part of the total budget for the Appellate Courts. So we would have to work with the Chief on that.

I’m trying to think of other instances when we would deal with the Court. If there were some problems, I would meet with the Chief or with other members of the Court. We would discuss the problems we were having, either with the appeals, the number of appeals, all of that. I know we had to go through all of that in preparing for what we called the “Blitz Docket” after the sentencing guidelines.

RR: Yes, that’s what it was called. The Blitz Docket.

PB: So that took a lot of interaction. The Supreme Court, of course, is, except for their own decision-making for cases, they’re our boss. We were having to—a lot of times some of the suggestions, not suggestions but directions they would have for our court would be a little difficult to accept. So we would have to again talk with the Chief, see if we couldn’t work it out. But overall, it was good, and with the other members of the Court always very good.

RR: You’ve mentioned a couple of times, and I just want to make a note of this, when you were appointed by Chief Justice Holmes to be the Chief Judge, that’s a statutory designation.

PB: Right.

RR: Whereas on the Supreme Court, by Constitution, the senior Justice, when there’s a vacancy of the Chief Justice, automatically becomes Chief unless, of course, they didn’t want to do it. In your case, the Court of Appeals, that is not the case. It doesn’t have to be the most senior judge.

PB: Right.

RR: I just wanted to point that out. You were specifically appointed to do that. Is there anything either humorous or particularly difficult or any specific memories you’d like to recount from your time on the Court?

PB: Not necessarily legal except with respect to the backlogs and the problems we were having with that and then addressing the legislature on numerous occasions with regard to our needs or with regard to anything that the legislature might be considering that would be an impact upon the caseload.

RR: Did you as a Court, you personally I suppose as Chief Judge, you could talk to the legislature? Or did you go through the Supreme Court? How did you communicate with the legislature?

PB: The Supreme Court and the Judicial Administrators Office were always aware. I didn’t make unannounced or—

RR: But you could have contact.

PB: Yes. The Task Force’s specific permission, no, not necessarily.

RR: Right. I wasn’t sure how that worked.

PB: Of course, the loss of judges by death was always traumatic. And on a personal note, we lost our daughter in 1989, one of our two daughters.

RR: Yes, I remember.

PB: She was at that time attending KU. So that was quite an impact on me and on my wife and me. Fortunately, we had friends from Eureka and Pratt that spent a lot of time with my wife, which was great. I was able after a while to return to the office and the job. The Court was very supportive, all the Court. That was a real tough time for me.

There were lots of humorous times and good times. I’m Irish by ethnicity, and I always celebrated St. Patrick’s Day. So we started an occasion where the Court would have St. Patrick’s Day, and we would bring in the bagpipers. We would bring in noted—the poet laureate from Ireland who was visiting Washburn. We had all kinds of entertainment like that. So that was part of the camaraderie that we had with the Court, with our staff, with the Judicial Administrator, your office. Everybody was invited, of course, on those days. Those were good times.

And then the personal relationships we developed. Some of us golfed. If we would go to a city someplace that had a golf course and we happened to have an afternoon that was open, we’d play nine holes of golf before dinner. We had a lot of witty judges, I guess I’d have to say, and, of course, very talented, some people that I think everybody in law that are old enough would remember Judge Elliott who was noted for his ties. He had a collection of terrible, terrible ties. Lawyers and judges and friends from all over the state would send him more ties. But, anyway, those are some of the things that come to mind.

RR: When you were appointed by Governor Carlin, that was by statute. There was a Judicial Nominating Commission, and you had to go through that, and the interview process, and they narrowed it to three people, just like they’re doing with the Supreme Court now, but that has changed now.

PB: Yes.

RR: That change happened after you left the Court. Is that right?

PB: Yes.

RR: Do you have any comments about that? Your feeling about how that switch has—I don’t know if it’s changed the Court, but it has, maybe. I don’t know.

