FRANKFORT, Ky. (KT) - Senate President Robert Stivers, R-Manchester, has proposed legislation that would take many state government cases away from being exclusively heard by Franklin Circuit Court Judges Thomas Wingate and Phillip Shepherd.
His bill would instead involve a random drawing of all the circuit judges in the state to choose the one who hears the case in Frankfort.
Stivers says he has no problem when a judge asks an attorney what the facts are, or what they say the laws is and how you apply them together. “But when a judge looks at you and says, ‘You might want to amend your pleadings and your pleadings should include this,’ that goes beyond the role of what a judge should do,” he said.
During his remarks on the Senate floor Friday, Stivers said, “Why should judges elected in one county always be the ones that gets the cases that challenge what goes on with the constitution of the state and governor? It’s not appropriate. As I have termed it, it’s a super circuit judge.”
Stivers says there is not a fiscal note attached to his new bill yet, which would describe the additional costs if the bill becomes law. “I don’t think it would have a tremendous impact, because most of the judges would be current judges, who would only have to be compensated for their travel expenses to and from Frankfort.”
Stivers singled out Shepherd during comments to reporters after his floor remarks.
“It has become pretty well known that Judge Shepherd wants to practice the case,” Stivers said. “How do you change that, unless you change the way cases are assigned? Judges shouldn’t do that. Actually, there probably should have been a reprimand of Judge Shepherd, because that’s not the role of a court.”
He asked the reporters, “Would you want a judge to stand up in litigation where you’re a plaintiff or a defendant and look at the other side and have that judge tell you or tell your opponent that this is the way you need to practice your case? This is what you need to have in your pleadings? Is that what a court is for? No.”
Stivers says his bill would also establish a three-judge panel to look at state redistricting challenges, which he says will be needed after the 2020 census, when redistricting would have to take place.