Archive for February, 2014

Important Question by Dave Kramer: Have Kentucky Courts Adopted The Twombly/Iqbal Standard For Pleading A Claim For Relief?

Wednesday, February 5th, 2014

By David Kramer |

Kentucky state courts have not yet formally adopted in a published opinion the federal pleading standards of Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 127 S. Ct. 1955, 167 L. Ed. 2d 929 (2007), and Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 129 S. Ct. 1937, 173 L. Ed. 2d 868 (2009), to claims for relief. Those pleading standards are more rigorous than the traditional “notice pleading” standard that had long been followed in the federal courts prior to Twombly and Iqbal. To date, the only Kentucky case specifically citing Twombly or Iqbal on this point of law was an unpublished decision of the Kentucky Court of Appeals that cited Twombly with approval and relied on it in part in affirming dismissal of a pro se complaint for failure to state a claim. Espinosa v. Jefferson/Louisville Metro Govt., 2009 WL 277488 (Ky. App. 2009). (See CR 76.28(4)(c) concerning citation of unpublished opinions.) Espinosa was decided before the U.S. Supreme Court issued the Iqbal opinion, and a case involving a deficient pro se complaint was probably not the optimal lead-in for full consideration of Twombly.

At least one federal district court sitting in Kentucky, applying the Kentucky pleading standard instead of the federal standard in a diversity of citizenship case due to the defendant’s allegation of fraudulent joinder of a nondiverse defendant by the plaintiff in an attempt to defeat diversity jurisdiction, recently noted that “Kentucky’s pleading standard is more lenient than [that provided for under] the federal rules,” and thus found the defendants’ reliance on Twombly and Iqbal to be “misplaced.” Combs v. ICG Hazard, LLC, 934 F.Supp.2d 915, 923 (E.D. Ky. 2013).
On the other hand, a subsequent unpublished decision by the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, following the usual practice of applying federal pleading standards in a diversity case, relied on Twombly in upholding dismissal of a lawyer’s state law claims arising out of the defendant law firm’s alleged retaliation for his refusal to violate Kentucky’s Rules of Professional Conduct, holding that the pleading was not sufficiently “particularized” and noting that the Court was “not convinced that the Kentucky Supreme Court would hold otherwise….” Gadlage v. Winters & Yonker, Attorneys at Law, PSC., — Fed.Appx. —-, 2013 WL 5749547 (6th Cir. 2013).

In addition to Espinosa’s citation of Twombly, the Kentucky Court of Appeals held in a 2011 case that, in order to recover attorney’s fees based on a statute, a party must make a claim for statutory fees in the body of its pleading. O’Rourke v. Lexington Real Estate Company LLC, 365 S.W.3d 584, 587 (Ky. App. 2011).

In reversing the trial court’s award of attorney’s fees to a landlord for recovery under a lease agreement, the Court in O’Rourke held that merely including a request for attorney’s fees as an item of recovery in the ad damnum clause of the complaint, which has long been a routine pleading practice for many Kentucky litigators, was not sufficient to state a claim for attorney’s fees under statutes governing leases of real property. Though one might assert O’Rourke signals adoption of a higher pleading standard, that decision did not rely on the federal standard, and the Court specifically stated it did not believe adequate notice of the claim for statutory attorney’s fees was provided by a general request for fees made in the prayer for relief. Likewise, as recently as November 2013, the Kentucky Supreme Court, while not specifically addressing the more rigorous federal pleading standards, reiterated in denying a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim that Kentucky is a “notice pleading” state. Pete v. Anderson, 413 S.W.3d 291 (Ky. 2013). In that case, however, it appears that the pleading would have satisfied the Twombly/Iqbal standard.
In light of the foregoing, most Kentucky practitioners will probably continue to assume (perhaps safely) that the traditional notice-pleading, “no-set-of-facts” standard pertains to actions filed in our state courts, at least until a Kentucky appellate court expressly adopts the heightened federal standard. However, no Kentucky practitioner would want to be the first lawyer to lose a state-court case on this point, and Espinosa and O’Rourke may signal a move to a more rigorous standard in state courts. In short, there is certainly nothing wrong with seeking to meet the federal standard in a claim for relief in state court in order to assure it is satisfactory under the Kentucky Rules of Civil Procedure, and it may well be advisable to do so until a Kentucky appellate court speaks directly and definitively on the issue.