PB: Well, philosophically, I have to say that in my opinion, that has brought in the element of politics. I think that the selection of the Judicial Nominating Commission that we have and had were people of all stripes. They were attorneys. They were lay people. I always found them—in fact, I addressed them on more than one occasion, and they would want to know the needs of the Court and how they were doing and things like that. We addressed if I knew an individual that was being considered or whatever. They did their job very diligently. I truly believe they would usually—to be honest, they would try to at least get one of the three nominees of the same party as the governor, but the governor didn’t have to follow that. The governor could pick any one of the three or could ignore them all at that time, but it never happened—I don’t think it has happened in my career.

So as to the impact it’s had so far, as far as I know, the appointments to the Court have been good candidates. I’ve attended some of their swearings-in and what not, good backgrounds.

RR: I think Governor Kelly was sort of following that—she doesn’t have to, but she’s got some sort of a panel that interviews and gives her three names.

PB: Yes.

RR: But she doesn’t have to do that.

PB: Right. So we’ll keep our fingers crossed, but it’s—I just don’t approve of the changes that have been made. I think it was working well before.

RR: This has happened since you’ve been gone also and since I’ve been gone actually with the COVID and so much remote work.

PB: Yes.

RR: That has really affected the Court and the Judiciary and how things operate. So we don’t need to go into that because that isn’t something you experienced, but—

PB: Well, just to say that the Court during the pandemic, they stopped their travel, which was unfortunate. And just recently now they’re back to traveling across the state.

RR: That is a good point.

PB: But they do work remotely, and it’s—when I came on to the Court, Judge Abbott had become Chief Judge. He insisted, as did prior Chiefs, that all judges should be in the office here in Topeka during the week unless they were traveling on a panel, which meant that judges from Kansas City, Judge Rulon from Emporia, Judge Henry Green from Leavenworth had to be in chambers during office hours. So a lot of the judges at that time were living in Topeka. And now we’ve got such a diverse group of judges living all over. It’s come to the point where because of technology, they can work from home and use Zoom and video calls. So that’s changed, I’m sure.

RR: That’s really changed the dynamic a lot.

PB: The dynamic, right.

RR: But the important part that you have emphasized throughout is that relationship with your colleagues in the Court, and I’m glad that they are traveling now.

PB: Yes.

RR: That retains that value.

PB: I’m hopeful, right.

RR: Even if they’re working remotely, they still have that.

PB: I remember talking to Judge McAnany when he retired. He started as a Senior Judge with the Court. He remarked that he had been on a panel or two where he hadn’t even personally met the new judge or a new judge on the Court personally. Hopefully, now that’s changed.

RR: Yes. Is there anything else you’d like to add?

PB: Well, I’m very proud of the Court. I think that even Justice Nuss recognized in 2002 the work that the Court had done. It had done work with a very rapidly increasing caseload from its inception, but it’s gotten the opinions out I think in a timely fashion, and the work is good. We were fortunate, having been created in 1977, that the organization of the Court was—we borrowed from the best ideas of Intermediate Appellate Courts at that time. So we were a pretty modern court, and I think we’ve been very open to developments in technology and change and structure and the whole thing. I think that the Court still represents something that the people of Kansas should be proud of.

RR: I agree. I also think that from my work on a national organization, the Kansas Appellate Courts are very highly respected.

PB: Yes, they have been historically.

RR: It’s been great to visit with you We’ve been friends a long time.

PB: We sure have.

RR: I’ve had the pleasure of working with you and for you the entire time you were on the Appellate Courts. Thank you for agreeing to this interview. This will be preserved so anyone from around the world can look at this and hopefully learn something about the Kansas Appellate Courts.

PB: I have to say, Richard, that I always enjoyed working with you and with your staff. Believe me, I leaned on your support. You made many good corrections for us with suggestions and editing and the work you did. Thank you for your remarks. I enjoyed it.

RR: It’s been a pleasure.

[End of File]


Interviewee Date of Birth

June 17, 1935

Interview Location

Topeka, KS

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