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Friday, April 18th, 2014

The Opinion Pages|Editorial NEW YORK TIMES
Better Rules for Bad Lawyers


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In 2009, a lawyer in New York helped his client settle a claim for $30,000. The lawyer then had the check issued in his own name, deposited it into his own account and used all of the funds for himself. The client demanded his money to no avail.

It took more than three years before the lawyer was disbarred for stealing a client’s funds. During all that time, the lawyer, who already had a history of serious disciplinary infractions, kept working.

This is a disturbingly common story in New York, which has more lawyers than any other state. Punishments for those who violate obligations to a client — if not the law — are slow, inconsistently levied and often hidden from the public.

Professional discipline is essential to the integrity of any legal system. Unfortunately in New York, the process for dealing with lawyer misconduct is “deficient in design and operation,” writes Stephen Gillers, a professor at New York University School of Law in an article to be published next month in N.Y.U.’s Journal of Legislation and Public Policy.

Professor Gillers examined attorney-discipline cases going back to 1982 and all 577 court opinions imposing sanctions issued over the past six years. In addition to the many instances of “unacceptable” delay in the official response to complaints about lawyers, he documents the great disparity in the way similar violations are handled by courts in different parts of the state.

For example, a lawyer who filed false documents, made false statements and improperly notarized a client’s signature was suspended for two and a half years by the appeals court in Manhattan. But, in Brooklyn, comparable actions by a different lawyer resulted only in a formal rebuke but not a suspension. In upstate New York, appellate courts rarely explain the reasons for their decision to sanction or not sanction, and, when they do, they often don’t follow their own earlier rulings.

Perhaps most troubling is the overall lack of transparency that pervades the system. Unlike 40 other states, New York does not inform the public of pending charges against lawyers. It is also unnecessarily difficult to learn when a lawyer has been officially sanctioned, even though sanctions — which can include censure, suspension or disbarment — are part of the public record.

At the very least, New York, which has 166,000 lawyers, should adopt uniform standards for disciplining lawyers. The American Bar Association set clear and sensible standards in 1986, but some states have successfully established their own.

In California, for example, almost all disciplinary cases are handled by a State Bar Court that is staffed with full-time judges who issue thorough rulings. Professor Gillers also recommends that every lawyer’s disciplinary history be made easily available online, and that law firms tell potential clients how to access the information.

Not everyone will be eager to upset the status quo, including the appellate judges who would like to maintain their control over the process, and the lawyers who benefit from the leniency of local courts. But it must change if New Yorkers are to have confidence in the lawyers who represent them.

Meet The New York Times’s Editorial Board »

Education and Workforce Development Cabinet Annual KY. jobless rates released for 2013

Friday, April 18th, 2014

Press Release Date: Thursday, April 17, 2014

FRANKFORT, Ky. (April 15, 2014) — Annual unemployment rates were lower in 51 Kentucky counties in 2013 than in 2012, while 57 county rates went up and 12 counties had the same annual rate for both years, according to the Kentucky Office of Employment and Training, an agency of the Kentucky Education and Workforce Development Cabinet.

The annual jobless rate for Woodford County was the lowest in the Commonwealth in 2013 at 6.1 percent. It was followed by Fayette and Oldham counties, 6.5 percent each; Scott County, 6.7 percent; Boone, Daviess, Franklin, Madison and Shelby counties, 6.8 percent each; and Caldwell, Owen and Warren counties, 7 percent each.

Leslie County recorded the state’s highest annual unemployment rate in 2013 — 17.7 percent. It was followed by Harlan and Magoffin counties, 17.6 percent each; Letcher County, 17.3 percent; Knott County, 16.1 percent; Fulton and Jackson counties, 15 percent each; Bell County, 14.9 percent; Perry County, 13.7 percent; and McCreary County, 13.5 percent.

Unemployment statistics are based on estimates and are compiled to measure trends rather than actually to count people working. Civilian labor force statistics include non-military workers and unemployed Kentuckians who are actively seeking work. They do not include unemployed Kentuckians who have not looked for employment within the past four weeks. The statistics in this news release are not seasonally adjusted to allow for comparisons between United States, state and counties figures. The statistics in this news release may be revised in the future.

Learn more about the Office of Employment and Training at


Click to download Acrobat Reader.

New Board Member for Kentucky Retirement System

Thursday, April 17th, 2014

New Board Member for KRS
Press Release Date: Wednesday, April 16, 2014
Revision Date: Thursday, April 17, 2014
Contact Information: Kentucky Retirement Systems
Questions call: 1-800-928-4646

KRS welcomes Randy K. Stevens, who has been appointed by Governor Steve Beshear to serve on the Kentucky Retirement Systems Board of Trustees. He currently works as the District Manager for Trimble Water District #1 located in Bedford, Kentucky. Mr. Stephens was appointed to fill the position as a result of the recent resignation of Richard Tanner. Mr. Stevens will be sworn in at the Board’s April 17 Annual Meeting and will serve the remainder of the unexpired term ending July 1, 2017.

Secretary Grimes and Attorney General Conway Join Together to Preserve Election Integrity

Thursday, April 17th, 2014

Press Release Date: Tuesday, April 15, 2014
Contact Information: Lynn Sowards Zellen,
Bradford Queen,
(502) 564-3490

Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes, Kentucky’s chief election official, and Attorney General Jack Conway, the state’s chief law enforcement official, are again joining forces to prevent vote fraud in the May 20 Primary Election. Members of the Kentucky Election Integrity Task Force, headed by Grimes, met today to coordinate efforts to protect the integrity of the election.

Because there are federal races on the ballot, the United States Attorney’s offices in the Eastern and Western Districts are members of the task force. As part of Grimes’ continued effort to expand Kentucky’s traditional defenses against vote fraud, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Kentucky State Police, and Kentucky State Board of Elections attended Tuesday’s meeting.

In addition to a robust task force, new laws Grimes championed and the task force supported during the 2013 General Assembly will help ensure the May 20 Primary is free and fair. For the first time, victims of sexual assault and domestic violence are eligible for the Secretary of State’s Address Confidentiality Program, keeping their identities out of publicly available voter records and allowing them to vote by mail-in absentee ballot. And lists of absentee voters will not be made public until after Election Day, helping protect them from being subjected to intimidation or vote buying.

“Safeguarding the right to vote and ensuring the reliability of the election process requires cooperation among all the stakeholders and making sure they have the necessary tools,” said Grimes. “I’m proud of our continued work with the expanded task force and ongoing efforts to make Kentucky’s election laws more efficient and effective.”

Grimes and Conway stressed that vote fraud will not be tolerated and that voters play an important role in maintaining the integrity of elections.

“While intra-agency cooperation is important to ensure elections in Kentucky are free and fair, it is critical that voters and poll workers around the state also be alert and report unusual election activity,” said Grimes.

“We’re doing everything we can to ensure an honest and fair election for all Kentuckians,” said Conway. “Investigators from my office will be patrolling precincts and polling places on Election Day, but we also need citizens to join in the effort by reporting any election irregularities.”

The Office of the Attorney General has jurisdiction to investigate and prosecute election law violations. The Attorney General’s office also observes elections, operates a toll-free hotline to receive allegations of election law violations, and conducts post-election audits of randomly selected counties.

The number for the Attorney General’s Election Fraud Hotline is 800-328-VOTE (800-328-8683). The Hotline is open throughout the year during normal business hours and from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. (EST) on Election Day. On the day of the 2012 Primary, the Hotline received 31 calls. There were 183 calls from 57 counties during the 2012 General Election. Leading up to the election, citizens may contact their county clerk or the State Board of Elections at 800-246-1399 or 502-573-7100 to express concerns or request election information.

Members of the news media covering the election may be in the voting room for the limited purpose of filming the voting process. However, as per OAG 88-76, the media may not conduct interviews with voters inside the voting room, record the identity of voters, or disrupt the voting process, a Class A misdemeanor. See KRS 117.236.

New Supreme Court Rule re: filing of Ethics Claims against Attorney

Tuesday, April 15th, 2014

SCR 3.160 Initiation of disciplinary cases

(1) After review by Bar Counsel pursuant to subparagraph (3) of this Rule, any sworn written statement of complaint against an attorney for unprofessional conduct shall be filed with the Disciplinary Clerk who shall promptly notify the attorney by certified mail, sent to the address maintained by the Director pursuant to SCR 3.175, or other means consistent with the Supreme Court Rules and Civil Rules, of the complaint, and that he/she has twenty (20) days to respond to the complaint. Upon completion of the investigation by the Office of Bar Counsel the matter shall be assigned to an Inquiry Commission panel by rotation.

(2) Notwithstanding the provisions of paragraph (1), when it comes to the attention of the Inquiry Commission from any source that an attorney may have engaged in unprofessional conduct, the Inquiry Commission, or a three-person panel thereof, may initiate and conduct an investigation, and if it believes from its investigation that there is sufficient evidence to justify its filing a complaint against the attorney it may file such a complaint.


(A) Upon receipt of a verbal or written allegation of a violation of the Rules of Professional Conduct, or sworn complaint, the Office of Bar Counsel will initially determine, under the direction of the Chair and Inquiry Commission, whether the matter is appropriate for alternative disposition. Alternative disposition may include, but is not limited to:

i. Informal resolution

ii. Referral to Fee Arbitration under SCR 3.810

iii. Legal negligence arbitration under SCR 3.800

iv. Legal or management education programs

v. Remedial ethics education programs

vi. Referral to KYLAP under SCR 3.970(1)(c)

vii. Issuance of a warning letter.

(B) A complaint is not suitable for alternative disposition if it alleges serious misconduct in which the sanction would more than likely result in a suspension. Additionally, some ethical violations warranting a private or public reprimand may not, under all circumstances, be eligible for alternative disposition.

