MAY 2, 2005

The 2005 Liberty Bell Award was presented posthumously to Supreme Court Justice Robert L. Gernon. Justice Gernon was born in Sabetha, Kansas on July 29, 1943. He attended college at University of Kansas and law school at Washburn University. He served as a District Judge from 1979 to 1988, served on the Kansas Court of Appeals from 1988 to 2002, and served on the Kansas Supreme Court until his death on March 30, 2005. He was active in the Kansas Bar Association and Kansas District Judges Association, and served on the Kansas Bar Association's Continung Legal Education Committee, Public Information Committee, and Committee on Professionalism. In 1991 he received the KBA Outstanding Service Award and, in 2001, the KBA Professionalism Award. He was a member and past president of the Judge Hugh Means Inn of Court. Justice Gernon lived in Lawrence, was a member of the Douglas County Bar Association, and was a frequent presenter to Leadership Lawrence. He was instrumental in supporting the Douglas County District Court in its pursuit of an additional district judge, which saw fruition with the creation of the new Division Six in 2005. He was a friend and mentor of Douglas County judges and lawyers. While upholding the professionalism and demeanor expected of a justice of the highest court in Kansas, he never lauded his position over his colleagues in the bar. He was always pleased to chat informally not only with attorneys but with laypersons, as well, especially students and younger citizens. The Liberty Bell Award is intended to recognize a person in our community who has promoted a better understanding of the rule of law, encouraged greater respect for the law and the courts, stimulated a sense of civic responsibility, or contributed to good government in the community. Justice Gernon clearly satisfied all those criteria, and more.

See also: Lawrence Journal-World article reporting the death of Justice Gernon.
Photo courtesy of Kansas Judicial Branch.
Text based on presentation made by Hon. Robert Fairchild.