Kentucky Court of Justice
Judicial Nominating Commission announces nominees for vacant judgeship that serves Harrison, Nicholas, Pendleton and Robertson counties
FRANKFORT, Ky. -- The Judicial Nominating Commission, led by Chief Justice of Kentucky John D. Minton Jr., today announced nominees to fill the vacant District Court judgeship in the 18th Judicial District, which is comprised of Harrison, Nicholas, Pendleton and Robertson counties.
The three attorneys named as nominees to fill the vacancy are Robert E. Bathalter, Charles W. Kuster Jr. and Peter Canavan Newberry.
The District Court judgeship was left vacant in January by Judge Jay Brett Delaney, who was appointed as the circuit judge for Harrison, Nicholas, Pendleton and Robertson counties.
Robert E. Bathalter of Falmouth is in general practice and is associated with Bathalter & Woeste PSC and Teacher Book Bag LLC. He earned his juris doctor at the University of Kentucky College of Law, graduating in 1970.
Charles W. Kuster Jr. of Cynthiana is the county attorney for Harrison County and is associated with Keith & Kuster PSC. He earned his juris doctor at the University of Kentucky College of Law, graduating in 1983.
Peter Canavan Newberry of Berry is the city attorney for Berry. He earned his juris doctor at the University of Cincinnati College of Law, graduating in 1987.
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 can 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 and district judges who are appointed to fill vacancies and wish to try to retain their seats will run for elected office this year. The regularly scheduled election for district judges is in 2010. District judges serve four-year terms. The next regularly scheduled election for circuit judges is in 2014. Appointees to circuit judgeships must run for election in 2010 and 2014. Circuit judges serve eight-year terms. The election schedule can be found on the Kentucky Secretary of State Web site.
District Court is a court of limited jurisdiction. Juvenile matters, city and county ordinances, misdemeanors, traffic offenses, probate of wills, felony preliminary hearings, small claims, and civil cases involving $4,000 or less are all District Court matters, as well as 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 supports the activities of approximately 3,700 Kentucky Court of Justice employees, including the elected offices of justices, judges and circuit court clerks.