(C) After review and such preliminary investigation as may reasonably be necessary, the Office of Bar Counsel may attempt informal resolution and subsequently close the Complaint. If the acts or course of conduct complained of merit referral under 3(A)(ii)-(vi), and do not warrant a greater degree of discipline, the Office of Bar Counsel may issue a warning letter, which will be maintained in the investigative file of the Office of Bar Counsel but not be considered as discipline, or it may recommend remedial ethics, related legal or management education programs, fee arbitration, or KYLAP, completion of which would result in the complaint being dismissed.

(D) If Bar Counsel deems a written and sworn complaint to state an ethical violation, such that alternative disposition is not appropriate or the Respondent will not consent to or complete the alternative disposition program, the matter shall proceed under subsection (1) above.

(E) If Bar Counsel deems any written and sworn complaint against a member not to state an ethical violation and it is not suitable for alternative disposition, it may decline, without investigation, to entertain it.

(4) Neither the Association, the Board, the Director, the Inquiry Commission, the Trial Commission, the Office of Bar Counsel, nor their officers, employees, agents, delegates or members shall be liable, to any person or entity initiating a complaint or investigation, or to any member of the bar or any other person or entity being charged or investigated by, or at the direction of, the Inquiry Commission, for any damages incident to such investigation or any complaint, charge, prosecution, proceeding or trial.


HISTORY: Amended by Order 2013-12, eff. 1-1-14; prior amendments eff. 2-1-08 (Order 2007-007), 4-1-07 (Order 2007-01), 1-1-06 (Order 2005-10), 10-1-98 (Order 98-1), 1-13-86 (Order 86-1), 7-1-79, 1-1-78, 7-2-71

Note: Former Rules of Appellate Procedure (RAP) were amended and redesignated as Rules of the Supreme Court (SCR) by Order of the Supreme Court effective January 1, 1978. Prior Rules of the Court of Appeals (RCA) had been redesignated as Rules of Appellate Procedure effective March 12, 1976.

Gwen Billingsley

Steve Huddleston has written an outstanding short story about the importance of legal representation for anyone charged with a crime.

Monday, April 14th, 2014

Steve Huddleston, an attorney in Warsaw, Kentucky has written an outstanding short story about the importance of legal representation for anyone charged with a crime. This story should be widely read. Defense attorneys will understand the public reaction they have had when they represented people who were “obviously guilty”. Huddleston may be contacted at (859) 816-4005.

Stan Billingsley
Senior Editor

By: S.P. Huddleston (Copyrighted)

Did you know that venom from reptiles, arachnids and marine life may hold the cure for heart disease and diabetes, even autoimmune diseases and cancer? This isn’t new. Venom-based cures are mentioned in the Sanskrit from the second century. Under the sea there is a creature called a stonefish which is nearly impossible to see. This poses grave danger because if the venom from its dorsal spines doesn’t kill you, the pain will be so intense you’re likely to beg for the amputation of the affected limb.
I didn’t know any of this stuff. Not, that is, until I found myself flipping through a National Geographic magazine in the waiting room of Labon Hodge’s office.
It struck me as odd I’d never before been there. Hodge’s office was on the second floor, above a savings and loan association. I owned the pharmacy straight across the courthouse square only yards away.
Hodge, of course, would know why I was there, as would all others in the office or elsewhere. It had been splashed all over the local papers.
So, fate had compelled me to make the short walk across the square from my drug store to Hodge’s office. And yet, while the distance was short, the trip had been long. I had come from afar. My journey began about a year ago.

