FRANKFORT, Ky., May 2, 2013 – At the invitation of the chief justice, Kentucky judges recently came together for a joint two-day college to focus on a variety of topics of interest to trial court and appellate judges.
The Administrative Office of the Courts hosted a Spring Judicial College for Supreme Court justices and Court of Appeals, Circuit Court and District Court judges April 23-24 in Lexington.
Circuit Court Judges Bruce T. Butler and Judge Robert A. Miller, and District Court Judges Shan F. Embry and Judge Kenneth Harold Goff II, who serves Grayson and Meade counties participated in the program.
“While circuit and district judges typically hold separate colleges each fall, there’s much to be gained when judges from all four levels of the court system gather to learn about timely issues,” Chief Justice of Kentucky John D. Minton Jr. said. “That kind of collaboration gives us a fresh perspective and prepares us to do a better job when we’re back on the bench.”
Children and Families
The college offered Family Court and District Court judges an in-depth session on Reclaiming Futures to give them a framework for a better juvenile justice system in the commonwealth. Reclaiming Futures is a national model that brings together courts, probation officers, substance abuse treatment providers, mental health agencies and communities to help youths who have committed offenses rather than jailing them.
The college also offered a program for Family Court judges on best practices in Family Court and the standards used to determine how well a Family Court is performing in handling child abuse and neglect cases.
Pretrial Release, House Bill 463 and Ethical Judicial Campaign
All justices and judges were invited to participate in sessions on pretrial release, evidence-based sentencing under House Bill 463 and judicial elections.
Participants in the pretrial release course received an overview of pretrial justice and information about recent research on evidence-based practices in pretrial release.
The HB 463 session focused on sentencing requirements that take effect July 1, 2013. The legislation mandates that judges take into account certain factors before sentencing a defendant, including his or her risk and needs assessment and the likelihood that a potential sentence would reduce the defendant’s future criminal behavior. The law requires judges to consider evidence-based factors – factors that have been proven to reduce recidivism – when making sentencing decisions.
Participants heard from national speakers about evidence-based sentencing and from the state Department of Corrections about the risk and needs assessment Probation and Parole uses to measure a defendant’s risk of reoffending.
HB 463 took effect in 2011 and is the most comprehensive overhaul of Kentucky’s penal code in more than 30 years. The legislation was designed to curb the cost of incarceration without compromising public safety and was supported by all three branches of government.
The college also offered a refresher course on how to run proper judicial campaigns. Four of the seven justices, all 14 Court of Appeals judges, and all of the circuit and district judges are up for election in 2014.
Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes discussed how to get on a judicial ballot and officials from the Registry of Election Finance covered campaign finance laws during the judicial elections session.
Participants heard about the Judicial Campaign Conduct Commission from University of Kentucky Law Professor Bill Fortune and Al Cross, director of the Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues. Professor and judge Tom Hodson from the Scripps College of Communications in Ohio talked about the impact of social media on judicial elections. The session also offered information on political advertising and ethical and First Amendment issues.
Justices and judges earned continuing judicial education credits for participating in the Spring College. The AOC Division of Judicial Branch Education provides continuing education for the elected officials.
Learn about the Supreme Court, Court of Appeals, Family Court, Circuit Court and District Court.
The AOC is the operations arm for the state court system and supports the activities of nearly 3,300 court system employees and 403 elected justices, judges and circuit court clerks. As the fiscal agent for the state court system, the AOC also executes the Judicial Branch budget.