Kentucky Court of Justice
Jason M. Nemes leaving the AOC to join Dinsmore & Shohl
FRANKFORT, Ky. -- Jason M. Nemes announced today that he is leaving his post as director of the Kentucky Administrative Office of the Courts to practice law with Dinsmore & Shohl in Louisville. His resignation is effective April 3, 2009. As head of the AOC, Nemes oversees the agency that provides administrative support to the Kentucky court system, including a $300 million budget.
Nemes began service as acting director of the AOC in January 2007 and was selected by then-Chief Justice Joseph E. Lambert to serve as permanent director in April of that year. Prior to overseeing the AOC, Nemes had served as chief of staff and counsel for Chief Justice Lambert since June 2005.
"I consider it an unparalleled honor to have had the opportunity to serve the justices, judges and circuit court clerks of the Kentucky Court of Justice," said Nemes. "Although it will be difficult for me to leave that service, I have long aspired to practice law in my hometown of Louisville."
"Jason Nemes has a fine legal mind and he is ideally suited for private law practice," said former Chief Justice Lambert. "Since graduating from law school, he has had the experience of working for the chief justice at the highest level and also managing a branch of government with 3,500 employees. His work has been outstanding in every respect and judges and clerks throughout Kentucky respect him greatly."
"Jason and I discussed that he would stay as the AOC director for the first year of my tenure to provide the needed continuity," said Chief Justice John D. Minton Jr., who became Kentucky's fifth chief justice in June 2008. "Jason said that he ultimately wanted to practice law in Louisville and now, with the recent addition of a second child to his family, he believes it is the right time to take the next step in his career.
"Jason has ably fulfilled his obligation to me," said Chief Justice Minton. "He has been full of innovative ideas. Even though our time together has been short, he has had great long-term vision for the organization. Under his leadership, the AOC has completed a three-year strategic plan. He also restructured the AOC to streamline its operations and to focus on serving the elected officials of the judiciary. From the very beginning he talked about enhancing the transparency of the Judicial Branch and has worked hard to achieve that on several fronts."
Nemes began his tenure at the Administrative Office of the Courts with a well-developed plan for agency-wide reorganization.Utilizing firsthand observations in the field, small focus groups, surveys and numerous conversations with elected officials and court staff, Nemes assembled a restructure team. After 12 months of intensive planning, the team unveiled the most significant reorganization of the AOC in its 30-year history. The reorganization refocused business on AOC’s core function, which is to serve the elected justices, judges and circuit court clerks, which allows their greater service to the public. The new reorganization streamlined the AOC from 16 departments to 10 for greater efficiency and improved communication, both internally and externally.
Concurrently, Nemes mandated development of an agency-wide strategic plan. The carefully crafted plan involved employees from all sectors of the agency, both in the development and implementation phases. It provides clear direction on core business practices and agency priorities. Perhaps most important to current circumstances, the plan led by Nemes is focused on how the agency uses scarce resources. The plan, endorsed by Chief Justice Minton, is designed to serve the agency from 2008-2011.
The reorganization and the strategic plan served as a foundation to numerous other major initiatives pilot-tested and implemented by Nemes including:
-modernization of Court Interpreting Services, including expansion of American Sign Language Services;
-scientific judicial caseload analyses designed to assist trial court judges with daily docket management;
-a fully automated criminal background check system;
-refinement and expansion of felony mediation;
-effective use of senior judges for purposes of improving access to justice and reducing delays in case processing;
-development of a Judicial Training Academy, which brought state-of-the-art research, interactive instructional methodology and cutting-edge content to Judicial Colleges;
-monitored conditional release;
-pilot Mental Health Courts;
-an automated jury management system;
-racial and ethnic fairness initiatives, including the acclaimed Summit on Diversity;
-the Kentucky Summit on Children;
-an improvement of system-wide electronic projects such as electronic fine payments, e-warrants and CourtNet.
"Jason Nemes is one of the hardest working, most dedicated individuals I have ever met," said Justice Lisabeth Hughes Abramson of the Supreme Court of Kentucky. "The Kentucky court system has benefited greatly from his leadership of the AOC and although we are very sorry to see him leave, I am happy that he is returning to practice law in Louisville where he will continue to serve our profession."
“Director Nemes was able to fully achieve diverse and multifaceted projects because he kept his fingers on the pulse in the field," said Dr. Deborah Williamson, executive officer for the AOC Department of Court Services. "Judges and clerks know he cares deeply for justice, and that he pursued system improvements with unparalleled exuberance and visionary forethought. Staff members were never hesitant to take on an assignment because they knew they had his full support and confidence, and that he would literally roll up his sleeves and work side-by-side with them 24/7. Jason’s most frequent quote is, ‘How can I help you do your job better?’ We will sorely miss this young, bright, and vivacious leader who constantly challenged status quo thinking and resting on one’s laurels.”
"Jason has served the Court of Justice well and faithfully during a major period of transition," said Kentucky Court of Appeals Chief Judge Sara W. Combs. "We have experienced an unprecedented turnover in the judiciary during his tenure -- coupled with critical budgetary constraints. He has provided a steady hand and wisdom beyond his years. We all wish him the very best in his new career."
"After serving 40 years in the Office of Circuirt Court Clerk, I can say Jason Nemes truly understands the complexities of our office," said Nelson County Circuit Court Clerk Diane Thompson. "He has a vast amount of knowledge in all areas of the judicial system and is highly regarded across our great Commonwealth. There is not a courthouse in Kentucky that Jason hasn’t impacted in his short tenure as director of the AOC. Jason’s leaving is a huge loss to our judicial system. I wish him every success."
Raoul Cunningham of the NAACP in Louisville said, "I deeply regret that Jason Nemes is leaving as director of the Kentucky Administrative Office of the Courts. Although I served for six years as deputy commissioner of the the Kentucky Department of Personnel, I was quite unfamiliar with the mission of the AOC. Jason was most helpful, courteous and professional in assisting me to understand the functions of the agency and very responsive to my many requests as a member of the Racial Fairness Commission and president of the Louisville Branch of the NAACP. I wish him well in all of his future endeavors."
Jefferson County Commonwealth's Attorney Dave Stengel and Chief Public Defender Dan Goyette said that Nemes has been an effective leader of the AOC. They said he has always been willing to acknowledge and confront problems within the criminal justice system head-on and that he has been cooperative with all players in the operation of the courts.
In addition to his record as an administrator, Nemes also has recently co-authored United at Last: The Judicial Article and the Struggle to Reform Kentucky’s Courts. He is currently writing a book devoted to the Kentucky Constitution. Nemes, a Louisville native, ranked among the top in his class when he graduated from the University of Louisville Brandeis School of Law. He has served as an adjunct professor of constitutional law and appellate practice at U of L. He earned a bachelor’s degree from Western Kentucky University where he pursued a double major in government and sociology and a minor in criminology.
In addition to his work with the Kentucky Court of Justice, Nemes has served as a legislative aide on the Washington, D.C., staffs of Congresswoman Anne Northup of Louisville and then Congressman Ernie Fletcher of Lexington. Nemes and his wife, Leslie, reside in their hometown of Louisville with their sons, Samuel, 3, and William, 3 months.
Chief Justice Minton said that he will soon name an interim AOC director to serve while a national search is conducted for a permanent director.
The AOC supports the activities of nearly 4,000 Kentucky Court of Justice employees, including the elected offices of justices, judges and circuit court clerks, and executes the Judicial Branch budget.