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Gov. nominates top lawyer for Kansas appeals court

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) -- Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback has nominated his chief counsel for the state Court of Appeals.

Brownback announced the nomination of Caleb Stegall Tuesday. The Senate must confirm the nomination. It will convene for a special legislative session Sept. 3.

Stegall is best known for defending American missionaries who were detained in Haiti after trying to remove 33 children they mistakenly believed had been orphaned in the country's 2010 earthquake.

His nomination to the state's second-highest court is likely to draw criticism from the governor's opponents, especially as it is Brownback's first appointment to a judgeship without screening by lawyers.

Brownback's office released endorsement letters from a bipartisan group of lawyers, including former Kansas Attorney General Steve Six, a Democrat who faced Stegall in abortion-related litigation.