A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

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...

Supreme Court: Right to Work narrowly upheld; medical review panels unanimously ‘unconstitutional’

In two decisions announced this week, the Kentucky Supreme Court was sharply divided in unholding the Right to Work legislation passed by the 2017 General Assembly and was unanimous in its decision that medical review panels are unconstitutional. Right to Work A sharply divided Kentucky Supreme Court narrowly upheld — 4-3 — Right to Work legislation passed by the 2017 General Assembly....

Constitutional amendment, ‘Marsy’s Law,’ prevails strongly, now awaits decision by KY Supreme Court

Kentucky voters spoke loud and clear on Election Day declaring their strong support for adding Marsy’s Law to the state’s constitution. Voters overwhelmingly agreed that victims should be afforded rights equal to those already provided to the accused and convicted, following a strong, three-year campaign by proponents.    By a clear majority, Kentuckians voted to add a Victims’ Bill of Rights...

Bevin’s legal team files briefs on pension reform bill ahead of September Supreme Court hearing

By Tom Latek Kentucky Today Gov. Matt Bevin’s legal team filed briefs Monday ahead of the Kentucky Supreme Court hearing next month on their appeal of a Franklin Circuit Court ruling that declared the public pension reform bill passed by the 2018 General Assembly unconstitutional and began their paperwork with a quote from a character from the old Popeye cartoons. “I’ll gladly pay you Tuesday...

Supreme Court this week: To hear pension bill in Sept.; reverses L’ville election; hears right to work

Kentucky Today The Kentucky Supreme Court acted quickly Friday to accept the direct appeal of a Franklin Circuit Court ruling on the public pension reform bill passed by the 2018 General Assembly and scheduled the case to be heard in September. 
Earlier in the day, Gov. Matt Bevin’s general counsel filed a notice of appeal of a ruling by Franklin Circuit Judge Phillip Shepherd that declared the...

Kentucky Supreme Court probes state’s medical review panels, legislation on malpractice lawsuits

By Tom Latek Kentucky Today The Kentucky Supreme Court heard oral arguments Wednesday on legislation passed by the 2017 General Assembly that established rules on how to file malpractice lawsuits. Senate Bill 4, sponsored by Sen. Ralph Alvarado, R-Winchester, who himself is a physician, required any lawsuit against doctors, other healthcare providers, hospitals and nursing homes would have to be reviewed...

State association urges nonprofits to get up to speed on new law requiring charities to charge sales tax

Kentucky Nonprofit Network (KNN), the Commonwealth’s association of nonprofits, is providing resources and hosting a webinar on June 28 to help nonprofits learn how to comply with a new Kentucky law. Effective July 1 the law will require organizations to collect sales tax from supporters of special events and some programs. At the same time, KNN will be pursuing a legislative solution with the General...

Bill Straub: Kentucky is the Jack Benny of the states; tries to run the government on the cheap

Kentucky is forever trying to get by on the cheap, making it the Jack Benny of the 50 states. You can bet that the only time the state will spend money to provide the sort of services necessary for the 21st Century is when it’s absolutely forced into a corner. Even then, like Benny when a robber threatened him with “Your money or your life,’’ it will offer a long, pregnant pause before responding,...

Bevin submits amicus brief to Kentucky Supreme Court supporting business ordered to print t-shirts

Governor Matt Bevin has submitted an amicus brief to the Kentucky Supreme Court in the landmark case of Lexington-Fayette Urban County Human Rights Commission vs. Hands-On Originals. Governor Matt Bevin Gov. Bevin’s amicus brief supports Hands-On Originals, a small t-shirt printing business in Lexington. In 2014, the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Human Rights Commission determined that Hands-On...