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Judges participate in Specialty Courts Conference Aug. 28-30 in Louisville

FRANKFORT, Ky., Sept. 6, 2017 – Specialty Court judges had the opportunity to learn more about opioid addiction, substance use disorders and mental health issues at the 2017 Specialty Court Conference Aug. 28-30 in Louisville. The Department of Specialty Courts at the Administrative Office of the Courts provided the “Spark of Hope” conference for the state’s Specialty Court judges, staff and teams. Specialty Courts include Kentucky Drug Court, Veterans Treatment Court, DUI Court and Mental Health Court programs.

“The hard work of our Specialty Court judges and teams provides a spark of hope for the many participants and families who are affected by substance use and other issues,” AOC Director Laurie K. Dudgeon said. “This conference let the judges, staff and teams come together to learn about new trends, discuss challenges and solutions, and celebrate accomplishments. Our goal was to energize and inspire the teams as they go back to their local communities to continue this important mission.”

In sessions on opioid addiction, which has reached epidemic proportions in Kentucky, participants viewed a documentary on the effects of opioid addiction and learned how to recognize overdoses and prevent them with Naloxone. They also heard from a panel about using medication-assisted treatment to help those with opioid addiction.


Experts from the National Association of Drug Court Professionals presented on several topics, including best practices in drug and alcohol testing, and using incentives, sanctions and treatment to help participants change their behavior.    

Drug Court graduates shared with participants about their challenges and talked about Specialty Court strategies that helped them recover. Lisa Kratz Thomas, a motivational speaker and author, discussed her struggles with addiction and her journey to recovery.

Louisville veteran Carolyn Furdek shared the story of her decade-long journey with mental health struggles and obtaining a proper diagnoses and treatment. She’s written about her struggles in an autobiography titled “Locked In: A Soldier and Civilian’s Struggle with Invisible Wounds.”

Participants also attended sessions on effective intervention, the Lexington-Fayette County Health’s Department’s needle-exchange program, and the “Hands Healing HeArts,” an art program the Franklin County Drug Court program uses to help guide participants toward recovery.

Longtime Head of Kentucky Drug Court Retires
Drug Court judges, staff and teams had the opportunity at the conference to say goodbye to Connie M. Payne, who retired Aug. 31 after serving 14 years as head of Kentucky Drug Court. She was also head of the AOC’s other Specialty Court programs.  

Payne came to the AOC in 2003 to head the Kentucky Drug Court program and was instrumental in expanding the number of programs from nine to 54. Today, Drug Court serves 113 of 120 counties. She also oversaw the implementation of five Veterans Treatment Courts, a Mental Health Court and a DUI Court, which are based on the Drug Court treatment model. In 2015, the AOC created the Department of Specialty Courts to reflect the addition of these specialty courts.

On the national level, Payne served as secretary of the NADCP Board of Directors from 2008-2015 and president of the Council of State Drug Court Associations from 2011-2012.

In July, she was inducted into the NADCP’s Stanley M. Goldstein Drug Court Hall of Fame, the association’s highest honor, for her lasting contributions to the treatment court field.

Specialty Courts
Specialty Courts are similarly structured and supervised and have the same goal – to give eligible participants the opportunity to make positive changes in their lives. The programs all provide oversight by a judge, case management, treatment and drug testing.

Administrative Office of the Courts
The AOC is the operations arm for the state court system and supports the activities of nearly 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.

Many judges serve more than one county. By counties in each judicial circuit/district, judges who attended the college include:

Adair and Casey counties
Circuit Court Judge Judy D. Vance-Murphy

Anderson, Shelby and Spencer counties
Circuit Court Judge Charles R. Hickman

Ballard and Carlisle counties
Circuit Court Judge Timothy A. Langford

Bath, Menifee, Montgomery and Rowan counties
Circuit Court Judge Beth Lewis Maze

Boone and Gallatin counties
Circuit Court Judge James R. Schrand
District Court Judge Jeffrey S. Smith

Bracken, Fleming and Mason counties
Circuit Court Judge Stockton B. Wood

Breckinridge, Grayson and Meade counties
Circuit Court Judge Bruce T. Butler

Bullitt County
Bullitt County Circuit Court Judge Rodney D. Burress

Butler, Edmonson, Hancock and Ohio counties
District Court Judge John M. McCarty

Calloway and Marshall counties
Circuit Court Judge James T. Jameson

Carroll, Grant and Owen counties
Circuit Court Judge R. Leslie Knight

Carter, Elliott and Morgan counties
Circuit Court Judge Rebecca K. Phillips

Christian County
Christian County District Court Judge James G. Adams Jr.

Clark and Madison counties
District Court Judge Charles W. Hardin
District Court Judge Earl-Ray Neal

Clay, Jackson and Leslie counties
District Court Judge Henria Bailey-Lewis

Crittenden, Union and Webster counties
Circuit Court Judge C. Rene’ Williams
District Court Judge Daniel M. Heady

Fayette County
Fayette County Circuit Court Judge Kimberly Nell Bunnell
Fayette County Circuit Court Judge Pamela R. Goodwine
Fayette County Family Court Judge Timothy N. Philpot

Floyd County
Floyd County Circuit Court Judge Johnny Ray Harris
Floyd County Circuit Court Judge Thomas M. Smith

Graves County
Graves County Circuit Court Judge Timothy C. Stark

Green, Marion, Taylor and Washington counties
District Court Judge Amy S. Anderson

Hardin County
Hardin County Circuit Court Judge Ken M. Howard
Hardin County District Court Judge Kimberly W. Shumate

Henderson County
Henderson County Circuit Court Judge Karen L. Wilson

Hopkins County
Hopkins County Circuit Court Judge James Brantley

Jefferson County
Jefferson District Court Judge Stephanie Pearce Burke

Kenton County
Kenton County Circuit Court Judge Gregory Bartlett

Knott and Magoffin counties
Circuit Court Judge Kim Cornett Childers

Knox and Laurel counties
Circuit Court Judge Gregory A. Lay

Lincoln, Pulaski and Rockcastle counties
Circuit Court Judge David A. Tapp

McCreary and Whitley counties
Circuit Court Judge Paul K. Winchester

McLean and Muhlenberg counties
Circuit Court Judge Brian W. Wiggins

McCracken County
McCracken County Circuit Court Judge Tim Kaltenbach

Perry County
Perry County Circuit Court Judge Alison C. Wells

Warren County
Warren County Circuit Court Judge John R. Grise

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