Note: The foregoing post includes commentary reprinted from the forthcoming 2014 supplement to 7 Phillips & Kramer, Rules of Civil Procedure Annotated, 6th ed. (Kentucky Practice Series), by David V. Kramer, with permission of the author and publisher. Copyright (c) 2014 Thomson Reuters. For more information about this publication please visit

David Kramer is a Northern Kentucky attorney practicing at Dressman Benzinger LaVelle psc.
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The Human Rights Commission is preparing to hand down a damning report finding that disabled people are unequal before the law

Tuesday, February 4th, 2014

bruary 4, 2014 18:26:00

MARK COLVIN: The Human Rights Commission is preparing to hand down a damning report finding that disabled people are unequal before the law.

The report finds the legal system in each state has a number of hurdles that discriminate against people with a disability.

It will recommend that each state urgently develop a strategy to ensure that people with a disability are treated more fairly before our courts, and that their rights are respected.

Nance Haxton reports.

NANCE HAXTON: Melissa Avery has a severe intellectual disability, but it took some time for the Queensland justice system to recognise it.

She loves pretty calendars and greeting cards, and over a period of four years was convicted of stealing them on several occasions. But because of Queensland laws, her disability wasn’t taken into account by the court system.

As a result, she received so many minor convictions for petty theft she was at risk of being sent to jail.

Melissa Avery’s mother Collein says it took years of fighting before her daughter’s limitations were acknowledged by the courts.

COLLEIN AVERY: She has absolutely no understanding of the charges she’s being faced with. She couldn’t defend herself. Eventually, another lawyer took over our daughter’s case. He was able to refer the case to the Mental Health Court.

She’s been found permanently unfit to plead as a result of her intellectual disability and so we decided to appeal those early convictions that she had. And in 2010, in a landmark decision in our Supreme Court, 15 convictions were expunged from her criminal record.

NANCE HAXTON: Melissa’s story is featured in the Human Rights Commission’s Equal Before the Law Report, which finds that discrimination against people with a disability is widespread in Australia’s justice system.

Disability Discrimination Commissioner Graeme Innes says her case is far from isolated.

GRAEME INNES: We heard from a woman called Maria who has cerebral palsy and little speech, and she wanted to tell police about a sexual assault but there was no communications support worker to help with the statement. The police relied on Maria’s parents to provide communication support. Maria was, of course, uncomfortable giving personal details of the assault to police in front of her parents. And so her evidence was incomplete, and this caused problems for the investigation and during the court process.

So these are the sorts of stories that we heard in all areas of the criminal justice system, and they caused us to form the conclusion that people with a disability aren’t getting an equal opportunity before the law.

NANCE HAXTON: Mr Innes says the report recommends that each state should urgently reform the legal system to ensure that people with a disability are not further discriminated against.

GRAEME INNES: We recommended that each jurisdiction – state, territory, and commonwealth – need to develop a holistic disability justice strategy which takes into account these issues and which is developed in partnership with people with disabilities, and that strategy would need to cover the availability of supports, the availability of better communication facilities, more training for police and corrections officers, more awareness of disabilities in the court system, some revisions of the unfit to plead laws in several jurisdictions, and also some corrections of the negative way in which people with disability are perceived because that negative perception leads on to the weight that their evidence is given and judgments about whether matters should be proceeded with or how they should be proceeded with.

NANCE HAXTON: For Collein Avery, the fight for justice continues.

COLLEIN AVERY: Just a very simple legislative amendment that says that when people present that have got a disability that they need the appropriate support in the court so that their disability can be given due consideration.

MARK COLVIN: Collein Avery ending Nance Haxton’s report.

Alberta urged to drop all ongoing prostitution cases

Tuesday, February 4th, 2014

Alberta urged to drop all ongoing prostitution cases

By Jason van Rassel, Calgary Herald February 3, 2014

Calgary police are no longer no longer conducting plainclothes operations targeting street-level prostitution, partly because of the Supreme Court ruling striking down Canada’s prostitution laws.
Photograph by: Leah Hennel , Calgary Herald

As the province weighs its legal response to a Supreme Court ruling striking down Canada’s prostitution laws, defence lawyers in Alberta are urging justice officials to stay charges currently before the courts.

The precise number of defendants facing prosecution for prostitution-related offences isn’t known, but Alberta Justice and Solicitor General said there are 400 charges that are affected by the Supreme Court’s landmark ruling last December.

