Kentucky Court of Justice
Kentucky Court of Appeals to hear oral arguments in Pike County cases June 12 in Mount Sterling
FRANKFORT, Ky. -- The Kentucky Court of Appeals will hear oral arguments in two Pike County cases Thursday, June 12, at the Montgomery County Courthouse in Mount Sterling. The proceedings will be open to the public.
A three-judge panel consisting of Court of Appeals Chief Judge Sara Walter Combs, Court of Appeals Judge Christopher Shea Nickell and Senior Judge John W. Graves will hear arguments beginning at 10 a.m. in the Circuit Courtroom in the courthouse, which is located at 1 Court St.
A case docket containing summaries of the cases the panel will hear is below.
Mount Sterling Docket
Thursday, June 12, 2008
10 AM 2007CA000753
LAFE WARD v COMMONWEALTH OF KENTUCKY
Summary: Criminal. Challenge to constitutionality of statutes involving DUI and charging wanton murder. Appellant claims statutes should be void due to vagueness.
Pike County judge who ruled in the case – Judge Eddy Coleman
Appellant’s attorney: Stephen W. Owens
Appellee’s attorneys: Jack Conway and Jeffrey A. Cross
10:45 AM 2007CA001586
MARY COLEMAN v LONES ADAMS
Summary: Civil. Property dispute involving parameters of private ownership and use of a public right of way.
Pike County judge who ruled in the case – Judge Steven D. Combs
Appellant’s attorney: Lawrence R. Webster
Appellee’s attorney: Stephen W. Owens
Chief Judge Sara Walter Combs
Sara Walter Combs became 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 assumed the role in June 2004 after her colleagues on the court voted unanimously to elect her to the position as chief judge, which provides administrative oversight to the Court of Appeals. Judge Combs recently began her second four-year term as chief judge after being re-elected to the position by her fellow Court of Appeals judges.
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.
She represents Division 2 of the 7th Appellate District, which is comprised of Boyd, Breathitt, Carter, Elliott, Floyd, Greenup, Harlan, Johnson, Knott, Lawrence, Letcher, Magoffin, Martin, Menifee, Montgomery, Morgan, Owsley, Perry, Pike, Powell, Rowan and Wolfe counties.
Judge Combs ranked second in her class at the University of Louisville Brandeis School of Law, which later honored her with its Distinguished Alumni Award. She was valedictorian at Sacred Heart Academy in Louisville and at 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, Lees College and the Kentucky Mountain Laurel Festival. She previously served for seven years on the Kentucky Appalachian Commission.
Judge Combs resides at Fern Hill in Stanton, the farm she shared with her late husband, Gov. Bert T. Combs.
Judge Christopher Shea Nickell
Christopher Shea 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.
Senior Judge John W. Graves
John W. Graves of Paducah is a senior judge assigned to the Court of Appeals. He became a senior judge after retiring as a Supreme Court justice in December 2006.
Judge Graves was elected to the Supreme Court of Kentucky in November 1995 and re-elected for a second term in 1998. He served as a circuit judge after being appointed in 1989 and as a district judge after he was appointed in 1984.
Prior to his judicial career, Judge Graves was an attorney in private practice for 20 years.
Judge Graves earned his juris doctor from the University of Kentucky College of Law and his bachelor’s degree from the University of Notre Dame.
Judge Graves and his wife, Mary Ann, have two children, James Anthony and Kevin Andrew.
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.
The Administrative Office of the Courts in Frankfort supports the activities of 4,000 Kentucky Court of Justice employees, including the elected offices of 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.