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Former 26th District Judicial Magistrate Judge to Retire

Joe Denoyer - June 18, 2019 4:40 pm

TOPEKA—After nearly 27 years on the bench, District Magistrate Judge Roseanna Mathis will retire August 2.

She has served as magistrate judge in Kingman County of the 30th Judicial District since 2012. In addition to Kingman County, the 30th Judicial District also is composed of Barber, Harper, Pratt, and Sumner counties.

She first became a judge 20 years earlier in Morton County in the 26th Judicial District.

Mathis, who then was Roseanna Volden, was elected in 1992 and re-elected four more times. The 26th Judicial District uses the political process to elect judges, with candidates filing for election. In addition to Morton County, the 26th Judicial District is composed of Grant, Haskell, Seward, Stanton, and Stevens counties.

She resigned as Morton County magistrate judge in 2012 and moved to Kingman County. She later applied for a vacant district magistrate judge position there. She was selected and retained by voters in two subsequent elections. The 30th Judicial District uses the merit selection process to select judges.

Mathis said she received good advice to guide her as a judge.

“I had only been on the bench a couple of years—still a newbie—when by fate I ran into Chief Justice Kay McFarland at a hotel restaurant in Nashville, Tennessee,” she recalled.

McFarland invited her to dinner and gave her some “sage advice I have carried with me,” Mathis said.

She said McFarland told her not to pretend to know all the answers, to be compassionate when she should and stern when necessary, and to make her decisions based on what she hears in the courtroom, not on public opinion or media pressure.

That advice was helpful serving as a judge in a small community where she knew many of the people, Mathis said.

“I officiated a lot of weddings for people who had appeared in court before me on various cases,” she said.

Mathis said that baffled the clerk of the court, who asked a couple why they would choose Mathis to marry them after the same judge had ruled against them in court. They told the clerk Mathis had always been fair and didn’t hand down a sentence they didn’t deserve, and because she was their judge, Mathis said.

Before becoming a judge, Mathis worked for 12 years as a paralegal in the law firm of White and Johnson in Elkhart.

Mathis said in her retirement she plans to return to school part time and travel with her husband, James, a retired district magistrate judge. She has a son in Washington state, a daughter in Elkhart, and a daughter in Texas, and nine grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.


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