Kentucky Court of Justice
Chief Justice Minton elected to 2nd term as chief justice of Kentucky
FRANKFORT, Ky. -- The justices of the Supreme Court of Kentucky unanimously voted Monday to elect Chief Justice John D. Minton Jr. to a second term as chief justice. The four-year term begins June 27. He was sworn in as Kentucky’s fifth chief justice on June 27, 2008, after being elected to the Supreme Court in 2006.
“With this re-election, the justices have expressed their appreciation for the hard work and leadership of Chief Justice Minton,” said Mary C. Noble, deputy chief justice for the Supreme Court. “We have an unusually close court that works together on all major issues under the guidance of our chief justice.”
Chief Justice Minton said he is honored to have the opportunity to continue serving his fellow Kentuckians. “I’m grateful to my colleagues for their strong vote of confidence,” he said. “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.”
Under Chief Justice Minton’s administration, the Supreme Court adopted the state’s first uniform family law rules and formed the Kentucky Access to Justice Commission to improve access to civil legal aid for the poor. As a member of the Task Force on the Penal Code and Controlled Substances Act, Chief Justice Minton joined forces with the Executive and Legislative branches to curb prison costs and improve public safety. He supports transparent government and in 2009 led the Judicial Branch in posting its financial information on a public website shared with the Executive Branch.
Chief Justice Minton is steering the Judicial Branch through Kentucky’s worst economic downturn in decades by creating efficiencies at all four levels of the court system. Under his leadership, the Administrative Office of the Courts commissioned the National Center for State Courts to audit the AOC in an effort to achieve a leaner, more efficient organizational structure. Since the economic crisis began in 2008, Chief Justice Minton has made strategic reductions to keep the Judicial Branch within its appropriated budget.
As head of the Judicial Branch, he is committed to investing in the people who operate the court system and in the technology that can help Kentucky courts reduce costs and deliver better service. He formed the Technology Governance Committee to create a strategic technology plan for the courts and guide efforts to replace the outdated case management system with one that will allow e-filing and innovative electronic services. He also created a Compensation Commission to determine how to make the Judicial Branch’s salary structure more fair and competitive with the other branches of state government.
Chief Justice Minton is active in the Conference of Chief Justices as a board member and as chair of the Problem Solving Courts Committee. He is also on the board of directors for the Council of State Governments and is a 2010 alumnus of the CSG’s Henry Toll Fellowship Program. He is chair of the American Bar Association Board of Elections.
Comments From Colleagues
Sue Bell Cobb, Chief Justice of Alabama (ret.)
“Chief Justice Minton is respected by his fellow chief justices throughout the nation. There are two kinds of chief justices: the kind who limit their role to deciding cases on appeal and the kind who do important appellate work but then go on to work day and night, night and day, exhausting themselves trying to do everything in their power to improve the justice system. The latter perfectly describes Chief Justice Minton.”
Mary C. McQueen, President, National Center for State Courts
“The Kentucky courts are very fortunate to have the leadership of such a visionary as Chief Justice Minton. He combines a love for the law with compassion and an incredible commitment to justice and the rule of law.”
David A. Brennen, Dean, University of Kentucky College of Law
“Chief Justice Minton’s leadership of the Supreme Court has been outstanding during these difficult economic times. He has led the court through some of the toughest financial struggles of its history. Given that the court is facing even more budget reductions, the decision to re-elect Chief Justice Minton demonstrates a high degree of trust and respect for his leadership.”
Circuit Judge Paul F. Isaacs, Bourbon, Scott and Woodford Counties
President of the Kentucky Circuit Judges Association
“The Circuit Court judges look forward to continuing their working relationship with Chief Justice Minton. In these difficult days, it is very important that we all work together to preserve the integrity of our court system by our commitment to fairness and justice for every person in our courts. He has always exemplified that dedication to the rule of law.”
Chief District Judge Robert W. Heaton, Nelson County
President of the Kentucky District Judges Association
“Chief Justice Minton has done an outstanding job of leading the Court of Justice during a very trying time, including dealing with recurring budget cuts mandated by the legislature. He has had to make difficult decisions that ultimately are in the best interest of the court system as a whole. Throughout his first term as chief justice, he has remained accessible to all of the District Court judges. He is always willing to listen to our concerns and suggestions. It has been a pleasure to work with Chief Justice Minton and I look forward to working with him during his second term as chief justice.”
McLean County Circuit Court Clerk Stephanie King-Logsdon
President of the Kentucky Association of Circuit Court Clerks
“Chief Justice Minton has always provided tremendous support to the circuit court clerks as he understands the essential functions of our office. He is a man of great integrity and he possesses an exceptional knowledge and understanding of all levels of the court system. It has been an honor working with Chief Justice Minton over the years and I look forward to working with him in the future.”
In November 2006, Chief Justice Minton was elected to an eight-year term on the Supreme Court after running unopposed in the 2nd Supreme Court District, which is comprised of 14 counties in Western Kentucky. He first joined the Supreme Court in July 2006 when then-Gov. Ernie Fletcher appointed him to fill the unexpired term created by the June 30, 2006, retirement of Justice William S. Cooper. Before sitting on the Supreme Court, Chief Justice Minton had been a judge on the Kentucky Court of Appeals since November 2003.
He came to the appellate bench from the trial court where he was judge of Warren Circuit Court from 1992 to 2003. In addition to his trial court duties, he was appointed by then-Chief Justices Robert F. Stephens and Joseph E. Lambert as chief regional judge of the Green River Region, an administrative post that assists the chief justice with assigning special judges in a 21-county area of Southcentral Kentucky.
While on the Circuit Court bench, Chief Justice Minton was recognized for his leadership in forming Warren County Drug Court and for his commitment to law-related education programs. He was involved in continuing judicial education as a longtime member of the Kentucky Circuit Judges Association’s Education Committee. In 2003, the Kentucky Bar Association honored him with its Outstanding Judge Award.
Prior to his election to the circuit bench, Chief Justice Minton was in the private practice of law in Bowling Green for more than 15 years. He graduated from the University of Kentucky College of Law in 1977 and was admitted to the Kentucky bar that same year. He earned his bachelor’s degree with honors from Western Kentucky University in 1974 and is a 1970 graduate of Western’s University High School.
Chief Justice Minton and his wife, Susan Page Minton, reside in Bowling Green. Their daughter, Page Sullivan Minton, will graduate from Washington and Lee University (Va.) in May 2012 and their son, John D. Minton III, is a student at Centre College (Ky.).
Supreme Court of Kentucky
The Supreme Court is the state court of last resort and the final interpreter of Kentucky law. Seven justices sit on the Supreme Court and all seven justices rule on appeals that come before the court. The justices are elected from seven appellate districts and serve eight-year terms. A chief justice, chosen for a four-year term by his or her fellow justices, is the administrative head of the state’s court system and is responsible for its operation.
Administrative Office of the Courts
The Administrative Office of the Courts in Frankfort is the operations arm for the state court system. The AOC supports the activities of nearly 3,300 employees and 403 elected justices, judges and circuit court clerks. The AOC executes the Judicial Branch budget and works closely with the chief justice to ensure the Kentucky Court of Justice fulfills its statutory duties as stated in the Kentucky Constitution.