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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.

Bill giving domestic violence protections to dating couples clears first hurdle

By Beth Musgrave
bmusgrave@herald-leader.com

FRANKFORT — A bill that would give domestic violence protections to dating couples passed out of a House committee on Wednesday for the fifth time in five years.

Kentucky is one of only two states that does not allow domestic violence protections for dating couples. Civil protection orders are only available in Kentucky to people who have been married, have a child in common or live together.

The House Judiciary Committee voted 10 to 0 in favor of House Bill 9, but five members opted not to vote on the measure. It now heads to the full House. Similar bills have died in the Republican-led Senate in previous years.

Opponents of the proposal have pointed out that dating couples may file criminal charges in cases of domestic violence. Supporters counter that allowing couples to work through the civil court system could save the state as much as $85 million a year. In addition, advocates say that civil protective orders are generally served immediately, are often taken more seriously by police, and may last for an extended time.

Ky. House panel passes bill to allow DNA collection at time of arrest

By Beth Musgrave
bmusgrave@herald-leader.com

FRANKFORT — A House panel approved a measure Wednesday that would allow police to collect DNA swabs from people arrested for felony crimes without getting a court’s permission.

If the General Assembly approves House Bill 89, Kentucky would become the 26th state to allow the automatic collection of DNA evidence before someone has been convicted of a crime.

Jayann Sepich has pushed states to pass the measure after her daughter, Katie Sepich, was raped and killed in New Mexico in 2003. The killer was caught using DNA evidence.

Sepich told the House Judiciary Committee that DNA collected during felony arrests in other states has saved lives and freed people who were wrongly convicted of crimes.

Felony expungement bill clears House

By Beth Musgrave
bmusgrave@herald-leader.com

FRANKFORT — The Kentucky House voted 78-18 to approve a bill that would give people convicted of Class D felonies a chance to expunge the crime from their record.

House Bill 47 would allow people to expunge non-violent felonies if they do not have any new convictions for five years after they complete their sentence, said the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Darryl Owens, D-Louisville.

Proponents of the bill argue that those who commit one felony are often doomed because a criminal record can make it difficult to get a job or an education. The Democratic-led House has passed similar bills for several years, but the proposal has never passed the Republican-led Senate.