“To continue prosecuting people under these laws is really unfair and is contrary to what the Supreme Court said,” said Shannon Prithipaul, president of the Criminal Trial Lawyers’ Association, one of two groups that represent members of the defence bar in Alberta.

Although exchanging sex for money isn’t illegal, the Criminal Code has provisions against soliciting for sex, living off the earnings of prostitutes and keeping a brothel.

Three Ontario sex workers took a constitutional challenge all the way to the Supreme Court, arguing the laws force prostitution underground and violate their Charter right to “life, liberty and security of the person.”

Parliament has one year from the Dec. 20 ruling to come up with new provisions.

“There are things they could do to make (prostitution) safer — and are we ever going to eliminate it?” Prithipaul said.

“Maybe face the facts and realize this is part of society.”

Regardless of what happens, Prithipaul said it doesn’t make sense to go ahead with cases against people charged under laws that are now unconstitutional.

“Is it in the best interests to continue with these prosecutions knowing what we know?” she said.

So far, the provincial government hasn’t decided how it will handle the cases.

“The prosecution service is looking at what can be done,” Alberta Justice and Solicitor General spokesman Dan Laville said.

One of the options available to the provincial government is the so-called “Nordic model” first employed in Sweden and later adopted by Norway and Iceland.

The Nordic model makes it a crime to buy sex, but it’s not an offence to sell sexual services. The countries that use the Nordic model believe all forms of prostitution are exploitative; the law is intended to deter men from buying sex without criminalizing women involved in the sex trade.

While the provincial government considers its course of action, the Supreme Court ruling has already prompted police in Calgary to change their approach to prostitution.

Vice investigators are no longer conducting plainclothes operations targeting street-level prostitution, considering the law that prohibited soliciting is unconstitutional in its current form.

“We’ve put a stall on all those street-level stings at this point,” said Supt. Sat Parhar of the criminal operations division.

The Supreme Court ruling had some influence on that decision, but Parhar added much of Calgary’s street prostitution has moved behind closed doors since the advent of online advertising.

Although police have curtailed their efforts in that particular area, Parhar said they remain vigilant about human trafficking and illegal prostitution involving children.

“It gives us an opportunity to focus on exploitation and child offences,” he said.

Although police haven’t formally embraced anything like the Nordic model, Parhar said they prefer to steer prostitutes toward programs to help them exit the sex trade instead of laying charges.

In the meantime, police are gathering intelligence and trying to prepare for the possibility of a more liberalized sex trade — and the unforeseen consequences it may bring.

Outreach and support for people in what police call a “high-risk lifestyle” — which could mean involvement in the sex trade or drugs — may take on added importance, said Parhar.

“Someone has to protect them,” he said.