I am at my drug store’s lunch counter taking my morning coffee with a few pals, as was our custom.
“Well look, there,” somebody said.
Past our window a tall, skinny man in a rumpled scotch-plaid suit which was too big for him, strode toward the courthouse with several manila folders under his arm. The collars of his white shirt could have used a clasp.
“There’s a man, I don’t know how he lives with himself,” one of my mates said.
Said another, “What do you reckon he sees in the mirror?”
The talk continued. “I heard he’s going to appeal.”
“Appeal what? Just a waste of taxpayer money.”
As others chattered, I said nothing, but was thinking along the same general lines.
Labon Hodge was a familiar figure on the courthouse square. He had practiced law in our town for decades.
Even so, he was not so well known as one might expect. He seemed a quiet man by nature and mostly kept to himself.
I knew him a little. He had handled my deceased partner’s estate. We had a buy-sell agreement requiring me to buy his widow out of the business. I felt Hodge handled the matter efficiently and with tact. Professionally, I’d say.
Occasionally Hodge showed up at our church. As a deacon, I took up the collection. Sometimes Hodge didn’t fold his checks very well and I couldn’t help but notice his donations were on the large side, as if to make up for his frequent absences.
I knew Hodge had three children and at least two ex-wives. Of the children I was sure as they were in school with my own kids. As to the ex-wives, I wasn’t certain but that was of no consequence to me. I had marital problems of my own more than enough to keep me occupied.
A year earlier our community had suffered a terrible tragedy. A local hardware store was destroyed in a spectacular blaze fueled in part by the paint and other chemical solutions housed there.
It was arson and everyone knew who did it. Jackie Jones was a mean and dishonest man who seemed to relish going out of his way to foster the enmity of others. He was found hours after the fire unconscious in his own front yard reeking of whiskey and gasoline, his hair singed and eyebrows lost to the heat.
At least two witnesses stepped quickly forward to avow that Jones had sworn vengeance against the hardware store owner for suing him to collect his delinquent account and thereafter garnishing his wages.
That was bad enough, but there is more to it. A single mother and her two young children lived in the apartment above the hardware store and were incinerated. It is said the little seven-year-old girl had shown signs of musical genius.
So it was murder. And it was murder by a despised low-life perpetrated for no good reason. Hodge defended Jones. That was his offense.
Of course it didn’t help. After nearly a year of what seemed to the community to be pointless legal wrangling and unnecessary delays a jury convicted Jones and sentenced him to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
To most, including me, this result had been inevitable and the whole process of getting there a waste of tax money which served only to prolong the agony and grief.
So, while my general impression of Hodge was favorable, I had to wonder about him. A man with children of his own working so hard for the murderer of innocent children – it was hard to figure.
I referred to my marital problems in passing. Alas, neither you nor I can get off that easily. To tell this story, I’m afraid it can’t be avoided.
Let’s start with the crux of the matter and work back. I had a fling and I got caught. The ramifications of the latter fact still bedevil me. Indeed, it is the reason I am sitting in Labon Hodge’s waiting room reading about scorpions, sea snakes and mambas.
If you know the circumstances, perhaps you will grant me a little understanding.
Everything started with a tree struck by lightning. This tree happened to be in my business partner’s back yard. My partner became disturbed to the point of obsession. He convinced himself of the impending death of his entire family as the stricken tree crashed through the roof of his house in the wee hours of the morning.
I went to see for myself. I assured my partner that his fear was unlikely to materialize during the lifetime of any person now living, for it was a sturdy tulip poplar which, while injured by the lightning, was far from dead.
It was not enough. Partner decided that it must come down. As he was notoriously scotch with money, he determined to fell it himself, which he did. Sadly, the tree fell on top of him, as did the chainsaw, and well, you get the picture.
Apart from the genuine grief I suffered at the loss of my dear, old friend, his untimely demise had a profound effect on my workload. You can’t operate a pharmacy legally without the physical presence of a licensed pharmacist at all times. So I was pulling double-duty, seven days a week.
My wife was unhappy with this and became shrewish. The workplace was the source of my problems, yet at the same time it became my haven to which I escaped from the friction at home.
I was aided by our able and long-time assistant who agreed to work extra hours until I could locate a retired pharmacist looking for part-time work. This was unlikely to happen easily or quickly as our town was not large and the national chain stores were soaking up available personnel.
The assistant was both helpful and cheerful. She knew the business and its customers well, and was thus a huge asset. To have lost her would have been a grievous blow at any time, more so now than ever. Working into the night together and under pressure, we became closer.
While hardly a raving beauty, she was shapely in a way that attracted me. I gathered she liked me as well. One thing led to another.
You don’t need the details. We’re all grown-ups here. You know what happened.
I probably shouldn’t say it (although at this juncture it hardly matters), but I enjoyed our arrangement. It kept me going, really.
They say nothing lasts forever, and this didn’t. As I said, we got caught.
My wife took this as license to have flings of her own, which by now is the least of my worries.
We were caught by my assistant’s husband. Did I mention my assistant was married to the Chief of Police? Yeah, well, you can see that this is not likely to go well for me.
It happened like this, according to Chief John Hampton. He was making the usual nightly rounds checking on the security of local businesses, as a diligent public servant should. At my drug store he saw a light from within and found the back door, which should have been locked that hour, open. I am yet unconvinced that he didn’t have a key. In any event, he entered to check out the situation. The situation was that my assistant and I were in pari delicto. (I have since had reason to look up certain legal terms and stumbled across that one. If you know what it means, you will understand why it has stuck with me.)
Of course I had to fire her. My wife insisted. So now she hates me, too.
Some months later I was awakened at 3:00 a.m. by the pharmacy’s burglar alarm which was wired into my home. I noticed my wife was not in her place beside me, but I had no time to fret about that. I rushed downtown.
I got there first for some reason. The front door of the store was locked. I fumbled with the keys, but finally opened it and ran to the back of the store where the pharmacy was located. As you would know, the opiates and ephedrines were rifled. The burglars had somehow cracked the safe in which they were stored.
Chief John Hampton arrived and began looking around and making notes. The burglars had entered from a back window they had cut through with some sort of knife.
As you might expect, it was no fun for me to be in the same room with John Hampton under any circumstances. But I was befogged and numb and most of the tension was lost on me.
After an hour or so, I am sitting on a stool trying to grasp what all this will mean, when Hampton approaches me.
“It looks like an inside job to me,” he says.
For a moment I am unresponsive. Then the light comes on, “What!”
“You heard me,” Hampton says.
Now I am incredulous. “John,” I say, “I know we have our differences, but you know damn well I didn’t have anything to do with this.”
A strikingly unfriendly smile spread across Hampton’s face. “I don’t know and I don’t care,” he said.
In the days that followed my business dropped off. Only slightly, but noticeably.
Circulating rumors began getting back to me.
“I heard Henry Matthews has financial trouble.”
“Did you hear Matthews’ wife is divorcing him?”
“Did you know Matthews’ nephew is part of a drug cartel?”
It was maddening, but I’d lived in this town all my life and had been through the rumor mill before. It would pass if I kept my mouth shut, which I did. Next month they’d be talking about someone else.
I took comfort in one irrefutable fact. I was 47 years old and had never once been in legal trouble. My record was squeaky clean. My fellow townspeople knew me to be an honest, hard-working and law-abiding citizen. This couldn’t be taken from me.
You might imagine then how I felt when I opened my morning paper some time later only to be greeted with the headline; “LOCAL DRUGGIST INDICTED IN DRUG
THEFT.” I say “imagine” because you can’t begin to know how I felt unless its happened to you.
That afternoon John Hampton marched into my store bearing his most serious mien and ceremoniously handed me a summons, making sure all my customers noticed in the process. I snatched it from his hand and tried to stare him down, but he quickly turned away and departed.
Now I was angry. This had gone way too far. Who did these people think they were anyway? I was a respected citizen. A good man. Past president of the Rotary Club and The Founder’s Day Festival.
Sure, my finances had deteriorated some lately. A new chain pharmacy on the outskirts of town had siphoned off some business. And my wife, who did not like me much but wasn’t divorcing me, yet, had quit her job with the school system in a pique of indignation, which I suspect was actually meant to spite me. That didn’t help the household finances.
Hampton would have discovered this, as his sister-in-law worked at the bank. But I was far from insolvent. My balance sheet was still better than most.
And, yes, my 19 year old nephew had got himself hooked on pain pills hanging out with the wrong crowd. But he was away doing in-patient rehab, and his punk friends were hardly a cartel. Hell, they probably couldn’t even spell cartel.
So, come on now. This whole thing was an outrage. I was fairly chomping at the bit to go to court and give them all a piece of my mind.
I began to give some thought to the legal system and its processes, about which I knew nothing. Until then I had paid little attention. I only knew that it was confusing, unpredictable and seemed to produce non-sensical results. And it was expensive. A thing to be avoided.
My experience with the regulation of my own industry was more than enough law stuff for me.
Now, though, it seemed to make sense for me to give it some thought.
So when I noticed Labon Hodge sitting on the sidewalk bench next to my store, eating a sandwich for lunch, I walked outside and sat beside him.
“How you doing, Hodge,” I asked.
“Very well, thank you,” he answered. “And you, Henry?”
“I’ve been better,” I said.
“Yes, I see you’re in a tough spot,” Hodge said.
“Oh, I’m not worried about that. I’m mad, yes, but not worried. It’s just a bunch of trumped up bull. Everybody with any sense knows it,” I said.
“I’m sure that’s right,” Hodge said.
I said, “I’ve got nothing to worry about because I’m innocent.”
“Of course you are,” said Hodge, a slight smile forming on his lips.
“I mean it,” I snapped. “I’m not guilty.”
“I mean it, too,” said Hodge. “You are in the United States of America. Here you are innocent unless and until the government proves you guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. So, that having not occurred, you most certainly sit before me as an innocent man.”
“I wish other people knew that,” I said.
Hodge said, “I know it and the legal system knows it.”
I studied Hodge closely. I believed him to be about 55, but he looked older. He seemed little concerned with his appearance. The tie-knot crooked, shirt gaping above the belt, shoes unshined, one sock drooping about his ankle.
“Well, I don’t want to talk about all that right now,” I said.
“Probably a good idea,” Hodge responded.
I asked, “May I ask you a question, though?”
“You may,” answered Hodge, “although I may choose not to answer.”
“Fair enough,” I said. “How can you defend a man you know is guilty of a terrible crime?”
“A man like Jackie Jones,” Hodge asked.
I said, “Yeah, like Jackie Jones.”
Hodge smiled. “I didn’t know him to be guilty,” he said.
“Everybody knew he was guilty,” I said.
“Did you know he was guilty, Henry?”
“Of course,” I said. “Everybody did.”
“How did you know he was guilty, Henry?”
“He had the revenge motive. He told people he was going to do it. He was found nearly half burned up and smelling of gasoline. And everything else,” I answered.
“Besides,” I continued, “Jones is just like that. He is a worthless creep. They say he burned down old Joe Ramsey’s barn a few years ago.”
Hodge began. “Henry, did you see Jones lying in his yard singed and reeking.”
“No,” I say, “but the police did.”
Hodge says, “If you didn’t see it yourself, how do you know what the police found?”
“Because they said so,” I say.
“How do you know they weren’t lying?” Hodge asked.
“I don’t think they’d lie about something like that. And, anyway, I saw the photos in the newspaper,” I countered.
Said Hodge, “I don’t expect they’d lie either. Not as a whole, but what about one out of a thousand? And do you think the chances of lying would be greater if they knew no one would double-check the story?”
Hodge went on, “How do you know the photos weren’t staged, or faked, or taken at some other time? How do you know Jones swore revenge?”
“Well, I don’t know, but more than one person said they heard him,” I say.
Hodge said, “Maybe they lied. As you pointed out, Jones is a creep. Many dislike him. I dare say hate him. Perhaps for good reason.”
He went on. “As for all the other evidence, did you observe or analyze any of it? And back to lying, maybe no witness lied, maybe they were just wrong. Do you think it possible you might have arrived at different conclusions if confronted with the same set of circumstances as the police?”
“Not in this case,” I responded.
“In any case,” Hodge rejoined.
I was eager to turn this conversation around. “Look Hodge,” I say, “don’t you believe Jones was found just like they said?”
“Yes, I believe so,” Hodge answered.
Feeling vindicated, I continued, “Don’t you believe he threatened vengeance?”
“Yes, I believe that, too,” Hodge answered.
I pounced. “Are you saying you don’t believe he is guilty?”
Hodge answered. “I am certain now that he is guilty because a jury of his peers has unanimously found him guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. As to what I believe, yes, I believe he committed the crime charged.”
“Then what are we arguing about?” I wasn’t sure what had just happened.
“We’re not arguing,” Hodge said. “I get paid to argue. I don’t like to do it on my own time. If we were arguing you’d know it.”
Somehow, after all of this, a flicker of cogency danced in my brain. “Hodge,” I say, “You’re very clever at shifting the subject, but my original question concerned how you can defend a man like Jones.”
Hodge rubbed his chin. He hesitated, then began. “Let me try this. As both a taxpayer and citizen, you, Henry, are responsible for the judicial system which is operated by our society. Do you want to support a system that imprisons innocent people?”
“Of course not,” I snap, “but Jones wasn’t innocent.”
“We know that now,” Hodge says. “But how could we know it if the state’s case against him wasn’t put to an honest test? What do you suppose would happen if the criminally accused were not afforded a vigorous defense?”
“The taxpayers would probably save a lot of money,” I retort,
Hodge smiles. “Perhaps, but it is very expensive to incarcerate a man. To imprison an innocent man is a monumental waste, in every respect. Henry, the legal system is based on logic. Indeed, it may fairly be termed entirely logic. Everything we practice is designed to ensure a fair trial. Not a perfect one, mind you. We’re mere mortals and cannot ensure perfection, although we strive for it. What we can ensure is fairness. And yet, with all that is done toward that purpose, innocent men still get convicted.”
“One thing I know would happen if defendants didn’t receive honest defenses is that Henry Matthews could not sleep at night with the confidence that the system of laws he supports strives to do its dead level best to ensure that our government does not deprive innocent men of liberty, the most precious of all rights.”
“I suppose your’re right,” I say. “Still, in a case like Jones’ the system seems a ponderous thing, making it unnecessarily difficult to reach an obvious result.”
“It is only obvious now,” Hodge says. “Henry, here’s the difference in our thinking. You came to your conclusion on the basis of what other people told you. It was an easy conclusion, as it comported with that of everyone you knew.”
“I have come to the same conclusion, but only after testing, probing and questioning all of the evidence. Only after the state was required to openly, and in a manner consistent with legal rules guaranteeing fairness, display its evidence and expose it to the test of question, skepticism and counter-evidence. I have formed my conclusions only after being shown that the evidence against Jones was reliable, sensible, relevant and material to the issue and true.”
“I believe Jones was found as claimed because I’ve questioned the witnesses under oath, viewed the photos, visited the scene, reviewed the forensic evidence and interrogated the scientists who performed the tests. The same for all else I’ve said I believe. If it had not been proven to me, I would have drawn no such conclusions.”
“Well,” I say, “you’re a lawyer. That’s your job. I’m just relying on my common sense.”
“Yes, and you have good sense, Henry. Well, I must get back to the office. Good to see you, Henry. I do have one question for you before I go.”
“Shoot,” I say, then added, “but I might not answer.”
Hodge chuckled and asked, “If no one stood between an accused and his prosecutors, putting up the strongest defense possible in his behalf, what would prevent the state from running amok? What would stop it from falsifying charges against, and imprisoning, innocent people at will, just because it wanted to for some reason?”
I had heard enough. “I have to think about that,” I said and rose.
We parted.
The day of my court appearance arrived at last. I was ready early, but contained my eagerness until I had just enough time to arrive as scheduled. Then I walked out of the front door of my store and across the street to the courthouse with head held high. I hadn’t wanted to arrive early, so as to seem over-anxious or insecure. They could wait on me if need be.
As it turned out, I was hardly noticed and was forced to wait anyway, other court business being in process. I sat quietly alone, and watched and listened.
I can now confess nervousness. The place, proceedings and language employed were all strange to me. I was a minute away from my old, familiar second home, my pharmacy, and yet I felt like a stranger, even among people I knew and in the seat of my own local government. My palms began to sweat as nausea roiled my guts. Still, I was able to maintain calm on the outside.
I found one saving grace. I was to stand before Judge Mary Cee Strawn. I had known Strawn since childhood. We started kindergarten together. Her husband was one of my steady customers. No, I can’t tell you why. My son even dated Mary Lee’s daughter for a while. A big mistake by my son to let her get away. She was an outstanding young lady in every respect. She had gone to the city and become a successful business executive last I heard. My son has a stubborn streak, believe it or not. Sometimes he doesn’t know what’s good for himself.
By watching, I noticed Mary Cee was calm and polite in her demeanor. She spoke matter-of-factly, but was not brusque. This helped set me at ease some.
When my name was finally called, I suddenly went from unnoticed to very much noticed. The courtroom fell deathly silent for the first time since I’d come in.
As I approached the Judge, I sensed every eye in the courtroom upon me. I stared straight ahead, feeling as if I were an alien being just dropped in from the sky.
I stood at a podium, microphone in my face. “State your name, address and date of birth,” the Judge commanded, which seemed senseless as everybody knew who I was and why I was there. I managed to comply with the order without falter, although it was harder than I could have imagined.
Then from the Judge, “Henry, do you understand the nature of the charges against you?”
“I understand them well enough,” I said, “but I don’t understand why I’ve been charged.”
“Do you have an attorney,” the Judge asked.
“No,” I answered, “I don’t need a lawyer. This is a bunch of nonsense. I could call it something else, but I won’t here.”
The Judge looked at me silently for a moment. She then removed her spectacles and leaned forward slightly. She spoke looking directly into my eyes. “Henry, you need an attorney.”
“What on earth for?” I went on, “Mary Cee, you darn well know I didn’t have anything to do with that break-in.” And with a sweep of my arm, “We all know what this is all about.”
The Judge said, “Don’t say any more Henry. Listen to me closely. Henry, you have spent many years in business. You are expert in your business. From what I’ve seen, I believe you have been successful in your chosen field. Until recently you were blessed with an able partner. The two of you made a good team. And, by the way, I am sorry about his death. He was a fine man. But my point is, you are about to enter into a field about which you have little or no understanding, and, to your credit perhaps, absolutely no experience. I would never presume to go to your store and mix medicines. You can’t come into this place and expect to perform as you can behind the pharmacy counter. In this field of endeavor, just as in your chosen field, you need a partner. A skilled and experienced partner who can protect and promote your interests.”
“Why,” I said, “I haven’t done anything wrong?”
The Judge replaced her glasses, looked down and rapidly wrote something. She then looked up at me and said, “I’ve entered your plea of not guilty. Henry, be back here in four weeks with your lawyer.”
That was that. I adopted a sullen countenance, turned and walked out.
I liked Mary Cee Strawn. We had even dated some in high school.
I had to believe she meant well. Even so, I don’t like being told what to do. I still could not accept that a fellow needed a lawyer when he’d done nothing wrong. Well, at least nothing criminal. Besides, lawyers were expensive, I was given to understand. By this time my income stream was but a trickle and my expenses had not diminished accordingly, if at all. This damnable travesty was going to break me if I let it.
I didn’t know what to do, really. I wrestled with it for days. I didn’t want to hire a lawyer. That would only make me look guilty, I told myself. Yet I couldn’t just dismiss Mary Cee’s advice. A nagging thought in the back of my mind insisted that she had been trying to tell me something.
Though it might be good advice, I was loathe to take it. Once, for a few fleeting moments, I even considered absconding to Surinam. I really hated myself for that and got drunk in self-disgust. I hate to admit it, but by this point I was a mess and in over my head.
Last night I had a dream. I could call it a nightmare for it was the most frightening experience of my life, which says something, as you know if you’ve read this story. But I won’t call it a nightmare for it may save my life. At least I hope so.
In most of my bad dreams I can sense that I’m only dreaming and that the horrifying events are but conjured up by my imagination. This sense that the images are not real comforts me as the dream-story plays out. In most of the scarier ones, when my innate sense of the real and surreal fails, I manage to awaken myself before the imminent catastrophe occurs. This one was unlike any in my experience.
I was struggling to reach the courthouse but could barely move, as if walking in wet cement. I was fearful and running late. I had a vague notion that I was in trouble, but didn’t know why exactly. Whenever I began to make progress, I realized I had forgotten something. A book, a document, an article of clothing, and back to the drug store I trudged. I begged for help from everyone I saw. All looked away. Some said, “I can’t help you, it’s against the law.” I knew some of the people and called them by name, yet no one dared help. “You’re trying to get me in trouble,” one said.
At long last I reached the courtroom. There, clerks scurried around ignoring me. None would speak with me. Finally I screamed, “I am Henry Matthews. I am here to prove my innocence.”
“Hmm, Henry Matthews you say,” one woman responded. “Have you identification?”
I reached for my wallet but it was missing. “No,” I said, “I must have left it at the store. But you know me. I’m Henry Matthews. I own the drug store across the street.”
“Well, this is highly irregular, but let me check,” said the woman. She began thumbing through a stack of papers. “Oh yes, Henry Matthews. Here you are,” she said. “You are supposed to be here tomorrow. Come back tomorrow.” She went back to her business.
“But wait,” I said. “I have the summons right here.” But I didn’t have it. I had a handful of papers of all kind, except the right one.
I somehow managed to return to the pharmacy where I tried to sleep on a cot in the storage room.
Sleep was denied me. A chanting crowd outside kept me unsettled. Finally, I went to the front door of the store and peered out. A mob of folks seemed to be gathered about a bonfire on the courthouse lawn. I couldn’t make out the words of their chant. I opened the door to listen. I heard but could not understand. They seemed to be speaking a foreign language.
I grabbed the arm of a man walking by in the direction of the bonfire. “What is going on,” I asked.
He answered, “We are standing guard over a man named Matthews so that he doesn’t escape. No one knows him, but he is to be hanged soon on the courthouse lawn, in front of the whole town.”
Next, I was again plodding to the courthouse in wet cement. I was making better progress this time for I was very determined and cared not whether I carried all necessary items.
In the courtroom I encountered the same scene as before. I made the same announcement as before. The same clerk leafed through the pile of papers.
“Henry Matthews,” she said. “Oh yes, you were supposed to be here yesterday.”
“I was here yesterday,” I screamed. “You told me to come back today. I want to proclaim my innocence.”
“Oh well,” she said, “you can’t do that here anyway. If you want a trial you must go to the bank building across the street and you better hurry because they will all be leaving there soon to come over here.”
“Then I will wait for them here,” I said.
“You can’t do that,” she said.
“Why not,” I ask. “I just want a chance to clear myself.”
She stated, “Like I said, you can’t do that here.” She then returned to stamping documents and would speak to me no more.
Off I slogged to the bank. There I was greeted by a pretty young teller behind a counter-wall. “There you are Henry, you’re late.”
“Where can I prove my innocence”, I asked.
“Oh, I’m afraid it is too late for that. You were found guilty yesterday. You will be hanged tonight on the courthouse lawn. No one stood up for you. No one. Face it Henry, everybody knows you’re guilty.”
I bolted upright in the bed, bathed in sweat, trembling uncontrollably. My wife stirred. She had the decency to ask, “Is there anything wrong.”
“Everything, I think,” I answered.
With the dawn I made ready to journey to the office on the courthouse square above the savings and loan association.
And that is how I have come to be sitting in the waiting room of Labon Hodge’s office educating myself about the beneficial effects of deadly venom.

