News of Interest

Judicial Nominating Commission announces nominees for Campbell County District Court judge

FRANKFORT, Ky., May 26, 2016 – The Judicial Nominating Commission, led by Chief Justice of Kentucky John D. Minton Jr., today announced nominees to fill the vacant District Court judgeship in Campbell County, which is the 17th Judicial District.

The three nominees for the judgeship are attorneys Cameron John Blau of Alexandria, John C. Hayden of Newport and Robert Dale Monfort of Alexandria.

Blau has served as the chief assistant county attorney for Campbell County for 10 years and as the city attorney for the city of Silver Grove for approximately seven years. He received his juris doctor from Western Michigan University’s Thomas M. Cooley Law School.

Hayden has served as a city commissioner for the city of Newport for seven years and is a partner in the law firm of Hayden & FitzGerald. He received his juris doctor from Northern Kentucky University’s Salmon P. Chase College of Law.

Monfort was previously an assistant commonwealth’s attorney and an assistant county attorney for Campbell County, serving as a prosecutor for more than 22 years in total. He received his juris doctor from Northern Kentucky University’s Salmon P. Chase College of Law.

The District Court judicial seat became vacant when Judge Gregory T. Popovich resigned in March 2016.

District Court
District Court judges handle juvenile matters, city and county ordinances, misdemeanors, violations, traffic offenses, probate of wills, arraignments, felony probable cause hearings, small claims involving $2,500 or less, civil cases involving $5,000 or less, voluntary and involuntary mental commitments and cases relating to domestic violence and abuse.

Judicial Nominating Commission
The Judicial Nominating Commission helps fill judicial vacancies by appointment when a vacancy occurs outside of the election cycle. The Kentucky Constitution established the JNC. Ky. Const. § 118; SCR 6.000, et seq.

Judicial Nominating Process
When a judicial vacancy occurs, the executive secretary of the JNC publishes a notice of vacancy in the judicial circuit or the judicial district affected. Attorneys may recommend someone or nominate themselves. The names of the applicants are not released. Once nominations occur, the individuals interested in the position return a questionnaire to the Office of the Chief Justice. Chief Justice Minton then meets with the Judicial Nominating Commission to choose three nominees. Because the Kentucky Constitution requires that three names be submitted to the governor, in some cases the commission submits an attorney’s name even though the attorney did not apply. A letter naming the three nominees is sent to the governor for review. The governor has 60 days to appoint a replacement and his office makes the announcement.

Makeup of the Judicial Nominating Commission
The commission has seven members. The membership is comprised of the chief justice of Kentucky (who also serves as chair), two lawyers elected by all the lawyers in their circuit/district and four Kentucky citizens who are appointed by the governor. The four citizens appointed by the governor must equally represent the two major political parties, so two must be Democrats and two must be Republicans. It is the responsibility of the commission to submit a list of three names to the governor and the governor must appoint a judge from this list of three.

Administrative Office of the Courts
The Administrative Office of the Courts in Frankfort is the operations arm for the state court system. The AOC supports the activities of 3,379 court system employees and 403 elected justices, judges and circuit court clerks. As the fiscal agent for the state court system, the AOC executes the Judicial Branch budget.

Judicial Nominating Commission announces judicial nominees for Letcher County Circuit Court

FRANKFORT, Ky., May 25, 2016 – The Judicial Nominating Commission, led by Chief Justice of Kentucky John D. Minton Jr., today announced nominees to fill the vacant Circuit Court judgeship in Letcher County, which is the 47th Judicial Circuit.

The three nominees for the judgeship are attorneys Harold D. Boling of Whitesburg, James Wiley Craft II of Eolia and Darrell Hall of Whitesburg.

Boling has been in solo law practice since January 2011 and served as the Letcher County attorney from 1982 through 2010. He received his juris doctor from Northern Kentucky University’s Salmon P. Chase College of Law.

Craft has a law practice and previously served as assistant Letcher County attorney. He received his juris doctor from Western Michigan University’s Thomas M. Cooley Law School.

Hall has been in solo law practice since 1987. He received his juris doctor from the University of Kentucky College of Law.

The Circuit Court judicial seat became vacant when Justice Samuel T. Wright III was appointed as a Supreme Court justice in November 2015.

Circuit Court
Circuit Court is the court of general jurisdiction that hears civil matters involving more than $5,000, capital offenses and felonies, divorces, adoptions, termination of parental rights, land dispute title cases and contested probate cases.

Judicial Nominating Commission
The Judicial Nominating Commission helps fill judicial vacancies by appointment when a vacancy occurs outside of the election cycle. The Kentucky Constitution established the JNC. Ky. Const. § 118; SCR 6.000, et seq.

