Note to Media: This announcement pertains only to the creation of task forces that will determine how the courts will resume in-person services. There are no details yet on how that will happen, but we will keep the media and public updated as soon as those plans become available.
FRANKFORT, Ky., May 1, 2020 — Chief Justice of Kentucky John D. Minton Jr. announced today that he has created three task forces to plan how courts across the state will resume limited in-person services.
“As Kentucky begins to gradually reopen business, the courts must prepare to do the same,” Chief Justice Minton said in an email to the justices, judges, circuit court clerks and court personnel who serve the Judicial Branch. “Although in-person services are suspended until May 31, our next priority is a reopening plan that respects social distancing while allowing greater access to the courts. Please note that this will be a limited, phased approach to ensure the health and safety of our court family and the public.”
During the pandemic state of emergency, court operations are being guided by Administrative Order 2020-28, which remains in effect through May 31, 2020.
Chief Justice Minton has formed three task forces, one each for Circuit, Family and District courts. A Supreme Court justice will head each task force, with judges and circuit clerks from throughout the commonwealth serving as its members. Deputy Chief Justice Lisabeth T. Hughes will chair the Circuit Court Task Force, Justice Debra Hembree Lambert will chair the Family Court Task Force and Justice Michelle M. Keller will chair the District Court Task Force.
“This is an unprecedented challenge and I appreciate the justices’ willingness to lead our efforts,” Chief Justice Minton said. “I also appreciate the many judges and circuit clerks who have agreed to serve on the task forces.”
He encouraged feedback from other judges, circuit clerks and court staff on how best to reopen the courts. He said that one of the main concerns is how to handle traffic flow in court facilities to minimize lines in the Offices of Circuit Court Clerk and avoid large crowds in courtrooms.
“We’re all in this together and we welcome your suggestions,” Chief Justice Minton said. “We carefully planned how to provide essential services while observing social distancing and I’m confident we will just as carefully prepare to resume in-person services.”
You can find ongoing court updates on the COVID-19 and the Courts webpage.
About the Supreme Court
The Supreme Court is the state court of last resort and the final interpreter of Kentucky law. Seven justices sit on the Supreme Court and all seven justices rule on appeals that come before the court. The justices are elected from seven appellate districts and serve eight-year terms. A chief justice, chosen for a four-year term by fellow justices, is the administrative head of the state’s court system and is responsible for its operation. The Supreme Court may order a ruling or opinion to be published, which means that the ruling becomes the case law governing all similar cases in the future in Kentucky.
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.