Kentucky Court of Justice
Judicial Nominating Commission announces nominees for vacant Harlan County judgeship

Press Release Date:  Wednesday, July 10, 2013  
Contact Information:  Jamie Neal
Public Information Specialist
502-573-2350, x 50033

FRANKFORT, Ky. -- The Judicial Nominating Commission, led by Chief Justice of Kentucky John D. Minton Jr., today announced nominees to fill the vacant Circuit Court judgeship in Harlan County, which is the 26th Judicial Circuit.

The three attorneys named as nominees to fill the vacancy are Sidney Barnes Douglass II of Loyall, H. Kent Hendrickson of Harlan and Henry Stuart Johnson of Baxter.

Douglass has a law practice at Douglass Law Office in Harlan. He served as a Harlan County Circuit Court judge from 1977 to 1984 and was previously the Harlan city attorney. He received his juris doctor from the University of Kentucky College of Law.

Hendrickson is a domestic relations commissioner for Harlan County Circuit Court and a partner in the law firm of Rice & Hendrickson and in Hendrickson Properties. He received his juris doctor from the University of Kentucky College of Law.

Johnson is in private law practice in Harlan and served as the commonwealth’s attorney for Harlan from 1992 until earlier this year. He received his juris doctor from the University of Kentucky College of Law.

The vacancy was created upon the removal of Russell D. Alred by the Judicial Conduct Commission as affirmed by the Supreme Court of Kentucky, effective Oct. 25, 2012.

Judicial Nominating Process
When a judicial vacancy occurs, the executive secretary of the Judicial Nominating Commission 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 Judicial Nominating Commission is established in the Kentucky Constitution. Ky. Const. § 118; SCR 6.000, et seq. 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.

Circuit Court
Circuit Court is the court of general jurisdiction that hears civil matters involving more than $5,000, capital offenses and felonies, divorces, adoptions, termination of parental rights, land dispute title cases and contested probate cases. In counties with a Family Court, the Family Court has primary jurisdiction in cases involving family issues, including divorces, adoption, child support, domestic violence and juvenile status offenses. Family Court is a division of Circuit Court.

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 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.