Judicial Nominating Process
When a judicial vacancy occurs, the executive secretary of the JNC publishes a notice of vacancy in the judicial circuit or the judicial district affected. Attorneys may recommend someone or nominate themselves. The names of the applicants are not released. Once nominations occur, the individuals interested in the position return a questionnaire to the Office of the Chief Justice. Chief Justice Minton then meets with the Judicial Nominating Commission to choose three nominees. Because the Kentucky Constitution requires that three names be submitted to the governor, in some cases the commission submits an attorney’s name even though the attorney did not apply. A letter naming the three nominees is sent to the governor for review. The governor has 60 days to appoint a replacement and his office makes the announcement.

Makeup of the Judicial Nominating Commission
The commission has seven members. The membership is comprised of the chief justice of Kentucky (who also serves as chair), two lawyers elected by all the lawyers in their circuit/district and four Kentucky citizens who are appointed by the governor. The four citizens appointed by the governor must equally represent the two major political parties, so two must be Democrats and two must be Republicans. It is the responsibility of the commission to submit a list of three names to the governor and the governor must appoint a judge from this list of three.

Administrative Office of the Courts
The Administrative Office of the Courts in Frankfort is the operations arm for the state court system. The AOC supports the activities of 3,379 court system employees and 403 elected justices, judges and circuit court clerks. As the fiscal agent for the state court system, the AOC executes the Judicial Branch budget.

Famous country music comedian to be guest speaker at Greenup/Lewis County Drug Court graduation May 27 in Greenup

FRANKFORT, Ky., May 24, 2016 – Comedian Cledus T. Judd, who is known as the “Weird Al” Yankovic of country music for his parodies, will be the guest speaker at a Greenup/Lewis County Drug Court graduation ceremony Friday. The event is to recognize 13 individuals who have successfully completed the Drug Court program. The public and media are invited to attend. The ceremony will take place at noon ET at Greenup First United Methodist Church at 607 Main St. in Greenup.

After a two-decade long career with songs like “I Love NASCAR,” “If Shania Was Mine” and “Luke Bryan,” Judd announced in January 2015 that he was retiring from the music industry to focus on raising his daughter and publicly talking about his experiences with mental illness and drug addiction to help others. He also hosts a radio show on country music station WTCR in Huntington, W. Va.

Circuit Court Judge Robert Conley volunteers his time to conduct Drug Court proceedings for the Greenup/Lewis Drug Court program and will preside over the graduation ceremony.

In addition to the public and media, invitees to the graduation ceremony include law enforcement representatives, elected officials, attorneys and representatives of drug treatment facilities.

The Greenup/Lewis County Drug Court program currently has 48 participants. That number includes the 13 scheduled to graduate Friday. Since the program began in January 2002, 246 individuals have graduated from the program.

The staff members who oversee the Greenup/Lewis Drug Court program are program supervisor Andy Harris, recovery coordinator Melissa McIntosh and case managers Jordan Chapman and Arlene McCann.

About Kentucky Drug Court
Kentucky Drug Court is administered through the Administrative Office of the Courts in Frankfort, which oversees 54 adult programs that serve 113 counties.
 
Drug Court’s mission is to provide court-supervised treatment as an alternative to incarceration. The program’s success can be measured in the number of lives changed and the cost savings to Kentucky taxpayers. For every $1 spent on Drug Court graduates, the state saves $2.72 on what it would have spent on incarcerating these individuals.
 
The program has helped reduce illicit drug use and related criminal activity and lowered rearrest, reconviction and reincarceration rates. It has increased payments of delinquent child support and improved employment rates. As of March 22, 2016, 7,716 individuals had graduated from Drug Court programs statewide and participants had paid $5.7 million in child support and more than $6 million in court obligations, including restitution and fines.
 
Drug Court coordinates the efforts of the judiciary, prosecution, defense bar, probation, law enforcement, mental health, social services and treatment communities to actively intervene and break the cycle of substance abuse, addiction and crime. The program consists of three phases that last at least one year and are followed by aftercare. Drug Court staff and participants work together to develop individual program plans with specific responsibilities and goals with timetables. Plans include group, family and individual counseling; frequent and random urine testing; education and vocational training; scheduled payments of restitution, child support and court fees; and health and community activities. Participants report directly to their Drug Court judge, who rewards progress and sanctions noncompliance.
 
When participants successfully complete the program, charges may be dismissed through diversion, or conditional discharge may be granted through probation. Judges who participate in Drug Court volunteer their time to the program.
 
Administrative Office of the Courts
The AOC is the operations arm for the state court system and supports the activities of 3,379 court system employees and 403 elected justices, judges and circuit court clerks. As the fiscal agent for the state court system, the AOC executes the Judicial Branch budget.