Two years have passed and I am now one of those semi-retired pharmacists working part-time at a national chain drug store, having been forced to sell my business to stave off bankruptcy.
My wife finally got around to divorcing me and I now live alone in a sub-leased condo.
But I am a free man, thanks to the hard work and honest efforts of Labon Hodge. Freedom transcends all else. People, money, things, prestige, relationships and all else are temporal. Freedom is eternal. Without freedom, all else is worthless. Take it from one who nearly lost his and likely would have but for a partner I didn’t even know I had.
Next month, former Chief of Police John Hampton faces trial for framing me, thanks again to the efforts of Hodge.
I use the word “imagine” often as I have embraced the conviction that none of us “know” much of anything.
My youngest daughter will graduate college early at year’s end. She tells me she plans to enter law school. I am well-pleased with her.

Gun rights may return to Supreme Court’s agenda

Monday, April 14th, 2014

USA Today, April 13, 2014
(USA TODAY) WASHINGTON — The push and pull over the Second Amendment right to bear arms is heating up again, thanks in part to a former Supreme Court justice’s new book.
Friday, the high court will consider whether to hear a challenge to a New Jersey law restricting the right to carry guns in public. If the court grants the petition, it would be the most important gun control case since the justices upheld the right to keep handguns at home for self-defense in 2008.
While the justices ponder what the Constitution’s framers meant with the words “A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed,” former Justice John Paul Stevens suggests it be rewritten.
In his new book, Six Amendments: How and Why We Should Change the Constitution,Stevens, 93, advocates adding the words “when serving in the militia” to reduce the number of firearms-related deaths — roughly 88 per day — that occur in the USA.
Stevens was on the losing side of the court’s 5-4 ruling in 2008 that established the right to keep handguns at home for self-defense. Two years later, he was again in the minority when the court ruled that Chicago could not prohibit private citizens from owning handguns.
“Emotional claims that the right to possess deadly weapons is so important that it is protected by the federal Constitution distort intelligent debate about the wisdom of particular aspects of proposed legislation designed to minimize the slaughter caused by the prevalence of guns in private hands,” Stevens writes. “Those emotional arguments would be nullified by the adoption of my proposed amendment. The amendment certainly would not silence the powerful voice of the gun lobby; it would merely eliminate its ability to advance one mistaken argument.”
The “gun lobby” seeks to move in the opposite direction. Despite losses at federal district and appeals courts, groups including the National Rifle Association and Gun Owners Foundation back the effort by New Jersey gun owners to legalize gun possession outside the home.
“The Second Amendment guarantees the right to carry weapons for the purpose of self-defense — not just for self-defense within the home, but for self-defense, period,” the NRA argues in its brief to the high court.
New Jersey law enforcement groups defend the state’s requirement that citizens prove a “justifiable need” to carry handguns outside the home, whether openly or concealed from view. In their brief, they claim the law “qualifies as a presumptively lawful, longstanding regulation that does not burden conduct within the scope of the Second Amendment’s guarantee.”

statement by Attorney General Holder on Sentencing Commission’s Vote to Approve Reductions in Sentencing Guidelines for Nonviolent Drug Offenders

Friday, April 11th, 2014

Department of Justice
Office of Public Affairs
Thursday, April 10, 2014

WASHINGTON—U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder—who testified before the U.S. Sentencing Commission last month in support of a proposal to reduce the federal sentencing guidelines for low-level, nonviolent drug offenders—released the following statement Thursday in response to the Commission voting to formally adopt those changes:

“This action by the U.S. Sentencing Commission represents a milestone in our effort to reshape the criminal justice system’s approach to dealing with drug offenders. This reduction in the federal sentencing guidelines, while modest, sends a strong message about the need to reserve the harshest penalties for the most serious criminals. At a time when prison and detention costs consume nearly a third of the Justice Department’s budget, it simply makes sense to explore alternatives to incarceration and renew our emphasis on treatment and prevention.

