Kentucky Court of Justice
Judge Willett named chief judge, chief regional judge for Jefferson County Circuit Court
FRANKFORT, Ky. -- Jefferson County Circuit Court Judge Barry Willett was recently named the chief judge of Jefferson County Circuit Court and the chief regional circuit judge for the Metro Region, which is comprised of Jefferson County.
Judge Willett was elected by his fellow Jefferson County circuit judges to serve as their chief judge. Chief Justice of Kentucky John D. Minton Jr. appointed him as the chief regional circuit judge. His two-year term for each position began Jan. 1 and continues through Dec. 31, 2011.
Chief judges and chief regional judges supervise the administrative business of the courts in their assigned area and provide general direction and supervision to the nonjudicial personnel assigned to those courts. Judge Willett is responsible for assigning cases randomly to the circuit judges and evenly distributing the workload to the judges, assigning special judges in cases of conflicts or vacancies, being a liaison between the court and other government and civic agencies, providing an orientation program for new judges and preparing proposed local court rules, among other duties. Judge Willett may serve in the absence of any Jefferson County circuit judge.
There are 13 circuit judges serving Jefferson County not including those in the Family Court Division, who have their own chief judge.
One judge is always both the chief judge of Jefferson County Circuit Court and the chief regional circuit judge for the Metro Region since each position covers Jefferson County.
Judge Willett’s judicial career began in 2000 when he was elected to the Jefferson County Circuit Court bench. Prior to his election, the Louisville native practiced law, specializing in complex tort and commercial litigation. Judge Willett earned his juris doctor at the University of Louisville Louis D. Brandeis School of Law and received his undergraduate degree from the University of Kentucky. He has served as a special justice on the Supreme Court of Kentucky and is a past president of the Kentucky Academy of Trial Attorneys. He is a frequent speaker in continuing legal/judicial education programs.
Judge Willett succeeds Jefferson County Circuit Court Judge James M. Shake as the chief circuit judge and chief regional circuit judge for Jefferson County.
Family Court Judge Patricia Walker FitzGerald serves as chief judge of the Family Division of Jefferson County Circuit Court. District Court Judge Sean R. Delahanty is the chief district judge for Jefferson County District Court and the chief regional district judge for the Metro Region. Their terms began in 2009 and continue through Dec. 31, 2010.
The Kentucky court system’s eight administrative regions are the Bluegrass Region, Cumberland Region, Fayette Region, Green River Region, Metro Region, Mountain Region, Northern Region and Purchase Region. The chief justice appoints chief regional judges for all of the regions. The Metro Region and the Fayette Region (Fayette County) are each comprised of one county. The other regions contain multiple counties.
Circuit Court is the court of general jurisdiction that hears civil matters involving more than $4,000, capital offenses and felonies, divorces, adoptions, termination of parental rights, land dispute title cases and contested probate cases.
District Court is a court of limited jurisdiction which hears civil cases involving $4,000 or less, juvenile matters, city and county ordinances, misdemeanors and cases relating to domestic violence and abuse, guardianships for disabled people, traffic offenses, small claims, probate of wills and felony preliminary hearings.
Administrative Office of the Courts
The Administrative Office of the Courts in Frankfort is the operational arm of the Kentucky Court of Justice and supports the activities of approximately 3,800 court system employees, including the elected offices of justices, judges and circuit court clerks. The AOC also executes the Judicial Branch budget.