Judicial Nominating Commission announces nominees for Family Court judgeship for Henry, Oldham and Trimble counties

FRANKFORT, Ky., May 3, 2016 – The Judicial Nominating Commission, led by Chief Justice of Kentucky John D. Minton Jr., today announced nominees to fill a vacant Family Court judgeship that serves Henry, Oldham and Trimble counties. The counties comprise the 12th Judicial Circuit and the vacancy is in the circuit’s 2nd division.

The three nominees for the judgeship are attorneys Doreen Showalter Goodwin of LaGrange, Laura Ellis Stoess of Pewee Valley and Jonathan O. Wells of Crestwood.

Goodwin is a solo law practitioner and is the master commissioner for Oldham County. She earned her juris doctor at the University of Louisville Louis D. Brandeis School of Law.

Stoess is a partner in the law firm of Stoess & Flynn in Crestwood. She earned her juris doctor at the University of Louisville Louis D. Brandeis School of Law.

Wells works for the law firm of James & Wells and is an associate professor for the Kentucky Community & Technical College System. He earned his juris doctor at the University of Kentucky College of Law

The Family Court judicial seat became vacant when Judge Timothy Feeley retired in February 2016.

Family Court
Family Court is a division of Circuit Court. In counties that have a Family Court, the court has primary jurisdiction in cases involving family issues, including divorces, adoption, child support, domestic violence and juvenile status offenses.

Judicial Nominating Commission
The Judicial Nominating Commission helps fill judicial vacancies by appointment when a vacancy occurs outside of the election cycle. The Kentucky Constitution established the JNC. Ky. Const. § 118; SCR 6.000, et seq.

Judicial Nominating Process
When a judicial vacancy occurs, the executive secretary of the JNC publishes a notice of vacancy in the judicial circuit or the judicial district affected. Attorneys may recommend someone or nominate themselves. The names of the applicants are not released. Once nominations occur, the individuals interested in the position return a questionnaire to the Office of the Chief Justice. Chief Justice Minton then meets with the Judicial Nominating Commission to choose three nominees. Because the Kentucky Constitution requires that three names be submitted to the governor, in some cases the commission submits an attorney’s name even though the attorney did not apply. A letter naming the three nominees is sent to the governor for review. The governor has 60 days to appoint a replacement and his office makes the announcement.

Makeup of the Judicial Nominating Commission
The commission has seven members. The membership is comprised of the chief justice of Kentucky (who also serves as chair), two lawyers elected by all the lawyers in their circuit/district and four Kentucky citizens who are appointed by the governor. The four citizens appointed by the governor must equally represent the two major political parties, so two must be Democrats and two must be Republicans. It is the responsibility of the commission to submit a list of three names to the governor and the governor must appoint a judge from this list of three.

Administrative Office of the Courts
The Administrative Office of the Courts in Frankfort is the operations arm for the state court system. The AOC supports the activities of 3,300 court system employees and 403 elected justices, judges and circuit court clerks. As the fiscal agent for the state court system, the AOC executes the Judicial Branch budget.

Volunteers needed to review cases of children in foster care in 67 Kentucky counties

FRANKFORT, Ky., April 29, 2016 – Citizen Foster Care Review Boards in 67 Kentucky counties are seeking volunteers to make a difference in the lives of local children in foster care. The boards are in need of volunteers to review cases of children placed in foster care because of dependency, neglect or abuse to ensure they are placed in safe, permanent homes as quickly as possible.

The counties in need of volunteers are Anderson, Bell, Boone, Bourbon, Boyle, Bracken, Breathitt, Bullitt, Campbell, Carroll, Casey, Clark, Clay, Clinton, Estill, Fayette, Floyd, Franklin, Gallatin, Garrard, Grant, Green, Hardin, Harlan, Harrison, Hart, Henry, Jackson, Jefferson, Jessamine, Johnson, Kenton, Knott, Knox, LaRue, Laurel, Lee, Leslie, Letcher, Lincoln, Madison, Marion, Martin, Mason, McCreary, Mercer, Nelson, Nicholas, Pendleton, Perry, Pike, Pulaski, Oldham, Owen, Owsley, Powell, Rockcastle, Scott, Shelby, Spencer, Taylor, Trimble, Washington, Wayne, Whitley, Wolfe and Woodford.

Volunteers are not required to live in these counties to participate.

All volunteers must complete a six-hour initial training session. Potential volunteers are encouraged to apply as soon as possible so they may be scheduled for training in their area.

