Kentucky Court of Justice
Judicial Nominating Commission announces nominees for vacant district judgeship in Estill, Lee and Owsley counties

Press Release Date:  Friday, August 21, 2009  
Contact Information:  Leigh Anne Hiatt, APR
Public Information Officer
502-573-2350, x 4064
Cell 859-619-7916

FRANKFORT, Ky., Aug. 21, 2009 -- The Judicial Nominating Commission, led by Chief Justice of Kentucky John D. Minton Jr., today announced the nominees to fill the vacant District Court judgeship in the 23rd Judicial District, which consists of Estill, Lee and Owsley counties.

The three attorneys named as nominees to fill the vacancy are Michael Dean, William Delton “Bo” Leach and William Walter Trude Jr.

The District Court judgeship was left vacant by Judge R.E. McClanahan II, who resigned Jan. 16, 2009, to join the Senior Judges Program.


Michael Dean has 20 years of experience as an attorney. He currently serves as a master commissioner and domestic relations commissioner for the 23rd Judicial Circuit and serves on the U.S. Selective Service Board. He holds a juris doctor from the University of Virginia.

William Delton “Bo” Leach is currently an associate attorney with Davis Law, PSC, a lead assistant attorney for the Estill County Attorney’s Office and an attorney for the Estill County Child Support Division of the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services. He earned his juris doctor at the Northern Kentucky University Salmon P. Chase College of Law.

William Walter Trude Jr. served as a circuit judge for the Kentucky Court of Justice from 1992 to 2006. He earned a juris doctor from the University of Kentucky College of Law.

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.

2010 Election
Circuit and district judges who are appointed to fill vacancies and wish to try to retain their seats will run for elected office in 2010. 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 at

District Court
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 supports the activities of approximately 3,800 Kentucky Court of Justice employees, including the elected offices of justices, judges and circuit court clerks.