“It is now time for Congress to pick up the baton and advance legislation that would take further steps to reduce our overburdened prison system. Proposals like the bipartisan Smarter Sentencing Act would enhance the fairness of our criminal justice system while empowering law enforcement to focus limited resources on the most serious threats to public safety. I look forward to continuing to work with lawmakers on both sides of the aisle on these types of common-sense reforms.”

8th Cir. axes $900K verdict because lawyer told personal law school sex-harassment story at closing

Friday, April 11th, 2014

Trials & Litigation

Posted Apr 7, 2014 4:10 PM CDT
By Martha Neil

A $900,000 jury award in an employment discrimination case, including $600,000 in punitive damages, has been reversed by a federal appeals court because a lawyer for the plaintiff during closing arguments told jurors that as a law student, she was sexually harassed by a professor.

The anecdote by attorney Brooke Timmer improperly helped vouch for the claims made by her client, Mindy Gilster, held the St. Louis-based 8th U.S. District Court of Appeal in its Friday opinion (PDF).

Saying that “the size of the damage award, while not beyond the bounds of rationality, suggests that counsel’s comment had a prejudicial effect,” the appellate panel ruled that a new trial would be required to remedy the unfair remarks by Timmer in the Northern District of Iowa case.

“Counsel’s vouching and sympathy-arousing personal experience were directly aimed at enhancing these damages,” the appeals court said. “Given the jury’s decision to award Gilster $40,000 for past emotional distress, $200,000 for future emotional distress, and $600,000 punitive damages, we cannot say that this improper argument did not accomplish the purpose which it was clearly intended to accomplish, namely, the enhancement of damages.”

Gilster sued her former supervisor and employer, the Sioux City branch of Primebank, in 2010, alleging that her supervisor spoke to her and touched her inappropriately. Although he was reprimanded by the bank when she complained in 2009, Gilster was fired after she filed with the Iowa Civil Rights Commission in 2011, the Des Moines Register recounts.

In her closing argument in the 2012 federal district court trial, Timmer praised her client for being courageous enough to complain and said she herself had been sexually harassed by a professor when she was a third-year law student at Drake University but had not spoken up. Although opposing counsel objected to her argument, the trial judge overruled, later admitting that this had been a mistake but finding that the defense had not been unduly prejudiced.

“I had been a student bar association president for the last year, and I was well respected and liked by my peers. I had a great relationship with the dean of the law school because of my role as president,” Timmer told the jury in Gilster’s case. However, “I refused to stand up for myself. It takes great strength and fearlessness to make a complaint against your supervisor.”

Timmer told the Des Moines Register she expects to seek en banc review of the appellate ruling by the full 8th Circuit.

She also said Drake’s law school had reached out to her in 2012 after hearing of the sexual harassment claim she made in a closing argument (Timmer said she had done so in more than one case, but no longer uses the anecdote). However, the newspaper article doesn’t explain what resolution, if any, resulted.


Thursday, April 10th, 2014

The decision by attorney Eric Deters to resign from the retire from practice of law in Kentucky after a five year battle with the KBA , may be the basis for some in the KBA to rejoice. Yes they are finally rid of Eric.

The KBA spent $400,000 to try to sanction Senator Berry for politely saying that “ some believe the refusal of the Legislative Ethics committee to allow members of the public to sit in on the ethics trial of Senator David Williams and by allowing Senator Williams to be present”. Some of this cost was covered by the KBA liability insurance…but this is not without consequence since this expenditure will likely increase the cost of malpractice insurance for all attorneys.

The KBA cited a rule which says that attorneys may be sanctioned if they criticize a judge or “public legal officer” (no definition is given for the term “public legal officer” by questioning their competence or efficacy. This rule applies to false statements but also applies to “truthful but reckless” statements about a judge or public legal officer. Ohio and Arkansas have repealed a similar rule. But Kentucky still has a rule that allows any attorney to be sanctioned for making a truthful criticism of a judge or “public legal officer”. The Kentucky Supreme Court, by adoption of this rule, means that the people who know the most about the conduct of judges and public legal officers face sanctions if they express their opinions in public…EVEN IF THE STATEMENTS ARE TRUTHFUL! The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals did not strike down the rule applied against Senator Berry….they just said it was improperly applied to his fact situation. So if you are an attorney you are still prohibited in Kentucky from making truthful comments criticizing a judge or public legal officer.

The KBA have made it impossible for Deter’s (in his mind ) to continue to practice law in Kentucky. We are unaware of any ethics violation by Deters that warranted the penalty of permanent disbarment.

We will watch closely to see if the KBA will even permit Deters to resign. Attorneys are required to join the KBA and they cannot withdraw from the KBA if a current ethics charge is pending, without the permission of the KBA. We understand that Deters has only one issue before the KBA, and that is whether or not he should be reinstated after serving out his periods of sanction. His resignation should make that issue before the Fitness and Character Committee moot.

Today some attorneys may rejoice about Deter’s resignation, but they should realize that not everyone agrees with them. One prominent attorney in Frankfort, has expressed the opinion that lawyers whose office is above the fourth floor are treated more favorably by the KBA than small firm lawyers, and those whose offices are below the fourth floor.

SCOKY Retreats Further From Open And Obvious Hazard Doctrine In Premises Cases

Wednesday, April 9th, 2014

By David Kramer |

In its recently published 4-3 opinion in Shelton v. Kentucky Easter Seals Society, Inc., 413 S.W.3d 901 (Ky. 2013), the Kentucky Supreme Court expanded on its prior decision in Kentucky River Medical Center v. McIntosh, 319 S.W.3d 385 (Ky. 2010), limiting the “open and obvious hazard doctrine,” and held that a personal injury claim brought by a hospital visitor who tripped on hospital equipment wiring next to her husband’s bed while tending to him should not have been dismissed by summary judgment. The Fayette Circuit Court court had dismissed the claim, and the Court of Appeals affirmed the dismissal, after determining that the hazard posed by the wires was open and obvious to the visitor.

The Supreme Court majority noted that the visitor was an invitee (rather than a licensee) to whom the hospital owed a duty of reasonable care to eliminate or warn of unreasonable risks of harm on the premises. The Court referred back to its prior limitation on the open and obvious doctrine in McIntosh and held that the issue was no longer one of whether there was a duty on the part of the premises owner but rather one of whether the duty was breached. The Court noted that in McIntosh it had adopted the approach of the Restatement (Second) of Torts Section 343(a) and that of a growing number of American jurisdictions in generally permitting juries to assess the comparative fault of the parties in premises liability cases.

The Court explained that a family member tending to a hospitalized patient might reasonably be distracted from the existence of an obvious hazard on the premises, or might determine that the need to tend to the patient outweighs exposure to the hazard. The Court concluded that there was a genuine issue of material fact whether the hospital fulfilled its duty of reasonable care, thereby precluding summary judgment. Specifically, the Court held that the record of the case was inadequate for it to determine whether there were any safer alternative solutions available to the hospital to the placement of the exposed wiring, whether any warnings were provided, or whether other precautions could have been taken to make the premises safer.

It is interesting to note that the Court suggested the hospital might still be entitled to summary judgment upon remand after those additional issues are addressed. Generally in these cases, if an appellate court finds that a motion for summary judgment was well grounded, the appellate court notes that the burden shifts to the plaintiff, and then considers whether the plaintiff had an adequte opportunity for discovery before the trial court granted summary judgment. If so, it usually does not reverse a properly supported summary judgment. Review of the case docket in Shelton on CourtNet suggests that summary judgment was entered relatively early in the case, though some discovery had been conducted. However, the Supreme Court did not ascribe the reversal in Shelton to an inadequate opportunity for discovery by the plaintiff.

In conclusion, this decision and the Court’s other recent rulings in this area are likely to result in more premises liability claims reaching the jury for determinations of apportionment of fault between the plaintiff and the premises owner.
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SCOKY Retreats Further From Open And Obvious Hazard Doctrine In Premises Cases
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MCCutcheon Lays Groundwork for Ruination of Democracy

Wednesday, April 9th, 2014

Posted: 04/07/2014 6:12 pm EDT Updated: 04/07/2014 6:59 pm EDT

Supreme Court McCutcheon v. Fec Citizens United Campaign Finance Laws Campaign Finance

With its decision in McCutcheon v. FEC, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a campaign finance law for the seventh time since Chief Justice John Roberts joined the Court in 2005. His vision of money in politics regulation is dangerous for our democracy. If the past is any indication, it could get even worse in years to come.