The Kentucky General Assembly created the state CFCRB in 1982 as a way to decrease the time children spend in foster care. CFCRB volunteers review Cabinet for Health and Family Services files on children placed in out-of-home care and work with the cabinet and courts on behalf of the state’s foster children. The volunteer reviewers help ensure that children receive the necessary services while in foster care and are ultimately placed in permanent homes.

All volunteers must consent to a criminal record and Central Registry check. A recommendation is then made to the chief judge of the District Court or Family Court for appointment.

To get more information and apply to be a volunteer, visit the CFCRB web page.

Citizen Foster Care Review Board
Approximately 700 volunteers across the state serve as members of the Kentucky Citizen Foster Care Review Board. The Administrative Office of the Courts oversees the boards. The AOC is the operations arm for the state court system and supports the activities of 3,300 court system employees and 403 elected justices, judges and circuit court clerks. The AOC also executes the Judicial Branch budget.

Supreme Court to have Law Day celebration April 28 at state Capitol

FRANKFORT, Ky. -- The Supreme Court of Kentucky and Kentucky’s newest attorneys will join communities and states nationwide celebrating Law Day at the Kentucky State Capitol in the Chamber of the House of Representatives on Thursday, April 28, at 10:00 a.m.

“Freedom under law is like the air we breathe," declared President Dwight D. Eisenhower in a speech made to celebrate the first Law Day, May 1, 1958. He proclaimed it to be a "day of dedication to the principle of government under law...." In April 1961, Congress and President John F. Kennedy proclaimed the first of May each year as Law Day, U.S.A.

Today, as then, Law Day offers Americans an opportunity to reaffirm their loyalty to the United States of America and to rededicate themselves to the ideals of equality and justice under law in their relations with each other as well as with other nations.

Kentucky's Law Day ceremonies, hosted by the Supreme Court of Kentucky, will begin at 10:00 a.m., on Thursday. Chief Justice John D. Minton, Jr. will open the special court session.

The Honorable Mary C. Noble, Justice, Supreme Court of Kentucky, 5th District, will make remarks and will receive, "the Liberty Bell Award," for her service to the Court of Justice and the Commonwealth.

Following Justice Noble’s remarks, a swearing-in ceremony for 150 new attorneys will be conducted. Honorable Douglass Farnsley, President of the Kentucky Bar Association, will make remarks and present the new attorneys to the assemblage. Mrs. Susan Stokley Clary, Clerk of the Supreme Court, will administer the Constitutional Oath.

Jefferson Family Court to announce child abuse prevention initiative at news conference April 20 in Louisville

FRANKFORT, Ky., April 19, 2016 – Jefferson Family Court will announce an initiative to prevent child abuse at a news conference at noon Wednesday in the lobby of the Jefferson County Judicial Center. April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month. The media and public are invited to attend.

Jefferson Family Court is designating itself as a no hit zone in which parents don’t hit children, adults don’t hit each other and children don’t hit children. The Family Court is partnering with Kosair Children’s Hospital in joining the national no hit zone movement to declare certain public spaces where children and adults are protected from physical violence.

Speakers at the news conference will include Court of Appeals Judge Denise G. Clayton, Jefferson Family Court Judge Paula F. Sherlock, Jefferson County Attorney Mike O’Connell, Dr. Erin Frazier of Kosair’s Children’s Hospital Foundation and representatives of the Jefferson County Office of Circuit Court Clerk and the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office.

Family Court
Family Court is a division of Circuit Court. In counties that have a Family Court, the court has primary jurisdiction in cases involving family issues, including divorces, adoption, child support, domestic violence and juvenile status offenses.

Administrative Office of the Courts
The AOC is the operations arm for the state court system and supports the activities of 3,300 court system employees and 403 elected justices, judges and circuit court clerks. As the fiscal agent for the state court system, the AOC also executes the Judicial Branch budget.

Judicial Branch budget a win for the commonwealth as court system receives funding to maintain operations, avoid mass layoffs

FRANKFORT, Ky., April 15, 2016 – Chief Justice John D. Minton Jr. thanked justices, judges, circuit court clerks and employees for their support in an email tonight as he announced that the Judicial Branch has a final budget in the last hours of the last day of the 2016 General Assembly.

“After a tense budget session that went down to the wire, I can now confirm there’s good news for the Judicial Branch,” Chief Justice Minton said. “I’m pleased to announce that our funding is sufficient to continue court operations at nearly current levels and allow us to avoid the mass layoffs and programs cuts that would have occurred under House Bill 306.”

“I attribute this positive outcome to key interventions by Governor Bevin and members of the House and Senate,” Chief Justice Minton said. “I appreciate their efforts to protect the important work of the courts from additional crippling budget cuts. They listened when we explained how court operations would suffer from further reductions and they supported adequate funding when we needed it most. After cumulative budget reductions of 49 percent since 2008, one more biennium of extreme underfunding would have altered the environment of the courts as we know it.”

