A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Kentucky Supreme Court unanimously sides with Lexington graphic artist over LGBT rights ordinance

The Kentucky Supreme Court on Thursday unanimously ruled in favor of a Lexington graphic artist who declined to print T-shirts for a gay pride event. The court ruled that Lexington’s Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Ordinance (SOGI) was improperly applied since the plaintiff — Gay and Lesbian Services Organization (GLSO) — lacked standing. Richard Nelson“The court upheld First...

Retired Ky. Supreme Court justice Bill Cunningham honored with portrait to hang outside court chambers

By Tom Latek Kentucky Today A recently retired Kentucky Supreme Court justice, who spent over 40 years in public service, was honored Friday with a portrait that will hang outside the high court’s chambers at the State Capitol. Bill Cunningham was surrounded by friends, family and other well-wishers at the unveiling, which took place in the chamber where he served on the Supreme Court for over a...

Amye Bensenhaver: KY Supreme Court strikes blow for open government; court is arbiter of access

In what may be the single most important victory for open government in recent memory, the Kentucky Supreme Court issued an opinion on September 26 in which it repudiated the Legislative Research Commission’s argument that it, and not the courts, are the final arbiter of access to records of the LRC and the legislature. The opinion in Becky Harilson, etc., et al. v. Hon. Phillip J. Shepherd, et...

Kentucky Supreme Court gives the Kentucky Employees Retirement System a major victory

By Tom Latek Kentucky Today The Kentucky Supreme Court ruled this week that a quasi-governmental agency, which declared bankruptcy due to higher pension costs, is responsible for paying its unfunded liability to the Kentucky Employees Retirement System.

 Centerstone, a nonprofit mental health provider in Louisville formerly known as Seven Counties Services, declared bankruptcy in 2013 and KERS...

KY Supreme Court overturns lower court, rules that legislature can reject Attorney General’s contracts

By Tom Latek Kentucky Today The Kentucky Supreme Court handed down a unanimous decision Thursday, finding a contingency fee contract the Attorney General’s office signed with an outside law firm to represent the state in lawsuits against opioid manufacturers and distributors is subject to legislative approval. 

Attorney General Andy Beshear issued a Request for Proposals for law firms in September...

Marsy’s Law supporters ask Kentucky Supreme Court to reconsider its decision on vague ballot wording

By Tom Latek Kentucky Today Supporters of Marsy’s Law are asking the Kentucky Supreme Court to reconsider a decision last month that found the ballot wording too vague.

 The measure was approved as Senate Bill 3, sponsored by Sen. Whitney Westerfield, R-Crofton, during the 2018 General Assembly, passing the Senate 34-1, and the House, 87-3, allowing it to be placed on the November 2018 ballot.

 Whitney...

Ft. Mitchell attorney J. Stephen Smith to serve as president of Kentucky Bar Association

Ft. Mitchell attorney J. Stephen Smith will serve as president of the Kentucky Bar Association (KBA) for a one-year term that began July 1. Smith, an attorney with Graydon, took his oath of office during the 2019 KBA Annual Convention in Louisville. J. Stephen SmithSmith received his B.A. in history from Denison University in 1988, his M.A. in negotiations and economics in 1990 from the University...

Ky. Supreme Court affirms decision striking down constitutional amendment known as Marsy’s Law

By Tom Latek Kentucky Today The Kentucky Supreme Court on Thursday unanimously affirmed a lower court opinion that invalidated the language of a Constitutional Amendment known as Marsy’s Law, which was overwhelmingly approved by voters last year. Sen. Whitney Westerfield, R-Crofton, introduced Senate Bill 3 on the first day of the 2018 General Assembly, the title of which was, “AN ACT proposing...

KY Supreme Court rules in favor of Frost Brown Todd on Department of Revenue open records case

Kentucky taxpayers now have access to the state’s Department of Revenue (DOR) tax rulings. The case, Department of Revenue v. Mark F. Sommer,was successfully argued before the Kentucky Supreme Court by Frost Brown Todd (FBT) Member Jennifer Barber. The Court ruled that the state Department of Revenue took an “unreasonable and overly broad view” of public records statutes when they refused to...

Kentucky Supreme Court hears arguments over Bevin’s reorganization of education boards

By Tom Latek Kentucky Today The Kentucky Supreme Court heard oral arguments Friday on a lawsuit filed by Democratic Attorney General Andy Beshear against Republican Gov. Matt Bevin’s reorganization of several education boards. 
There were seven state boards affected by reorganizations that were the targets of the suit:  the Kentucky Board of Education, Education Professional Standards Board,...

