FRANKFORT, Ky., March 11, 2019 – The Judicial Nominating Commission, led by Chief Justice of Kentucky John D. Minton Jr., today announced nominees to fill the judicial vacancy on Fayette County Circuit Court. Fayette makes up the 22nd Judicial Circuit and the vacancy is in the circuit’s 4th Division.
The three nominees for the Circuit Court judgeship are attorneys John Edwards Reynolds, Erin Celeste Sammons and Thomas M. Todd, all of Lexington.
Reynolds served as a Fayette County Circuit Court judge from January 23, 2018-Nov. 21, 2018, after having been a solo attorney in private practice for 18 years. He earned his juris doctor from the University of Kentucky College of Law.
Sammons has been an attorney in private practice with Landrum & Shouse since April 2011 and has been an assistant adjunct professor in litigation skills at the University of Kentucky College of Law since fall 2011. She earned her juris doctor from the University of Kentucky College of Law.
Todd is a member attorney in private practice with Kinkead & Stilz, where he has worked since September 2007. He earned his juris doctor from the University of Kentucky College of Law.
The judicial seat became vacant when Judge Pamela R. Goodwine was elected to the Kentucky Court of Appeals in November 2018.
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.
Judicial Nominating Commission
The Judicial Nominating Commission helps fill judicial vacancies by appointment when a vacancy occurs outside of the election cycle. The Kentucky Constitution established the JNC. Ky. Const. § 118; SCR 6.000, et seq.
Judicial Nominating Process
When a judicial vacancy occurs, the executive secretary of the JNC publishes a notice of vacancy in the judicial circuit or the judicial district affected. Attorneys may recommend someone or nominate themselves. The names of the applicants are not released. Once nominations occur, the individuals interested in the position return a questionnaire to the Office of the Chief Justice. Chief Justice Minton then meets with the Judicial Nominating Commission to choose three nominees. Because the Kentucky Constitution requires that three names be submitted to the governor, in some cases the commission submits an attorney’s name even though the attorney did not apply. A letter naming the three nominees is sent to the governor for review. The governor has 60 days to appoint a replacement and his office makes the announcement.
Makeup of the Judicial Nominating Commission
The commission has seven members. The membership is comprised of the chief justice of Kentucky (who also serves as chair), two lawyers elected by all the lawyers in their circuit/district and four Kentucky citizens who are appointed by the governor. The four citizens appointed by the governor must equally represent the two major political parties, so two must be Democrats and two must be Republicans. It is the responsibility of the commission to submit a list of three names to the governor and the governor must appoint a judge from this list of three.
Administrative Office of the Courts
The Administrative Office of the Courts in Frankfort is the operations arm for the state court system. The AOC supports the activities of more than 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 executes the Judicial Branch budget.