After sounding the alarm about the ramifications of a deep shortfall, Chief Justice Minton is relieved at the budget outcome.

“Today is a good day for our commonwealth,” he said. “All Kentuckians win when they can depend on a viable court system to provide essential services and administer justice in a timely manner.”

By the Numbers
Arriving at a Judicial Branch budget was a complicated process. Here is where the budget stands today:

  • The total Judicial Branch General Fund budget is $728.4 million for Fiscal Biennium 2016-2018, which begins July 1, 2016, and ends June 30, 2018.
  • On March 15, the House passed HB 306, which left the Judicial Branch with a $76.9 million shortfall over the two-year budget. On a positive note, HB 306 exempted the Judicial Branch from a 4.5 percent cut ($9.4 million) required of other state agencies in the current fiscal year ending June 30, 2016. The Senate passed HB 306 without changes on March 25 and sent it to the governor for his signature.
  • On April 1, the House passed Senate Bill 126, which would have given the Judicial Branch $36.4 million in supplemental funding ($16.1 million in FY 2017 and $20.3 million in FY 2018). SB 126 would have required passage by the Senate on the last day of the session. 
  • On April 8, Gov. Bevin vetoed the HB 306 language regarding salary increases and the language requiring the Judicial Branch to return 9 percent ($11.7 million) to the state General Fund in each of the next two years.
  • On April 14, the House and Senate reached a compromise in conference committee on HB 303, the Executive Branch budget bill. They included $34.2 million in supplemental funding for the Judicial Branch ($15.3 million in FY 2017 and $18.9 million in FY 2018) in HB 303, making the passage of SB 126 moot.
  • On April 15, HB 303, which contains supplemental funding for the Judicial Branch, passed favorably out of both chambers. The bill will now go to Gov. Bevin, who has 10 days to sign or veto it.

Although the shortfall has been greatly reduced, the Judicial Branch will still need to create efficiencies to operate within its appropriation. Chief Justice Minton will be meeting with the Supreme Court justices later this month to begin discussions about where the court system can continue to cut costs. Once the veto deadline has passed, the Judicial Branch anticipates lifting the hiring freeze implemented on March 11, 2016. That will allow the courts to fill critical positions under the vacancy request process in place prior to the hiring freeze.

Chief Justice Minton acknowledged in the email to court personnel the stress they had been under during the budget session. “I realize it can be difficult to maintain morale when your job may be in jeopardy,” he said. “I want to thank the justices, judges, circuit court clerks and court employees who contacted their legislators, posted their support for the court system on social media and kept up their best efforts during this time of uncertainty. I'm proud of what we accomplished by working together as a strong, unified branch of government.”

Kentucky Judicial Branch
The chief justice of Kentucky is the administrative head of the state court system and is responsible for its operation. The Administrative Office of the Courts is the administrative arm of the court system. The AOC executes the Judicial Branch budget and supports the activities of 3,300 court system employees and 403 elected justices, judges and circuit court clerks.

Judicial Nominating Commission announces nominees for Jefferson Family Court judgeship

FRANKFORT, Ky., March 22, 2016 – The Judicial Nominating Commission, led by Chief Justice of Kentucky John D. Minton Jr., today announced nominees to fill a vacant Family Court judgeship in Jefferson County. Jefferson County is the 30th Judicial Circuit and the vacancy is in the circuit’s 9th division.

The three nominees for the judgeship are attorneys Judith K. Bartholomew, Gina Kay Calvert and Ellie Garcia Kerstetter, all of Louisville. Each of them received their juris doctors from the University of Louisville Louis D. Brandeis School of Law.

Bartholomew served as a Jefferson District Court judge from 1999 to 2009 and then as a senior judge from 2009 to 2014. Calvert has served as a Jefferson District Court judge since January 2010. Kerstetter is a solo law practitioner.

The Family Court judicial seat became vacant when Judge Stephen M. George retired in December 2015.

Family Court
Family Court is a division of Circuit Court. In counties that have a Family Court, the court has primary jurisdiction in cases involving family issues, including divorces, adoption, child support, domestic violence and juvenile status offenses.

Judicial Nominating Commission
The Judicial Nominating Commission helps fill judicial vacancies by appointment when a vacancy occurs outside of the election cycle. The Kentucky Constitution established the JNC. Ky. Const. § 118; SCR 6.000, et seq.

