February 23, 2021 (Bardstown, KY) by Don Thrasher
Asst. Commonwealth Attorney Joe Ballard has been appointed to fill the seat vacated last year by Judge Jack Seay. The 10th Judicial Circuit is comprised of Nelson, Hart and Larue counties. Larue County has around 15,000 people compared to Nelson’s 45,000. But that didn’t stop Former Larue County Judge Executive Tommy Turner from trying to have a heavy hand of influence on the judicial nominating process.
Republicans in Nelson County learned that the 2 Republicans that are mandated by the KY Constitution to be members were recruited by Turner, a Democrat, it raised red flags. Section 118 of the Kentucky Constitution states in relevant part: “Two members of each commission shall be members of the bar, who shall be elected by their fellow members. The other four members shall be appointed by the Governor from among persons not members of the bar, and these four shall include at least two members of each of the two political parties of the Commonwealth having the largest number of voters. “
Republican Denise Skaggs of Hodgenville admitted in a telephone call late last evening she was contacted by Turner and asked to be on the commission. The other Republican is also from Hodgenville, John Keith stated today by phone that the Governor’s office had contacted him and asked him to be on the commission. Keith also admitted in the phone call that he believes the call was spurred by his friendship with Turner.
Nelson County a county larger than both Hart and Larue combined only had 1 non-attorney member on the commission. Joseph Haydon of Bardstown, is one of the Democrat appointees along with Jenifer Jones of Mundfordville.
The KY Record is aware that there were other Nelson Countians that were rejected from being on the commission. Turner’s motivation for all of this is not immediately clear to political insiders the Record spoke to. Although there is speculation as to the goal, they do believe that Turner’s agenda indeed failed.
The Judicial Nominating Process is part of the KY Constitution so it is certainly the law of the land. One Republican in Hart County told the KY Record, “It’s one thing to lobby for a judicial candidate, it’s another thing all together to break the spirit of the KY Constitution in doing so.
The KY Record congratulates Judge Joe Ballard on his appointment by Gov. Beshear. While Turner’s actions were seemingly to get someone other than Ballard, Audrey Haydon and Chip McKay nominated – we hope this serves as a reminder to all Nelson Countians that we need to remain vigilant and participate in the civic processes that affect our lives the most.