Kentucky Court of Justice
Judicial Nominating Commission announces nominees for Supreme Court seat in Eastern Kentucky
FRANKFORT, Ky. -- The Judicial Nominating Commission, led by Chief Justice of Kentucky John D. Minton Jr., today announced nominees to fill the vacant Supreme Court seat for the 7th Appellate Court District. The district is comprised of 22 counties in Eastern Kentucky. The vacancy was created when Justice Will T. Scott stepped down Jan. 2 to run for Kentucky governor.
The three attorneys named as nominees to fill the vacancy are David Allen Barber of Prestonsburg, Roger Donald Riggs of Mount Sterling and Janet L. Stumbo of Van Lear.
Barber is a policy and legal adviser in House Speaker Greg Stumbo’s legislative office and served as a Kentucky Court of Appeals judge from 2000 to 2007. He is a partner in the law firm of Richardson, Barber & Williamson in Owingsville. He received his juris doctor from the University of Louisville Louis D. Brandeis School of Law.
Riggs is an attorney with the law firm of Morgan, Collins & Yeast in Mount Sterling. He previously served as a Kentucky administrative law judge in the Kentucky Department of Workers’ Claims, where he presided over workers’ compensation claims throughout the state. He received his juris doctor from the University of Kentucky College of Law.
Stumbo is serving her seventh consecutive year as a Kentucky Court of Appeals judge for the 7th Appellate Court District. She was a Supreme Court justice from 1993 to 2004. She received her juris doctor from the University of Kentucky College of Law.
The counties in the 7th Supreme Court District are Boyd, Breathitt, Carter, Elliott, Floyd, Greenup, Harlan, Johnson, Knott, Lawrence, Letcher, Magoffin, Martin, Menifee, Montgomery, Morgan, Owsley, Perry, Pike, Powell, Rowan and Wolfe.
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 fellow justices, is the administrative head of the state’s court system and is responsible for its operation. The Supreme Court may order a ruling or opinion to be published, which means that the ruling becomes the case law governing all similar cases in the future in Kentucky.
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 Gov. Steve Beshear 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.
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 3,300 court system employees and 403 elected justices, judges and circuit court clerks. As the fiscal agent for the state court system, the AOC executes the Judicial Branch budget.