Missouri executes man before U.S. Supreme Court rejects appeal

Monday, February 3rd, 2014

Missouri executes man before U.S. Supreme Court rejects appeal

By Brett Wilkins
Feb 3, 2014 – 2 hours ago in Crime
0 0 6 0 Google +0
Bonne Terre – A Missouri death row inmate was put to death by lethal injection 24 minutes before the United States Supreme Court rejected his final appeal, with the state arguing that it is perfectly legal to kill a prisoner before their due process has run its course.
The Atlantic’s Andrew Cohen reports 56-year-old Herbert Smulls, convicted by an all-white jury of murdering Chesterfield jewelry store owner Stephen Honickman and permanently injuring his wife, Florence, during a 1991 armed robbery, was on the phone with one of his lawyers last Wednesday discussing the status of his appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court when he was hauled away to his death. Lethal injection protocols commenced at 10:11 pm. Smulls was pronounced dead at 10:20. Ten minutes later, the Supreme Court informed Smulls’ legal team that his request for a stay of execution had been issued at 10:24 pm — four minutes after he was pronounced dead.
Read more…
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Supreme Court temporarily halts Missouri execution Wednesday
Smulls’ lawyers failed to convince state officials to delay his execution until all his legal appeals were exhausted. “Do not execute Mr. Smulls while claims for legal relief and stay are pending,” they pleaded, pointing out that appeals were still active in both the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals and the U.S. Supreme Court. State lawyers did not respond, according to Smulls attorney Cheryl Pilate.
A spokesman for the Missouri State Attorney General’s office explained to Cohen that Smulls’ execution was perfectly legal:
“The law is clear: the pendency of litigation is insufficient to stop an execution. Barefoot v. Estelle… The legal mechanism for a federal court to stop an execution is a court-ordered stay. On January 29, 2014, the State of Missouri directly asked the United States Supreme Court if the execution of Mr. Smulls should be stopped. The Court said no three times that day prior to the execution, lifting all stays.
Attorneys for the state were in contact with both the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals and the United States Supreme Court throughout the evening of the execution. Both courts were aware that the execution would proceed once all stays had been lifted. No stay of execution was in effect at the time of the execution.”
The U.S. Supreme Court had issued a stay of execution for Smulls late Tuesday night after his lawyers argued that state officials should disclose the compounding pharmacy that would provide the drug used for the lethal injection. An increasing number of pharmaceutical companies are refusing to allow their products to be used in executions, leading to states using compounding pharmacies that mix drugs to be used to kill condemned inmates.
Smulls’ defense team asserted that it needed more information about the source of the pentobarbital used to execute condemned inmates, arguing it might cause them severe pain, a violation of the Constitution’s Eighth Amendment prohibition of “cruel and unusual punishment.”
Officials from the Missouri Department of Corrections have refused to disclose the identity of the compounding pharmacy, which is believed to be located in Oklahoma, saying its policy was to protect participants in executions from possible retribution.
According to Smulls’ lawyers, his execution was the third in a row in which Missouri prisoners were put to death before all of their legal appeals were exhausted. Last month, Allen Nicklasson was killed before the Supreme Court rejected his final appeal, leading Judge Kermit E. Bye of the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals to criticize Missouri’s entire capital punishment system:
“Missouri’s past history of scheduling an executions before a death row inmate has exhausted his constitutional rights of review, using unwritten execution protocols, misrepresenting dosage levels for drugs used in lethal injection and providing unfettered discretion to a dyslexic physician to mix the drugs and oversee its executions, has earned from this federal judge more than just a healthy judicial skepticism. ”
Judge Bye, who wrote a powerful dissent in the Nicklasson case, also dissented as the Eighth Circuit Court rejected Smulls’ stay.
Cohen asserts that “if there were a breach here, it was as much one of ethics as it was one of law.” State ethics rules state that lawyers must “uphold legal process.” Michael Downey, an ethics expert at the St. Louis law firm Armstrong Teasdale told Cohen that prosecutors “have special obligations to make sure that justice is done.”
“Not to ensure that a criminal receives maximum punishment, but to make sure that justice is done,” Downey stressed.
But to Smulls’ victims, that’s exactly what happened last Wednesday at 10:11 pm, and far too late at that.
“Make no mistake, the long, winding and painful road leading up to this day has been a travesty of justice,” lamented Florence Honickman, who questioned why it took 22 years of appeals to kill her husband’s killer, after the execution

Read more:

Chief Justice Minton to discuss priorities for Judicial Branch budget before legislative committee Feb. 4 in Frankfor

Sunday, February 2nd, 2014

Chief Justice Minton to discuss priorities for Judicial Branch budget before legislative committee Feb. 4 in Frankfort
Press Release Date: Thursday, January 30, 2014

Chief Justice MintonFRANKFORT, Ky. — Chief Justice of Kentucky John D. Minton Jr. will discuss the Judicial Branch budget before the General Assembly’s House Budget Review Subcommittee on Justice and Judiciary on Tuesday, Feb. 4, in Frankfort. The meeting is open to the public and will take place at noon EST in the Capitol Annex.

The Judicial Branch budget bill covers funding for Fiscal Years 2014-2016 and has been filed as House Bill 238.

On Tuesday, Chief Justice Minton will outline his priorities for the biennial budget, including a complete overhaul of the Judicial Branch’s broken salary structure. Salaries for court system personnel have fallen behind those in the private sector and the other branches of state government. In addition, one-quarter of Judicial Branch employees fall under the federal poverty guidelines for a family of four and an even larger number qualify for food stamps.

Chief Justice Minton will also address his other priorities, which call for maintaining the Judicial Branch’s base budget at current levels with no reductions, funding the required cost of employee benefits and reinvesting savings from House Bill 463 into the Judicial Branch.

