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Kay McFarland

Kay McFarland


Kay McFarland

Kay McFarland is a former Kansas judge who served on the state Supreme Court from 1977 to 2009. Her appointment to this court marked the first time in Kansas history a woman had served in this capacity. Kay McFarland was subsequently promoted to the position of Chief Justice in 1995, another first for Kansas women.

One case in which Kay McFarland joined another judge in filing a dissenting opinion concerned a tax appeal filed by Sumner County, which was heard in 1997. The origins of the case dated to 1989, when airplane manufacturer Boeing submitted a tax grievance with the office of the Sumner County Appraiser. This grievance was in turn submitted to the state Board of Tax Appeals, which granted Boeing's grievance request. The order granting Boeing relief was returned to the offices of Sumner County on July 30, 1990 with a cover letter stating that if the city wished to file a request for reconsideration, they were required to do so within 30 days.

However, this deadline was incorrectly based on a 1981 administrative regulation which had been superseded by subsequent regulations stating all requests for reconsiderations of a final order issued by the Board of Tax Appeals must be filed within 15 days. Unaware of this, Sumner County filed its appeal 28 days later, on August 27, 1990. The Board of Tax Appeals reviewed this petition and granted it on September 4. Boeing then challenged the legality of this reversal on the basis of the expired deadline. Sumner County argued that its petition was legal since it was executed in conformance with the terms stipulated in the order given by the Board of Tax Appeals.

Two years later, new rulings from the Appeals Court let to the Board of Tax Appeals agreeing with the position taken by Boeing and withdrew its approval of Sumner County's petition. Sumner County then appealed to its district court, which reversed the dismissal and ordered the Board of Tax Appeals to review the decision. Boeing appealed this decision to the state's Appeals Court.

In considering the case, the Appeals Court took into consideration the "unique circumstances doctrine," which states that there is precedent in previous United States Supreme Court cases for granting the consideration of legal issues filed after the due date if late filing results as the result of a good faith error relying upon faulty information. The Appeals Court concluded that this was the case and ordered that the Board of Tax Appeals rule upon the dispute. Boeing appeared before the Kansas Supreme Court to appeal, which again ruled in favor of Sumner County.

However, Kay McFarland filed a dissent along with a fellow justice. In their dissent, Kay McFarland and Justice Larson stated that any filing party is legally required to familiarize themselves with all regulations and laws in question, and that the excuse of relying upon faulty information does not constitute grounds for a "unique circumstances" case review.