Kentucky Court of Justice
Betty A. Springate sworn in as district judge for Anderson, Shelby and Spencer counties
FRANKFORT, Ky. -- Betty A. Springate, an attorney from Lawrenceburg, has been sworn in to fill the vacant District Court judgeship for Anderson, Shelby and Spencer counties. The seat represents the 53rd Judicial District, Division 1. The vacancy was created when Judge Linda S. Armstrong resigned March 16, 2014.
District Judge Donna G. Dutton swore in Judge Springate on June 30. Judge Dutton serves in the 53rd Judicial District, Division 2.
Judge Springate’s legal career includes positions as general counsel for the Kentucky Labor Cabinet and administrative law judge for the Kentucky Workforce Development Cabinet. She also served as assistant county attorney and county attorney for Anderson County. She retired nearly two years ago and currently serves on the Anderson County board of the United Way.
She earned a juris doctor from the University of Baltimore School of Law after completing a bachelor’s degree from the University of Kentucky and a master’s degree in education from the University of Louisville.
Judge Springate and her husband, Jerry L. Springate, who is also an attorney, have a son and a daughter, Jay and Scarlett.
Judge Springate will not be on the ballot in the November general election and will serve only until the new judge elected in November takes the bench in January 2015.
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.
District Court judges handle juvenile matters, city and county ordinances, misdemeanors, violations, traffic offenses, probate of wills, arraignments, felony probable cause hearings, small claims involving $2,500 or less, civil cases involving $5,000 or less, voluntary and involuntary mental commitments and cases relating to domestic violence and abuse.
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.