FRANKFORT — Circuit Court Judge Allison C. Wells, who serves Perry County, recently had the opportunity to process a staged crime scene, visit a women’s prison, learn about arson investigations and more as part of the 2016 Circuit Judges College, an education program for the state’s circuit judges. The college took place Oct. 16-19 in Lexington and offered a mix of classroom sessions and practical field studies. (Please see the list below for the name of your local circuit judge(s) who participated in the college.)
The Division of Judicial Branch Education at the Administrative Office of the Courts worked with the Education Committee of the Kentucky Circuit Judges Association to provide the college.
“The college was exceptional for the variety of learning opportunities it offered the judges, including the practical field studies,” said Fayette County Circuit Court Judge Kimberly Nell Bunnell, who is president of the Kentucky Circuit Judges Association. “Judges must make informed decisions and it’s beneficial to learn firsthand about processing a crime scene, juvenile detention, arson investigations and babies born to women in prison. These experiences give us a broader understanding of the issues we see in our courtrooms.”
The field studies included:
· Women’s correctional services, Kentucky Correctional Institute for Women, Pewee Valley
· Use of force by law enforcement, Kentucky State Police Training Academy, Frankfort
· Accident reconstruction investigation, Lexington Police Department Training Center
· Juvenile detention services, Fayette Regional Juvenile Detention Center, Lexington
· Custody and family reunification issues for children born to women in prison, Angel House, Galilean Home Ministries, Liberty
· Cause and origin of fire investigation, Richmond Fire Training Center
· Crime scene investigation, The Campbell House Lexington
Classroom sessions covered court technology, the Westlaw legal research program, body cameras in law enforcement and new legislation, including felony expungement under House Bill 40, civil protective orders under House Bill 8 and ignition interlock devices to reduce drunk driving under Senate Bill 133. The circuit judges heard from Chief Justice of Kentucky John D. Minton Jr. on the state of the Judicial Branch and received updates on case law based on decisions of the Supreme Court of Kentucky, the Kentucky Court of Appeals and the U.S. Supreme Court. They also had the opportunity to attend a course on economic analysis of the law, which was presented by Henry N. Butler, the dean of George Mason University’s Antonin Scalia Law School.
Another course focused on chronic stress among lawyers and judges and resources for addressing stress. Yvette Hourigan, director for the Kentucky Lawyers Assistance Program, provided the program.
The college also offered sessions specifically for judges who oversee family law cases. The sessions covered observing medical indicators of child abuse and neglect, protecting children in violent households and evidence in electronic form. Tim Feeley, deputy secretary of the Cabinet for Health and Family Services and a former Family Court judge, gave a presentation about the cabinet, which is involved in many of the cases that come before judges overseeing family law cases.
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.
Family Court is a division of Circuit Court. In counties that have a Family Court, the court has primary jurisdiction in cases involving family issues, including divorces, adoption, child support, domestic violence and juvenile status offenses.
Administrative Office of the Courts
The AOC is the operations arm for the state court system and supports the activities of 3,400 court system employees and 404 elected justices, judges and circuit court clerks. As the fiscal agent for the state court system, the AOC also executes the Judicial Branch budget.
Most judges serve more than one county. By counties in each judicial circuit, Circuit Court judges who attended the college include: