FRANKFORT, Ky. (KY COURTS) -- The Judicial Nominating Commission, led by Chief Justice of Kentucky John D. Minton Jr., today announced nominees to fill the vacant Warren County Family Court judgeship. Warren County is the 8th Judicial Circuit and the vacancy is in the circuit’s 3rd Division.
The three attorneys named as nominees to fill the vacancy are James Richard Downey, David A. Lanphear and Rebecca Adams Simpson, all of Bowling Green.
Downey served as an attorney with Kentucky Legal Aid from 2006 to 2012 and was previously an attorney in private practice. He received his juris doctor from the University of Kentucky College of Law.
Lanphear has been a partner in the law firm of Lanphear & Walton in Bowling Green for 14 years. He received his juris doctor from Northern Kentucky University Salmon P. Chase College of Law.
Simpson has served as an attorney with Kentucky Legal Aid since 2008 and was previously an attorney in private practice. She received her juris doctor from the University of Louisville Louis D. Brandeis School of Law.
The Family Court vacancy was created by the passing of Warren County Family Court Judge Margaret R. Huddleston on Jan. 3, 2014.
Judicial Nominating Process
When a judicial vacancy occurs, the executive secretary of the Judicial Nominating Commission 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 Gov. Steve Beshear for review. The governor has 60 days to appoint a replacement, and his office makes the announcement.
Makeup of the Judicial Nominating Commission
The Judicial Nominating Commission is established in the Kentucky Constitution. Ky. Const. § 118; SCR 6.000, et seq. The 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.
Family Court has primary jurisdiction in cases involving family issues, including divorces, adoption, child support, domestic violence and juvenile status offenses. Family Court is a division of Circuit Court.
Administrative Office of the Courts
The Administrative Office of the Courts in Frankfort is the operations arm for the state court system. The AOC 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 executes the Judicial Branch budget.