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Meeting is set to continue task of picking judge



The local Judicial Nominating Commission (JNC) is scheduled to meet in Whitesburg May 25 to select three nominees eligible to serve as temporary Letcher Circuit Judge.

The commission’s recommendations will be presented to Gov. Matt Bevin in a letter handdelivered by a representative of Kentucky Supreme Court Chief Justice John D. Minton Jr. within an hour of the end of the meeting. Bevin then has 60 days to make an appointment.

The nominating commission was originally scheduled to meet March 16, but that gathering was postponed after Whitesburg attorney Gene Smallwood was sworn in as Assistant Letcher Commonwealth’s attorney, making him ineligible to serve on the commission.

Peyton Reynolds, a retired Whitesburg attorney, has been elected by the local bar association to serve as the newest member of the commission. Jimmy Craft, a candidate for the office of Letcher circuit judge, is also an attorney member of the commission.

Other commission members are Christopher D. Bates, Whitco; Bennett Combs, Whitesburg; Paul Thomas Greer, Jenkins; and Kelvin Hugh Eldridge, Whitesburg. Chief Justice Minton is the chairman of the commission.

During the meeting set for May 25, the commission is expected to review questionnaires and interview all applicants for the temporary position before recommending three names to Bevin. If only one or two attorneys express interest in the position, the commission will be asked to submit the names of at least one or two other lawyers who practice in the circuit, even if those lawyers haven’t applied for the position.

The appointed circuit judge will serve that office until an election is held in November. Whitesburg attorney Darrell Hall and Craft both filed to run in January.

The circuit judge’s seat has been vacant since shortly after former Judge Sam Wright was elected to the state Supreme Court last November.



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