UMKC Law Alumni Appointed to Courts

Back in January 2018, the Kansas City Council selected Commissioner Martina L. Peterson (J.D. ‘YR) as the newest judge for the Municipal Court. Kea Bird-Riley (J.D. ’07) is filling Peterson’s vacant position at the Jackson County Family Court.


Peterson had been a Jackson County Family Court Commissioner since 2009. She filled the vacancy left when Judge Elena M. Franco retired October 1 of last year.   

“As a Municipal Court Judge, I will work to serve the community and help people,” Peterson says. “My goal is to ensure that all who appear in my court have the opportunity to be heard and that justice is served.”

Prior to becoming a Commissioner, Peterson practiced law before the Family Court for eleven out of her thirteen years as an Assistant Public Defender with the Office of the State Public Defender.  Peterson received her Bachelor of Business Administration, Masters of Business Administration, and Juris Doctor degrees from UMKC School of Law.

At the time of Bird-Riley’s appointment in March 2018, she was an attorney with the law firm of Krigel and Krigel, P.C. Her legal experience includes representing clients in matters involving dissolutions, custody modifications, adoptions, child abuse and neglect, paternity, and protective orders. She has served as a mediator in family law matters and has been a presenter for Guardian ad Litem training seminars.

“Commissioner Bird-Riley brings a broad range of professional and life experience to the bench and will be a great asset to our Family Court,” said Presiding Judge John M. Torrence.

Bird-Riley obtained a Bachelor of Science degree in Communications from Mississippi college in Clinton, Mississippi and later her law degree from UMKC.

“The majority of my legal career has been in service to Jackson County families,” says Bird-Riley. “I am truly honored to serve Jackson County families in my appointment as commissioner.”

Bird-Riley has been appointed to a four-year term of office.

Published: Aug 2, 2018