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Longtime Kentucky Supreme Court clerk retires

Susan Clary

FRANKFORT, Ky. — One of the Kentucky Supreme Court’s most recognizable figures is leaving her position. Susan Stokley Clary, the Supreme Court clerk for 25 years, will retire Feb. 1.

She has been clerk for three chief justices, Robert F. Stephens, Joseph E. Lambert and current Chief Justice John D. Minton Jr.

“Susan Clary’s long tenure on the second floor of the Capitol has made her synonymous with the Supreme Court,” Minton said. “I’ve had the privilege of working with Susan for many years and I consider her a true servant of the commonwealth. She has served the judicial branch with the utmost professionalism and dedication. I appreciate her many contributions and wish her all the best on a retirement that is certainly well deserved.”

As Supreme Court clerk, Clary holds an appointed position and is responsible for the custody, control and storage of all Supreme Court records. She is also court administrator and general counsel for the court.

Clary is familiar to most everyone who has done business with the highest court in Kentucky and is perhaps best known for calling proceedings to order in the Supreme Court Courtroom in the Capitol in Frankfort. Countless times over the years, Clary has begun the call to order with the traditional legal proclamation: “Oyez, oyez. Silence is commanded for the justices of the Supreme Court of Kentucky while they are sitting. All those having pleas to make or causes to prosecute draw nigh and ye shall be heard. This court is now in session. God save the commonwealth. God save this honorable court.”

Clary was steeped in the operations of the judicial branch even before being named clerk in 1995, as she previously served as general counsel and court administrator for the Supreme Court. Prior to that she was general manager for the Department of Juvenile Services of the Administrative Office of the Courts, where she developed and implemented the statewide Court Designated Worker Program. She was also administrative assistant for Chief Justice of Kentucky Robert F. Stephens and law clerk for Justice James B. Stephenson of the 7th Supreme Court District.

“For over 30 years it has been my true honor to serve this court,” Clary said. “What a blessing it has been to be a small part of a court family dedicated to the pursuit of justice and excellence and to have watched the building of a court system that better serves the needs of the citizens of the commonwealth.”

She is a member of several Supreme Court rules committees, including the Family Court Rules Committee, Civil Rules Committee, Supreme Court Rules Committee and Appellate Rules Committee. She was a charter member of the legislature’s Capital Planning Commission and has been a member of the Public Advocacy Commission and Leadership Kentucky. She has taught family law and juvenile law at Midway College and co-written the book “Kentucky Juvenile Law.”

Clary has served in numerous positions on the board of the National Conference of Appellate Court Clerks, including president from 2009-10. Her many awards include the 2012 President’s Special Service Award from the Kentucky Bar Association, the 2010 Professional Achievement Alumni Award from the UK College of Law and a 2010 Certificate of Appreciation for Distinguished Services from the NCACC.

Clary earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Kentucky and a juris doctor from the UK College of Law. She and her son, Nicholas, a recent UK graduate, live in Lexington.

Kelly Stephens has been named interim clerk of the Supreme Court. She is currently the governmental affairs liaison for the AOC after having held many roles since joining the court system’s administrative arm in 2002. Her positions with the AOC have included Family Court specialist, staff attorney, deputy general counsel and manager of the Division of Court Services in the Department of Information & Technology Services. She is a graduate of UK and the UK College of Law.