The chief justice is the administrative head of the state court system and is responsible for overseeing its operation. Chief Justice Minton was elected to

Waiting for the dogs during police traffic stops – Court limits wait to eight minutes

Sunday, February 2nd, 2014

By Orin Kerr
February 1 at 8:07 pm

Imagine a police officer pulls over a car for a routine traffic violation, such as speeding or driving with a broken taillight. During the stop, the officer develops a hunch that there may be drugs in the car. He contacts a local K-9 unit and requests a trained drug-sniffing dog; when the unit arrives, another officer will walk the dog around the car to see if it alerts to drugs inside. Although the Supreme Court has held that the use of the dog is not a search, the length of a warrantless stop must be reasonable. The officer can’t delay the driver forever.

This raises a question of Fourth Amendment law that has led to a lot of lower court litigation: If the officer has no reasonable suspicion that drugs are in the car — that is, he only has a hunch — how long can the traffic stop be delayed before the dog arrives and checks out the car?

This might seem like a really technical question. But it’s actually pretty important. If courts say that the police can’t extend the stop even one second to bring over the dogs, then the dogs will only be used when they happen to be right there or some reasonable suspicion exists specifically justifying their use. On the other hand, if the courts say that the police can extend the stop for a long time, then the police will be free to bring out the dogs at routine traffic stops whenever they like.

Lower courts have generally answered the question by adopting a de minimis doctrine. Officers can extend the stop and wait for the dogs for a de minimis amount of time. But exactly how long is that?

Just yesterday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit held in United States v. Rodriguez that seven to eight minutes is de minimis. On the other hand, the Supreme Court of Nevada held a few months ago in State v. Beckman that nine minutes is too long.

These are just lower-court decisions, of course, and there is room to argue that duration alone isn’t the only criteria for whether a stop was too long.
Plus, the Supreme Court has been reluctant to announce arbitrary-sounding time limits on Fourth Amendment searches and seizures. Off the top of my head, the only time it has suggested such limits is County of Riverside v. McLaughlin, and even then it did so only because an earlier decision that did not suggest a specific time limit had caused significant chaos in the lower courts in that specific context.

But as of yesterday, the simple (if simplistic) answer to the question might have unusual mathematical precision, at least if you accept the lower court cases as correct. The Constitution allows the police to extend the stop without suspicion for eight minutes, but not a minute longer.
Orin Kerr
Orin Kerr is the Fred C. Stevenson Research Professor at The George Washington University Law School, where he has taught since 2001. He teaches and writes in the area of criminal procedure and computer crime. Kerr is a former law clerk for Justice Anthony Kennedy at the U.S. Supreme Court. Before joining the GW Law faculty, he was a Trial Attorney in the Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section at the U.S. Department of Justice.


Sunday, February 2nd, 2014

Sled Design Led By UC Professor Slides in to Sochi for the Olympics

A new and improved skeleton sled for the U.S. Olympic Team, a design led by a UC professor, will be introduced at the 2014 Winter Olympics.

Date: 1/30/2014 11:00:00 AM
By: Dawn Fuller

A design team led by a University of Cincinnati professor will be avidly watching its latest creation at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. But it will be gone in a flash on your TV screen.
Grant Schaffner is the husband of Florence, Ky. attorey Tasha Scott Schaffner

The ProtoStar V5 skeleton sled will be used by three U.S. athletes in Sochi: Matt Antoine, Katie Uhlaender and John Daly. The skeleton sled competitions in Sochi are scheduled to take place Feb. 13-15.

The sled design team, led by Grant Schaffner, an assistant professor in UC’s Department of Aerospace Engineering and Engineering Mechanics, and Tuffy Latour, the head skeleton coach for the U.S. Bobsled and Skeleton Federation (USBSF), are already celebrating the gold and bronze medal awarded to the ProtoStar V5 skeleton sled last fall in World Cup competition.

Schaffner says the ProtoStar V5 is a greatly improved design over the X2 skeleton sled that was introduced – a design Schaffner also led – at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver.

The development of the skeleton sled is a partnership between Cincinnati-based ProtoStar Engineering (the lead company for the technology team), UC’s College of Engineering and Applied Sciences (CEAS), Fairfield-based Machintek Corporation, deBotech Inc. of North Carolina and Carpenter Technology Corporation of Pennsylvania. Testing got underway last September at the A2 Wind Tunnel, a premiere aerodynamics testing facility in Mooresville, N.C.

Face Plant at Warp Speed

A2 Wind Tunnel:
A2 Wind Tunnel:

A skeleton sled is a one-person sled that uses the same track in competition that is used by bobsled or luge. The skeleton sled has a speed range between 70-to-90 miles per hour. It supports the rider’s upper body as he or she races head-first and face-down on the sled toward the finish line.

