Barton County commissioners Monday morning held an introductory session with the new County Attorney Levi Morris. So far, they like what they see.
“We’re on the same page and pulling in the same direction, I hope,” commission Chairwoman Jennifer Schartz said. “I have high expectations.”
But, “you have my support,” she said. “I wish you all the luck in the world.”
The Barton County Republican Committee a week ago Monday night picked Lyons attorney Morris to replace the resigning Amy Mellor. On Nov. 20, Mellor announced her intention to resign effective Dec. 7, citing an ongoing rift between the county attorney and Sheriff Brian Bellendir.
However, this change wasn’t official until Gov. Jeff Colyer signed off on the nomination. Morris and the commission received a letter Saturday notifying them Colyer approved the appointment.
“I’m not going for any headlines for dismissals,” Morris said, referring complaints of high-profile cases that were dropped for lack of timely prosecution. He didn’t want to “get too far into the weeds,” but said he had ideas to run the office more efficiently.
He has worked in the Barton County Attorney’s Office in the past and has prosecuted cases in other counties as well. He knows about half of the staff in the office.
“I look forward to you getting along with the Sheriff’s Office,” Commissioner Don Davis said.
Commissioner Kenny Schremmer recalled the grilling Morris got at the Republican Committee convention last week about problems in the office. “There was a lot of discussion.” But, “I welcome you here.”
Commissioner Alicia Straub recommended Morris attend the once-monthly county department head meeting with commissioners. He said he would oblige.
An official starting date for Morris has not been determined. He still needs to be sworn in by 20th Judicial District Chief Judge Mike Keeley and close out cases with his private practice, and all of this may take a couple weeks.
Morris will complete the roughly two years remaining on Mellor’s four-year term. After that, he is eligible to file and run for election to the post.
Morris graduated from the Washburn University School of Law in the Spring of 2011 and was admitted to the Kansas bar later that year. He started out in private practice in his hometown, Newton.
In the spring of 2013, he was hired by then County Attorney Matthews and joined the Barton County Attorney’s Office. In Barton County, he was responsible for prosecuting felony and misdemeanor criminal cases, as well as Child in Need of Care cases and Juvenile Offenders.
In 2015, Morris returned to private practice in Lyons.
He has handled cases in 20 central Kansas counties and how has an office in Great Bend. He said he plans to move to Great Bend.