District Court judges from across the state participated in sessions on Casey’s Law, guardianship cases, cultural competency and more Sept. 16-19 at the 2018 District Judges College in Lexington. The Education Committee of the Kentucky District Judges Association and the Office of Judicial Branch Education at the Administrative Office of the Courts developed the college.
“The educational programs help judges enhance their legal knowledge and administrative skills, with the resulting public benefit of competent and fair administration of justice,” said District Court Judge John M. McCarty, president of the Kentucky District Judges Association. “The judges also got to spend some quality time with each other. Our annual colleges are a great opportunity to come together and discuss insights and shared challenges.”
Judge McCarty serves as a district judge for Butler, Edmonson, Hancock and Ohio counties, and is temporarily serving as a Family Court judge for Daviess County.
In the session on Casey’s Law, judges heard from people who said they benefited from the involuntary commitment law, which allows parents and others to petition courts for treatment on behalf of the person with a substance use disorder. The legislation is named for Casey Wethington of Northern Kentucky, who died from a heroin overdose in 2002. Guest speakers were Casey’s mother, Charlotte Wethington, who initiated the law and is a recovery advocate, and Wayne Crabtree, recently retired director of the Office of Addiction Services for the Louisville Metro Department of Public Health and Wellness. Judges led a discussion on addiction, treatment and court intervention during the session.
The session on guardianship covered House Bill 5, a law the 2018 General Assembly passed that aims to address the growing number of vulnerable elderly and disabled people who become wards of the state. Under the legislation, judges must determine exceptional circumstances before appointing the state, rather than a family member, as guardian.
Pastor Edward Palmer, a certified diversity trainer, presented on cultural competency, which involves understanding differences in culture and interacting with people of other cultures effectively. The session also focused on racial disparity in the juvenile justice and child welfare systems, where black youths are overrepresented in areas such as diversion overrides, meaning they are not allowed to participate in diversion after committing an offense and instead are sentenced in court.
The college also covered pretrial release, court designated workers and juvenile case processing, domestic violence, ethics and new case law.
Judges had a special opportunity to hear from the justices of the Supreme Court of Kentucky in a panel discussion.
The college included 17 hours of continuing judicial education credit for the district judges.