Frankfort Local News

Minton Re-elected Chief Justice

Kentucky Supreme Court Chief Justice John Minton has been elected to a second term.

“With this re-election, the justices have expressed their appreciation for the hard work and leadership of Chief Justice Minton,” says Mary C. Noble, deputy chief justice for the Supreme Court in a statement. “We have an unusually close court that works together on all major issues under the guidance of our chief justice.”

In Kentucky, Supreme Court justices are elected by popular vote. The court then appoints its own chief justice.

Minton was first elected in 2006 and became chief justice in 2008. Before that, he served on the Kentucky Court of Appeals. Minton’s election occurred earlier this week, but the court waited to release the results until Thursday.

“I’m grateful to my colleagues for their strong vote of confidence,” Minton says in a statement. “All of the justices are former trial judges, which gives them unique insight into the work of the courts. More than ever before, the Supreme Court is involved in forming policy and the justices’ perspective and spirit of cooperation has been especially important in guiding the Judicial Branch during one of the most difficult times in recent memory.”

Local News

UK Police “Disappointed” In High Court Gun Ruling

From Alan Lytle, Kentucky Public Radio

The University of Kentucky’s chief of police says he’s disappointed in yesterday’s ruling by the Kentucky Supreme Court that students and staff members at UK and the commonwealth’s other universities may legally store guns and other deadly weapons in a car’s glove compartment, but that the schools may continue to regulate them elsewhere on campus.

The decision came in the case of University of Kentucky graduate student and anesthesia technician Michael Mitchell, who lost his job in 2009 after campus police found a semi-automatic pistol in his car.

Mitchell, who has a concealed weapons permit, sued the university, claiming he was wrongfully fired for having the gun in his car.

Fayette County Commonwealth’s Attorney Ray Larson says the ruling is a clear example of state law, which allows a law-abiding gun owner to store a firearm in a car’s glove compartment, trumping a university’s safety policy.

“There are some very, very strong feelings in support of the second amendment that allows people to own and possess firearms around the country.  So does this surprise me?  No, because the legislature made, you know, they said that that was an exemption from any university regulations and that was that you can have it on university property so long as it was in the glove box,” Larson said.

“Our top priority is to protect the safety of students, faculty and staff at UK,” said UK Police Chief Joe Monroe in a statement. “We are concerned about anything that potentially limits the options police have in safeguarding the campus. In the coming days, we will be reviewing the ruling in greater detail to determine the legal and policy options at our disposal in addressing this serious issue.”

Fayette Circuit Judge Pamela Goodwine ruled in favor of the university. The high court reinstated Mitchell’s suit and sent it back to Fayette Circuit Court for further proceedings.

Local News

Louisville Attorney Friedman Disbarred

A former attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky has been permanently disbarred over his handling of client funds in his private practice.

The Kentucky Supreme Court ruled today that David Friedman of Louisville withheld more than 100-thousand dollars in judgments he won for several clients, using the money for personal expenses because of financial problems.

Friedman did not contest his disbarment and admitted to six violations of professional ethics rules.

The action doesn’t stem from any work Friedman did for the ACLU during his long tenure as its volunteer general counsel, during which he argued a number of high-profile cases.

In 2005, the U.S. Supreme Court sided with his argument that the posting of the Ten Commandments in Kentucky courthouses violated the separation of church and state.

(Information for this story came from the Associated Press; 2007 photo from the ACLU of Kentucky)

Local News

Kentucky Supreme Court Hears JCPS Student Assignment Arguments

The Kentucky Supreme Court will hear arguments this Wednesday in Frankfort on a case that could force Jefferson County Public Schools to change its student assignment plan.

An appellate court ruled against JCPS last year, saying Kentucky students have the right to attend the same school where they enroll, or their neighborhood school. But JCPS argues state statute allows the district to transport students to meet certain diversity goals.

If the high court upholds the previous court’s ruling, JCPS may have to redesign its student assignment plan, which the district has already done once this year.

