Kentucky Court of Justice
Kentucky Court of Appeals to hear oral arguments in two appeals Sept. 8 in Leitchfield
FRANKFORT, Ky. -- The Kentucky Court of Appeals will hear oral arguments in two appeals Wednesday, Sept. 8, at the Grayson County Courthouse in Leitchfield. The cases are on appeal from courts in Barren and Henderson counties. Proceedings will begin at 1 p.m. CDT in the Circuit Courtroom. The courthouse is located at 500 Carroll Gibson Blvd. Proceedings will be open to the public.
A three-judge panel comprised of Court of Appeals Chief Judge Jeff S. Taylor and Court of Appeals Judges Sara Walter Combs and Christopher Shea Nickell will hear oral arguments in the appeals.
A docket containing summaries of the cases is below.
Wednesday, Sept. 8, 2010
1 PM 2009CA002366
MICHAEL DIRE v. MELISSA DIRE (NOW BAILEY)
Summary: Civil. At issue is whether the Circuit Court properly modified child custody.
Barren County judge who ruled in the case – Judge W. Mitchell Nance
Appellant’s attorney: Benjamin Rogers
Appellee’s attorney: Temple Dickinson
1:45 PM 2009CA000551
JAMES E. PHILLIPS v. COMMONWEALTH OF KENTUCKY
Summary: Criminal. The appellant was convicted and sentenced to 120 days for failure to file a net profit return for 2005 pursuant to a then-newly enacted city ordinance on licensing fees or businesses in the city of Henderson. The trial court suspended the sentence but left the fines and costs in effect. The appellant is challenging the constitutionality of the ordinance.
Henderson County judge who ruled in the case – Judge Karen Lynn Wilson
Appellant’s attorney: John Tullis
Appellee’s attorney: Nicole Wade
Chief Judge Jeff S. Taylor
Judge Taylor is chief judge of the Kentucky Court of Appeals. He assumed the role in July 2010 after his colleagues on the court elected him to the position. The chief judge provides administrative oversight to the Court of Appeals.
Judge Taylor was first elected as a Court of Appeals judge in November 2003 to represent the 2nd Appellate District, which is comprised of Barren, Breckinridge, Bullitt, Daviess, Grayson, Hancock, Hardin, Hart, Henderson, LaRue, Meade, Ohio, Union and Warren counties. He was re-elected in November 2006 to a full eight-year term.
He previously practiced law in Owensboro for more than 20 years and was a sole practitioner from 1990 until his election to the Court of Appeals.
Judge Taylor has a Bachelor of Science degree from Murray State University and a Master of Public Administration degree from Memphis State University. He earned his law degree from the University of Louisville Louis D. Brandeis School of Law, graduating with honors in 1982. He is a 1971 graduate of Elizabethtown High School.
He serves on the Kentucky Bar Foundation Board of Directors and on the board of directors for the Daviess County Public Schools Foundation. He served on the Murray State University Board of Regents from September 2006 to September 2009.
He is a past president of the Kentucky chapter of the Federal Bar Association. He is also past president of the Daviess County Bar Association, Daviess County Public Defender Corp. and the Daviess County Lawyer Referral Service. He is a member of the American, Kentucky and Daviess County bar associations.
Judge Taylor is a Life Fellow in the Kentucky Bar Foundation and a member of the Brandeis Honor Society at the University of Louisville Louis D. Brandeis School of Law.
Judge Taylor is a member of the Owensboro-Daviess County Chamber of Commerce, is past president of the Owensboro Kiwanis Club and serves on the Girls Inc. Board of Trustees. He is a former board member of the Owensboro-Daviess County Committee on Aging. He has been a frequent United Way volunteer and has been a volunteer for the Salvation Army and Boy Scouts Law Explorers.
Judge Taylor was born in Fort Knox and raised in Daviess County. He is married to the former Betty Keller of Christian County. She has one son and the couple has two grandchildren.
Judge Sara Walter Combs
Judge Combs was the first woman and the first judge from the Eastern Kentucky counties of the 7th Appellate District to serve as chief judge of the Kentucky Court of Appeals. She served in that role from June 2004 until May 2010.
Judge Combs also made history by being the first woman to serve on the Supreme Court of Kentucky when then Gov. Brereton Jones appointed her to serve on the state’s highest court in l993. After she narrowly lost her election to retain that seat on the Supreme Court, Gov. Jones appointed her to fill a vacancy on the Court of Appeals in 1994. She was elected to the court in November 1994 and re-elected in 2000 and again in 2006.
The Kentucky Bar Association named Judge Combs as Outstanding Judge of the Year in June 2010.
Judge Combs ranked second in her class at the University of Louisville Brandeis School of Law, which later honored her with a Distinguished Alumni Award. She was valedictorian at both Sacred Heart Academy in Louisville and U of L, where she obtained an undergraduate degree in French. She also earned her master’s degree in French from U of L, having been recognized as a Woodrow Wilson Designate.
