Topeka, KS (STL.News) Today Governor Laura Kelly appointed Jacy J. Hurst to fill the vacancy created by the elevation of former Court of Appeals judge Melissa Standridge to the Kansas Supreme Court. Hurst lives in Lawrence and is a partner with the law firm Kutak Rock LLP in Kansas City, Mo.
“Jacy will be a great asset and hardworking judge on the Court of Appeals,” Governor Kelly said. “She is a lifelong Kansan who has not only excelled performing high-level work at some of Kansas City’s most competitive law firms, she also has the heart of a public servant.”
Hurst began her legal career in 2007 with the Kansas City firm of Stinson LLP as a commercial litigator defending clients throughout the country in product liability, insurance coverage, business tort, and employment discrimination cases. She also counseled clients in employment and healthcare regulatory compliance. In 2014, she became general counsel and chief compliance officer at Swope Health Services, a federally qualified health center with over 500 employees that serves more than 40,000 healthcare patients in the Kansas City area. While at Swope, Hurst was responsible for advising management, overseeing litigation, and addressing legal issues directly with patients. Since 2017, Hurst has practiced at Kutak Rock LLP in Kansas City representing a wide variety of clients, first as Of Counsel and then becoming a Partner in January 2020. Her practice focuses on healthcare transactions and regulatory law and employment litigation and counseling. Throughout her career, Hurst has also provided pro bono legal services to individuals in criminal cases and family law cases.
Hurst also serves her local and legal communities. She is the chair of the board of directors for Douglas County United Way, serves on the parent-teacher organization of her kids’ elementary school, and is a member of the Kansas Board of Law Examiners, grading bar exams twice a year and hearing “character and fitness” issues relating to bar applicants. She is active as a member of the Greater Kansas City Society of Health Care Attorneys. In addition to presenting at various CLEs on employment and healthcare law, since 2014 she has presented on legal ethics with a popular “Ethics for Good” program. She also began teaching a healthcare law class at the Washburn University School of Law in 2020.
“I am incredibly honored to have the opportunity to serve our state as a Court of Appeals judge,” Hurst said. “I have spent my career helping large and small businesses and individuals resolve complex legal issues, and have seen the impact the law can have on people’s lives and businesses. As a Court of Appeals judge, my highest duty will be to hear each case and apply the law, as written, fairly and uniformly.”
“As Governor, my first requirement for a judicial appointee is that they be able to do the job on day one, no questions asked,” Governor Kelly said. “Jacy’s legal experience, her intellect, and her temperament make her the best choice for this Court of Appeals appointment. Jacy will simply be a great judge, first and foremost, and I am proud that if confirmed, she will also make history as the first woman of color on our appellate courts.”
Hurst’s appointment is subject to Senate confirmation and her materials are being forwarded to the Senate. Before 2013, Court of Appeals judges were not subject to Senate confirmation and were selected by the governor from a group of finalists named by the Supreme Court Nominating Commission. Because Governor Kelly favors that merit-based selection process, she created the Court of Appeals Nominating Commission, a committee of knowledgeable lawyers and non-lawyers tasked with recommending finalists for the Court of Appeals vacancy.
The nominating commission forwarded three candidates for Governor Kelly’s consideration: Hurst, Russell Keller of Fairway (private practice attorney), and Angela Coble of Salina (federal judicial clerk).
“I want to commend the Court of Appeals Nominating Commission for its work identifying the three best candidates for this appointment,” Governor Kelly said. “These three finalists represent the best of the Kansas legal community, and I know Russell Keller and Angela Coble will continue to find ways to serve our state.”
The Governor and Hurst are eager to work with the Senate to ensure a smooth, efficient confirmation process during the 2021 legislative session.