Judicial Nominating Process
When a judicial vacancy occurs, the executive secretary of the JNC publishes a notice of vacancy in the judicial circuit or the judicial district affected. Attorneys may recommend someone or nominate themselves. The names of the applicants are not released. Once nominations occur, the individuals interested in the position return a questionnaire to the Office of the Chief Justice. Chief Justice Minton then meets with the Judicial Nominating Commission to choose three nominees. Because the Kentucky Constitution requires that three names be submitted to the governor, in some cases the commission submits an attorney’s name even though the attorney did not apply. A letter naming the three nominees is sent to the governor for review. The governor has 60 days to appoint a replacement and his office makes the announcement.

Makeup of the Judicial Nominating Commission
The commission has seven members. The membership is comprised of the chief justice of Kentucky (who also serves as chair), two lawyers elected by all the lawyers in their circuit/district and four Kentucky citizens who are appointed by the governor. The four citizens appointed by the governor must equally represent the two major political parties, so two must be Democrats and two must be Republicans. It is the responsibility of the commission to submit a list of three names to the governor and the governor must appoint a judge from this list of three.

Administrative Office of the Courts
The Administrative Office of the Courts in Frankfort is the operations arm for the state court system. The AOC supports the activities of 3,300 court system employees and 403 elected justices, judges and circuit court clerks. As the fiscal agent for the state court system, the AOC executes the Judicial Branch budget.

Chief Justice Minton reacts: Judicial Branch budget bill passes House on vote of 51-48

FRANKFORT, Ky., March 17, 2016 – In spite of strenuous objections by Chief Justice John D. Minton Jr., last night the House passed a Judicial Branch budget bill that would cripple court operations statewide. House Bill 306 passed on a vote of 51 to 48.

“I want to thank the 48 members of the House who showed their support for a viable Judicial Branch by voting against passage of House Bill 306,” Chief Justice Minton said.

View the vote tally and watch the full debate.

“I especially want to thank House Minority Leader Jeff Hoover for taking a stand for Kentucky judges last night,” he said. “He supported improving judicial salaries by calling for a vote to strike language that specifically excludes judges from salary increases for the next two years.

“This was especially hurtful to our judges as the House had included that same language in the last budget cycle. After the bill was released on Tuesday, Minority Leader Hoover said he had been hearing from judges who felt the exclusion was like ‘kicking them in the mouth.’

“Salaries for Kentucky judges are among the lowest in the country and I’ve made improved judicial compensation one of my top priorities for the last two budgets,” Chief Justice Minton said. “Unfortunately, Minority Leader Hoover’s amendment to delete the offensive language was rejected on a 47 to 7 vote.”  

Chief Justice Minton also wants to clear up confusion regarding the amount the House provided for the Judicial Branch as compared to the governor’s set-aside number. The House version of the Judicial Branch budget provides only $3.06 million more than the governor’s proposed amount for the biennium. View budget differences.

Kentucky Judicial Branch
The chief justice of Kentucky is the administrative head of the state court system and is responsible for its operation. The Administrative Office of the Courts is the operations arm of the court system. The AOC executes the Judicial Branch budget and supports the activities of 3,300 court system employees and 403 elected justices, judges and circuit court clerks.

Proposed House budget would have catastrophic effect on Judicial Branch

FRANKFORT, Ky., March 16, 2016 – Chief Justice John D. Minton Jr. sounded the alarm late Tuesday night after getting a copy of the proposed House version of the Judicial Branch budget bill for Fiscal Biennium 2016-2018.

“Unfortunately – in spite of early indications to the contrary – the news is very grim,” he said in an email sent at 11 p.m. EDT to justices, judges, circuit court clerks and non-elected court personnel statewide.

Based on the amount appropriated by the House, the Judicial Branch would be short $36.3 million in Fiscal Year 2017 and $40.6 million in FY 2018.

“This means we’re facing a $76.9 million shortfall for the biennium on top of the 49 percent overall budget reduction the court system has endured since 2008,” Chief Justice Minton said.

“The consequences of the House version of the Judicial Branch budget, if enacted, can only be described as catastrophic,” he said. “Because personnel costs make up 87 percent of our budget, the shortfall will have a significant impact on our non-elected employees.

“The Kentucky state court system – considered among the strongest in the country – would no longer be able to operate as we know it today.”

Chief Justice Minton called the amount the House appropriated for the Judicial Branch budget “discouraging in light of our intensive efforts to detail what our structural imbalance and these extreme cuts would do to court operations. Through meetings, phone calls and testimony before the House Budget Review Subcommittee, I repeatedly asked that the Judicial Branch be exempt from the 9 percent cuts in FY 17 and FY 18 that the governor proposed.

“While we had a lot of support from House members for full funding of the Judicial Branch budget, that didn’t happen,” he said.

