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Race for judge will include Craft, Hall




FIRST TO FILE — James “Jimmy” Craft II, of Eolia, filed to run for Letcher Circuit Judge on January 8. at the secretary of state’s office in Frankfort. His wife, Kim, and son, James Craft III, are also pictured.

FIRST TO FILE — James “Jimmy” Craft II, of Eolia, filed to run for Letcher Circuit Judge on January 8. at the secretary of state’s office in Frankfort. His wife, Kim, and son, James Craft III, are also pictured.

One Whitesburg attorney has officially filed to run for Letcher Circuit judge and another Whitesburg attorney plans to complete paperwork today (Wednesday) at the secretary of state’s office in Frankfort.

James “Jimmy” Craft II, of Eolia, filed to run for office on January 8., with his wife, Kim, and son, James Craft III, by his side.

Darrell Hall, of Whitesburg, and his wife, Nyoka, are expected to travel to Frankfort today.

The circuit judge’s seat was vacated November 3 after former Letcher Circuit Judge Sam Wright won the 7th District Supreme Court seat.

The Letcher Circuit judge seat was declared vacant December 30.

For 21 years, Craft has had a private law practice in Whitesburg. He is a 1986 graduate of Whitesburg High School. He was graduated from the University of Kentucky in 1990, and from Western Michigan University Thomas M. Cooley School of Law in 1994.

Craft served as the assistant Letcher County attorney from 1994 to 1998. He was elected president of the Letcher Bar Association in 1995 and currently holds that position.

Craft served as the city attorney for the City of Whitesburg from 1998 to 2005 and has served as city attorney for the City of Neon since November 2005.

Craft has served as the attorney for the Letcher County Library Board. He has served as the attorney for the Whitesburg Housing Authority since 2005.

He has been admitted to practice in the United States District Court, Eastern District of Kentucky and the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit.

He has argued cases in front of the Kentucky Supreme Court and the Kentucky Court of Appeals.

Craft is the son of James W. Craft and Mahala Frazier. His daughter, Dr. Rebecca Cook, and her husband, Calviston Cook, have one child, Rhiannon. James Craft III is a student at the University of Kentucky.

In 1981, Darrell Hall opened his private law practice in Whitesburg. He is a 1974 graduate of the University of Kentucky and a 1981 graduate of UK College of Law.

Hall has served as the attorney for the Letcher County Board of Education since 2000. He is a former member of the Appalachian Regional Healthcare advisory committee.

Hall was reared in Kite in Knott County and his family worked in Letcher County. His brothers hauled coal for Golden Oak Mining Company and his sister, Nora, was the office manager for Golden Oak Mining Company. His sister, Neva, was the second registered nurse to be hired at Mountain Comprehensive Health Corporation in Whitesburg.

The filing deadline is January 26.

Notices of the circuit judge vacancy will be sent to Letcher County attorneys once Gov. Matt Bevin appoints lay members to the Judicial Nominating Commission.

Before leaving office, former Gov. Steve Beshear by executive order on December 3 appointed Sherry Lynn Wright of Burdine to the Judicial Nominating Commission, replacing Linda J. Bailey of Jenkins. Kernel E. Sexton, of 242 Vates Branch, Whitesburg, was appointed to replace G.C. Kincer, of Jenkins. Both of these terms expired January 1, 2016.

Beshear also appointed Christopher D. Bates, of 132 Whitco Loop, Whitesburg, to replace Tina C. Whitaker. Kevin Hugh Eldridge, of 144 Kale Hollow, Whitesburg was appointed to replace Bennett Combs of Whitesburg. Terms for Bates and Eldridge expire January 1, 2018.

Four citizen members will serve on the Judicial Nominating Commission with two local attorneys and Supreme Court Chief Justice John D. Minton Jr. The two attorney members, Jimmy Craft and Gene Smallwood, were elected by local members of the Kentucky Bar Association. Minton serves as the chair of the commission.

The commission will review questionnaires and interview all applicants before recommending three names to Bevin. Once given the list of nominees, the governor has 60 days to appoint a circuit judge or the chief justice will appoint a judge from the list of recommendations.

The appointed circuit judge will serve that office until an election is held in November.


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