To steer the sled during a competition run, the athlete applies shoulder and knee pressure to warp the sled frame, which in turn changes the amount of drag on the ice from spines cut into the rear portion of round steel runners that support the sled.

Schaffner says competitors also can help steer the sled by using their head like a wind vane, or by tapping their toes to create additional drag on the ice.

“The length of a track is typically about one-to-one-and-a-half kilometers, so the length of the race is about one minute,” says Schaffner. There’s no steering wheel to navigate around the slick situation. “The shoulder and knee are used to work the sled, so no actual steering mechanism is allowed.

“You’re constantly tweaking the sled during the race. You’re going very fast, and when you go through the turns, you usually pull as much as four Gs or even slightly more,” Schaffner explains. “Your body weight is four times more than what you would normally weigh – about 600 pounds – and on a sled, that can be a lot of force. Plus, the track surface is not very smooth, so competitors are often hitting abrupt bumps, which can make the ride quite rough.”

Schaffner says that for the past four years, the sled development effort has greatly benefitted from a strong collaboration between the coaches and athletes of the USBSF and the technology partners. Schaffner guided the design effort by ProtoStar engineers and also worked with UC professors Randall Allemang and Allyn Phillips of the UC Structural Dynamics Research Lab to better understand the sled’s characteristics related to vibration.

“We had designed the X2 sled (used in the 2010 Olympic Games) to smooth out the bumps and make it steerable and controllable, and it performed extremely well in that regard, but the metal would bend. Then, we turned to Carpenter Technology, a company that specializes in high-strength steel alloys that have eliminated the frame-bending issues. Making a fast sled is more than just a matter of design,” Schaffner says, “it also requires very high precision machining, and that is provided by the Machintek Corporation.”

In addition, deBotech, a company that specializes in fabricating carbon fiber composite parts and has worked with NASCAR and the America’s Cup sailboat races, provides the ‘”pod” or aerodynamic fairing on the underside of the sled. Schaffner worked closely with Hans de Bot, the company president, to optimize both the aerodynamics and structural stability of the pod.
Grant Schaffner
Grant Schaffner (Photo by Dottie Stover)

Schaffner further explained that one of the founding principles of the design was to bolt it together, rather than weld it together, making it easier to change out parts. “This has allowed for a continuing improvement process, whereby we can adjust the structural characteristics of the sled from one race to the next, or try things out during test sessions, to find out what works best,” says Schaffner.

The work out of UC’s Structural Dynamics Research Lab was supported by funding from the USBSF and the U.S. Olympic Committee. Schaffner adds that UC graduate and co-op students in engineering participated in the design research in the Structural Dynamics Research Lab. The lab develops, investigates and evaluates experimental approaches to the estimation of the dynamic properties of structural systems.

The sled has made a worldly impression. Schaffner received the 2010 U.S. Olympic Committee “Doc” Counsilman Science Award for his innovations and contributions to sport science.

Gov. Beshear, Lt. Gov. Abramson Urge Kentuckians to Apply for the Earned Income Tax Credit

Sunday, February 2nd, 2014

Press Release Date: Friday, January 31, 2014
Contact Information: Kerri Richardson
Terry Sebastian

More than 400,000 Kentuckians are eligible for tax refund

BEREA, Ky. – Governor Steve Beshear today joined local officials and representatives from regional Asset Building Coalitions at Berea College to launch his annual campaign to urge eligible Kentuckians to apply for the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), a refundable federal tax credit for low- and middle-income working individuals and families.

“This tax credit is an extremely valuable resource for thousands of Kentuckians who are employed, but earn low wages,” said Gov. Beshear. “We want to make certain that every Kentuckian who is eligible for this benefit receives it, so I encourage everyone filing taxes this season to visit our website to see if you of your family qualify for the EITC.”

In tax year 2013, Kentuckians filed nearly 401,000 EITC claims for more than $923 million in benefits statewide. The average awarded credit was $2,299. According to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), an estimated 15 to 20 percent of eligible workers still do not claim their EITC benefits, mostly due to lack of awareness.

