Governor Ernie Fletcher’s Communication Office
Governor Ernie Fletcher appoints Roach to Supreme Court
General Counsel Also Worked As Employment/Civil Rights Lawyer
LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Governor Ernie Fletcher today announced the appointment of John Roach, general counsel to the Governor, to fill the vacancy in the Kentucky Supreme Court.
“John has the intellect, integrity and enthusiasm that I was looking for in a Supreme Court Justice,” said Governor Fletcher, who announced the appointment at the Kentucky Bar Association’s annual convention. “The people of Kentucky will be well-served by his commitment to the legal system and his passion for the law.
“John has a wealth of courtroom, appellate and Kentucky constitutional experience. It will serve him well in the years ahead.”
Roach, Mary Noble and Roger Crittenden were selected by the Judicial Nominating Committee and referred to Governor Fletcher on May 16 for his review. “My interest in and dedication to the law will allow me the special opportunity to continue my public service in an area that I truly love,” Roach said. “My diverse legal background in the rapidly developing and changing area of civil rights litigation will provide a unique perspective on Kentucky’s highest court. I am honored that I have been called to serve.”
Roach will fill the vacancy left by Justice James Keller, whose resignation was effective May 31. Roach, age 38, will face a special election in November 2006.
Roach spent seven years in Lexington as an employment and civil rights lawyer, representing women, African Americans and other victims of discrimination who had been subjected to workplace discrimination. In addition to a vigorous trial practice, Roach has argued cases before the Kentucky Supreme Court, the Kentucky Court of Appeals and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit.
A University of Kentucky College of Law graduate, Roach was among the top five in his class, received the highest faculty honor at graduation and clerked for a federal judge.
“Having worked with John on a daily basis, I have seen firsthand his extensive knowledge of the law,” Governor Fletcher said. “He has worked on some of our commonwealth’s most important cases, such as how to continue providing vital services to Kentucky families in the absence of a legislatively enacted budget.
“In addition, legal colleagues who worked with and against John – Republicans and Democrats alike – have proclaimed their support. It is a testimony to John that such diverse voices have joined together in support.”
Letters of support came from Attorney General Greg Stumbo, U.S. Attorney Greg Van Tatenhove, former Secretary of State John Y. Brown III, former U.S. attorney Joseph Whittle and constitutional law expert Sheryl Snyder.
“In all my life’s experiences, I can say that without a doubt, I have never met anyone better qualified to serve on Kentucky’s Supreme Court than John C. Roach,” Brown wrote.
Thomas P. Lewis, who is the former dean and professor emeritus of the UK College of Law and has argued cases before the U.S. Supreme Court, also sent a letter of support.
“John is one of the brightest, most engaging and articulate students I have had the pleasure of meeting in or out of the classroom,” Lewis wrote. “…John has extensive experience as a practicing lawyer, direct exposure to the work of appellate judges through a clerkship with the Honorable Pierce Lively, Senior Judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, and ongoing involvement in governmental relations at the local and state levels.”
Several people have served on the Kentucky Supreme Court without previous judicial experience, including Kentucky Chief Justice Joseph Lambert, who began serving on the Supreme Court at age 38; former Kentucky Chief Justice Robert Stephens; Walter Baker; and Sara Combs. U.S. Supreme Court Justices William Rehnquist and Earl Warren also served without previous judicial experience.
Roach, a native of Frankfort, lives in Lexington with his wife, Maria, and two children, Catherine and Bennett.
Highlights of John Roach’s Legal Accomplishments
• General Counsel, Commonwealth of Kentucky: Helping develop and defend in court the spending plan issued by the Governor; instituting more than $1 million in savings by reducing outside legal contracts; overseeing lawyers in nine cabinets (2003-present)
• Employment discrimination and civil rights lawyer: Represented victims of discrimination who had been subjected to workplace discrimination; participated in numerous jury trials. Argued cases before the Kentucky Supreme Court, the Kentucky Court of Appeals and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit (1995-2001)
• Lecturer for numerous statewide seminars on employment and civil rights issues
• Co-author of law articles on employment law and the Americans with Disabilities Act
• Corporate transactions lawyer, Akin, Gump, Strauss, Hauer & Feld, one of the largest law firm in the world and represented companies such as Food Lion and Granite Broadcasting (1993-1994)
• Law clerk to Honorable Pierce Lively, United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit (1992-1993)
• Graduate of the University of Kentucky College of Law: Graduated with high distinction in the top five in his class, served as articles editor for Kentucky’s Law Journal, was inducted into the Order of the Coif and was awarded the Faculty Cup, which honors a single graduate for outstanding performance by a vote of the law school faculty (J.D., 1992)