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Nominees for Fayette County Circuit and District judgeships

LEXINGTON, Ky. — The Judicial Nominating Commission, led by Chief Justice of Kentucky John D. Minton Jr., announced nominees to fill vacant judgeships in Fayette County Circuit and District courts. Fayette makes up the 22nd Judicial Circuit/District and the vacancies are in Circuit Division 7 and District Division 1.

Circuit judge nominees:The three nominees for the Circuit Court judgeship are attorneys Perry Mack Bentley, Todd Smith Page, and Jeffrey Anderson Taylor, all of Lexington. The judicial seat will be vacant when Judge Ernesto Scorsone retires on Nov. 30.

Bentley has been in private practice with Stoll Keenon Ogden since 1984 and began serving as a senior attorney with the firm in January 2020. He received his Juris Doctor from the University of Kentucky J. David Rosenberg College of Law.

Page has been in private practice with Stoll Keenon Ogden since 1993 and has been a member since 2001. He received his Juris Doctor from the University of Kentucky J. David Rosenberg College of Law.

Taylor is a partner with the law firm of Landrum & Shouse. He received his Juris Doctor from The John Marshall Law School, which is now the University of Illinois-Chicago School of Law.

District judge nominees:The three nominees for the District Court judgeship are attorneys Shannon Leigh Brooks, Joshua Tyler Fain, and Denotra Ann Spruill-Gunther, all of Lexington. The judicial seat became vacant when Judge Joseph T. Bouvier retired on Oct. 31.

Brooks has served as an attorney for the Kentucky Department of Public Advocacy since 2008. She received her Juris Doctor from the University of Saint Louis School of Law.

Fain is the director of the non-profit housing agency Lexington Community Land Trust. He previously served as a legal aid attorney with Legal Aid of the Bluegrass from 2006-2020. He received his Juris Doctor from the University of Kentucky J. David Rosenberg College of Law.

Spruill-Gunther is a solo practitioner, focusing on civil litigation. She previously served as a Fayette County prosecutor. She received her Juris Doctor from the University of Kentucky J. David Rosenberg College of Law.

Circuit CourtCircuit Court is the court of general jurisdiction that hears civil matters involving more than $5,000, capital offenses and felonies, divorces, adoptions, termination of parental rights, land dispute title cases, and contested probate cases. In counties with a Family Court division of Circuit Court, Family Court judges have primary jurisdiction in cases involving family issues, including divorces, adoption, child support, domestic violence, and juvenile status offenses.

District CourtDistrict Court judges handle juvenile matters, city and county ordinances, misdemeanors, violations, traffic offenses, the 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.

Judicial Nominating CommissionThe Judicial Nominating Commission helps fill judicial vacancies by appointment when a vacancy occurs outside of the election cycle. The Kentucky Constitution established the JNC. Ky. Const. § 118; SCR 6.000, et seq.

Judicial Nominating ProcessWhen a judicial vacancy occurs, the executive secretary of the JNC 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 the governor for review. The governor has 60 days to appoint a replacement and his office makes the announcement.

Makeup of the Judicial Nominating CommissionThe 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.

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