ASHLAND, Ky. — A statewide judicial redistricting plan that would strip Boyd County of two of its four judges but provide a family court judge was decried on Thursday by the Ashland Board of City Commissioners.
“From Ashland’s standpoint, it seems like reductions in everything come up our way,” said Mayor Steve Gilmore. “We want to go in defense of keeping the number of judges we have.”
The Kentucky Judicial Workload Assessment Committee, a group of court clerks, commonwealth’s attorneys and legislators led by state Supreme Court Chief Justice John Minton, announced the redistricting plan on Dec. 21.
The committee based its proposal on a judicial workload assessment of weighted caseload and implied judicial needs, according to Minton. The Kentucky General Assembly had tasked the Administrative Office of the Courts, or AOC, in 2014 with completing the assessment.
For four weeks in the spring of 2015, a judicial time study was conducted and 95 percent of circuit, district and family judges participated. Judges logged time spent handling cases and taking care of judicial duties outside of court.
A formula of implied judicial needs was calculated based on the time study, and the Judicial Workload Assessment Committee ultimately determined which jurisdictions it felt need realignment or a change in the number of judges.
Scores below 1.4 on the implied judicial need scale don’t need more than one judge, according to the committee. Boyd County, the only jurisdiction in the 32nd district and circuit, currently has two judges in both district and circuit court, and no family court or judge.
Based on its score and the committee’s determination, Boyd County stands to lose one judge in district and circuit court if the plan is approved by the state legislature this year. The plan would not take effect until 2022, when all circuit, district and family court judges are on the ballot.
Minton said the redistricting plan is heavily influenced by a rise in family-related court cases across the state and country, from divorces to custody battles. The plan, Minton said, was mainly designed to add more family court judges throughout the state.