Karen Mitchell Humphreys was born in Ashland in Clark County, Kansas, in 1948. In 1970 she graduated from the University of Kansas with a B.A. in history and American studies. A juris doctorate degree was conferred on her in 1973 upon graduation from the K.U. School of Law. Her practice as an attorney included employment in both the public and private sectors. In 1978, she was appointed an Assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of Kansas, practicing in Topeka and Wichita until she entered private practice. Gov. Mike Hayden appointed her to the position of District Judge for the 18th Judicial District in Sedgwick County, Kansas, in 1987 where she served until 1993 when she was appointed to the federal bench as U.S. Magistrate Judge. The district judges designated her as Chief Magistrate Judge in 2003 in recognition of her professional contributions.
In conjunction with her official duties, Judge Humphreys serves frequently as a mediator in civil lawsuits. She maintains an active role as a faculty member for legal education seminars, including presentations to public and civic organizations. She is a Fellow of the American Bar Association and a member of the Wichita Bar Association, the Kansas Women Attorneys Association, and the Federal Magistrate Judges Association. Her career contributions have also been acknowledged with service awards from the Kansas Women Attorneys Association and the Wichita Bar Association. In addition to her professional pursuits, she has served as a director for the boards of several state and community non-profit organizations.