The House’s proposed budget bill did exempt the Judicial Branch from the 4.5 percent cut for the remainder of FY 2016, which the governor is requiring from many state agencies. To have returned $9.4 million to the General Fund, the court system could not have met payroll and would have had to shut down statewide for approximately three weeks.

The House version of the budget bill adds language to raise the salaries of circuit court clerks to full pay parity with county officials although the Judicial Branch did not request that funding. The bill excludes judges and non-elected court personnel from any salary increases.

“This is the second budget cycle that the House has specifically shut out judges from any pay increases in spite of the Judicial Branch making improved judicial salaries a top priority in our budget requests,” Chief Justice Minton said. “This was very disappointing to me and to many of the judges I’m hearing from across the state.

“Kentucky judges have not had a significant salary adjustment in a decade and are among the lowest paid in the country. Our ability to attract high-caliber, experienced judges to the bench is becoming compromised.”

In anticipation of reduced funding, the Judicial Branch has already announced a statewide hiring freeze for non-elected court personnel effective March 11, 2016. Chief Justice Minton is also working with the Administrative Office of the Courts to determine what cost-saving measures to take next.

Chief Justice Minton said he will continue working with Senate leadership, which will be considering the budget bills in the next two weeks. “I’ve already been in contact with members of the Senate and I will also ask them to exempt the Judicial Branch from further cuts and restore an appropriate level of funding to the court system.

“Crippling the courts will have a ripple effect on our justice and law enforcement partners throughout the commonwealth,” he said. “I must continue to warn our legislators about the statewide ramifications of further deep cuts.”

Kentucky Judicial Branch
The Administrative Office of the Courts in Frankfort is the operations arm for the state court system. The AOC supports the activities of 3,300 court system employees and 403 elected justices, judges and circuit court clerks. As the fiscal agent for the state court system, the AOC executes the Judicial Branch budget.

Judicial Nominating Commission announces nominees for Circuit Court judgeship in Knox and Laurel counties

FRANKFORT, Ky., March 15, 2016 – The Judicial Nominating Commission, led by Chief Justice of Kentucky John D. Minton Jr., today announced nominees to fill a vacant Circuit Court judgeship in Knox and Laurel counties. The counties compose the 27th Judicial Circuit and the vacancy is in the circuit’s 2nd division.

The three nominees for the judgeship are attorneys Michael Odell Caperton, Harold Fish Dyche II and Danny Lynn Evans, all of London.

Caperton practices with the firm of Caperton & Associates in London. He served as a Kentucky Court of Appeals judge from November 2007 to January 2015 and was a District Court judge for Knox and Laurel counties from 1994 to 2007. He received his juris doctor from the University of Kentucky College of Law.

Dyche practices with the firm of Brandon J. Storm in London. He served as an assistant commonwealth’s attorney for Knox and Laurel counties from 2005 to 2014. He received his juris doctor from the Regent University School of Law in Virginia.

Evans operates a private law practice and has been an assistant commonwealth’s attorney for Knox and Laurel counties for approximately 35 years. He received his juris doctor from the University of Kentucky College of Law.

The Circuit Court judicial seat became vacant when Judge Thomas L. Jensen retired in February 2016.

Circuit Court
Circuit Court is the court of general jurisdiction that hears civil matters involving more than $5,000, capital offenses and felonies, divorces, adoptions, termination of parental rights, land dispute title cases and contested probate cases.

Judicial Nominating Commission
The Judicial Nominating Commission helps fill judicial vacancies by appointment when a vacancy occurs outside of the election cycle. The Kentucky Constitution established the JNC. Ky. Const. § 118; SCR 6.000, et seq.

Judicial Nominating Process
When a judicial vacancy occurs, the executive secretary of the JNC publishes a notice of vacancy in the judicial circuit or the judicial district affected. Attorneys may recommend someone or nominate themselves. The names of the applicants are not released. Once nominations occur, the individuals interested in the position return a questionnaire to the Office of the Chief Justice. Chief Justice Minton then meets with the Judicial Nominating Commission to choose three nominees. Because the Kentucky Constitution requires that three names be submitted to the governor, in some cases the commission submits an attorney’s name even though the attorney did not apply. A letter naming the three nominees is sent to the governor for review. The governor has 60 days to appoint a replacement and his office makes the announcement.

Makeup of the Judicial Nominating Commission
The commission has seven members. The membership is comprised of the chief justice of Kentucky (who also serves as chair), two lawyers elected by all the lawyers in their circuit/district and four Kentucky citizens who are appointed by the governor. The four citizens appointed by the governor must equally represent the two major political parties, so two must be Democrats and two must be Republicans. It is the responsibility of the commission to submit a list of three names to the governor and the governor must appoint a judge from this list of three.