Since 2005, the Court has slowly dismantled campaign finance regulations, striking down a state contribution limit, blocking efforts to regulate sham issue ads, prohibiting candidates from raising more money when facing wealthy self-financing candidates, lifting the ban on corporations and unions spending money in elections, invalidating part of a public financing program, and reaffirming its position in Citizens United that outside spending cannot corrupt elected officials. As Justice Stephen Breyer said in his dissent, “Taken together with Citi­zens United… , today’s decision eviscerates our Nation’s campaign finance laws, leaving a remnant incapable of dealing with the grave problems of democratic legitimacy that those laws were intended to resolve.”

Breyer’s concern is not unwarranted. Under the now-defunct aggregate limits, an individual could contribute “only” $123,200 to candidates, parties, and PACs per election cycle. After McCutcheon, that number rises to $3.6 million. This change will undoubtedly lead to more money flowing directly into the coffers of the candidates and parties.

Although the outcome of McCutcheon was not entirely unexpected, the breadth of the ruling and its potential impact upon future cases was surprising. With McCutcheon, the Supreme Court laid the groundwork for eliminating the remaining “remnant” of our campaign finance laws in two specific ways.

First, the Court doubled down on its insistence in Citizens United that the definition of “corruption” only extends to quid pro quo transactions — political contributions for official action, otherwise known as bribery. “Ingratiation and access are not corruption,” the Court wrote. “They embody a central feature of democracy — that constituents support candidates who share their beliefs and interests, and candidates who are elected can be expected to be respon­sive to those concerns.” In other words, not only can the government not try to prevent special relationships from forming as a result of political contributions, but such relationships are to be applauded.

This vision of democracy is absurd. Until the Citizens United decision four years ago, the Court understood corruption to mean “a subversion of the political process” through which our elected representatives are encouraged “to act contrary to their obligations of office by the prospect of financial gain…” So, Congress and the states could put reasonable limits on campaign contributions to prevent elected officials from being unduly influenced by the wishes of their richest supporters.

Now, under the Roberts Court’s doctrine, even the basic contribution limits — which prevent individual donors from giving more than $5,200 to any candidate for federal office — are at risk as impermissible government efforts to regulate “influence” and “access.”

Even more bizarrely, the Court conflates “donors” with “constituents,” suggesting it is constitutionally important for a candidate to be responsive to the concerns of donors — even those who cannot vote for them. McCutcheon wasn’t about “constituents” supporting candidates they could potentially vote for. It was about an outsider spending money to support many candidates he couldn’t vote for. In fact, under the old aggregate limit, Shaun McCutcheon could have contributed the maximum amount to the three candidates for which he would be constituent (the president, one House member, and one senator two out of three election cycles) with plenty of room to spare.

The Court couched its decision in terms of constituents because to say the reality — outsiders should be permitted to contribute more than $123,200 per election cycle — is to refute it. Certainly everybody should be allowed to voice their views regarding political candidates, including those outside their respective districts. But the public is rightly concerned that our elections and government processes may be corrupted when $123,200 is somehow not enough to do so.

Second, and even worse, the McCutcheon ruling could ultimately lead to the justices striking down contribution limits altogether. The Court hinted that it may change how these limits are reviewed in future cases, making it much more difficult to defend such limits from constitutional challenges, particularly when coupled with the Court’s narrow definition of corruption. That would give a handful of the super wealthy — who can afford to give piles of cash directly to lawmakers — unprecedented power.

When the Supreme Court decided Citizens United in 2010, campaign finance advocates were comforted by the case’s silver lining — the Court upholding robust disclosure provisions. But with McCutcheon there is no such lining. Only more storm clouds on the horizon. At this point, it’s become clear that a change is needed if campaign finance laws are going to survive.

The McCutcheon plurality was undoubtedly correct when it said, “There is no right more basic in our democracy than the right to participate in electing our political leaders.” But we need a democracy that works for everyone, not just those who can pay the admission fee.

David Earley serves as counsel in the Democracy Program at the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law.

Supreme Court Ruling on Workplace Harassment — Courts are limiting actions against franchise owners

Wednesday, April 9th, 2014

Erin Matson

by Erin Matson, Editor at Large, RH Reality Check

April 8, 2014 – 4:01 pm

More than three million lower-level supervisors exercise significant control over the daily working lives of more than 17 million low-wage workers, according to the report.

More than three million lower-level supervisors exercise significant control over the daily working lives of more than 17 million low-wage workers, according to the report. (Diner Waitress via Shutterstock)

One day in Wyoming, a McDonald’s shift supervisor picked up a crew member from school. According to reports, instead of driving her to work as he had promised, Jacob Wayne Peterson, 21, told Megan McCafferty, 15, that she didn’t need to go to work, offered her marijuana, and sexually assaulted her. Last August, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit found the franchisee operating the restaurant could not be held liable, following the Supreme Court’s June decision in Vance v. Ball State University.

In essence, the Supreme Court overruled previous guidance from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) that had held employers liable for harassment by supervisors, defined as someone who directs daily work activities or who hires, fires, or determines pay or promotion. The ruling redefined supervisors to include only the latter group. Today, employers are held liable for harassment by those lower-level supervisors who direct daily work activities under a stricter standard that requires victims to prove that the employer was negligent.

A new report from the National Women’s Law Center, Reality Check: Seventeen Million Reasons Low Wage Workers Need Strong Protections from Harassment, outlines the scope of this issue and offers potential solutions. “The Vance decision is disconnected from the day-to-day reality of the workplace,” it says, “and makes it harder for victims at the hands of lower-level supervisor to have their day in court.”

Noting that the issue mostly affects the low-wage workforce, in which women are disproportionately represented, the report cites more than three million lower-level supervisors exercising significant control over the daily working lives of more than 17 million low-wage workers. As part of the report, the National Women’s Law Center conducted an informal survey of seven organizations advocating for workers in ten low-wage industries; it found that lower-level supervisors were used in all of them. Further, the organizations unanimously reported that such supervisors were able to assign tasks or give permission for breaks.

According to the report, the lack of justice Megan McCafferty’s found in the courts is but one example of how the Vance decision is making it harder for victims of workplace harassment to have their day in court. Picking up from a suggestion in Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s dissenting opinion, the group urges Congress to pass the Fair Employment Protection Act (HR 4227 and S 1223) to correct the narrow definition of a supervisor created by the Supreme Court decision.

IThe report also calls for the EEOC to “take steps to ensure that employers do not mislabel their workers in efforts to avoid workplace liability.”

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Follow Erin Matson on twitter: @erintothemax

Press Release Announcing Eric Deters Retirement From the Practice of Law In Kentucky

Tuesday, April 8th, 2014

April 8, 2014

I have retired effective today from the practice of law in Kentucky. I want to stress I have no intention of retiring in Ohio and while I’m personally retiring, the law office where I have practiced and will practice in Ohio, have handled and will remain handling Kentucky cases. Kentucky lawyers will handle Kentucky cases.

The reason I have retired is that I quite simply no longer want to practice law in a state where its governing body, the KBA, is on a continuous mission to “get” me. I have fought them for 5 years. During this 5 years, I think I have defeated over 50 baseless bar complaints, but have been found guilty of four and served two 60-day suspensions.

However, Bar Counsel has the power to object to the automatic reinstatement and force me to go through hell to be reinstated. They have done this to me twice. I have served twelve months of suspension for only four months ordered by the Kentucky Supreme Court based on this rule. It is preposterous. And I can’t stop them from using this rule in the future. I filed a federal challenge to it, but I’m tired of trying to fight them in court where they have immunity. My enemies include Kentucky Bar Counsel. Therefore, any enemy can file what they want against me with Bar Counsel and I’m left spending time and energy fighting it. I’m just done with it. I apologize to my Kentucky clients, but they are in good hands with lawyers in this office. All of my Kentucky cases are already being handled by another lawyer in the office.

I am blessed that I don’t need to practice law in Kentucky and I have decided that no matter how many times I fight them and win, I’m bound to lose in the end. When I consider the stress, time and effort to fight them balanced against retirement, retirement makes the most sense.

The KBA and Bar Counsel does not like, appreciate or want a lawyer with my anti-lawyer, anti-establishment style. I fought the Bar and the Bar won.

Deadline to Register to Vote in May 20th Primary Election is April 21, 2014

Tuesday, April 8th, 2014

Secretary of State
Deadline to Register to Vote in May 20th Primary Election is April 21, 2014
Press Release Date: Monday, April 07, 2014
Contact Information: Lynn Sowards Zellen,
Bradford Queen,
(502) 564-3490

Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes reminds eligible Kentuckians that the deadline to register to vote in the upcoming May 20 Primary Election is Monday, April 21.

County clerks’ offices throughout Kentucky will accept voter registration cards until the close of business on that date. Mail-in voter registration applications must be postmarked by April 21.
Grimes also reminds Kentuckians of several important voting laws:

• To be eligible to vote, you must:
o Be a U.S. citizen,
o Be a Kentucky resident for at least 28 days before Election day,
o Be at least 18 years old by the date of the next general election,
o Not be a convicted felon, or if convicted of a felony offense, must have obtained a restoration of civil rights,
o Not have been adjudged “mentally incompetent,” and
o Not claim the right to vote anywhere outside Kentucky.
• Minors who are 17 years old but will be 18 years old on or before the General Election on November 4, 2014, are eligible to register and vote in the upcoming Primary; however, they are not eligible to vote in special elections until they are 18 years old.
• Voters who have recently moved need to update their voter registration information by no later than April 21, 2014. Pursuant to KRS 116.025(6), individuals who move from one county to another county while the voter registration books are open and fail to update their registration information before the voter registration books close are not permitted to vote in the Primary.
• Changes in party affiliation for the 2014 Primary Election were due by December 31, 2013. Voters who changed their party affiliation after that date are not eligible to vote in partisan races in the Primary, although they may vote on nonpartisan races on the May Primary ballot. Voters who changed their party affiliation after December 31, 2013, may still vote for their candidate(s) of choice in the November General Election.
• Under the Secretary of State’s recently established Address Confidentiality Program, victims of domestic violence and sexual assault can register and update their registration while keeping their names and addresses out of publicly available voter records.

