Kentucky Court of Justice
Judicial Nominating Commission announces nominees for vacant judgeship in Campbell County
FRANKFORT, Ky. -- The Judicial Nominating Commission, led by Chief Justice of Kentucky John D. Minton Jr., today announced nominees to fill the vacant Family Court judgeship in the 17th Judicial Circuit, Division 3, which serves Campbell County.
The three attorneys named as nominees to fill the vacancy are Laurie Bilz Dowell, Mary Gayle Hoffman and John Robert Jennings.
The Family Court judgeship was left vacant by Judge D. Michael Foellger, who resigned Jan. 1 to join the Senior Judges Program.
Laurie Bilz Dowell of Cold Spring is an attorney with the firm Twehues & Verst and is an assistant county attorney for the Campbell County Attorney’s Office. She earned her juris doctor at Northern Kentucky University Salmon P. Chase College of Law, graduating in 1988.
Mary Gayle Hoffman of Newport is president and owner of The Hoffman Firm, PSC, in Elsmere. She earned her juris doctor at Northern Kentucky University Salmon P. Chase College of Law, graduating in 1980.
John Robert Jennings of Alexandria previously served as a staff attorney for Judge Foellger. He earned his juris doctor at the University of Kentucky College of Law, graduating in 1975.
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 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.
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. A division of Circuit Court, Family Court has primary jurisdiction in cases involving family issues, such as divorces, adoption, child support, domestic violence and juvenile status offenses.
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.