District judge nominees announced for Clark, Madison counties

Published 10:25 am Wednesday, July 21, 2021


FRANKFORT – The Judicial Nominating Commission, led by Chief Justice of Kentucky John D. Minton Jr., today announced nominees to fill the vacant District Court judgeship that serves Clark and Madison counties. The counties make up the 25th Judicial District and the vacancy is in the district’s Division 2.

The three nominees for the judgeship are attorneys Kristen Jane Clouse, Robert Vincent Jennings and Moriah Lloyd Tussey, all of Richmond. Each received their juris doctor from the University of Kentucky J. David Rosenberg College of Law.

Clouse serves as an assistant county prosecutor for the Madison County Attorney’s Office and as an assistant state prosecutor for the commonwealth’s attorney office for Estill, Lee and Owsley counties.

Jennings is a general practitioner in the law firm he founded in Richmond.

Tussey serves as an attorney with the Administrative Office of the Courts, the administrative arm of the state court system.

The judicial seat became vacant when Judge Cole Adams Maier was appointed as a Circuit Court judge for Clark and Madison counties effective May 31.

District Court judges handle juvenile matters, city and county ordinances, misdemeanors, violations, traffic offenses, probate of wills, arraignments, felony probable cause hearings, small claims involving $2,500 or less, civil cases involving $5,000 or less, voluntary and involuntary mental commitments and cases relating to domestic violence and abuse.

The Judicial Nominating Commission helps fill judicial vacancies by appointment when a vacancy occurs outside of the election cycle. The Kentucky Constitution established the JNC. Ky. Const. § 118; SCR 6.000, et seq.

When a judicial vacancy occurs, the executive secretary of the JNC publishes a notice of vacancy in the judicial circuit or the judicial district affected. Attorneys may recommend someone or nominate themselves. The names of the applicants are not released. Once nominations occur, the individuals interested in the position return a questionnaire to the Office of the Chief Justice. Chief Justice Minton then meets with the Judicial Nominating Commission to choose three nominees. Because the Kentucky Constitution requires that three names be submitted to the governor, in some cases the commission submits an attorney’s name even though the attorney did not apply. A letter naming the three nominees is sent to the governor for review. The governor has 60 days to appoint a replacement and his office makes the announcement.

The commission has seven members. The membership is comprised of the chief justice of Kentucky (who also serves as chair), two lawyers elected by all the lawyers in their circuit/district and four Kentucky citizens who are appointed by the governor. The four citizens appointed by the governor must equally represent the two major political parties, so two must be Democrats and two must be Republicans. It is the responsibility of the commission to submit a list of three names to the governor and the governor must appoint a judge from this list of three.

Administrative Office of the Courts

The Administrative Office of the Courts in Frankfort is the operations arm for the state court system. The AOC supports the activities of nearly 3,400 court system employees and 406 elected justices, judges and circuit court clerks. As the fiscal agent for the state court system, the AOC executes the Judicial Branch budget.