Bench & Bar

JAN 2018

The Bench & Bar magazine is published to provide members of the KBA with information that will increase their knowledge of the law, improve the practice of law, and assist in improving the quality of legal services for the citizenry.

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35 BENCH & BAR | JUDICIARY HELPING IMPROVE ADOPTION PROCESS In response to Gov. Matt Bevin's call to improve Kentucky's adoption process, Chief Justice Minton said that he has cre- ated a Dependency, Neglect and Abuse Judicial Workgroup to identify policies that would reduce the adoption timeline and address inefficient policies and redundant paperwork. e DNA Judicial Workgroup will focus on policies and processes that directly impact the permanency, safety and well-being of children, and will provide rec- ommendations to the bipartisan legislative Adoption Task Force. TREMENDOUS GAINS IN COURT TECHNOLOGY He said that Kentucky was operating as a paper court system when he became chief justice in 2008. "I realized that the biggest challenge facing the Judicial Branch – in terms of sheer scope – was harnessing the rapid changes in technology for use by the courts. Technology is the key to a more cost-effective, efficient court system and basically everything we do is either facil- itated by the technology that we have or hindered by the technology that we need." He said that in 2013, the AOC kicked off KYeCourts, a sweeping, multi-year initiative to update court technology and transform how the judicial, legal and law enforcement communities do business. As part of KYeCourts, the AOC is upgrading hardware and network infrastructure, and replacing trial and appellate case manage- ment systems. In addition, eFiling is now available in all 120 Kentucky counties for civil and criminal cases in Circuit and Dis- trict courts, and the AOC is working on an eFiling system for the Supreme Court and Court of Appeals. "Nearly 900,000 court cases are filed in Kentucky state courts each year," he said. "As the AOC introduces new tools, appli- cations and programs, I'm excited to see how this sophisticated technology is revo- lutionizing the practice of law." NEW JURY MANAGEMENT PROCEDURES Chief Justice Minton also discussed recent changes to enhance the court system's jury management program. "Trial by a jury of one's peers is a sacred right of every Amer- ican and I'm pleased that Kentucky will benefit from new policies that will save money while improving juror reporting and making jury management more uniform statewide." He said the Supreme Court recently adopted rules that will save time and money through the centralized mailings of all jury summonses. Also, each county will now use the AOC's electronic Jury Management Program to administer jury management practices and procedures. Another import- ant change clarifies how the AOC compiles the master list of prospective jurors from the statutorily required source lists. OPEN RECORDS POLICY "In an important move this summer, the seven Supreme Court justices voted unan- imously to approve an open records policy that guides how the public accesses the administrative records of the state court system," Chief Justice Minton said. "is is the first open records policy for the AOC, which is the operations arm of the court system. While the Judicial Branch has long complied with the spirit of the Open Records Act, I'm proud that we have formalized our commitment into written policy." OPIOID EPIDEMIC AFFECTING COURT OPERATIONS He said that the court system has become ground zero for the criminal and civil cases resulting from the opioid epidemic. "While criminal cases related to substance abuse are to be expected, it's incredibly disheartening to see the explosion in family law cases as well. Dependency, neglect and abuse cases fill our dockets as daily reminders of the grim toll the epidemic is taking on Ken- tucky families and children." In an effort to address these issues, the court system hosted its first statewide Opioid Summit in January 2017 to help Kentucky judges handle drug-related cases. Judges attended sessions on the science of treating addiction; case law, statutes and regulations regarding medication-assisted treatment; and the role of the government in the opioid epidemic. He said the Judicial Branch is joining national organizations and a regional ini- tiative with surrounding states in an effort to address the crippling effects of the opioid crisis. CHANGES TO GUARDIAN AD LITEM PROGRAM Chief Justice Minton said the Judicial Branch is working with the Executive and Legislative branches to establish more consistent payment practices statewide for guardians ad litem. GALs are the attor- neys who provide legal representation to children who have been removed from their homes due to dependency, neglect and abuse. Varying payment practices for these attorneys have led to concerns about the propriety of some invoices that make their way to the Finance & Administration Cabinet for processing. KBA COMMISSION ON THE FUTURE OF THE LEGAL PROFESSION He said another area facing remarkable change is the legal profession and that there are efforts under way to help Ken- tucky attorneys adapt to new trends in the practice of law. He said the Kentucky Bar Association has created a Commission on the Future of the Legal Profession, which is comprised of a diverse group of lawyers from across the commonwealth. e commission will identify and explore all areas relevant to the practice of law and the delivery of legal ser- vices, including the threats, challenges and opportunities facing attorneys, judges and the judicial system in Kentucky. JUDICIAL REDISTRICTING Chief Justice Minton said that Ken- tucky's population changes since the state's last judicial redistricting in 1893 are so significant that judges' workloads in many jurisdictions exceed their abil- ity to adequately meet the needs of their communities. "ere are critical areas across the state where judges are so overburdened that citizens are not getting equal access to jus- tice," he said. "e jurisdictions in urgent need of redistricting in this session include

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