“The future of Kentucky and our nation depend on all eligible voters participating in the process,” said Grimes. “Registering to vote is the first step in being a part of the 2014 elections, and I hope that as many Kentuckians as are able will make their voices heard.”

You can check your current registration status on the Voter Information Center, To obtain a registration card or for more information about registering to vote, visit or contact your county clerk or the State Board of Elections at (502) 573-7100. To learn more about the Address Confidentiality Program, visit


Kentucky Human Rights Commission calls for nominations for the 2014 KY Civil Rights Hall of Fame

Tuesday, April 8th, 2014

Commission on Human Rights
Kentucky Human Rights Commission calls for nominations for the 2014 KY Civil Rights Hall of Fame
Press Release Date: Monday, April 07, 2014
Contact Information: Commission Headquarters
Victoria Stephens
Mobile: 502.641.0760

April 7, 2014, Louisville, KY – The Kentucky Commission on Human Rights is pleased to announce the call for nominations to its Kentucky Civil Rights Hall of Fame 2014 inductions. The commission will accept nominations from the public beginning Tuesday, April 15. The nomination deadline is July 15, 2014.

The induction ceremony is tentatively scheduled for October 2014. The date and location will be announced as soon as possible.

The nomination form may be found on the Kentucky Commission on Human Rights website at For more information, call Cynthia Fox at 502.782.9726.

The Kentucky Civil Rights Hall of Fame was established in 2000 to recognize brave men and women who have been leaders in the struggle for equality and justice in the Commonwealth of Kentucky. Inductees have worked to end discrimination in several areas.

As examples, they have fought for desegregation of schools and public accommodations; they have pushed for civil rights legislation and equal opportunity in education, employment and housing; and, they have given of their time, resources, and service toward efforts that challenged and changed old, unjust philosophies and systems.

The Kentucky Civil Rights Hall of Fame is designed to raise public awareness about human rights issues and to foster an environment for discussion and education regarding Kentucky civil rights history and ongoing challenges.

After the inaugural 2000 event, inductions were held again in 2001, 2003, 2005, 2007, 2010 and 2012.

Most of the induction ceremonies have occurred in Louisville. However, in 2005, the event was held in Frankfort at Kentucky State University, at Northern Kentucky University in Highland Heights in September 2007, and at the Lyric Theatre in Lexington in 2012.

Since the inaugural event, 132 people have been inducted into the Kentucky Civil Rights Hall of Fame; 22 in 2000, 16 in 2001, 14 in 2003, 14 in 2005, 21 in 2007, 31 in 2010, and 14 in 2012.

The Kentucky Commission on Human Rights is the state government authority that enforces the Kentucky Civil Rights Act, and, through its affiliation with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development, enforces federal civil rights laws.

The Kentucky Civil Rights Act makes it illegal to discriminate against people in the areas of employment, financial transactions, housing and public accommodations. Discrimination is prohibited in these areas based on race, color, religion, national origin, gender, and disability. In employment, discrimination is further prohibited on the basis of age (40-years and over) and on the basis of tobacco-smoking status. In housing, discrimination is further prohibited based on familial status, which protects people with children in the household under the age of 18-years old, and it protects women who are pregnant. It is also a violation of the law to retaliate against a person for complaining of discrimination to the commission.

For more information, contact the commission at 1.800.292.5566. For details about civil rights and commission activities, visit the website at

For news about civil rights and information pertaining to protected classes, visit the Kentucky Commission on Human Rights Facebook and Twitter sites. Directly link to the sites from the commission website address listed above.


Starrett: Too many people in prison

Sunday, April 6th, 2014

Published 9:35 am, Sunday, April 6, 2014

MCCOMB, Miss. (AP) — A Mississippi federal judge is praising the Legislature’s passing a bill to reform the state’s criminal justice system.

U.S. District Judge Keith Starrett said he agrees with Mississippi Supreme Court Chief Justice Bill Waller Jr., who called the legislation the most important reform in 100 years. Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant signed the bill this past week.

The law is modeled on criminal-justice changes made in recent years in several states.

Starrett said the law is heavy with re-entry efforts, which he compared to the way doctors gather information to diagnose a patient’s illness and figure out the best treatment for it.

The Enterprise-Journal reports ( ) Starrett spoke to a McComb civic club this past week.

“What we’re doing is not working. We’re locking up too many people and we’re not doing anything with them when they’re there. From a human standpoint, it’s just not the right thing to do.

“Most of the people in prisons are not bad people. They just made bad choices,” Starrett said.

Starrett started Mississippi’s first drug court as a circuit judge. He started a similar effort, a “judge-supervised re-entry program,” at the federal level in 2005.

“Re-entry begins at sentencing,” said Starrett. “I try as best I can to mete out recommendations to direct that person’s time in prison to what the person needs that will help him turn his life around.”

He said these programs must put more of their time and money into the worst of the worst because they need the most help.

“Those are the ones who are dangerous to your community and likely to re-offend,” he said.

Starrett said many large companies will not employ felons, but many smaller businesses will. The federal government offers employers nearly $5,000 in tax credits if they hire a former prisoner, but Starrett believes many businesses don’t know about the law.


Information from: Enterprise-Journal,

Part 1: Michael O’Connell – Allowing His Prosecutors to Run for Judge; Leveling the ‘playing field’ or attempting to ‘pack the court’ by Michael Stevens

Sunday, April 6th, 2014

Posted on April 5, 2014 by Michael Stevens • 0 Comments


Following the heated debate for the Jefferson County Attorney race, I thought as a public service I would post some prior stories which were the subject of much of the attack against Michael O’Connell to help the public understand the issues.

The charges by his challenger Karen Faulkner are based upon news stories in the Courier-Journal with some hard hitting remarks by local Jefferson County attorneys on the propriety of the incumbent Michael O’Connell’s actions in office. Political rhetoric, sound bites, and responses that the allegations are absurd do not make the accusations go away; nor do the words remove the verity of the volleys.

Here is an earlier story (Nov. 27, 2013) by Courier-Journal reporter Andrew Wolfson who is known for his independent, no holds barred stories. I have only extracted portions, and the link to the entire news story may required a Courier-Journal subscription:

Jefferson County prosecutor allows assistants to run against judges without resigning to create ‘more level playing field’

Jefferson County Attorney Mike O’Connell, who has tangled with district judges, is changing his office policy to allow his assistants to run for judicial seats without resigning first, saying he wants to create “a more level playing field.”

Reversing a longtime requirement that prosefcutors quit to run, O’Connell said last week in an email to his staff that his goal is “strengthening the pool of possible qualified candidates.”

But immediate past Chief District Judge Sean Delahanty said he thinks O’Connell is trying to “intimidate” judges into ruling in the prosecution’s favor by suggesting they may face opposition from a prosecutor if they don’t.

Delahanty also said judges resent O’Connell’s claim that there needs to be “a more level playing field” in the court.

Louisville defense lawyer Steve Romines called O’Connell’s reasoning for the policy change “offensive” and likened his attempt to put more prosecutors on the bench to President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s effort to “pack” the Supreme Court in 1937 with supporters of his New Deal legislation.

* * *

The Fayette County attorney and the Jefferson County public defender’s office require assistants to resign before running for judge. Jefferson and Fayette commonwealth’s attorneys must resign or take a leave of absence.

“It takes 100 percent of your time to be an effective prosecutor and 100 percent of your time to run a campaign,” Jefferson Commonwealth’s Attorney Tom Wine said. “It would be very difficult for someone to do both.”

O’Connell adopted a resign-to-run policy after the 2008 judicial elections in which two of his assistants ran against each other and a third ran against a sitting judge, which he said created “a pretty difficult and somewhat contentious time.”

* * *

O’Connell and Jefferson district judges have clashed over several matters, including how they handle motions to suppress in drunken-driving cases.

O’Connell received a private admonition from the bar in June for sending a harshly worded letter to district judges in last winter urging them to stop what he called “disingenuous maneuvering by defense lawyers in DUI and other cases.” Judges complained the letter was threatening and may have violated the rule on one-sided contacts with the court. O’Connell said he had done nothing wrong and would appeal.

Delahanty said in an interview that O’Connell is taking losses in court too personally.

“It is sort of like a coach who says to his team after a loss that the referees cheated us,” Delahanty said.

Legal Experts React to Supreme Court’s Campaign-Finance Ruling

Thursday, April 3rd, 2014

Comments (7)

campaign finance
Citizens United
McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission
political contributions
Shaun McCutcheon


google plus
linked in


Ashby Jones

The case was brought by Alabama businessman Shaun McCutcheon, pictured here leaving the Supreme Court in October 2013 after the justices heard oral arguments in the case

Wednesday’s 5-4 ruling on political contributions in McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission is considered by some legal experts to be a companion to the court’s 2010 ruling, called Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission.

The earlier decision threw out limits on what any individual can give to federal candidates over a two-year election cycle. Wednesday’s majority opinion, by Chief Justice John Roberts, said those caps infringe on free-speech rights and are not justified by a governmental interest in combating political corruption. Justice Stephen Breyer‘s dissent, joined by the rest of the liberal wing, said the aggregate cap fights corruption.

Here’s some early reaction from legal experts.

Floyd Abrams, First Amendment lawyer, partner at Cahill, Gordon & Reindel LLP:

I don’t think it’s surprising. The notion that you can impose contribution limits with respect to a certain number of candidates but no more simply doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. [The challenge represented] a raid against the strong First Amendment interests [of voters], and the court had what I believe was little option but to strike the statute down.

The majority’s definition of corruption focuses on a quid-pro-quo arrangement: money for votes on legislation. [Defining] corruption is always difficult, but I agree with the [plurality's] decision to deliberately choose a narrow definition so as to interfere less with the very strong First Amendment right to participate within the political process.

