The Judicial Nominating Commission will have to wait at least six more weeks before it can meet to select three Letcher County attorneys for Gov. Matt Bevin to consider appointing as the new Letcher Circuit Judge.
Katie Shepherd, chief of staff and legal counsel for the Office of Kentucky Supreme Court chief justice, said the delay is necessary while a replacement is found for Whitesburg attorney Gene Smallwood, who had to leave the commission after being sworn in as assistant Letcher Commonwealth’s Attorney on January 20.
To fill the attorney vacancy on the commission, the local bar must elect a new member through the Kentucky Bar Association canvassing process, which Shepherd said can take a minimum of six to eight weeks.
The commission meeting scheduled for March 16 has been cancelled and will be rescheduled once a new member has been elected.
On February 3, Bevin appointed Paul Thomas Greer of Jenkins and Bennett Combs of Whitesburg to the commission for the 47th Judicial Circuit.
Gov. Steve Beshear in December appointed Christopher D. Bates, of 132 Whitco Loop, Whitesburg, and Kelvin Hugh Eldridge, of 144 Kale Hollow, Whitesburg.
Other members of the commission are Whitesburg attorney James W. Craft II and Kentucky Supreme Court Chief Justice John D. Minton Jr., who is the chairman of the commission.
Once the commission reviews questionnaires and interviews all applicants, three recommendations will be presented to Bevin in a letter hand-delivered by a representative with the office of Kentucky Supreme Court chief justice within an hour of the end of the meeting. Bevin then has 60 days to make an appointment.
The appointed circuit judge will serve until an election is held in November .
The vacancy was created last November when former Letcher Circuit Judge Sam Wright won election to the Kentucky Supreme Court.