Administrative Office of the Courts
The Administrative Office of the Courts in Frankfort is the operations arm for the state court system. The AOC supports the activities of 3,300 court system employees and 403 elected justices, judges and circuit court clerks. As the fiscal agent for the state court system, the AOC executes the Judicial Branch budget.

Judicial Nominating Commission announces nominees for District Court judgeship in Barren and Metcalfe counties

FRANKFORT, Ky., March 14, 2016 – The Judicial Nominating Commission, led by Chief Justice of Kentucky John D. Minton Jr., today announced nominees to fill a vacant District Court judgeship in Barren and Metcalfe counties. The counties compose the 43rd Judicial District.

The three nominees for the judgeship are attorneys James Ivan Howard of Edmonton, Brian K. Pack of Glasgow and John Gabriel Pendleton of Glasgow.

Howard has practiced law with the firm of Howard & Howard in Edmonton since 2007. He served as an assistant prosecutor for the Metcalfe County Attorney’s Office from 2010-2014 and was a Kentucky Court of Appeals judge from 2006-2007. He received his juris doctor from Duke University School of Law.

Pack has practiced law with the firm of Herbert, Herbert & Pack since 1997. He was a law clerk for several justices of the Supreme Court of Kentucky between 1995 and 1997 and served as a law clerk for Barren County Circuit Court from 1993-1995. He received his juris doctor from the University of Kentucky’s College of Law.

Pendleton has been an assistant prosecutor for the Barren County Attorney’s Office for 11 years and is a member of the Prosecutor’s Advisory Council. He received his juris doctor from the University of Kentucky’s College of Law.

The District Court judicial seat became vacant when District Court Judge John T. Alexander was appointed Circuit Court judge for Barren and Metcalfe counties in December.

District Court
District Court judges handle juvenile matters, city and county ordinances, misdemeanors, violations, traffic offenses, probate of wills, arraignments, felony probable cause hearings, small claims involving $2,500 or less, civil cases involving $5,000 or less, voluntary and involuntary mental commitments and cases relating to domestic violence and abuse.

Judicial Nominating Commission
The Judicial Nominating Commission helps fill judicial vacancies by appointment when a vacancy occurs outside of the election cycle. The Kentucky Constitution established the JNC. Ky. Const. § 118; SCR 6.000, et seq.

Judicial Nominating Process
When a judicial vacancy occurs, the executive secretary of the JNC publishes a notice of vacancy in the judicial circuit or the judicial district affected. Attorneys may recommend someone or nominate themselves. The names of the applicants are not released. Once nominations occur, the individuals interested in the position return a questionnaire to the Office of the Chief Justice. Chief Justice Minton then meets with the Judicial Nominating Commission to choose three nominees. Because the Kentucky Constitution requires that three names be submitted to the governor, in some cases the commission submits an attorney’s name even though the attorney did not apply. A letter naming the three nominees is sent to the governor for review. The governor has 60 days to appoint a replacement and his office makes the announcement.

Makeup of the Judicial Nominating Commission
The commission has seven members. The membership is comprised of the chief justice of Kentucky (who also serves as chair), two lawyers elected by all the lawyers in their circuit/district and four Kentucky citizens who are appointed by the governor. The four citizens appointed by the governor must equally represent the two major political parties, so two must be Democrats and two must be Republicans. It is the responsibility of the commission to submit a list of three names to the governor and the governor must appoint a judge from this list of three.

Administrative Office of the Courts
The Administrative Office of the Courts in Frankfort is the operations arm for the state court system. The AOC supports the activities of 3,300 court system employees and 403 elected justices, judges and circuit court clerks. As the fiscal agent for the state court system, the AOC executes the Judicial Branch budget.

Chief Justice Minton to testify about Judicial Branch budget before House Budget Review Subcommittee on Justice and Judiciary on Feb. 23

FRANKFORT, Ky., Feb. 19, 2016 – Chief Justice of Kentucky John D. Minton Jr. will testify about the Judicial Branch Budget, House Bill 306, at noon on Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2016. The testimony will take place before the House Budget Review Subcommittee on Justice and Judiciary in the Capitol Annex, Room 149, 702 Capitol Ave., Frankfort. The public and the media are invited to attend.

Chief Justice Minton will present the Judicial Branch’s budget requests for Fiscal Budget 2016-2018 and discuss the ramifications of proposed budget cuts on the state court system.

The chief justice is the administrative head of the state court system and is responsible for overseeing its operation. There are four levels of Kentucky state courts – District Court, Circuit Court, the Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court. The Administrative Office of the Courts is the operations arm for the court system and supports the activities of 3,300 employees and 403 elected justices, judges and circuit court clerks. The AOC also executes the Judicial Branch budget.