Frankfort Local News

Senate Bill Would Amend Constitution on Redistricting, Defer to Federal Law

A move to amend the provisions of Kentucky’s constitution that deal with redistricting has been introduced in the state Senate.

State Senator Robert Stivers’s bill would change the laws around redistricting, and give more direction for how medium-sized counties could be split.

Right now, the constitution says that any county that can be made one whole district cannot be split. But Stivers’s language would allow some counties that can’t be split under that rule to now be open to divisions.

Frankfort Local News

Supreme Court Says Redistricting Maps Are Unconstitutional

The Kentucky Supreme Court has ruled that the latest maps of state legislative districts are unconstitutional.

Lawmakers approved new lines for state House and Senate districts earlier this year. But a circuit court judge declared them unconstitutional, citing a precedent that districts can’t be more than five percent larger or smaller than their ideal size. Lawyers for the Legislative Research Commission promptly appealed the ruling on behalf of House and Senate leadership.

The Supreme Court’s ruling means the current districts, which were approved in 2002, will be in place for this year’s elections. The high court’s ruling was unanimous. Due to time constraints, they did not provide a full opinion, but say they will do so later.

The decision means the legislature will once again have to take up redistricting. But with the session halfway over, it is unclear whether lawmakers will pass new maps this session or next year.


Frankfort Local News

Kentucky Supreme Court Hears Arguments in Redistricting Case

The fight over redistricting has moved to the Kentucky Supreme Court.

Lawmakers approved new lines for state House and Senate districts earlier this year. But a judge declared them unconstitutional, citing a precedent that districts can’t be more than five percent larger or smaller than their ideal size. Lawyers for the Legislative Research Commission promptly appealed the ruling.

In a hearing today today, LRC lawyer Sheryl Snyder argued that the high court should throw out the precedent.

But the handful of House Republicans who filed the initial suit disagree. Their attorney, Victor Maddox, told the supreme court that the LRC’s argument is a false solution.

Frankfort Local News Politics

Appeal on Legislative Redistricting Could Be Heard This Week

The battle over new state legislative districts may move to the Kentucky Supreme Court this week.

At the direction of General Assembly leaders, the Legislative Research Commission this week will file an appeal to overturn an injunction against the district maps lawmakers approved last month. In it’s filing, the LRC will also argue that the new districts should be in effect for this year’s elections.

The case is expected to skip the Court of Appeals.

“The state Supreme Court, if they make a finding that it is a matter of great public interest or concern, than there is a process under the civil rules for an expedited appeal,” says House Republican Leader Jeff Hoover, who filed suit against the maps. “And they can take the case rather than going through the normal steps. They’ve done that in previous redistricting matters and I would expect they do it again.”

Franklin Circuit Court Judge Phillip Shepherd threw out the House and Senate maps early last week, saying they were unconstitutional because they exceeded precedent on population variances.

Shepherd also ruled that legislative candidates will have to run in the current districts.

Local News

Attorney Asks State Supreme Court to Deny JCPS Student Assignment Case Review

An attorney representing several Jefferson County Public Schools parents has filed a response to the school district’s attempt to overturn a ruling against the student assignment plan.

Teddy Gordon has been arguing against JCPS for over a decade. He even won a U.S. Supreme Court decision in 2007, which called the district’s student assignment plan unconstitutional.

Local News Politics

Noble Will Be First Female Justice to Preside Over KY Supreme Court Arguments

History will be made Wednesday morning at 11:00 am in the courtroom of the Kentucky Supreme Court in Frankfort.

Kentucky Chief Justice John Minton has recused himself from a criminal case coming before the Supreme Court. So, that means Deputy Chief Justice Mary Noble will preside over oral arguments in the case.

It’s a first for a female justice in Kentucky, and the public is invited to witness the historic event at the State Capitol.

Noble, who represents 11 central Kentucky counties, was named deputy chief justice last year. She has served on the high court since 2006. Before that, she was a Fayette County Circuit Court judge.

Noble and Lisabeth Hughes Abramson are the seven-member Supreme Court’s only female justices