By LawReader Senior Editor Stan Billingsley Jan. 18, 2013

Andy Wolfson of the Louisville Courier Journal reported today that Justice Wil Schroder has brain cancer and has decided to retire. Many in the legal community have known of Justice Schroder’s illness for several months, but his family did not want to publicize his illness. LawReader honored that request.

All Kentucky citizens will miss his presence on the high bench. Kentucky lawyers will particularly miss his wisdom and influence in trying to regulate the abuses of the Kentucky Bar Association.
We foresee a major review of the rules under which the Bar Association operates, and the Code under which they sanction attorneys for such “ethical abuses” as making TRUE STATEMENTS about the legislature and some public officials.

The excessive prosecution and excessive punishment, the piling on of charges, the focus on issuing sanctions for minor procedural mistakes all have brought the KBA under scrutiny, the high cost of defense, and the waste of dues fees for the KBA Board to hire outside counsel when they already have nine full time lawyers on staff will be considered in the coming year. We noted the displeasure of Justice Schroder last year in the budget request of the KBA. Justice Schroder stood tall and limited the KBA’s request for funding increases.

Yes we will miss Justice Schroder. We hope that his medical treatment works out for him, and that he is allowed to enjoy his retirement with his family and friends for many years to come.
The Judicial Nominating Commission will make recommendations to Gov. Steve Beshear and the Governor will select the replacement.

Judicial Nominating Commission
The Judicial Nominating Commission helps fill judicial vacancies by appointment when a vacancy occurs outside of the election cycle. The Kentucky Constitution established the Judicial Nominating Commission (KY. CONST. § 118; SCR 6.000, et seq.).

Composition of the Judicial Nominating Commissions
There are currently 61 nominating commissions in Kentucky, one for the Supreme Court and Court of Appeals, one for each judicial circuit and one for each judicial district. If the circuit and district have the same boundaries, then one commission serves both.

Each commission has seven members and is comprised of the chief justice of Kentucky (who also serves as chair), two attorneys elected by all attorneys in the vacancy’s jurisdiction and four non-attorney Kentucky citizens who are appointed by the governor. The four citizens must equally represent the two major political parties.

A JNC member must be a resident of the circuit or district he or she represents and may not hold any other public office or hold an office in a political party or organization.
JNC members serve four-year terms. Members are not compensated for their services, but are reimbursed for expenses for the days they perform their duties. The executive secretary of the JNC provides administrative support for, and maintains the records of, the nominating commissions.

Application Process
When a judicial vacancy occurs, the executive secretary of the JNC notifies all attorneys and the public in the affected judicial circuit or district. Attorneys can recommend someone or nominate themselves. Interested attorneys must complete an application and return it to the executive secretary of the JNC.

The chief justice meets with the JNC to select three nominees and then forwards those names to the governor. The names of the three nominees are listed in alphabetical order without indicating the commission’s preference. The governor must appoint a judge from this list of three. If the governor does not appoint a judge within 60 days of receiving the list of nominees, the appointment is made by the chief justice from the list of nominees.

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