Glasgow Daily Times, Glasgow, KY

February 13, 2014

Hearing scheduled for judge’s seat challenge in 40th District

By MELINDA J. OVERSTREET
Glasgow Daily Times

GLASGOW — A hearing has been scheduled in March in the case of a former senior status judge who filed a lawsuit asserting that a new state law that would make him ineligible to run for circuit court judgeship this year is unconstitutional.

Steve Hurt, who is seeking to become the judge for the 40th Circuit, 1st Division, which includes Monroe, Cumberland and Clinton counties, states that he had completed the required number of days for his agreement in the Senior Status Program for Special Judges, but legislation passed by the Kentucky General Assembly and signed by the governor in 2013 states that a judge who elected to retire as a senior status judge cannot run for any elected office during the five-year senior status term, regardless of the number of days of service, according to the lawsuit.

He began his service as senior status judge on Feb. 1, 2009, according to the lawsuit. The last day for him to possibly file for the seat this year was Jan. 28, which was the day he filed in the Kentucky secretary of state’s office. The lawsuit was entered in Franklin Circuit Court on Feb. 3.

The lawsuit lists a few reasons the new state law, which was HB 427, should be voided, one of which is that Kentucky’s constitution lays out the qualifications for candidates, and because HB 427 “places qualifications that are in addition to and inconsistent with the requirements of Section 116 of the Kentucky Constitution, [it] is therefore unconstitutional and invalid.”

An order was filed by Franklin Circuit Court Judge Phillip J. Shepherd on Wednesday, laying out deadlines for documents to be filed and setting the hearing date, noting that the parties involved had consulted and agreed to the schedule.

Hurt, who is represented by James Deckard of Lexington, has until Monday to file an amended complaint that would include and incorporate documents relating to his senior status judgeship contract.

The defendants are the Kentucky State Board of Elections, MaryEllen Allen, in her capacity as executive director of that board of elections, and Alison Lundergan Grimes, in her capacity as Kentucky secretary of state. They are represented by Lynn Zellen of Frankfort.

Hurt’s lawsuit requests that the judge make a decision on the questions regarding the validity and constitutionality of HB 427.

The defendants have until Feb. 26 to file a certain type of motion or a responsive pleading to that amended complaint. Additional deadlines for filings are set for dates in March.

The judge will hear arguments at 10 a.m. Eastern time on March 24.

The schedule may be changed if the court receives a motion requesting it from any of the parties, the Office of the Attorney General or by an agreed order from the parties.

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