Justice Roach Doing Well In His Private Law Practice In Lexington

By LawReader Senior Editor Stan Billingsley  – Aug. 31, 2007
Former Kentucky Supreme Court Justice John Roach recently turned 40. He has accomplished a lot in forty years.

In June of 2005, when he was only 38, he was nominated by the Judicial Nominating Commission and then appointed to the Kentucky Supreme Court by Gov. Ernie Fletcher.  After serving on the court for 17 months he was defeated in November of 2006, by then Fayette Circuit Judge Mary Noble.  Since his term ended in November of 2006 he has been busy building a law practice in Lexington.

Roach was born and raised in Frankfort, Kentucky. He and his wife Maria have two children Catherine and Bennett.  Justice Roach says he enjoys having more time to spend with his children who are 10 and 12.  He particularly enjoys having time to play golf with his son Bennett. When asked his handicap he invited LawReader to ask again in about a year.  He said that being so active in politics, state government and the Supreme Court, he had not had much time for golf.


Roach attended Washington and Lee University for his undergraduate studies. He then went on to the University of Kentucky College of Law, where he graduated in the top five of his law school class, served as editor of the Kentucky Law Journal, and was a member of the Order of the Coif. After law school he clerked for Judge Pierce Lively on the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. Thereafter, Roach was an attorney with Akin, Gump, Strauss, Hauer & Feld in Washington, D.C.. In 1995 he joined the law firm of Ransdell, Roach & Wier, PLLC in Lexington, Kentucky and was a partner there from 1996 until 2001.
Roach was General Counsel to Governor Fletcher before his appointment to the bench.  Before going to Frankfort Roach spent seven years in Lexington as an employment and civil rights lawyer, representing women, African Americans and other victims of discrimination who had been subjected to workplace discrimination. In addition to a vigorous trial practice, Roach argued cases before the Kentucky Supreme Court, the Kentucky Court of Appeals and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit.

At the time of his appointment Governor Fletcher said:  “Having worked with John on a daily basis, I have seen firsthand his extensive knowledge of the law.? “He has worked on some of our Commonwealth’s most important cases, such as how to continue providing vital services to Kentucky families in the absence of a legislatively enacted budget.

He now practices law with Keith Ransdell off Nicholasville Road in Lexington.  His practice has already taken off and he is heavily involved in employment law, commercial litigation and appellate work.  His experience in having served on the Supreme Court certainly gives him an edge on understanding how the appellate process works, and he says he enjoys that portion of his new law practice.

One of the clients he has drawn in since January is the Toyota Motor Company. He is serving as co-counsel in a case for the automobile manufacturer pending in Scott Circuit Court.  He also is representing the state in a lawsuit involving a judge who retired and then was re-elected to the bench and believes he should be able to double-dip and draw a full retirement benefits as well as a full judicial salary.  Chief Justice Lambert has opposed double-dipping by members of the judiciary.

Thomas P. Lewis, who is the former dean and professor emeritus of the UK College of Law at the time of Roach’s appointment to the bench said:

“John is one of the brightest, most engaging and articulate students I have had the pleasure of meeting in or out of the classroom,? Lewis wrote. “…John has extensive experience as a practicing lawyer, direct exposure to the work of appellate judges through a clerkship with the Honorable Pierce Lively, Senior Judge on the U.S. Court of   Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, and ongoing involvement in governmental relations at the local and state levels.?

Sheryl Snyder, one of Kentucky’s most respected litigators said of Justice Roach:

“Working with John Roach on the legal strategy for Governor Fletcher to deal with the legislature having adjourned without enacting a budget, I learned first hand that he has a first rate legal mind accompanied by ‘street smarts.’  That is a combination for success in the private practice of law.” 

Justice Roach did not express any bitterness about his defeat last November.  He says he enjoyed every minute of his experience as General Counsel to the Governor, and as a Supreme Court Justice.  He said he particularly enjoyed the legal arguments among the justices when they met in private in the Supreme Court conference room and argued their positions of the pending cases before voting on those decisions.  He enjoyed the give and take of the legal arguments among the court members.

He does not appear to harbor any ill will about his election defeat.  Although he did say that the two things he has enjoyed most after returning to private practice was a vacation trip to Egypt with his father and his brother, and cancelling his subscription to the Lexington Herald-Leader.  He says he considers his years of public service with fondness and said he was fortunate to have two jobs that he loved.

LawReader asked him if he had any plans for seeking elective office in the future. He said he “considered public service a high calling? but he had no current plans for returning to public service. He wouldn’t say he would never do this. He said with a chuckle, he would “probably have to hear the voice of God pretty clearly? before deciding to run for public office again.  For now his focus is clearly on spending some important time with his children and building a successful law practice.

Justice Roach is considered by many as one of the brightest stars to emerge from the Fletcher Administration. We predict that the name of John Roach will be heard again in Frankfort or Washington. His story is not finished by a long shot.

Highlights of John Roach’s Legal Accomplishments

• General Counsel, Commonwealth of Kentucky: Helping develop and defend in court the spending plan issued by the Governor; instituting more than $1 million in savings by reducing outside legal contracts; overseeing lawyers in nine cabinets (2003-present)

• Employment discrimination and civil rights lawyer: Represented victims of discrimination who had been subjected to workplace discrimination; participated in numerous jury trials. Argued cases before the Kentucky Supreme Court, the Kentucky Court of Appeals and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit (1995-2001)

• Lecturer for numerous statewide seminars on employment and civil rights issues

• Co-author of law articles on employment law and the Americans with Disabilities Act

• Corporate transactions lawyer, Akin, Gump, Strauss, Hauer & Feld, one of the largest law firm in the world and represented companies such as Food Lion and Granite Broadcasting (1993-1994)

• Law clerk to Honorable Pierce Lively, United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit (1992-1993)

• Graduate of the University of Kentucky College of Law: Graduated with high distinction in the top five in his class, served as articles editor for Kentucky’s Law Journal, was inducted into the Order of the Coif and was awarded the Faculty Cup, which honors a single graduate for outstanding performance by a vote of the law school faculty (J.D., 1992)


Comments are closed.