Judicial redistricting on General Assembly's plate for 2017 session

10/26/2016 09:13 PM

FRANKFORT — Lawmakers are set to consider a judicial redistricting plan for the first time in modern history in next year’s session.

Kentucky Supreme Court Chief Justice John Minton outlined points of a basic plan considered by the Judicial Workload Assessment Committee, which includes redrawing some boundaries, reducing the number of judicial circuits by two and expanding Family Court to all but eight jurisdictions.

The recommendations would maintain current judgeship numbers and take effect in 2022 if passed, with full implementation expected by 2030 in district, circuit and appellate courts across the state, Minton said.

Sen. John Schickel, sponsor of judicial redistricting bills in the past, called the effort “historic,” and Minton said judicial boundaries haven’t changed since the state’s overhaul of the court system in 1976 and probably even decades before that.

One shift since then is the creation of Family Court, a division in circuit court that Minton said he would like to see implemented throughout the state.

Schickel, R-Union, and Minton both said lawmakers should expect some calls from their judicial constituents as they consider the redistricting plan.

“The very hard part is going to be when resources are taken from an area, and he’s exactly right,” Schickel said of Minton. “Our phones are going to ring, and this is going to be very difficult.”

Eastern and western Kentucky are two regions that will likely see fewer resources given recent population trends in the U.S. Census, Minton said.

“To be honest, the Judicial Workload Assessment Committee had a larger representation (from eastern and western jurists) because I knew those areas are going to be impacted most,” he said. “So they’ve had a pretty good voice. They’ve had a strong voice in the shaping of this report.”


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