Judge Combs has taught at the high school and university levels in addition to gaining broad experience in the practice of law. She began her career as an associate with Wyatt, Tarrant & Combs in Louisville before serving as corporate counsel to an advertising company. She also practiced law with her late husband, former Kentucky Gov. Bert T. Combs; established a solo practice in Stanton; and became a regional associate with the Louisville law firm of Mapother & Mapother.
She is affiliated with numerous professional, educational and civic organizations. She is a member of the Kentucky Bar Association, the Louisville Bar Association and the University Press of Kentucky. She also serves on the boards of Pikeville College and Lees College. She previously served for seven years on the Kentucky Appalachian Commission.
Judge Combs currently resides at Fern Hill in Stanton, the farm she shared with her late husband, Gov. Bert T. Combs.
Judge Christopher Shea Nickell
Judge Nickell was elected to serve on the Kentucky Court of Appeals in November 2006 and represents Division 1 of the 1st Appellate District. The 1st Appellate District is comprised of Allen, Ballard, Butler, Caldwell, Calloway, Carlisle, Christian, Crittenden, Edmonson, Fulton, Graves, Hickman, Hopkins, Livingston, Logan, Lyon, Marshall, McCracken, McLean, Muhlenberg, Simpson, Todd, Trigg and Webster counties.
Prior to his election, Judge Nickell practiced law for 22 years, serving as a trial attorney, prosecutor, public defender and college instructor. From 2002 until his election to the Court of Appeals, he served as assistant McCracken County attorney.
Judge Nickell served as assistant public advocate in Graves County from 1999 to 2000 through the Department of Public Advocacy’s Paducah trial office. In 1997, he established Nickell Law Firm in Paducah. He was previously associated with the law office of Truman L. Dehner in Morehead and two Paducah law firms, Boehl, Stopher & Graves LLP and the Saladino Law Firm. From 1985 to 1986, Judge Nickell served as assistant commonwealth’s attorney for the 21st Judicial District, which is comprised of Bath, Menifee, Montgomery and Rowan counties. In addition, he has taught courses on insurance and risk management at Murray State University and on jurisprudence at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
In 1995, the Kentucky Bar Association named Judge Nickell an Outstanding Kentucky Young Lawyer.
A native and resident of McCracken County, Judge Nickell graduated from Paducah Tilghman High School in 1977. He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from DePauw University in 1981, majoring in both political science and communications. At DePauw, he served as student body president and was the recipient of the Walker Cup, which faculty present annually to the graduating senior who has contributed most to the campus community. He subsequently served on the DePauw Board of Trustees. Judge Nickell earned his juris doctor degree from the University of Kentucky College of Law in 1984, where he served as president of the student bar association.
Judge Nickell served as district governor for District 43K of the International Association of Lions Clubs and as president of the Paducah Lions Club. He is a recipient of the organization’s Finis Davis and Melvin Jones awards and is a trustee on the Kentucky Lions Eye Foundation. He is an Eagle Scout and a board member for the Shawnee Trails Boy Scout Council. He has been involved in numerous other civic organizations, including the Chamber of Commerce, Elks Club, Masons, Habitat for Humanity, Ducks Unlimited, and National Wild Turkey Federation.
Judge Nickell is a deacon and adult Sunday school teacher at the Heartland Worship Center (Southern Baptist) in Paducah. He previously served as music director at Concord United Methodist Church in Paducah and is a member of Gideons International.
Judge Nickell was married to the late Lana Jean “Jeanne” (King) Nickell, a schoolteacher, administrator and counselor who died in 2001. He is the son of Carl Duane “Red” Nickell and Anna June (Starrett) Nickell, who are retired educators.
Kentucky Court of Appeals
Nearly all cases heard by the Kentucky Court of Appeals come to it on appeal from a lower court. If a case is tried in Circuit Court or District Court and the losing parties involved are not satisfied with the outcome, they may ask for a higher court to review the correctness of the trial court’s decision. Some cases, such as criminal case acquittals and divorces, may not be appealed. In a divorce case, however, child custody and property rights decisions may be appealed. Cases are not retried in the Court of Appeals. Only the record of the original court trial is reviewed, with attorneys presenting the legal issues to the court for a decision.
Fourteen judges, two elected from seven appellate court districts, serve on the Court of Appeals. The judges are divided into panels of three to review and decide cases, with the majority determining the decision. The panels do not sit permanently in one location, but travel throughout the state to hear cases.
Administrative Office of the Courts
The Administrative Office of the Courts in Frankfort supports the activities of approximately 3,400 court system employees and 403 elected justices, judges and circuit court clerks. As the fiscal agent for the state court system, the AOC prepares a biennial budget draft and executes the Judicial Branch budget.