Judges to run for re-election unopposed

By Angie Baldelomar

Both judges who work in Decatur County are running unopposed for re-election in the Aug. 2 Republican primary and the Nov. 8 general election.

District Magistrate Judge Jay Tate of Oberlin has held his position for four years, first being elected in 2012. Before that, he was a sheriff’s deputy in the county.

Son of an engineer, Judge Tate moved all over because his family moved wherever his father was assigned to a project. When he was 15, he moved to Oberlin, where he graduated from high school and it is this the place he considers home.

He went to Bethany College in Lindsborg, where he got his bachelor’s in Administration of Justice.

In his position as a magistrate judge, he said, he handles misdemeanor cases, smaller civil cases such as limited-action suits, probate work, and other work. He presides over first appearances and preliminary hearings in felony cases.

“We’re kind of the jack of all trades in the field,” he said.

In the past year, Judge Tate said, he has been elected president of the Northwest Kansas Magistrate Judges Association and as a director of the state association.

Mr. Tate said he enjoys the unpredictability that comes with being a magistrate judge.

“I just learned when I walk in (to the office),” he said, “to not expect anything because you never know.”

He doesn’t have a fixed schedule, he said. He can be called to issue a warrant or hold a hearing even after he thinks he is done for the day.

“That is part of the position,” he said. “You’re also, to some degree, on call 24 hours a day.”

Judge Tate said he is happy with his position and his work as a magistrate judge.

District Judge Preston Pratt is also running for re-election. As a district judge, he handles the more serious civil cases and felony trials, and has authority over all types of cases in the district. He presides over court cases such as divorce cases, felony and criminal cases, real state, and civil cases over $25,000.

Judge Pratt was appointed to the bench by Gov. Sam Brownback in June 2011 and elected to a full term in 2012. He lived and practiced law in Oberlin for 20 years before being appointed to the bench.

Although he lived in Oberlin for over 20 years, he grew up in Oakley, and obtained his law degree from the University of Kansas.

Now, as a district judge, he lives in Norton.

The Republican primary will be on Aug. 2, and the general election on Nov. 8.


This story was published on page 3 of The Oberlin Herald‘s print edition on July 6, 2016.

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