Whitesburg KY

Man arrested after dispute inside county judge’s office; wife says he was the victim

Jack Cornett was photographed at the Letcher County Jail after he was arrested Monday.

Jack Cornett was photographed at the Letcher County Jail after he was arrested Monday.

A 65-year-old Little Cowan man was arrested at his home Monday night after being accused of shoving Letcher County Judge/Executive Jim Ward in Ward’s office earlier that day.

Jack Cornett, of 310 Highway 2035, was arrested at 6: 34 p. m. March 2 after Letcher District Judge Kevin R. Mullins electronically signed an arrest warrant requested by Ward.

Cornett is charged with harassment (physical contact, no injury), second-degree disorderly conduct, and menacing.

The warrant accuses Cornett of “intimidating, harassing or alarming” Ward when he allegedly shoved the judge in his office in the Letcher County Courthouse. The warrant says Cornett engaged in threatening behavior by shoving the judge and using loud and abusive language toward the judge and his staff.

“It was an unfortunate situation and I would rather not comment at this time,” Ward said Tuesday afternoon.

Ward did say that Cornett was not upset over a county-related issue. Ward also said Monday’s incident was not the first time that Cornett has walked into his office in an erratic manner.

Cornett remained in the Letcher County Jail Tuesday night, pending release on a $2,500 surety bond and home incarceration.

Cornett could not be reached for comment. His wife, however, said the incident between her husband and the judge began after Cornett licensed his car in Letcher County Clerk Winston Meade’s offi ce and went to the judge’s office to pay his garbage bill.

According to Carolyn Cornett, her husband saw Ward in his offi ce and decided to ask him about building a bridge the couple have been requesting.

“Jack knocked on his door,” Mrs. Cornett said, “and as soon as he (Ward) saw him he came out of (his office) raising Cain.”

Mrs. Cornett said her husband told Ward, “This is a public court- house” and “then nudged him with his belly. Jim Ward is the one who came out of his office.”

Mrs. Cornett said Monday’s incident is the first time her husband has been in trouble with the law.

“I’ve been married to him 40 years and he’s never done anyone wrong yet,” she said.

Mrs. Cornett said her husband earned the right to say what he wants by volunteering for two tours of duty in Vietnam, where he was a member of a Navy Special Forces Helicopter Attack Squadron nicknamed the “Seawolves.”

“All he (Cornett) wanted to do was talk to him about a bridge, but he wouldn’t give him the chance,” she said. “It burns me up.”

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