Bill Straub: Here come the judges — and, thank the Constitution, they have important role in democracy

WASHINGTON – Gov. Matt “Yosemite Sam’’ Bevin appears to have a bit of a problem with the U.S. Constitution, at least that part that establishes the judiciary as one of the three equal branches of government. St. Matt of New Hampshire, as we all know, doesn’t react well to being told no, something the courts, both state and federal, have been doing with some frequency of late. He has not,...

Kentucky Supreme Court to decide case regarding Beshear’s hiring of outside counsel for opioid cases

By Tom Latek Kentucky Today The Kentucky Supreme Court will decide over the next couple of months if the attorney general can hire outside legal counsel on a contingency fee basis without approval from the Finance and Administration Cabinet. The issue stems from Attorney General Andy Beshear hiring four law firms to go after opioid manufacturers and distributors, whom he has said directly contributed...

Bevin appoints Gail Russell as PPC Secretary, David Dickerson as Labor Secretary

Gov. Matt Bevin has announced the appointment of two top administration officials to permanent leadership posts — Gail Russell as Secretary of the Public Protection Cabinet (PPC), and David Dickerson as Secretary of the Labor Cabinet. Both Russell and Dickerson have served their respective cabinets as acting secretaries during the past several months. “The Commonwealth is extremely blessed...

Chief Justice John Minton orders Administrative Office of the Courts to undergo biennial audits

By Tom Latek Kentucky Today Kentucky Supreme Court Chief Justice John D. Minton, Jr., with the concurrence of the other justices, has ordered the Administrative Office of the Courts to undergo an external audit every other year. 
The order, issued on Monday, calls for the biennial audits to begin with the 2020 fiscal year, which starts July 1, and to make the audit findings public. 
The order also...

Kentucky Supreme Court Justices hear arguments on constitutionality of Marsy’s law ballot language

By Tom Latek Kentucky Today The Kentucky Supreme Court will decide whether the ballot language for a proposed Constitutional Amendment regarding crime victims’ rights was constitutional after hearing oral arguments on Friday. 
Sixty-three percent of the voters approved the measure last November, but Franklin Circuit Judge Thomas Wingate ordered the results not to be certified by the State Board...

Kentucky Supreme Court Justice Bill Cunningham is stepping down on Feb. 1 after 12 years

By Tom Latek Kentucky Today Kentucky Supreme Court Justice Bill Cunningham announced this week that he will step down from the high court Feb. 1. Cunningham has served 12 years on that court, having been elected to represent the First Supreme Court District representing western Kentucky in November of 2006, then was re-elected in 2014. He and Chief Justice John D. Minton, Jr., are the two longest-serving...

Kentucky Supreme Court upholds $80m punitive damages award against Grant Thornton in Yung suit

In a landmark decision, the Kentucky Supreme Court has affirmed a trial court’s award of approximately $80,000,000 in punitive damages to the plaintiffs in a case against Grant Thornton LLP. William Yung The plaintiffs, William J. Yung, Martha A. Yung, and the 1994 William J. Yung Family Trust, participated in a tax shelter marketed by Grant Thornton, that would purportedly allow funds held in the...

Commentary: Consensus emerging behind reforming Kentucky’s troubled criminal justice system

By Dave Adkisson and Jason Bailey Special to KyForward Kentucky’s skyrocketing incarceration trendlines are bringing worry lines to legislators’ faces in Frankfort.  There is, however, a growing consensus and hope among various stakeholder groups, including jailers, the chief justice of the Kentucky Supreme Court, civil rights advocates, prosecutors, think tanks, the business community and other...

KY Supreme Court strikes down state’s pension reform law (‘sewer bill’) passed earlier this year

Staff report The Kentucky Supreme Court unanimously upheld this morning a ruling by Franklin Circuit Judge Phillip Shepherd striking down the state’s pension reform law passed by the 2018 General Assembly. Teachers protested in Frankfort earlier this year. It was unanimous. It was commonly known as the “sewer bill” because a quick process used by majority Republicans substituted the...

Kentucky Supreme Court Justice Daniel J. Venters announces retirement after 35 years on bench

By Tom Latek Kentucky Today A 35-year career in the Kentucky judiciary system is coming to an end when Supreme Court Justice Daniel J. Venters retires in January. Venters was appointed to the high court by then-Governor Steve Beshear in 2008 to fill the vacancy created by the retirement of Chief Justice Joseph Lambert, in the 3rd Supreme Court District, which includes 27 counties in southern and southeast...