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Chief Circuit Court Judge Charles C. Simms III and Circuit Court Judge John David “Jack” Seay, who serve Hart, LaRue and Nelson Counties), participated in the 2012 Kentucky Circuit Judges College Oct. 29-31 in Lexington. The Administrative Office of the Courts provided the judicial education program for the state’s Circuit Court judges. The event included 19.25 hours of continuing education credit for the judges.
The judges received updates on case law and legislation and attended sessions on the Open Records Act, child support and domestic violence and met with legislators and other officials to discuss legislation on child fatalities and near fatalities. The judges also heard from Chief Justice of Kentucky John D. Minton Jr. about the work of the Kentucky Access to Justice Commission, which was formed to identify the most pressing legal needs of those unable to afford lawyers and create a statewide plan to address those needs.
“There is a great need for legal aid to help low-income citizens who have nowhere else to turn for assistance with evictions, child custody issues, consumer fraud, government benefits for the elderly and other important legal matters,” said Circuit Court Judge Paul F. Isaacs, who serves Bourbon, Scott and Woodford counties and is president of the Kentucky Association of Circuit Judges. “Chief Justice Minton encouraged the circuit judges to support Kentucky’s civil legal aid efforts by letting people know how to find legal assistance and improving court processes for those with limited access to attorneys.”
Circuit judges also had the opportunity to attend courses about evidence, youthful offender procedures, the Kentucky State Police Forensic Laboratory System, writs and appeals from District Court, Westlaw, the State Law Library and House Bill 463. HB 463 took effect in June 2011 and is the most comprehensive overhaul of Kentucky’s penal code in more than 30 years. All three branches of government supported the legislation, which is designed to curb the cost of incarceration without compromising public safety. Circuit Court is the court of general jurisdiction that hears civil matters involving more than $5,000, capital offenses and felonies, divorces, adoptions, termination of parental rights, land dispute title cases and contested probate cases.
The college also offered sessions specifically for Family Court judges that covered child abuse, parental rights, maintenance (spousal support) and electronic recordings of Family Court proceedings. There was also a session for the judges to discuss trends and issues in family law cases. Family Court is a division of Circuit Court and has primary jurisdiction in cases involving family issues, including divorces, adoption, child support, domestic violence and juvenile status offenses.