Court of Appeals Candidates Participate in Forum
By Bill Hughes
PADUCAH - Candidates for Judge on the Kentucky Court of Appeals representing the 1st Appellate District participated in a forum Thursday evening hosted by the Commonwealth Policy Center and WKYX-WNGO.

Attorney Jenny Hines of Paducah, recently appointed Court of Appeals Judge Chris McNeill of Paducah, and Chief Regional Circuit Judge Rene Williams of Dixon participated. Richard Nelson of the Commonwealth Policy Center moderated the forum.

All three touted their conservative values, their faith and their experience as qualifications for the bench.

Hines earned her law degree in 2009, served in the US Air Force, and then began practicing law in 2013. She has been working as a staff attorney for the Court of Appeals under former judge and current Supreme Court Justice Shea Nickell, which is where she fell in love with this court. 

McNeill has practiced law for over twenty years, working as a staff attorney in the court of appeals. Prior to being sworn into the vacant seat on the court of appeals in May, McNeill had been the Directing Attorney for the Paducah office of the Department of Public Advocacy.

Williams served as District Judge for the 5th Judicial Circuit (Crittenden, Union and Webster Counties) from 1990 until 2004, when she was elected Circuit Judge, and has run unopposed ever since. She has also served as Regional Circuit Judge for the Purchase area since being appointed by Chief Justice John Minton in 2007. 

The candidates in the non-partisan race were not asked about how they would rule on specific issues because giving an answer could disqualify them from presiding over or considering future cases, but they each explained what voters should look for in a judge. 

McNeill said, "I think you look at character, you look at whether they are a hard worker, and when you get into a job like this I think you do want experience. I think also on a personal level, you want to know what somebody's worldview is."

Williams said, "I believe that experience, integrity, fairness and trust are very important things to look for in a judicial candidate."

Hines said, "Someone who is going to administer justice, common sense and a practical approach, experience, and 'do you think like me?' People want to vote for somebody that they can relate to and trust."

When asked on their view of the law and the US Constitution, all three candidates said they were strict constructionists or originalists, meaning they believe the constitution should be adhered to and interpreted as it was intended when written. 

The June 23 primary will narrow the candidates to two, and they will be on the November 3 general election ballot. The 1st Appellate District cover 24 counties in southwestern Kentucky. There are seven appellate district in Kentucky.

Another declared candidate, attorney Jason Coltharp, dropped out of the race this week, but his name will likely still be on the ballot.  

To hear the entire forum, click the link below. 

On the Net:

Court of Appeals forum on Podcast page

Published 11:17 PM, Thursday Jun. 04, 2020
Updated 06:12 PM, Friday Jun. 05, 2020



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