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Nominees Announced For Kentucky Court Of Appeals Judge Vacancy


  The Judicial Nominating Commission, led by Chief Justice of Kentucky John D. Minton Jr., announced Thursday three nominees to fill the judicial vacancy on the Kentucky Court of Appeals. 


The nominees for the judgeship in the 1st Appellate District, Division 1, are attorneys James Richard “Jason” Coltharp Jr. of Paducah, Joe Christopher “Chris” McNeill of Paducah and C. Rene’ Williams of Dixon. The 1st Appellate District of Division 1 serves Kentucky’s 24 westernmost counties.


Coltharp has served as a defense attorney for civil cases for nearly 16 years and practices with the law firm of Whitlow, Roberts, Houston & Straub. He received his juris doctor from the University of Kentucky College of Law.


McNeill has served with the Kentucky Department of Public Advocacy for 19 years and has been a directing attorney since 2003, managing the department’s trial office. He received his juris doctor from Northern Kentucky University Salmon P. Chase College of Law.


Williams has served as a Circuit Court judge for the 5th Judicial Circuit of Crittenden, Union and Webster counties for 15 years and is the chief regional circuit judge for the Purchase Region. She received her juris doctor from the University of Louisville Louis D. Brandeis School of Law.


The judicial seat became vacant when Christopher Shea Nickell was elected as a justice of the Supreme Court of Kentucky in November.


The Kentucky Court of Appeals, along with the Supreme Court of Kentucky, was formed after the 1975 enactment of the Judicial Article creating Kentucky’s unified court system. Fourteen judges, two elected from each of the seven appellate districts, serve on the Court of Appeals for terms of eight years.


Nearly all cases heard by the Court of Appeals come to the court on appeal from a lower court. If a case is tried in circuit court or district court and the losing parties involved are not satisfied with the outcome, they may ask for a higher court to review the correctness of the trial court’s decisions. 


Some cases, such as criminal case acquittals and divorces, may not be appealed. However, in a divorce case, child custody and property rights decisions may be appealed. With a few exceptions, most cases appealed from Circuit Court go to the Court of Appeals. The case is not retried at the appeals level. Instead, the original trial record is reviewed, with attorneys presenting the legal issues to the court for a decision.


Court of Appeals judges are divided into panels of three to review and decide cases, with the majority deciding the outcome. 


The panels do not sit permanently in one location, but travel throughout the state to hear appeals. When the Court of Appeals publishes its rulings on cases, those rulings become the governing case law for all such similar cases in the trial courts of Kentucky.

Rachel’s interest in journalism began early in life, reading newspapers while sitting in the laps of her grandparents. Those interactions ignited a thirst for language and stories, and she recalls getting caught more than once as a young girl hiding under the bed covers with a flashlight and book because she just couldn’t stop reading.
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