Respected former legislator, Gross Clay Lindsay passed away. Helped write criminal code.
This message was sent today to all Legislators:
It is with the utmost sadness and shock that I must report to you that former Representative Gross Clay Lindsay passed away either last night or early this morning.
Representative Lindsay was a longtime member of the Kentucky House of Representatives and an active force behind the creation of the state’s criminal statutes and modern system of justice. A Democrat from Henderson, Gross entered the General Assembly in 1970 after being elected to represent the state’s 11th House District. He quickly earned a reputation as a lawmaker with a keen understanding of the state’s legal system.
In 1972 he was appointed to the Kentucky Penal Code Study Commission. That same year he was the primary sponsor of legislation passed into law that proposed updating the state’s criminal laws with a new penal code. Gross also played a major role in establishing our modern court system. He was active in the effort that allowed voters to approve a constitutional amendment on modernizing the court system in 1975. After voters ratified the amendment, he served on the Interim Special Committee on the Implementation of the Judicial Article and helped create Kentucky’s four-tier court system which replaced a proliferation of quarterly, county, police and justice of the peace courts with district courts. The modern system has been credited with improving efficiency and removing backroom politics from the courts.
Gross also actively worked to improve the state’s justice system as a member of the Kentucky Crime Commission’s Executive Committee. He was appointed chairman of the Governor’s Special Committee on Off Track Betting by Gov. Wendell Ford in 1974. His gubernatorial appointments also included spots on the Special Advisory Commission on County Government in 1976, the County Statutes Revision Commission in 1977, and the Local Government Statute Revision Commission in 1978.
Gross gave up his seat in the House of Representatives in 1980. Though he decided to take a break from serving as a lawmaker, he remained close to the legislature throughout much of the 1980s. In 1982, he accepted a position as general counsel for the House Majority Floor Leader.
Gross served as the Legislative Research Commission’s counsel and presented LRC’s case to the Kentucky Supreme Court in the landmark LRC v. Brown case. That case resulted in a 1984 ruling from the court on the separation of powers between the executive and legislative branches of government. Part of the ruling in that case determined that legislative staffing through the LRC was in fact constitutional.
Gross was also an active member of the Special Commission on Constitutional Review, a panel that in 1987 called for an overhaul of the Kentucky Constitution, which at the time was nearly a century old.
Gross returned as a member of the House of Representatives in 1993. In 1998, he was recognized as one of the top ten most effective House members in a survey conducted by the Kentucky Center for Public Issues.
Perhaps one of his biggest impacts on the General Assembly was made in the years after he was appointed chairman of the House Judiciary Committee in 1999. In addition to keeping close watch over the movement of criminal justice bills through the House, he was known for using his chairmanship to put the brakes on bills that could have unintended consequences overlooked by others. Simply put, no one ran a committee like Gross.
In the 2001 legislative session, Gross was active in efforts to pass legislation that placed a constitutional amendment before voters to ensure the constitutionality of family courts and allow the state to expand its use of them.
As a veteran lawmaker, Gross was regarded by his peers in the House and legislative staff as the chamber’s unofficial parliamentarian, the person members turn to for authoritative interpretations of the rules that govern the chamber.
I just talked with Gross on Monday. He was in great spirits…his old self…I can’t believe he’s gone.
In the late 70s, there was actually a Gross Lindsay Fan Club, with real membership cards and everything. Many on staff at the time were card-carrying members of the club. The membership card included a handsome photo of Gross along with the motto…”It’s Great to be Gross.” Knowing Gross, and from all appearances, it truly was.
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