Updated: Apr 9
TOPEKA – On Thursday, March 17, Gov. Laura Kelly appointed Andrea Purvis of Abilene, Kan., to the 6th Judicial District vacancy in Linn County District Court created by the retirement of Judge Terri Johnson.
“Andrea will bring strong legal experience and knowledge to the 6th Judicial District,” the governor said. “Her commitment to public service and dedication to the judicial system will serve the community well.”
In 2017, Purvis was elected County Attorney for Dickinson County, where she manages the office responsible for prosecuting felony and misdemeanor criminal cases. Prior to being elected, she was an Assistant County Attorney for Dickinson County Attorney’s Office from 2012 to 2017.
In addition to her prosecutorial work, Purvis has legal experience as a public defender working for the State Board of Indigent Defense Services from 2009 until 2012. Purvis is a member of the Kansas County and District Attorney’s Association and the Dickinson County Bar Association and is active in her local community. She earned her law degree from Washburn University School of Law in 2007.
“I have spent my legal career applying the rule of law to make decisions that might not be popular, but are impartial and fair,” Purvis said. “I will continue to treat all people fairly and respectfully who may come before me as I preside from the bench.”
In an email to the Journal last month, Purvis said she was looking forward to the move to Linn County.
“My husband and I have, in the last year, discussed moving closer to friends and family in the eastern part of the state,” she wrote. “I have been interested in a position as a district court judge because I believe in the rule of law and have seen the positive impact judges can have in helping individuals resolve conflict (so they don’t resort to violence), to hold people accountable for their actions and to educate people both in the Courtroom and in the Communities they serve.”
She also said the rural nature of Linn County appealed to her. “I grew up in a rural county, went to a high school of 100 students, and was involved in 4-H,” she said. “Linn County reminds me of home.”
In addition to her experience as a prosecutor and a defense attorney, Purvis’ varied employment history includes working for Senate Majority Leader Lana Oleen and for the Secretary of the Senate Pat Saville in Topeka, retail sales and as an office assistant at Kansas State University.
After graduating from high school, Purvis studied office technology at Manhattan Area Technical College in the early 1990s. However, she went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in political science from K-State in 2003 and her law degree in 2007.
District court judges in the 6th Judicial District are appointed by the governor and selected from nominees chosen by a district nominating commission. Judges in nominating commission districts are subject to retention elections every four years.
Purvis is a Republican, and her appointment by Kelly, a Democrat, came as a surprise to some observers while other believe it was a sign that the governor is willing to work across party lines. The other nominees selected by the district nominating commission were 6th District Court Magistrate Judge Valorie Leblanc and Fort Scott attorney Gayla Mason, both of whom are Democrats.
Purvis said she will be sworn in as soon as she establishes residence in Linn County.
This article has been updated to correct and error. The article initially read that Purvis worked for the Kansas Secretary of State's office. We regret the error.