A movement is at hand involving the Bell and Harlan circuit courts, according to Bell County Judge-Executive Albey Brock. He addressed the issue during a luncheon at Pine Mountain State Park and Resort on Thursday.
Brock stated the Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC) is attempting to combine Bell and Harlan circuit courts.
“This negatively impacts the jails in both counties,” said Brock. “It would slow the docket down more than it already is.”
Senate Majority Whip Brandon Smith also spoke on the issue during the luncheon. He said he spoke with the AOC and they had mentioned they were going to look into it.
“I’m not for this attempt to consolidate (the courts),” said Smith. “I can’t understand the reasoning behind it.”
Smith said the consolidation plan would not move through any committee on which he serves.
“One county has three judges in that county,” said Smith. “I don’t see anybody talking to them, but rather they have found their way up … to our district to take a look at our judges and I find that unfortunate.”
According to Leigh Anne Hiatt, public information officer for AOC, there is currently no formal proposal on the table for consolidating the two circuits.
By the numbers, Bell County had 935 cases filed in the fiscal year 2012. Harlan County had 1,034 cases filed, according to the Kentucky Court of Justice website.
According to the Kentucky Court of Justice website, Bell County closed 828 cases in circuit court. Harlan closed 1,036 cases.
Both counties only have one circuit court judge.
“Combining the circuits would deprive access to the court system,” said Brock. “I have yet to see any way it will save money.”
Reach Anthony Cloud at 606-248-1010, ext. 208, email@example.com