Heather Gerken, election-law expert, law professor at Yale University:

The opinion is going to cause a sea change in campaign finance. There are great benefits to having judges shielded from politics, but it’s imperative that they understand how politics work when they issue decisions like this one. The Court’s decision reflects a profound naiveté about the way money moves through the party system, and we are going to bear the costs of this mistaken view for a long time.

Bradley Smith, former Federal Election Commissioner, law professor at Capital University:

I think that there’s an obvious common sense to the court’s opinion. If 18 individual $2,600 dollar contributions don’t have a corrupting effect, it’s hard to see how the 19th one will. The dissent tries to get around this by putting out wildly misleading hypotheticals that do little than to underscore, once again, how little Justice Breyer really understands about campaign finance.

Robert Weissman, president, Public Citizen:

This is a devastating blow to our democratic system, and will go down along with Citizens United as one of the worst in the history of Supreme court jurisprudence. It’s really a decision for plutocrat rights. It means a person can write a single check for $5.9 million. [There are] only a few hundred people in the country who might plausibly do that and they’re going to expect something in return.

Nate Persily, election-law expert, law professor at Stanford University:

This is what we expected. The Court seems a little naive when it discards the argument that individuals and parties will find a way to redirect money once these aggregate limits are lifted. Indeed, that is the whole experience of strategic decision-making by actors in the campaign finance system since [passage of the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971].

. . .

[T]he big question is whether this portends knocking out the individual contribution limits at some point soon. My guess is that there are 5 votes to do this if you searched their heart of hearts, but that would truly convert the system to the wild west.

. . .

Also, the discussion in the first few pages deifining corruption is a big deal. Many of us wondered whether [language in Citizens United] on this would eventually become a holding. I think it is fair to say it is now clearly part of the law here. Quid pro quo corruption is almost impossible to demonstrate. Political scientists have been trying to do so for 30 years.

David Bossie, president, Citizens United:

Building on the Citizens United Supreme Court ruling the justices reinstated the First Amendment for all Americans . . . By taking a stand against the Federal Election Commission they ensured our First Amendment rights will not be further trampled by the government bureaucrats.

Miles Rapoport, president, Common Cause:

Today’s decision . . . is Citizens United round two, further opening the floodgates for the nation’s wealthiest few to drown out the voices of the rest of us . . . The court has reversed nearly 40 years of its own precedents, laid out a welcome mat for corruption, and turned its back on the lessons learned from the Watergate scandal. This decision once again demonstrates the court majority’s ignorance of the real world of American politics, the one in which big money buys big returns.

Rick Pildes, election law expert, law professor at NYU:

The inevitable sky-is-falling reactions that will surely greet this 5-4 decision in many quarters are likely to be wrong. First, the decision is likely to have less real-world consequence than envisioned in the various fantasy scenarios being conjured up about new floodgates that will now suddenly open. Even if we assume all the players in the financing system (parties, donors, candidates) are self-interested actors, their self-interest runs counter to many of these scenarios; they are unlikely to do many of the things on the parade-of-horribles lists being drawn up. Whatever one thinks of the decision as a legal matter, I am not convinced it will make a dramatic difference on the ground.

Even more importantly, to the extent any changes do occur, they will likely be in directions that make democratic governance work better, rather than less well. That’s because such changes are most likely to empower the most centralizing forces in our political system – in particular, the political parties. That is much better than empowering all the forces of political fragmentation that have become so powerful in recent decades, such as SuperPacs and other “outside” groups. As much as Americans have a “plague on both their houses” attitude toward the political parties, strong parties – and strong party leaders who care about the party brand and have the leverage to press members of their caucuses to agree to compromises – are necessary to make the legislative process function effectively. Our campaign-finance laws for too long have encouraged the centripetal, fragmenting forces in American democracy. As long as we have privately financed elections, the best the law can do is to encourage the flow of money in one direction rather than another. To the extent the decision encourages more money to flow to the parties, that would enhance the power of the single entities that have the strongest incentive to appeal to the broadest electorate.

Bob Bauer, leading election lawyer, Partner at Perkins Coie LLP, former White House counsel to President Obama:

One of the more remarkable features of the Roberts opinion is the strong defense of the role of political parties. As it relates to campaign finance, this position is expressed in the view that party leaders, when acting for the party and its candidates, do not engage in conduct that gives rise presumptively to actual quid pro quo corruption or its appearance. The chief and those joining him in his opinion would limit that form of corruption to fundraising by candidates for their own personal benefit. This is a significant portion of the opinion with potential implications for other provisions of the federal campaign finance laws.

Rick Hasen, election law expert, law professor at the University of California, Irvine, writing at Slate:

Today, once again, the government lost a campaign finance case, McCutcheon v. FEC. And while it could have lost in somewhat worse ways, this opinion is pretty awful, portending a raft of new First Amendment attacks on soft money and even on the basic rules limiting how much individuals can give candidates for office.


Thursday, April 3rd, 2014

Transportation Cabinet
2014 Kentucky Official Highway Map now available
Press Release Date: Wednesday, April 02, 2014

Celebrates unique features that prove ‘There’s Only One’ Kentucky

FRANKFORT, Ky. (April 2, 2014) – It’s a sure sign of spring! The 2014 Kentucky Official Highway Map is now available across the Commonwealth at rest areas, welcome centers, local convention and tourism offices and all Kentucky State Parks.

As always, the new map contains a wealth of information for motorists. At the same time, its theme of Kentucky uniqueness – “There’s Only One” – highlights the beauty, natural attractions and hidden gems found only in Kentucky.

While sites such as Churchill Downs and Mammoth Cave draw visitors from around the world, the 2014 map also points out some of the state’s lesser known treasures.

For nature and wildlife lovers, Kentucky offers a host of attractions.

The Sloughs Wildlife Management Area near Henderson, in Western Kentucky, is home to the largest Great Blue Heron rookery in the Commonwealth. Distinguished by its large cypress trees and swamps, the area attracts migrating birds like a magnet. And with observation platforms for wildlife viewing open year round, it’s perfect for a daytrip.

At Old Friends Retirement Home – the “old friends” being thoroughbred horses , visitors can get up close and personal with retired stars of racing such as Breeders Cup Champion Gulch, Eclipse-award winner Sunshine Forever and the “losingest” horse in the history of the Sport of Kings, Zippy Chippy. The farm is outside Georgetown, in central Kentucky.

Animals of the cold-blooded type more to your liking? The Kentucky Reptile Zoo, at Slade in eastern Kentucky, features an 18-foot python and a multitude of other types of snakes. While at Slade, visit the Turtle Tracks area, where tortoises and aquatic turtles can be seen.

If you’re looking for something less animal-oriented, Yew Dell Gardens, at Crestwood in northern Kentucky, is a Preservation Project of the Garden Conservancy. It also is on the National Register of Historic Places. With many tour options, Yew Dell is a favorite among garden enthusiasts.

The Blue Heron Mining Community, set along the banks of the Big South Fork River in Southeastern Kentucky, offers visitors a look back in time when the area was home to the Blue Heron mines, which operated from 1937 to 1962. Once home to hundreds of people, the isolated community now is a National Park Site.

“The Official Kentucky Highway Map is certainly a great aid for planning a trip and finding your way, but it’s also much more,” Gov. Steve Beshear said. “Our highway map is part of our effort to make a good first impression on the many thousands of people who will visit and travel our Commonwealth in 2014. Helping visitors discover our dazzling hidden gems is just one of the ways we hope to make a great impression.”

The highway map, published annually by the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet, is packed with information for the traveling public. The 2014 map reflects many system improvements, such as a completed U.S. 27 bypass around Cynthiana; an extension of the south Elizabethtown Bypass, KY 3005, that now connects to the Western Kentucky Parkway at a newly constructed interchange; a new alignment and bridge over the Tennessee River in Paducah that carries all U.S. 60 traffic; and a new section of a bypass that completes U.S. 27 around Albany.

Federally sanctioned bicycle routes are listed on the map along with symbols to indicate limited access parkways and divided highways.

Fifteen inset maps detail Lexington, downtown Lexington, the Louisville area, downtown Louisville, Bowling Green, Owensboro, Henderson, Hopkinsville, Paducah, Elizabethtown-Radcliff, Northern Kentucky, Covington-Newport, downtown Frankfort, Richmond-Berea and Ashland.

The cover of the map features a horse and its rider taking a break near a Wranglers Campground trail in the Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area, in far Western Kentucky. The back of the map features information about Kentucky traffic laws, seat belt safety and the state’s “No DUI” app, available for free download.

A personal message from Gov. Beshear tells travelers about improvements underway in the Louisville area as a result of the Ohio River Bridges Project. The project includes new crossings in downtown Louisville and eastern Jefferson County, plus a drastically improved Kennedy Interchange, where Interstates 64, 65 and 71 meet in Louisville.

In addition, construction will soon start on two bridges in Western Kentucky across Lake Barkley and Kentucky Lake – jewels of the tourism-rich Western Waterland Region.

“The cabinet takes pride in the quality of the Official Kentucky Highway Map,” Transportation Secretary Mike Hancock said. “We believe it is an invaluable resource for all motorists but especially for visitors.”

“Some of the most beautiful scenery in America can be found along the highways and rural roads all across Kentucky,” Tourism, Arts and Heritage Secretary Bob Stewart said. “The 2014 highway map is an essential travel tool for travelers to get them safely to their destinations and to inform them about the multitude of unique places they can visit along the way.”

The map features multiple legends identifying every type of street and highway, including bicycle routes and scenic byways. They also pinpoint Kentucky State Parks and Resort Parks, colleges and universities, airports and river ports, hospitals, welcome centers and rest areas, special points of interest and Kentucky State Police posts.

To view or download an electronic version of the Official State Highway Map, county maps or city maps, visit