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Marshall, Calloway Family Court Judge Announces Retirement

rob mattingly

Marshall and Calloway County Family Court Judge Rob Mattingly will retire in November. 

Mattingly was first elected to the judgeship in 2006. Before winning his seat, he served as the 42nd judicial circuit’s domestic relations commissioner. Upon his retirement, Mattingly will take office as city attorney of Benton. In this capacity, he will advise the city’s government and represent the city in court.

“I have twenty-two years in. It’s just time for a change. I have an opportunity to go back into private practice where I started,” said Mattingly. “I applied to be the city attorney for Benton and they voted on me last Monday.”

Judge Mattingly is the first person to serve as a family court judge for the 42nd circuit. Prior to 2006, the duties of family court were distributed between the circuit court and district court. Family courts deal with all family legal matters including adoption, divorce, custody and child support. Mattingly said bringing family court to west Kentucky is his greatest accomplishment.

“Marshall and Calloway County did not have a family court before. We didn’t know how it was going to work,” said Mattingly.

In a letter to Governor Matt Bevin, Mattingly said his resignation will become effective midnight, November 3. 

Family courts are a new development in Kentucky’s judiciary system. According to the Kentucky Administrative Office of the Courts, the first family court began in Jefferson County in 1991. Since then, the program has expanded to 71 counties. A 2002 constitutional amendment on the ballot passed with over 75% of the vote to make family court a permanent part of Kentucky’s constitution. 

As Kentucky grapples with the opioid crisis, family courts are often left to deal with the aftermath. Mattingly said he hopes his successor will use the court to help families dealing with addiction.

“The opioid epidemic has been a really big issue. Over the past few years, that’s primarily what I have been working on. At the first of this year, we had almost ten thousand children in foster care,” Mattingly said. “That’s not even counting the children we had in relative placement. Most of that is a result of drug addiction."

Mattingly said the most important traits for his successor are a “cool head and a compassionate heart.”

The 42nd judicial circuit’s next family court judge will be selected by a Judicial Nominating Commission. The commission is comprised of seven members and includes the chief justice of the Supreme Court, two attorneys elected by all attorneys in Marshall and Calloway counties and four non-attorney citizens appointed by the governor.

Mattingly is a native of Owensboro, Kentucky. He is a graduate of Kentucky Wesleyan College and the Salmon P. Chase College of Law at Northern Kentucky University. The next general election for the 42nd circuit court judgeship, family division, will be in November of 2022.

Dalton York is a Morning Edition host and reporter for WKYU in Bowling Green. He is a graduate of Murray State University, where he majored in History with a minor in Nonprofit Leadership Studies. While attending Murray State, he worked as a student reporter at WKMS. A native of Marshall County, he is a proud product of his tight-knit community.
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