Gov. Beshear announced a list of nearly 200 free tax preparation sites across the state where trained and IRS-certified volunteers will assist Kentuckians with filing their taxes and applying for EITC. To find information about these Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) sites, including addresses, phone numbers and if appointments are required, visit

Additionally, Kentuckians living in central and northern Kentucky areas can dial 2-1-1 to find information on VITA sites near them. Counties who can access 2-1-1 include Anderson, Boone, Bourbon, Bullitt, Campbell, Carroll, Clark, Fayette, Grant, Henry, Jefferson, Jessamine, Kenton, Madison, Montgomery, Nelson, Oldham, Scott, Shelby, Spencer, Trimble and Woodford.

For information about VITA sites outside the 2-1-1 calling area, taxpayers may call Community Action Kentucky at (800) 456-3452.

Eligibility for the EITC is based on income and household composition, as is the amount of the credit. Families who earned up to $51,567 in 2013 could be eligible for EITC. More detailed qualification information is available at

Lt. Gov. Jerry Abramson helped highlight National EITC Awareness Day by participating in an event today at the Louisville Asset Building Coalition, which provides free tax service to the Louisville region. Since 2001, the organization has served more than 80,000 families and returned more than $86.5 million dollars to Louisville and Kentucky.

“With an estimated 20 percent of eligible Kentucky workers still not claiming their EITC benefits, it’s imperative we raise awareness about this tax credit,” Lt. Gov. Abramson said. “It’s money that’s re-circulated and reinvested in our communities across the state.”

The Governor and Lt. Governor applauded the many organizations across the state working to bring awareness and provide easily accessible and free tax assistance to Kentuckians. Gov. Beshear gave special recognition to the Eastern Kentucky Asset Building Coalition (EKABC) for leading the EITC awareness effort in 2014.

“Informing Eastern Kentuckians about the EITC is especially important because many counties in the region have low per capita income rates and thus have thousands of eligible EITC recipients,” said Gov. Beshear. “Thank you to Berea College and all the members of the EKABC for their leadership and efforts in spreading the word about this valuable tax credit.”

“The goal of the VITA program is to provide families with opportunities for economic empowerment by helping them to avoid high preparation fees while providing financial education and asset building opportunities,” said Tracy Featherly, Berea College VITA site coordinator. “In my experience, most eligible families are unaware of the beneficial programs that VITA offers, so it is important for us to develop our outreach to more families that really need these services.”

Other statewide EITC awareness partners and coalitions include the IRS, the United Way of Kentucky, Kentucky Domestic Violence Association, Community Action Kentucky, Department of Revenue, AARP Tax Aide, Central Kentucky Economic Empowerment Project, Louisville Asset Building Coalition, Green River Asset Building Coalition, Barren River Asset Building Coalition, Eastern Kentucky Asset Building Coalition, Northern Kentucky Asset Building Coalition, Northeast Kentucky Asset Building Coalition and the Purchase Area Asset Building Coalition


Saturday, February 1st, 2014

Bloody Monday was August 6, 1855, in Louisville, Kentucky, an election day, when Protestant mobs attacked Irish Catholic neighborhoods. These riots grew out of the bitter rivalry between the Democrats and the nativist Know-Nothing Party. Multiple street fights raged, leaving twenty-two people dead, scores were injured, and much property was destroyed by fire. Five people were later indicted, but none were convicted, and the victims were not compensated.[1] The Know-Nothings won the election but ten years later a German was elected mayor.[2]
The Know Nothing party opposed “strong government, taxes, immigration.” Does that ring a bell?

