Court lacking diversity

justiceladyThe glaring lack of ethnic and gender diversity on the Sedgwick County District Court bench came up during Tuesday’s forum for judicial candidates sponsored by the Wichita Women Attorneys Association and League of Women Voters Wichita-Metro. Judge Gregory Waller, a Democrat who has two Republican challengers in the Aug. 5 primary, noted that when he was appointed by Gov. Joan Finney in 1993, he became the third African-American on the Sedgwick County bench (along with the late Robert Watson and Jennifer Jones, now administrative judge in Wichita Municipal Court). Now, Waller said, he is the only African-American judge in the district and one of only three in the state (Shawnee and Wyandotte counties have one each). One of Waller’s challengers, Linda Kirby, mentioned that there are no elected women among the 28 judges on the Sedgwick County bench, though Judge Faith Maughan was appointed to the bench last year by Gov. Sam Brownback. One other woman will be on the Aug. 5 primary ballot: Diane Sherwood, who is vying with Mike Hoelscher to succeed retiring Judge Mark Vining.