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Two From Northern Kentucky Nominated to Fill Vacant Kentucky Supreme Court Seat


A lawyer and a judge from Northern Kentucky are two of three nominees to replace Justice Will Schroder on the Kentucky Supreme Court, it was announced Thursday by the Judidcal Nominating Commission, led by Chief Justice John D. Minton, Jr.

Schroder's retirement was effective January 17.

The three attorneys named as nominees to fill the vacancy are Joseph E. Conley Jr. of Villa Hills, Michelle M. Keller of Fort Mitchell and Allison Emerson Jones of Prospect.

Conley is a partner with the law firm of Raines, Buechel, Conley & Dusing in Florence, of which he is a founder. He is also an adjunct law professor at the University of Cincinnati College of Law. He received his juris doctor from the University of Kentucky College of Law.

Keller is a Kentucky Court of Appeals judge. She previously served as a nurse and is an adjunct professor at the Xavier University School of Nursing. She received her juris doctor from Northern Kentucky University Salmon P. Chase College of Law.

Jones is an administrative law judge for the Kentucky Department of Workers’ Claims. She received her juris doctor from the University of Kentucky College of Law.

Schroder, of Fort Mitchell, was in private practice (1975 to 1983) in Covington with his brother, Robert, where he represented the Northern Kentucky Area Planning Commission and served as a contract attorney for the Special Fund of the Division of Workers' Compensation and as a Kenton County public defender. He also served as a hearing officer for the Kentucky Personnel Board and was appointed city attorney for Newport, Ky., (1982 to 1983) during the onset of Newport's early riverfront development.

The counties in the 6th Supreme Court District are Bath, Boone, Bracken, Campbell, Carroll, Fleming, Gallatin, Grant, Harrison, Henry, Kenton, Lewis, Mason, Nicholas, Oldham, Owen, Pendleton, Robertson, Shelby, Spencer and Trimble.   

Judicial Nominating Process

When a judicial vacancy occurs, the executive secretary of the Judicial Nominating Commission publishes a notice of vacancy in the judicial circuit or the judicial district affected. Attorneys may recommend someone or nominate themselves. The names of the applicants are not released. Once nominations occur, the individuals interested in the position return a questionnaire to the Office of the Chief Justice. Chief Justice Minton then meets with the Judicial Nominating Commission to choose three nominees. Because the Kentucky Constitution requires that three names be submitted to the governor, in some cases the commission submits an attorney’s name even though the attorney did not apply. A letter naming the three nominees is sent to Gov. Steve Beshear for review. The governor has 60 days to appoint a replacement, and his office makes the announcement.

Makeup of the Judicial Nominating Commission

The Judicial Nominating Commission is established in the Kentucky Constitution. Ky. Const. § 118; SCR 6.000, et seq. The commission has seven members. The membership is comprised of the chief justice of Kentucky (who also serves as chair), two lawyers elected by all the lawyers in their circuit/district and four Kentucky citizens who are appointed by the governor. The four citizens appointed by the governor must equally represent the two major political parties, so two must be Democrats and two must be Republicans. It is the responsibility of the commission to submit a list of three names to the governor and the governor must appoint a judge from this list of three.

Photo: Chamber of the Kentucky Supreme Court

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