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Herbert W. Walton

Judge and legal reformer. Born 1929. Died 1999.

Judge Walton was raised in Johnson County and received his undergraduate and law degrees from the University of Missouri at Kansas City in 1955 and 1957.  He served in the Navy, practiced law and served as an assistant county attorney in Johnson County. He served as a probate and then a district judge for a total of 32 years.

Judge Walton had a long record of service to Kansas in the area of legal reform.  Professor Linda Elrod of Washburn University School of Law, a national expert in domestic relations (family) law has said, “Herb Walton revolutionized Kansas family law.”  As a long-time member of the Kansas Supreme Court Family Law Advisory Committee, he led the efforts to bring new ideas to Kansas family law.  He pioneered the use of child support guidelines and co-chaired the Commission on Child Support Guidelines when guidelines later became mandatory.

He also chaired the first Supreme Court Committee on Alternative Dispute Resolution (mediation and other forms of dispute resolution other than law suits)  and pioneered the use of ADR in child custody and other family law issues.  Later he spurred the growth of mediation and other forms of alternative dispute resolution in civil law generally in Kansas.

Judge Walton was also heavily involved in the ongoing efforts to assemble pattern jury instructions for Kansas, a very important element of jury trials.  These instructions are given to jurors to explain how to proceed in their deliberations and the law they should apply.  He served as president of the Kansas District Judges Association and among his many other awards he was named by the American Bar Association as the National State Trial Judge of the Year, and received the 1990 Kansas Supreme Court Justice Award.  After his retirement he was a much sought-after mediator.

Entry: Walton, Herbert W.

Author: G. Joseph Pierron

Author information: Judge Pierron serves on the Kansas Court of Appeals and has an interest in Kansas history.

Date Created: March 2012

Date Modified: March 2012

The author of this article is solely responsible for its content.