FORMER CHIEF JUSTICE JOSEPH LAMBERT FEEDBACK: CURIOUS, UNFAIR CRITICISM BY PAPER

By Joseph E. Lambert

At issue | Jan. 25 Herald-Leader editorial, “No leave for Lambert; Chief Justice Minton made the right call”

Whenever I am attacked by the Herald-Leader, I am reassured that I have not strayed too far from the right course. Never have I known a person or firm so consistently wrong about almost everything.

I am unsure why the Herald-Leader dislikes me, but I have always suspected it was because I wrote an opinion for the Supreme Court in a high-profile defamation case against the paper. The court decided the libel claim should go to trial. I do not know what happened after it went back to the trial court.

In any event, let me set the record straight. In my 10 years as chief justice, I established family courts in Kentucky, and those courts now serve 75 percent of our population. At my request, the General Assembly authorized construction of 50 or more judicial centers, almost all of which are located in rural counties that often get little attention from state government. Those court facilities provided thousands of jobs for Kentuckians who needed work, and they were built with money to be repaid over 25 years borrowed at historically low interest rates.

I was also instrumental in establishment of the senior judge program, which has resulted in far greater efficiency than ever before in Kentucky courts. Hardly ever is a court day lost because the judge is unavailable.

When judges are ill or must attend to family matters, as in the federal system, a senior judge is available to fill that seat for the day or week of the regular judge’s absence. Jurors, witnesses, and others don’t have their time wasted.

I also established nearly statewide drug courts, whereby non-violent offenders are given treatment and are closely supervised by judges and caseworkers. Drug courts have been about the only significant progress made in recent years in combating the scourge of drug abuse.

I am unsure why the Herald-Leader has failed to note the progress in Kentucky courts from 1998 to 2008, and I actually care very little, except for the misinformation inflicted on the public by the newspaper. Nevertheless, when I read a Herald-Leader editorial attacking me for contemplating a run for elective office, I consider it a badge of honor.

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