Carl Folsom III sworn in as Douglas County District Court judge

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Longtime Lawrence resident and KU Law alum Carl Folsom III was sworn in as a Douglas County District Court judge Friday in the company of his family and many friends.

Chief Judge James McCabria called the proceedings to order and welcomed the large group of attendees. He introduced numerous judges in attendance, Folsom’s family members, and close friend and colleague Branden Bell before allowing Bell to give a congratulatory speech. 

“Carl’s first superpower is humility,” Bell said. “I hadn’t realized until we started practicing law together how brilliant he was, because we’re in a profession where intelligence and ego are usually strongly correlated. With Carl, it’s the opposite.” 

“… When I originally was thinking of what I was going to say, I was gonna say that no one deserves this more than Carl, but that’s not quite right,” Bell said. “The people of Douglas County deserve nothing less than a superhero — and that’s Carl Folsom.”

Folsom’s wife, Karen Ebmeier, spoke next, playfully reminiscing on Folsom’s relentless dedication and passion for law.

She joked about Folsom’s love of the Westlaw app, him staying up until nearly 3 a.m. in a group chat with friends about a court case, and his acceptance of a pretrial conference to occur on the day of the couple’s wedding rehearsal. 

Chloe Anderson/Lawrence Times Karen Ebmeier speaks at the swearing-in ceremony for Carl Folsom III in Douglas County District Court.

Most of all, Ebmeier spoke of Folsom’s values of treating everyone with dignity, equity and kindness. 

“Carl Folsom is a dedicated, empathetic and conscientious person and Douglas County will be a better legal community with him on the bench,” Ebmeier concluded.

McCabria swore Folsom in as Ebmeier and the couple’s daughter, Evelyn, proudly stood beside him. 

Addressing the crowd, Folsom thanked a myriad of friends, colleagues, family members and teachers, crediting much of his success to his education at KU and experiences working as a public defender. 

The Kansas Senate rejected Gov. Laura Kelly’s appointment of Folsom to the Kansas Court of Appeals twice. Folsom joked that there’s some poetic justice in applying to be a judge seven times and now presiding over Division Seven. 

“I sincerely hope that I’m able to serve Douglas County in a way that will make you all proud,” Folsom concluded. 

Folsom graduated from KU Law in 2005 before working as an appellate defender. He then joined forces with Bell at Bell Folsom, P.A.

At the end of 2012, Folsom started a new position a federal public defender in Oklahoma before returning to his home state to join the District of Kansas as an assistant federal public defender. He is also on the board of directors for Just Food and the president of the Judge Hugh Means Inn of Court. 

Folsom and Catherine Theisen were appointed by Kelly on Oct. 28. The two vacancies were a result of Judge Kay Huff’s retirement in July and the decision by Kansas Supreme Court Chief Justice Marla Luckert to give Douglas County seven district court divisions, creating a new position

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Chloe Anderson (she/her) contributed to The Lawrence Times from August 2022 through May 2023. She is also published in Climbing magazine, Kansas Reflector and Sharp End Publishing. As a recent graduate of the University of Kansas, Chloe plans to continue her career in photography, rock climbing and writing somewhere out West.

You can view her portfolio, articles and commissioned work here. Check out more of her work for the Times here.

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