Bloody Monday was sparked by the Know Nothing political party (officially known as the American Party), an offshoot of the shattered Whig Party, fed in large part by the radical, inflammatory anti-immigrant writings, especially those of the editor of the Louisville Journal, George D. Prentice. Irish and Germans were recent arrivals and now comprised a third of the city’s population.
The Know-Nothings formed armed groups to guard the polls on election day, but the riots took place after the polls closed as the armed groups moved into Catholic neighborhoods. Germans (primarily Catholics) were also caught up. By the time it was over, more than 100 businesses, private homes and tenements had been vandalized, looted and/or burned, including a block long row of houses known as Quinn’s Row. Historians estimate the death toll at 19-22,[5] while Catholics including Bishop Martin John Spalding of Louisville, said the death toll at well over 100 with entire families consumed in the fires.
Citizens were dragged from their homes and attacked on the streets and in their place of work. Weapons, arms and later bodies of the dead, were stored in Louisville Metro Hall (the old Jefferson County Courthouse, now the Mayor’s Office), a Know-Nothing stronghold at the time. Sporadic violence and attacks had occurred in the year and months leading up to August 6, continuing for some time afterward.
Only by Louisville Mayor John Barbee’s intervention, despite being a Know-Nothing, were the bloodshed and the property destruction brought to an end, including his personal intervention that saved two Catholic churches: the new German parish of St. Martin of Tours and the Cathedral of the Assumption from destruction by the mob. No one was ever prosecuted in connection with the riots. The elected Whig mayor, James S. Speed, had been ousted in June by a court order. Speed, who upon his marriage, had converted to Catholicism, left Louisville for Chicago, never to return.
The riots had a profound impact on immigration to Louisville, causing more than ten thousand citizens to pack and leave for good, most to St. Louis, Chicago and Milwaukee, and a large group who left in 1856 for Prairie City, Kansas. Only the Civil War, with the trade and commerce it represented, halted this trend. The immigrants going home caused dozens upon dozens of businesses to close, affecting arts, education, and charitable causes with the loss of members and money (primarily those who came in 1848). Empty storefronts were the norm on once-bustling commercial corridors and many of the destroyed and charred ruins lay untouched for years afterward, as a silent reminder of that terrible day.
That year also saw scattered violence in Chicago, St. Louis, Columbus, Cincinnati and New Orleans. However, within ten years, much had changed in the United States and Louisville. Immigrants brought new cultures and customs leaving their mark in this new land, and Louisville, the site of the nation’s worst anti-immigrant violence, elected a German born-man, Philip Tomppert as Mayor.

Kentucky Poet Laureate Frank X Walker to give keynote address at KSU Black History Month event

Saturday, February 1st, 2014

Arts Council

Press Release Date: Thursday, January 30, 2014
Contact Information: Emily B. Moses
Communications Director
502-564-3757, ext. 472

FRANKFORT, Ky. — Kentucky Poet Laureate Frank X Walker will deliver the keynote address and read from his work at the Kentucky State University Black History Month celebration.

The celebration will be held Feb. 4 at 11 a.m. in the Carl H. Smith Auditorium in Bradford Hall on the university’s campus in Frankfort. A book signing will immediately follow the event. The celebration is free and open to the public.

“It is always a pleasure to be at the institution that my grandmother earned her teaching degree from,” said Walker. “I always feel close to her as soon as I step foot on campus.”

Gov. Steve Beshear named Walker as Kentucky poet laureate for 2013-14. He is the first African-American and youngest Kentuckian to be named poet laureate. Walker is an associate professor of English at the University of Kentucky and the editor of Pluck! The Journal of Affrilachian Arts & Culture. A Lannan Literary Fellowship for Poetry recipient, he is the author of six collections of poetry, including “Buffalo Dance: The Journey of York,” which won the Lillian Smith Book Award, and “Isaac Murphy: I Dedicate This Ride.”

“We are excited to present poet laureate Frank X Walker at Kentucky State University,” said KSU President Mary Evans Sias. “I am positive the KSU and Frankfort communities will both appreciate and enjoy the unique cultural perspectives and poetry of this very talented artist.”

Walker’s most recent work, “Turn Me Loose: The Unghosting of Medgar Evers” has been nominated for an NAACP Image Award. He was nominated in the category of Outstanding Literary Work – Poetry. The awards highlight achievements in art, entertainment, politics and culture.

Published by the University of Georgia Press in 2013, the year marking the 50th anniversary of Evers’ assassination while he was an NAACP field secretary, “Turn Me Loose” unleashes the strong emotions both before and after the moment of Evers’ death. Poems take on the voices of Evers’ widow, Myrlie; his brother, Charles; his assassin, Byron De La Beckwith; and others.

Kentucky State University was founded in 1886 as a school dedicated to the sole purpose of training teachers for the African-American school-age population. More than 125 years later, KSU has expanded its mission to offer students a liberal arts education that prepares a diverse student population to compete in a multifaceted, ever-changing global society. KSU is also a land-grant institution with programs to study and address agricultural and family life issues offered through the College of Agriculture, Food Science and Sustainable Systems. It has one of the top aquaculture programs, a Program of Distinction, which is recognized nationally and internationally. Overall, KSU’s faculty and staff work to serve the community through educational programs and research that address the issues and needs of the state, region and nation.

The Kentucky Arts Council, the state arts agency, creates opportunities for Kentuckians to value, participate in and benefit from the arts. Kentucky Arts Council funding is provided by the Kentucky General Assembly and the National Endowment for the Arts.