Kentucky Court of Justice
Court of Appeals to hear arguments in Floyd County mining case Nov. 18 in Frankfort
FRANKFORT, Ky. -- The Kentucky Court of Appeals will hear arguments Friday, Nov. 18, as Laurel Mountain Resources challenges a court order upholding the state Energy and Environment Cabinet’s right to impose conditions on surface mining operations in the Wilson Creek area of Floyd County. Proceedings are open to the public and will take place at 10 a.m. EST in the Court of Appeals Courtroom at 360 Democrat Drive in Frankfort.
Miller Brothers Coal, which has since been purchased by Laurel Mountain Resources, had applied to the cabinet for a permit to mine in the Wilson Creek area. After land agents began seeking leases from residents for surface mining, resident Beverly May and others filed a petition with the cabinet to have the area designated as lands unsuitable for mining. The cabinet denied the petition but attached conditions for mining in the area that would apply to the Miller Brothers’ permit and any future permit for mining there. Conditions included banning the use of a county road for coal hauling and requiring hardwood reforestation after mining is completed.
The mining company sued the cabinet and May in Franklin Circuit Court but the court ruled in September 2010 that the cabinet had the right to impose the conditions. Laurel Mountain Resources is appealing the judgment, claiming the cabinet exceeded its authority and that its decision to attach conditions was not supported by substantial evidence.
The Kentucky Coal Association has filed a friend of the court brief in the case. A friend of the court is a person or organization that is not a party to a case but volunteers to offer information to assist a court in deciding a matter before it. In this case, the information is a legal opinion being provided in the form of a brief.
A three-judge panel comprised of Court of Appeals Chief Judge Jeff S. Taylor, Court of Appeals Judge Denise G. Clayton and Senior Judge Joseph E. Lambert will hear arguments in the case. Judge Lambert will preside.
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.
FRIDAY, NOV. 18, 2011
LAUREL MOUNTAIN RESOURCES, LLC (AS SUCCESSOR IN INTEREST OF MILLER BROS. COAL, LLC) ET AL. v ENERGY AND ENVIRONMENT CABINET ET AL.
Summary: Civil. This is an appeal from a court order that upheld the state Energy and Environment Cabinet’s decision to impose condition on surface mining operations in the Wilson Creek area of Floyd County. The cabinet denied a petition from residents in the area to declare it as lands unsuitable for mining but added conditions for surface mining in the petition area. Appellant Laurel Mountain Resources claims the cabinet exceeded its authority and that its decision was not supported by substantial evidence.
Franklin County judge who presided in the case – Judge Thomas D. Wingate
Appellants’ attorneys: W. Blaine Early III and Mark Overstreet
Appellees’ attorneys: S. Smock for the Energy and Environment Cabinet and Mary Cromer and Stephen Sanders for Beverly May and the Floyd County Chapter of Kentuckians for the Commonwealth
Attorney representing the Kentucky Coal Association: Spencer Noe
Senior Judge Joseph E. Lambert
Judge Joseph E. Lambert is a senior judge assigned to the Court of Appeals and is chief judge of Kentucky’s Senior Judges Program. He became a senior judge after retiring June 27, 2008, as chief justice of the Supreme Court of Kentucky.
Judge Lambert served 22 years as a Supreme Court justice and 10 years as chief justice. He was first elected to the Supreme Court in 1986 from the 27 southeastern Kentucky counties of the 3rd Supreme Court District. He was subsequently re-elected in 1994 and 2002. He became Kentucky’s fourth chief justice in October 1998 by a vote of his fellow justices and was re-elected to two additional four-year terms as chief justice in 2002 and in 2006.
During Judge Lambert’s 10-year tenure as chief justice, the Kentucky Court of Justice made great strides in Family Court, judicial facilities, court technology, Drug Court, judicial education, pretrial services and diversity awareness. In the last decade, Kentucky has earned a national reputation for Family Court, court facilities improvement, Drug Court and many other cutting-edge initiatives.
As a justice of the Supreme Court, Judge Lambert authored more than 400 published opinions of the Court and scores of dissenting and concurring opinions. In addition, he authored more than 500 memorandum opinions. He has been a frequent lecturer at bar conferences and has authored articles for publication in scholarly journals and the Kentucky Bar Association’s Bench and Bar magazine. He has also participated in numerous national legal education events as an invited speaker or panelist. As chief justice, he was an active member of the national Conference of Chief Justices and was elected to serve on its board of directors.
In 2000, the Kentucky Bar Association named him Outstanding Judge of Kentucky. He is a former board member of the Conference of Chief Justices and a former regent of Eastern Kentucky University. He serves as board chair of the Kentucky Judicial Form Retirement Plan.
The Kentucky Department of Public Advocacy gave Judge Lambert its Public Service Award in 2006. In 2004, he received the Civil Rights Award from both the Northern Kentucky NAACP and the Lexington NAACP for his commitment to eliminating discrimination. In 2003, he was awarded the Kentucky Bar Association President’s Special Service Award. He was given the Kentucky Public Advocate Award in 2001. In 2000, the National Association of Drug Court Professionals gave him its Leadership Award.
In October 2007, U.S. Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. appointed Chief Justice Lambert to membership on the Committee on Federal-State Jurisdiction of the Judicial Conference of the United States.
He holds a bachelor’s degree from Georgetown (Ky.) College and a juris doctor from the University of Louisville Brandeis School of Law, which gave him its Distinguished Alumni Award. He has received honorary doctor of laws degrees from Georgetown College, Eastern Kentucky University and Northern Kentucky University Chase College of Law.
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.