FRANKFORT (March 22, 2018) — A judicial redistricting bill that would add court judgeships in a few areas of the state and remove judgeships from other areas has received final passage on a vote of 63-31 in the Kentucky House.
House Bill 348, sponsored by Rep. Jeff Hoover, R-Jamestown, and Rep. Jason Nemes, R-Louisville, would add family court judges to the judicial circuit serving Pulaski, Lincoln and Rockcastle counties and the judicial circuit serving Boone and Gallatin counties. A third family judge would be added in Bullitt County, where a district judgeship would be converted to a family court judgeship to accommodate the change.
Judgeships that would be eliminated as of 2023 to help pay for the new seats include a circuit judgeship in Floyd County and district judgeship in far West Kentucky. The West Kentucky position would be created by combining two districts – one in Fulton and Hickman counties and one in Carlisle and Ballard counties—into one district.
Nemes said HB 348 adjusts judgeships according to caseload when he spoke on the bill before the House Judiciary Committee in early March. He said the circuits in southern and northern Kentucky which are slated to receive new judges under the bill especially have “a tremendous need.”
“There’s a lot of places in Kentucky where judges are working extremely hard but in those two places – I don’t see how they’re even getting the job done, they’re so overworked,” said Nemes.
One House member voting against the bill was Rep. Larry Brown, R-Prestonsburg. The Floyd County judgeship that would be eliminated by the bill serves citizens in his district.
“I think the numbers were askew,” said Brown. “And I think we’re being unfairly punished in Floyd County by losing a circuit judge who has done nothing but his job, and done it above and beyond the call—having to go to different circuits and take care of business there as well.”
The legislation would also require the Kentucky Supreme Court to certify the need for any changes in the state’s judicial circuits or districts based on an eight-year review of the courts by the Administrative Office of the Courts. That review may be ordered by the state Supreme Court starting in 2020.
HB 348, which was approved by the Senate on a vote of 32-5 yesterday, now goes to the governor to be signed into law.