Pursuant to SCR 1.060, a minimum score of 70% on the qualifying examination is required for an applicant to be able to seek the office of circuit clerk. After transmittal of scores to individuals who took the examination, the AOC will mail lists of those who scored 70% or more, by county, to the appropriate county clerks.
Supreme Court Rule 1.060
The authority for the examination is found in SCR 1.060 which provides as follows:
Pursuant to Section 100 of the Constitution of Kentucky, no person shall be eligible to seek the office of circuit clerk unless he shall have procured from a judge of the Court of Appeals, or a judge of the circuit court, a certificate that he has been examined by the clerk of his court under his supervision, and that he is qualified for the office for which he is a candidate.
No such certificate shall be issued to any person unless that person has received a passing grade of 70% or more on a standard examination to be prepared and administered by the Administrative Office of the Courts. The examination shall include questions pertaining to the materials included in the Circuit Clerk's Manual, Circuit Clerk's Accounting Manual, and the Personnel Policies of the Court of Justice.
The examination shall be given once not less than 30 days nor more than 60 days before the deadline for filing for election in the year in which circuit clerks are elected. No person shall be eligible to appear on any election ballot for the office of circuit clerk who has not successfully completed an examination and been so certified, except no incumbent circuit clerk shall be required to be re-certified.
In the event of a vacancy in the office of circuit clerk, a special examination shall be prepared by the Administrative Office of the Courts to be administered to such person or persons designated by the chief circuit judge responsible for filling the vacancy by appointment, and to be administered to prospective candidates for election to fill the unexpired term.
The constitutionality of SCR 1.060 was upheld in Combs v. Huff, Ky., 858 S.W.2d 160 (1993). In Johnson v. Administrative Office of the Courts, 133 F.Supp.2d 536 (E.D. Ky. 2001), the court noted that "(t)he state has a strong interest in assuring that a person with aspirations to hold this office is prepared to administer its complexities. If the office is not run properly, court records . . . could become chaotic to the great detriment of the public. Substantial delays and confusion in the administration of justice might also ensue."
Section 100 of the Kentucky Constitution sets forth the qualifications for one seeking the office of circuit clerk:
§100. Qualifications of officers for counties and districts. No person shall be eligible to the offices mentioned in Sections 97 and 99 who is not at the time of his election twenty-four years of age (except Clerks of County and Circuit Courts, who shall be twenty-one years of age), a citizen of Kentucky, and who has not resided in the State two years, and one year next preceding his election in the county and district in which he is a candidate.
Section 97 of the Kentucky Constitution sets forth the term of office for circuit clerks:
§97. Commonwealth's Attorney and Circuit Court Clerk - Election - Term. In the year two thousand, and every six years thereafter, there shall be an election in each county for a Circuit Court Clerk, and for a Commonwealth's Attorney, in each circuit court district, unless that office be abolished, who shall hold their respective offices for six years from the first Monday in January after their election, and until the election and qualification of their successors.