The recent passing of District Judge Jeff Brock has set in motion the process for selecting a new district judge to fill the vacancy on the bench.
According to section 118 of the Kentucky Constitution, “A vacancy…of a judge of the district court which under Section 152 of this constitution is to be filled by appointment by the governor shall be filled by the governor from a list of three names presented to him by the appropriate judicial nominating commission. If the governor fails to make an appointment from the list within sixty days from the date it is presented to him, the appointment shall be made from the same list by the chief justice of the Supreme Court.”
Harlan Circuit Court Clerk Wendy Flanary explained when such a vacancy occurs, a notice is published by the executive secretary of the Judicial Nominating Commission in the district affected. Attorneys may recommend somebody or nominate themselves. The names of the applicants are not released to the public.
“Once the nominations are in, those interested in the position submit a questionnaire to the Office of the Chief Justice,” said Flanary. “Chief Justice John Minton will then meet with the JNC to choose three nominees.”
The Kentucky Court of Justice website states the chief justice then forwards those three names to the governor. The names of the three nominees are listed in alphabetical order without indicating the commission’s preference. The governor must appoint a judge from this list. If the governor does not appoint a judge within 60 days of receiving the list of nominees, the appointment is made by the chief justice from the list of nominees.
Flanary pointed out the nominating commission is made up of the Chief Justice of Kentucky, two attorneys who have been elected by all the lawyers in their circuit or district and four Kentucky citizens who are appointed by the governor. The four appointed must include two Democrats and two Republicans in order to equally represent major political parties. The Chief Justice serves as chair for the commission.
According to the executive order issued by Gov. Mathew G. Bevin, the four individuals appointed to the commission are Robert D. Alred Jr., of Loyall, Anthony M. Felosi, of Wallins, Danny Castle, of Harlan, and Joseph R. Gluck III, of Cumberland.
The appointees join attorneys Otis Doan Jr. and Rodney E. Buttermore Jr. on the commission, chaired by Chief Justice John Minton.
Reach Joe P. Asher at 606-909-4132 or on Twitter @joe_hde.