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Judge dismisses lawsuit seeking reappointment to Fish and Wildlife Commission

By Jack Brammer

jbrammer@herald-leader.com

FRANKFORT —A judge granted Senate President Robert Stivers’ request Friday to dismiss a lawsuit challenging the state Senate’s failure to vote on a reappointment to the Kentucky Fish and Wildlife Commission.

Franklin Circuit Judge Phillip J. Shepherd said in a four-page order that the court lacks the constitutional authority to direct the Senate on how to consider such nominations and nothing in the lawsuit filed by Campbellsville doctor Jim Angel supports any allegations that the Senate failed to follow its own rules.

Neither Angel nor his attorney, C. Thomas Hectus of Louisville, was immediately available to comment on Shepherd’s order.

Portrait of late Justice Keller dedicated at Capitol



By Jack Brammer

jbrammer@herald-leader.com

FRANKFORT —In a bittersweet ceremony, family and friends of the late Kentucky Supreme Court Justice James E. Keller of Lexington gathered in the Supreme Court chambers Wednesday to dedicate his portrait that will hang on the second floor of the Capitol.

The ceremony had been scheduled before Keller, who spent nearly 30 years on the bench, died June 2 of cancer. He was 71.

Chief Justice John D. Minton Jr. called Keller, who spent 22 years on the Fayette Circuit Court, “a force for justice and innovation.” Keller was on the state’s highest court from 1999 to 2005.

Lexington attorney Elizabeth S. Hughes, who chaired a committee that wrote and presented to the Supreme Court a resolution to honor Keller, praised Keller for his work in family law and support for women judges.

Deputy Chief Justice Mary C. Noble, who worked with Keller in Fayette Circuit Court, said, “What he gave to the people of Kentucky came straight from his heart.”

Lexington artist Marcia Park Cone painted the portrait of Keller. It was unveiled by her and family members of Keller to a packed court room.

Louis Hall calls it quits as an institution in the state Capitol

By Jack Brammer

jbrammer@herald-leader.com

FRANKFORT — Louis Hall Sr., an institution in the Kentucky Capitol for his nearly 52 years of service to the state’s high court and 62 years as a state employee, retired Friday.

Hall, 83, spent part of the afternoon taking down photos of state politicians he has known from a wall of his wood-paneled small office next to the stately Supreme Court chambers on the second floor of the Capitol.

Allison Jones newest member of Kentucky appellate court

HERALD-LEADER FRANKFORT BUREAU

FRANKFORT — Allison Jones of Oldham County is the newest member of the Kentucky Court of Appeals, replacing Michelle Keller, who now is a justice on the Kentucky Supreme Court.

Jones, who recently was appointed to the appellate court by Gov. Steve Beshear, has decided to locate her office in Campbell County.

Jones, like other Kentucky Court of Appeals Judges, hears cases from all across the state, regardless of geography, via a random assignment system developed by the courts.

But Jones said in a news release she still plans to travel extensively throughout the district to spend time with her new constituents and listen to their concerns about the judicial system.

Three nominated for N. Ky Court of Appeals seat

By Beth Musgrave
bmusgrave@herald-leader. com

FRANKFORT — Two northern Kentucky lawyers and an administrative law judge from Prospect have been nominated to fill a vacancy on the state Court of Appeals.

The Judicial Nominating Commission, a non-partisan panel led by Chief Supreme Court Justice John D. Minton, on Tuesday selected Allison Emerson Jones of Prospect, Mary Kathleen Molloy of Crescent Springs and Justin Sanders of Fort Wright as nominees for the 6th Appellate district seat. The seat was vacated when Gov. Steve Beshear appointed former Court of Appeals Judge Michelle M. Keller to the state Supreme Court in April.

Beshear will appoint one of the three to the Court of Appeals, Kentucky’s second-highest court.

State to get $15 million from online gambling company

By Beth Musgrave
bmusgrave@herald-leader.com

FRANKFORT — Kentucky will receive $15 million from an online gambling company in a settlement of a 2010 lawsuit, Gov. Steve Beshear announced Friday.

The $15 million is in addition to a $6 million settlement from federal lawsuits against online gambling companies that was announced earlier this month.

The money could not have come at a better time. The state closes its books for the fiscal year on Sunday and it was still unclear on Thursday if revenues would meet projections for the year.

Kentucky filed a lawsuit against bwin.party in August 2010, alleging that the company illegally collected bets from Kentucky gamblers. The $15 million settlement comes from Kentucky bets placed before the operation shut down after Congress passed the 2006 Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act, which prohibited businesses from knowingly accepting payments in a bet or wager over the Internet.

The previous $6 million settlement stemmed from two federal lawsuits in Maryland and New York. In addition, Kentucky still has a 2008 lawsuit against more than 140 online gambling websites that is ongoing.

Beshear has said Internet gambling undermines the state’s horse racetracks and charitable gambling.

For first time ever, Kentucky has 3 women on state Supreme Court

Justice Keller

By Jack Brammer
jbrammer@herald-leader.com

FRANKFORT –For the first time in Kentucky’s history, three female justices will serve simultaneously on the state’s highest court.

Former Kentucky Court of Appeals Judge Michelle M. Keller of Ft. Mitchell was formally invested Tuesday as the fifth woman ever to serve on the Kentucky Supreme Court and the third currently serving on the seven-member court.

In a ceremony in the crowded Supreme Court chambers in the Capitol, Gov. Steve Beshear called Keller “a woman for all seasons.”

Beshear appoints appeals court judge to state’s highest court

By Beth Musgrave
bmusgrave@herald-leader.com

FRANKFORT — For the first time in Kentucky history, three women will sit on Kentucky’s highest court.

On Wednesday, Gov. Steve Beshear tapped state Court of Appeals Judge Michelle Keller to replace retiring state Supreme Court Justice Wil Schroder. Keller will serve the remaining year of Schroder’s term but would have to run for re-election in November 2014.

Schroder said in January he was stepping down to focus on his health after being diagnosed with brain cancer.

Commission nominates appeals judge, two others to fill state Supreme Court vacancy

By Beth Musgrave
bmusgrave@herald-leader.com

FRANKFORT — A bipartisan nominating commission has recommended that Gov. Steve Beshear consider a state appeals court judge and two other lawyers for an open state Supreme Court seat in northern Kentucky.

The vacancy was created when Kentucky Supreme Court Justice Wil Schroder retired on Jan. 17 after announcing he was being treated for cancer.

The three attorneys nominated to fill the vacancy are Joseph E. Conley Jr. of Villa Hills, Judge Michelle M. Keller of Fort Mitchell and Allison Emerson Jones of Prospect.

Keller has been a state Court of Appeals judge since 2006. A former nurse, she received her law degree from Northern Kentucky University’s Salmon P. Chase College of Law.

Bill to provide public financing of state Supreme Court races clears committee on 2nd try

State Rep. Jim Wayne, D-Louisville

By Jack Brammer
jbrammer@herald-leader.com

FRANKFORT – The House budget committee approved a bill Tuesday night that would allow for optional public financing of Kentucky Supreme races after the panel earlier in the day failed to garner enough votes for it.

The sponsor of House Bill 31, Rep. Jim Wayne, D-Louisville, found enough Democratic votes to get a second vote on the measure and send it to the full House for its consideration.

Earlier in the day, the bill came up one vote shy of getting out of committee.

This is the third year in a row that state lawmakers have considered a similar measure. Four Kentucky Supreme Court districts are to be contested next year.