Kelly retiring as City judge; Kusiak appointed as replacement
Interim Independence City Manager Kelly Passauer has announced the retirement of William “Bill” Kelly as Independence Municipal Judge, after 41 years of service in that position. Local attorney Joslyn Kusiak has been appointed to replace Kelly in the judgeship, and the transition will be effective June 1.
“The City has been privileged to have Judge Kelly on staff for more than four decades, and I personally want to express my appreciation for his extreme dedication and sound judgment while presiding over Municipal Court,” Passauer said. “Likewise, I’m pleased to welcome the highly qualified Joslyn Kusiak to the role and look forward to working with her to continue the tradition of exemplary operation of the court.”
The responsibility of the Municipal Court Judge is to preside over all Municipal Court cases, including first appearances, arraignments and trials, and to determine sentences for defendants found guilty. The judge also presides over post-conviction matters, such as probation terms, collection of fines and other administrative issues. While Kelly served as a City of Independence employee during his tenure, going forward the role will be structured as an independent contractor position. Passauer said the Municipal Court schedule also will change effective June 1, with proceedings scheduled on Wednesdays only.
A native of Independence and a longtime local attorney, Kelly began his service with the City of Independence in May 1979. He also has previously served as the Municipal Judge for the communities of Elk City, Neodesha and Cherryvale.
He established his Independence law practice, Kelly Law Office, in 1975, after graduating from the Washburn University School of Law in Topeka. In 2015, Kusiak joined Kelly in establishing Kelly & Kusiak Law Office LLC, and Kelly retired from private law practice in September 2018.
In recent years, Kusiak had served as Municipal Judge Pro Tem, appointed by Kelly to preside over municipal court in the event of his absence, and she also has served as the Neodesha Municipal Judge since February 2019. These experiences have afforded Kusiak the opportunity to preside over multiple arraignments and trials.
While serving as the municipal judge for both Independence and Neodesha, Kusiak will continue her private law practice, where she specializes in estate planning and administration, business formation and advice and civil litigation.
A longtime Independence resident and graduate of Independence High School, Kusiak earned her undergraduate degree from Missouri State University and her law degree from Washburn. After law school, she spent three years practicing in Wichita handling civil litigation. She currently serves on the board for Kansas Continuing Legal Education; the Kansas Bar Foundation Board of Trustees; and on the Kansas Bar Association Board of Governors as the Young Lawyer Delegate to the American Bar Association. She is also active in local civic organizations, including serving as a member of Fab Lab ICC’s Women 4 Women Successful Women’s Advisory Team.