Bevin says state judges should have to pass competency test


FRANKFORT, Ky. (KT) – Speaking to a room full of attorneys, Gov. Matt Bevin said the state should reconsider how individuals become judges.

“We have a remarkable number of people who have no businesses being judges,” said Bevin, who was speaking Thursday to the Federalist Society in the House Chamber. “They don’t have the competence to even be a private practice attorney who can bill at a rate that people would pay them.  I’m not kidding.” 

Bevin said the judges are often people who have not been able to cut it in private practice. 

“But somehow (they) have managed to get them elected to a position where they now have the responsibility to jack people around in ways that are not even remotely connected to the law they are intended to uphold,” he said. “It creates pandemonium for a whole lot of people and, sadly, even runs the risk creating new precedent that’s just squirrely.”

He said candidates should first have to pass a competency test before they could become a judge.

Bevin also took some questions from attorneys, including one aimed at Democratic rival Attorney General Andy Beshear, a frequent sparring partner of the Republican governor.

When asked if he had given thought to a Constitutional Amendment making the attorney general an appointed, rather than elected, position, Bevin said, “Oh, yeah.”

Several issues between Bevin and Beshear have ended up in court. Two days ago, Beshear called a press conference to say that Bevin’s plan to cut the budgets of state agencies was illegal.

“Should you have an attorney general and a governor that are on different sides of an issue?” he said.  “It would seem unproductive at best, and arguably silly.  It’s something worthy of consideration.”


Bevin also appeared to endorse term limits for members of the General Assembly.

“I’m a great believer in people being citizen-legislators for a finite period of time.  That’s a whole other topic we’ll get to at another point.”


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David Arvin

This makes more sense than anything I have heard for awhile. The Supreme Court requires circuit clerks to pass a competency test before they can serve. It shouldn't be much of a leap to have the same requirements for judges. It would require an amendment to Section 122 of the Constitution but that ought to be easy to get.

Friday, September 15, 2017
Chad Frizzell

They do pass a competency test -the Bar exam. Why don't we have a competency test for gubernatorial candidates too?

Saturday, September 16, 2017

With respect, Mr. Arvin, to seek a judgeship, one must be a licensed attorney (which requires passing the two-day Bar Exam) and be current on mandatory annual Continuing Legal Education credits, along with having practiced law a minimum number of years (the number of years depending on the court level in which they are seeking a judgeship). Sitting Judges are required to remain current in mandatory Continuing Judicial Education credits.

To seek a Circuit Clerkship, no educational requirement is mandated, nor must one hold any professional licensing. The Circuit Clerk exam stands in lieu of an educational degree requirement and is in place to ensure candidates are informed regarding the highly detailed and specific knowledge required to perform what is a very important job.

Saturday, September 16, 2017
David DPS

It would be simpler to give our judges a three strike rule. Three overturned cases on appeal and then permanently barred from serving on the bench or in any state or local capacity. Make exceptions for new statutes and new challenges to existing laws.

Our judges waste time and litigants' resources by not making correct rulings the first time. After they botch up three cases they should be removed.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

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