TOPEKA — After 54 years representing others, Thomas Berscheidt will switch roles when he serves as honorary bailiff for the Supreme Court when it meets in a special session at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 6 in Great Bend.
“Tom has been a longtime pillar of our legal community,” said Steve Johnson, chief judge of the 20th Judicial District. “He has mentored many in the area and has established himself as one of the leaders in the legal community.”
Johnson nominated Berscheidt for the position, and the justices of the Supreme Court approved.
As honorary bailiff, Berscheidt will call to order the audience assembled at the Great Bend Events Center, and then the court will hear oral arguments in two cases.
Berscheidt grew up on a farm outside Great Bend, and he immediately returned to the area after graduating from Washburn University School of Law in 1968.
Throughout his career, Berscheidt represented clients in more than 100 jury trials and he argued an estimated 40 cases in front of the Kansas Supreme Court and Court of Appeals. He also served on the Governmental Ethics Committee and for 14 years on the Board for Discipline of Attorneys.
While serving on the Board for Discipline of Attorneys, Berscheidt helped review attorney misconduct cases and recommend the appropriate discipline. After his time on the board, Berscheidt represented attorneys in disciplinary matters.
“I enjoy working for and with lawyers, and helping them if it’s possible,” he said.
Berscheidt believes the Supreme Court’s special session will give community members an opportunity to gain a better understanding of what the court does.
“I think those who attend, and see and hear the arguments, will get a better feel for what goes on when a case is appealed,” he said.
Berscheidt argued in one of the first traveling dockets by the Kansas Court of Appeals in 1977. Serving as honorary bailiff for the Supreme Court traveling docket allows him to come full circle as he prepares to retire. Reflecting on his extensive legal career, Berscheidt said he believes he made the right career choice.
“In my 54 years of practice, I have found that it’s been very rewarding to help people,” he said. “That’s what I wanted to do, and I’m just glad that I could do it.”
The Supreme Court’s evening session in Great Bend is part of its ongoing outreach to familiarize Kansans with the court, its work, and the overall role of the judiciary. Learn more about the special session at www.kscourts.org/travel-docket.