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John D. Minton Jr. takes oath of office remotely as he begins 4th term as chief justice of Kentucky

Supreme Court of Kentucky

In a sign of the times, John D. Minton Jr. was sworn in remotely yesterday to a fourth term as chief justice of Kentucky. Deputy Chief Justice Lisabeth T. Hughes administered the oath of office via Zoom from their respective chambers in Louisville and Bowling Green.

When his fellow Supreme Court justices elected him to another four-year term May 18, he became only the second chief justice in Kentucky to be chosen to serve four terms.

“You only need to look at Chief Justice Minton’s calm and decisive leadership the last three months to understand why we chose him to lead us for another term,” Deputy Chief Justice Hughes said. “In the early days of the COVID-19 outbreak, he quickly adapted court operations to protect the health and safety of court personnel and the public. He has been just as deliberate in planning how we will resume court services. This steadiness under pressure came as no surprise to those who have watched him lead the court system through many challenges during his 12 years as chief justice.”

Chief Justice Minton said he appreciates the opportunity to continue building on what the Judicial Branch has accomplished over his past three terms.

“Our push to invest in court technology seems especially prescient now that a pandemic has forced us to offer many services online,” he said. “While the use of eFiling, eWarrants, text notifications and videoconferencing is always efficient and cost-effective, these are indispensable tools when social distancing is critical to public health. Over the past several weeks, our judges, circuit court clerks and court personnel have had to adjust to a constantly changing environment and I’m grateful for their flexibility and resiliency. Their ability to rise to the occasion during this unprecedented emergency has made me even more proud to work alongside them to serve the commonwealth.”

Chief Justice Minton was elected to serve the 2nd Supreme Court District in 2006 and was re-elected in 2014 for a second eight-year term. His fellow justices elected him to serve a four-year term as chief justice in 2008, 2012, 2016 and 2020.

The Kentucky court system has been transformed in many areas during his administration. He has made it a priority to invest in the people who operate the courts and in the technology that can cut costs and deliver better service. His comprehensive overhaul of court technology has brought eFiling to every Kentucky county. He addressed lagging Judicial Branch compensation by improving the salary structure for court employees and increasing pay for judges and circuit court clerks. During his tenure, the Supreme Court has adopted the state’s first uniform Family Court Rules and Juvenile Court Rules. He led efforts to draft Kentucky’s first statewide Judicial Redistricting Plan in decades. He has worked with the Executive and Legislative branches to carry out penal code and juvenile justice reform.

Prior to being elected to the Supreme Court, Chief Justice Minton was a circuit judge from 1992 to 2003 and a Kentucky Court of Appeals judge from 2003 to 2006. He was in private practice for 15 years before taking the bench. He holds degrees from Western Kentucky University and the University of Kentucky College of Law.

He is a former president of the national Conference of Chief Justices. He is also a former board member for the National Center for State Courts. He previously served on the board of the Council of State Governments and is a 2010 alumnus of the CSG’s prestigious Toll Fellowship Program. He was appointed to the State Justice Institute Board of Directors in 2016 and currently serves as board chair.

The Kentucky Bar Association gave him the Outstanding Judge Award in 2003 and he was named Distinguished Jurist in 2012 by the University of Kentucky College of Law Alumni Association. He was inducted into the Western Kentucky University Hall of Distinguished Alumni in 2013.

He and his wife, Susan Page Minton, a Bowling Green native, have two children.

The Supreme Court is the state court of last resort and the final interpreter of Kentucky law. Seven justices sit on the Supreme Court and all seven justices rule on appeals that come before the court.

The justices are elected from seven appellate districts and serve eight-year terms. A chief justice, chosen for a four-year term by his or her fellow justices, is the administrative head of the state’s court system and is responsible for its operation.

(provided by the Supreme Court of Kentucky)

Paul Hitchcock earned his Masters in Communications from Morehead State University and Bachelors in Radio-TV/Psychology from Georgetown College. A veteran broadcaster for more than 40 years and an avid fan of blues, jazz and American roots music. Hitchcock has been with WMKY since 1986 and was named General Manager in 2003. He currently hosts "Muddy Bottom Blues" (Fri., 8pm-9pm), "Nothin' But The Blues" (Sat., 8pm-12am), "Sunday Night Jazz Showcase" and "Live From The Jazz Lounge" (Sun., 8pm-9pm) and "The Golden Age of Radio" (Sun., 2pm-3pm). He also serves as producer for "A Time For Tales" and "The Reader's Notebook."
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