FRANKFORT, Ky., April 30, 2020 – J. Christopher McNeill will be sworn in as the newest Kentucky Court of Appeals judge Friday, May 1, by Chief Justice of Kentucky John D. Minton Jr. The investiture will take place at 10:30 a.m. CT/11:30 a.m. ET on Zoom and the public can watch on the Kentucky Court of Justice YouTube site.
McNeill was appointed by the governor on April 22 to serve the 1st Appellate District, Division 1. The district is composed of the commonwealth’s 24 westernmost counties: Allen, Ballard, Butler, Caldwell, Calloway, Carlisle, Christian, Crittenden, Edmonson, Fulton, Graves, Hickman, Hopkins, Livingston, Logan, Lyon, Marshall, McCracken, McLean, Muhlenberg, Simpson, Todd, Trigg and Webster.
He succeeds Justice Christopher Shea Nickell, who was elected to the Supreme Court of Kentucky in the November general election.
McNeill has served with the Kentucky Department of Public Advocacy for 19 years. He has been a directing attorney since 2003, managing the department’s Paducah trial office with primary coverage in six area counties. He received his juris doctor from Northern Kentucky University Salmon P. Chase College of Law.
Court of Appeals
Nearly all cases heard by the Kentucky Court of Appeals come to it on appeal from a lower court. If a case is tried in Circuit Court or District Court and the losing parties involved are not satisfied with the outcome, they may ask for a higher court to review the correctness of the trial court’s decision. Some cases, such as criminal case acquittals and divorces, may not be appealed. In a divorce case, however, child custody and property rights decisions may be appealed. Cases are not retried in the Court of Appeals. Only the record of the original court trial is reviewed, with attorneys presenting the legal issues to the court for a decision.
Fourteen judges, two elected from seven appellate court districts, serve on the Court of Appeals. The judges are divided into panels of three to review and decide cases, with the majority determining the decision. The panels do not sit permanently in one location, but travel throughout the state to hear cases.
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 nearly 3,400 court system employees and 406 elected justices, judges and circuit court clerks. As the fiscal agent for the state court system, the AOC executes the Judicial Branch budget.