Nominees named for judge’s seat
The Judicial Nominating Commission, led by Chief Justice of Kentucky John D. Minton Jr., has announced nominees to fill the vacant circuit court judgeship in Bourbon, Scott and Woodford counties, which make up the 14th Judicial Circuit. The vacancy is in the circuit’s 1st Division. The three nominees for the judgeship are attorneys Jeremy Michael Mattox, Damon Loyd Preston and Perry Thomas Ryan, all of Georgetown. Mattox has handled criminal, civil and domestic cases through his private law practice in Georgetown for more than 10 years. He received his juris doctor from the University of Kentucky College of Law. Preston, of Georgetown, is the state’s deputy public advocate and has served as a public defender in the Kentucky Department of Public Advocacy for 23 years. He received his juris doctor from Harvard Law School. Ryan has served as a Kentucky assistant attorney general for 28 years. He received his juris doctor from the UK College of Law. The circuit court judicial seat became vacant when Judge Robert G. Johnson was appointed to the Court of Appeals on March 27. 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.