Kentucky Court of Justice
Judicial Nominating Commission announces nominees for Jefferson District Court judgeship
FRANKFORT, Ky. -- The Judicial Nominating Commission, led by Chief Justice of Kentucky John D. Minton Jr., announced Oct. 2 the nominees to fill the vacant District Court judgeship in Jefferson County. Jefferson County is the 30th Judicial District and the open seat is in the district’s 12th Division.
The three attorneys named as nominees to fill the vacancy are Wanda Mitchell Baker and Eric Joseph Haner, both of Louisville, and Ellie Garcia Kerstetter of Audubon Park.
Baker has been an attorney in private practice since June 2012. She served as the chief of staff for the Jefferson County Office of Circuit Court Clerk from 2009 to 2012 and as the office’s chief operating officer from 2007 to 2009. She received her juris doctor from the University of Virginia Law School.
Haner owns and practices through Haner Law Office. He received his juris doctor from the University of Louisville Louis D. Brandeis School of Law.
Kerstetter is a solo practitioner. She received her juris doctor from the University of Louisville Louis D. Brandeis School of Law.
The vacancy was created when Judge Angela McCormick Bisig was elected to serve as a Jefferson Circuit Court judge in November 2012.
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 may 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.
District Court judges handle juvenile matters, city and county ordinances, misdemeanors, violations, traffic offenses, probate of wills, arraignments, felony probable cause hearings, small claims involving $2,500 or less, civil cases involving $5,000 or less, 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 is the operations arm for the state court system. The AOC supports the activities of nearly 3,300 court system employees and 403 elected justices, judges and circuit court clerks. As the fiscal agent for the state court system, the AOC executes the Judicial Branch budget.