A Paducah attorney will serve on the Kentucky Court of Appeals at least until November after being appointed as judge last week by Governor Andy Beshear.
Chris McNeill is currently the directing attorney in the Paducah trial office for the state Department of Public Advocacy, having served as a public defender for 19 years. He said 10 staff public defenders in his office manage about 4,000 cases each year, primarily in McCracken, Ballard, Carlisle, Fulton, Hickman and Livingston counties. Public defenders represent in court those accused of crimes who can’t afford legal representation.
“The most important thing that I have to offer the Court of Appeals is my years of frontline, practical, practicing experience as an attorney,” McNeill said. “At this stage in my career I think I’m old enough to have plenty of experience to serve on the court, and I’m a western Kentucky native.”
McNeill will serve as one of two judges for the Kentucky Court of Appeals 1st Appellate District, hearing cases from Kentucky’s 24 western-most counties. The Kentucky Court of Appeals serves as an intermediate court between circuit courts and the Kentucky Supreme Court, often reviewing challenges to decisions made in circuit courts.
McNeill is serving the remainder of a term vacated by Justice Christopher Shea Nickell, who left the seat after being elected last year to the Kentucky Supreme Court. Four nonpartisan candidates including McNeill are on the ballot in June’s primary election to serve a new term as judge. Two candidates will advance to the November general election. If elected, McNeill would continue to serve as judge.
The other candidates in the primary election are Paducah attorney James Coltharp, Paducah attorney Jenny Hines, and circuit court judge C. Rene Williams.