A bill that has already passed the House and a Senate committee, if approved, would move Daviess County to a new Supreme Court and Court of Appeal district.
House Bill 179 is sponsored by Rep. Jason Nemes, a Republican from Louisville.
The bill would move Daviess County from the Second Supreme Court and the Appeals District to the First District. Currently, the second district includes two large towns, Bowling Green and Owensboro. The change would make Daviess County the largest county in the First District in terms of population. The first district is made up of the counties of western Kentucky and includes the towns of Paducah and Madisonville.
Nemes told members of the Senate Committee on State and Local Governments on Friday that the redistribution of the Senate and the appeal was required by the state’s constitution.
âThe Court of Justice was founded in 1976 in Kentucky,â Nemes said. âWe have totally revamped the way we have done our justice system. Since then, we have not rediscovered the courts of appeal.
The cards are only intended for judges of the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeal. The current cards do not meet the requirements of the constitution, Nemes said.
The Senate and Appeal districts need to be adjusted so that all seven districts in the state are roughly equitable in terms of population. âWe’re not here because we haven’t addressed this issue for over 40 years,â Nemes said.
The changes would take effect this year. The proposed map change means appellate judge Jeff Taylor, who has his office in Owensboro, would remain in the Second District when Daviess County moves to the First District. Taylor lives in Ohio County, and judges must live in their district.
Nemes said Ohio and Hancock counties will be part of the second district under the plan.
âWe couldn’t create a district where Daviess County remained in the Second,â because of the requirement to balance populations, Nemes said.
The plan would also have moved Ohio County to the First District, but Ohio was kept in the Second so Taylor would not have to run for office in the first against two incumbents. Taylor has already sought re-election in the Second District.
Lawmakers have already approved a bill that extends the deadline for candidates to apply to the end of January, to give residents of changed districts time to apply to the appropriate office.
JD Meyer, lawyer for Owensboro and president of the Kentucky Bar Association, said moving Daviess County to the first district would change who Daviess County residents vote for the Court of Appeals and the Court supreme.
Taylor could not be reached on Friday for comment.
âOften times Supreme Court justices and Court of Appeal justices deal with cases from across the Commonwealth,â said Meyer. âObviously, this is the judge we’re voting for, but they serve the whole state. Whether we are in the first or the second, all judges, I have the greatest faith, will obey the law and serve us well.