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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.

Public financing of judicial elections passes House panel

By Beth Musgrave
bmusgrave@herald-leader.com

FRANKFORT — A bill that would create public financing for judicial campaigns cleared a key hurdle on Wednesday. The House Judiciary Committee narrowly passed House Bill 230 9-6.

House Bill 230 would make it voluntary for judicial candidates to seek public financing. People could donate to the judicial campaign finance fund through income tax check-offs or through other donations. The Kentucky Bar Association could also collect fees from attorneys for the fund.

Former legislator suspended from practicing law for three years

By Beth Musgrave
bmusgrave@herald-leader.com

FRANKFORT — A former state legislator and prosecutor has been suspended from practicing law for three years, the state Supreme Court ruled Thursday.

Leo Marcum, who is also facing charges of not paying state and federal income taxes, was suspended for three years on Thursday for mixing client money with his own money in an escrow account and not answering truthfully when asked by the Kentucky Bar Association about the money.

The Kentucky Bar Association obtained the financial records of Marcum’s escrow account, which showed that he was using the account to pay for his personal expenses as well as expenses relating to his client’s cases. Lawyers are not allowed to mix client money with office or personal funds. In its order, the Supreme Court noted Marcum’s lengthy disciplinary history.

Marcum has been publicly reprimanded twice and has received three private admonitions and was suspended once for 181 days, according to the order. And then Marcum has also been suspended for a year for mishandling client money.

Supreme Court says Comair widow should get benefits; sanctions lawyer

By Beth Musgrave – bmusgrave@herald-leader.com

FRANKFORT — The widow of a pilot who was a passenger on Comair Flight 5191 can seek workers’ compensation payments because her husband was on his way to work when the plane crashed in August 2006, the state Supreme Court ruled Thursday.

The court, in a 5-2 decision, ruled in favor of Sarah Fortney, whose husband Clarence Fortney was a pilot for AirTran Airways.

Scott M. Miller, a Louisville lawyer who represents the Fortney family, said the ruling means an administrative law judge will be asked to determine how much compensation Fortney’s estate and family will receive.

“Obviously, I am very happy for Sarah and her family,” Miller said.

Clarence Fortney was one of 49 passengers killed on the airplane that took off from the wrong runway at Blue Grass Airport on Aug. 27, 2006.

Lexington attorney heads state bar association

John MeyersFRANKFORT — Lexington attorney John D. Meyers is the new executive director of the Kentucky Bar Association, replacing Jim Deckard, who resigned to return to private practice in February.

Meyers was selected after a four-month search. He has been the association’s interim executive director and director of its continuing legal education program.

In making the announcement, KBA President Charles E. “Buzz” English, Jr., of Bowling Green, said Meyers’ knowledge of the association and his solid working relationship with KBA members statewide will allow him to serve the KBA with vision and versatility.

“Since joining the staff of the KBA in October, 2005, John has energized and expanded our CLE program and, in the process, greatly enhanced its benefit to our membership,” English said.

Supreme Court approves revisions to attorney code

FRANKFORT — Less than two weeks after two disbarred lawyers were convicted of what some say is the greatest legal theft in the state’s history, the Supreme Court on Thursday unveiled new rules governing attorney conduct.

The overhaul — the first of its kind in 20 years — includes a provision that would require attorneys to report misconduct on the part of an attorney or judge.

Lexington attorney named interim head of lawyers’ group

FRANKFORT — Lexington attorney John D. Meyers has been named interim executive director for the Kentucky Bar Association by its governing board.

Meyers, who has been the association’s continuing legal education program director since October 2005, replaces Jim Deckard, who recently announed he will step down to pursue private practice.