John Minton

David Brinkley

The Chief Justice of the Kentucky Supreme Court has announced plans to retire after serving 30 years on bench. 

In an interview on Wednesday with WKU Public Radio, John Minton, Jr. of Bowling Green announced he will not seek re-election next year. 

Minton says although his term doesn’t expire until January 1, 2023, he wanted to announce his intentions early.

“One of the rules of traditional politics would be that an elected official, such as the chief justice, would never confirm that he wasn’t seeking re-election because the concern is that you become immediately irrelevant," commented Minton. "Well, I don’t intend to become irrelevant. I’ve got more than a year left to serve.”

Lisa Autry

The head of the Kentucky Supreme Court says the past 14 months have been the most challenging in the history of the modern court system. 

However, as courts return to full, in-person proceedings, Chief Justice John Minton, Jr., says the judicial system should retain lessons learned from the pandemic.  

COVID-19 proved the importance of electronic filing and remote technology in the court system.  In recent remarks to an interim legislative committee, Chief Justice Minton said COVID-19 forced courts to pivot to phone and video proceedings.

“If the pandemic had struck a decade, even five years ago, our ability to operate remotely would have been seriously curtailed, but we were able to persevere and use this technology to our advantage," Minton said.

Kentucky Administrative Office of the Courts

Kentucky Chief Justice John Minton says that the state needs more money for drug courts and special courts that work with veterans and people with mental health conditions amid the state’s drug addiction epidemic.

Minton, a native of Bowling Green, made the remarks during his annual State of the Judiciary Address on Friday.

Minton said that the special courts currently serve fewer than 2,500 people and that number should be expanded amid Kentucky’s opioid crisis.

 


Lisa Autry

Kentucky’s chief justice of the Supreme Court says he expects bail reform to come up again in the state legislature. 

John Minton Jr. says the current method of setting bail disproportionately affects low-income defendants who aren’t able to pay for release after being charged with low-level, non-violent offenses. 

Minton addressed members of the Bowling Green Noon Rotary Club on Wednesday.

Despite legislation failing to pass the General Assembly this year, he said going to a cashless bail system has bi-partisan support.

Bill Seeking to Bypass Frankfort Judges Stalls in Committee

Mar 12, 2019
Flickr/Creative Commons

A bill aimed at redirecting big legal cases away from a circuit judge who has drawn the ire of Republican leaders is on "life support" after a Kentucky House committee refused to consider the measure Tuesday, the Senate's top leader acknowledged.

Senate President Robert Stivers said lingering concerns made it uncertain whether the bill could clear the Judiciary Committee and pass the GOP-dominated House. As a result, the committee skipped over the bill with just a handful of days left in this year's legislative session.

Jane Venters\Melinda Dalton

A new family court judgeship for Pulaski, Lincoln, and Rockcastle counties has created a three-way race.

A second family court judge is being added to the 28th Judicial Circuit, which has the heaviest family court caseload in the state.

Among the candidates is Somerset attorney Jane Adams Venters.  Venters has been practicing since 1985 and specializes in family law and civil litigation.

Creative Commons

The chief justice of the Kentucky Supreme Court is asking lawmakers to reorganize the state’s judicial districts to help alleviate heavy caseloads in some courts.

The changes would reallocate judgeships from areas that have light caseloads and consolidate some circuit and district court districts around the state.

Chief Justice John Minton said the gradual migration of people to more urban areas has thrown the current system out of balance.

Kentucky Administrative Office of the Courts

The chief justice of the Kentucky Supreme Court is renewing his call to lawmakers to redraw judicial boundaries in the state to ease caseloads in local courts.

Chief Justice John Minton said there is “urgent need” to redraw the boundaries of several judicial circuits where populations have shifted over the century — the last time the lines were changed.

“It almost doesn’t bear to comment that the population of our state has redistributed, which has altered the workload demands of the courts needed to serve the local communities,” Minton said.

Creative Commons

Kentucky would shift significant resources to its growing family court docket under a plan that would overhaul the state’s judicial system for the first time in 40 years.

Kentucky would get an additional 16 family court judges while losing 15 district and circuit court judges under a plan released Tuesday by Kentucky Chief Justice John Minton. The potentially divisive plan will be a test for the new Republican majority in the state legislature, which is scheduled to convene next month with super majorities in both chambers. If approved, the plan would go into effect in 2022 when all of the state’s judges would be on the ballot.

Administrative Office of the Courts

During his annual State of the Judiciary address on Friday, Kentucky Chief Justice John Minton asked lawmakers to raise salaries for the state’s 284 judges and justices.

Minton said the state compensates judges at the lowest rate compared to surrounding states, which he said makes judges feel discouraged and undervalued.

“It also provides little incentive, really, for the best and brightest lawyers to leave a lucrative law practice to mount an expensive campaign for election to judicial office,” Minton said.

Salaries for judges and justices range from $112,668 to $140,504 per year. Minton proposed that during the 2018 budget-writing session, lawmakers grant a 5 percent pay raise each year for two years. The total cost would be about $5.7 million.

Creative Commons

Kentucky Chief Justice John Minton Jr. says the number of expungement requests have doubled since a new law went into effect allowing some convicted felons to clear their records.

Minton told lawmakers during his annual State of the Judiciary address that the Administrative Office of the Courts has received 8,400 criminal record reports for expungement since the law went into effect on July 15. He said that number is about double the number of requests at this time last year.

Minton said the number includes requests for misdemeanors and felonies, adding officials cannot separate the two categories. But he attributes the increase in requests to the passage of the expungement bill.

HB.40 allows people convicted of certain non-violent felonies to clear their records if they have no other pending charges.

Kentucky Administrative Office of the Courts

The just-concluded legislative session contains a major victory for Daviess County.  

The final budget agreement includes funding to create a Family Court. District and circuit judges currently handle family issues.  

John Minton, Jr. has been advocating for the judgeship since becoming Chief Justice of the Kentucky Supreme Court in 2008.  He says the goal is to keep family cases before the same judge.

"It's possible under the system without Family Court for a family to have issues in different places before different judges with different outcomes, so Family Court allows us to process all the issues around families in one place.

Family judges preside over cases such as divorce, child custody, adoptions, and domestic violence.  Daviess County is the largest county in the state without a Family Court judge.

Once the law becomes effective in mid-July, Governor Bevin will appoint someone to serve as Daviess County Family Court Judge until the position is up for election in November.

Lisa Autry

The chief justice of the Kentucky Supreme Court says the state is facing a potential “constitutional crisis” if courts undergo budget cuts proposed by Governor Matt Bevin.

Chief Justice John Minton says that the Judicial Branch will be unable to perform necessary functions under the cuts and would have to shut down for three weeks during this fiscal year.

“We just simply couldn’t make payroll between now and June 30th if we have to give back $9.5 million," Minton explained.

Justice Minton is requesting that the judicial branch be totally exempted from the cuts. Bevin’s budget cuts nearly all state spending by 4.5 percent this year and 9 percent over the next two years.

Minton says the state’s drug court system could be shut down as a result of the cuts. The program allows those convicted of drug crimes to participate in substance abuse programs instead of serving time.

Kentucky Supreme Court

Kentucky’s judicial branch is set to begin a study that will examine the balance of caseloads throughout the state.

Speaking to reporters after his annual “State of the Judiciary” address to lawmakers Friday, Kentucky Supreme Court Chief Justice John Minton, Jr., said there is a perception held by many that some parts of the state have too few judges, while other regions have too many.

“And rolled up in that is the continuing concern in Daviess County of the need for family court, Daviess County being the largest jurisdiction in the state without family court.”

Seventy-one of Kentucky's 120 counties have family courts.  In counties that don't—such as Daviess—circuit judges are tasked with hearing cases regarding adoption, paternity, and domestic violence.

The Kentucky Supreme Court in 2012 certified the need for two family court positions in Daviess County, but budget constraints have delayed any action.

Kentucky Supreme Court

Kentucky Chief Justice John Minton Jr. presents his annual State of the Judiciary address this week in Frankfort. Minton will deliver the address to the General Assembly's interim joint judiciary committee Friday morning at the Administrative Office of the Courts.

The 10:00 a.m. EDT event is open to the public.

The AOC said in a statement that Minton is expected to discuss recent accomplishments of the judicial branch in Kentucky, including developments in court technology. He's also expected to highlight challenges facing the state court system.

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