Articles Posted in Kentucky Supreme Court

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the circuit court that invalidated the submission of a proposed constitutional amendment to Kentucky voters in a single-sentence ballot question, holding that the proposed amendment as submitted to the voters in the form of the present ballot question was invalid. Senate Bill 3 (SB 3) was delivered to the Secretary of State (Secretary) to be published and submitted to the electorate at the November 6, 2018 election. Appellees brought this action seeking a declaration that the ballot question failed to inform the voters adequately of the substance of the amendment. The circuit court agreed and allowed the question to appear on the ballot but enjoined the Secretary from certifying the ballots cast for or against the proposed amendment. The Supreme Court held (1) section 256 of the Kentucky Constitution requires the general assembly to submit the full text of a proposed constitutional amendment to the electorate for vote and requires the Secretary to publish the full text of the proposed amendment at least ninety days before the vote; and (2) the proposed amendment was void in this case because the form of the amendment submitted to the electorate for a vote was not the full text. View "Westerfield v. Ward" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the circuit court and held that third-place finisher Karen Faulkner was not entitled to appear on the November 6, 2018 ballot for the election for the District Court Judge of the 9th Division of the Jefferson District Court (District Court Judge). The order of the circuit court appealed from addressed which candidates were entitled to appear on the ballot of the November 2018 election for the District Court Judge. This case was initially brought as a declaratory judgment action by Karen Faulkner, a third-place primary election candidate. Faulkner asserted that, because the first-place vote-getter died, she should be deemed the second-place vote-getter and thus nominated for the general election. The Supreme Court held that Faulkner was not entitled to appear on the November 2018 ballot because Ky. Rev. Stat. Chapter 118A does not provide that the third-place primary election candidate ascends to a place on the general election ballot when either of the top two vote-getters dies after the primary election but before certification of the primary election results. View "Kentucky State Board of Elections v. Faulkner" on Justia Law

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The legislature has affirmed that a county jailer’s salary shall at least equal the prior year’s salary level in counties that do not operate a jail. Garrard County does not operate a jail. Before the 2010 election of Garrard County’s jailer, the Garrard Fiscal Court voted to fix the amount of the jailer’s salary for the new term at an amount lower than that set for the incumbent jailer. The trial court ruled that the fiscal court had acted properly in reducing the jailer’s pay before the commencement of his term. The court of appeals reversed, concluding that fiscal courts in counties without jails are statutorily prohibited from reducing the pay of their elected jailer. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the unambiguous language of Ky. Rev. Stat. 441-243(3) prevents the fiscal court from decreasing the county jailer’s salary in between elected terms of service. View "Garrard County v. Middleton" on Justia Law

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In the November 4, 2014 general election for the office of Magoffin County judge executive, Republican candidate John Montgomery challenged the incumbent, Democratic candidate Charles Hardin. The officially-tabulated vote count revealed that Montgomery lost the election to Hardin by twenty-eight votes. Montgomery filed a petition to contest the election. The trial court set aside the election results and declared the office of Magoffin County judge executive vacant pending a new election, concluding that, based on the totality of the circumstances, the election outcome was the result of “fraud and bribery” to the extent that neither contestant could be judged to have been fairly elected. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that Hardin was entitled to occupy the office in accordance with the tabulated results of the November 4, 2014 election because Montgomery failed to meet his burden of affirmatively proving fraud, intimidation, bribery, or violence in the conduct of the election such that Hardin cannot be adjudged to have been unfairly elected. View "Hardin v. Montgomery" on Justia Law

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The Magoffin County Board of Elections (the Board) and its members in their official capacities (Carson Montgomery, Susie Salyer, and Justin Williams, and Magoffin County Clerk Renee Arnett-Shepherd), and Democratic candidate for judge executive Charles Hardin, appealed a Court of Appeals decision to affirmed the setting aside the results of the November 4, 2014 election for Magoffin County judge executive and declaring the office vacant. The officially-tabulated vote count revealed that Republican candidate, Appellee John Montgomery, lost the election to Hardin by a mere twenty-eight votes. Montgomery filed this action to challenge the election results. Appellants contended: (1) that the trial court and the Court of Appeals nullified the election on grounds that were not set forth in Montgomery's petition to challenge the election, and thus deprived them of fair notice of such grounds; (2) that contrary to the trial court's conclusions, the election was conducted in substantial compliance with the applicable election laws; (3) that any violations of applicable election laws that occurred in the election were de minimus and had no impact on the result of the election; and (3) that Montgomery's evidence was insufficient to prove the illegalities he alleged and insufficient to prove that the result of the election was affected by any irregularities and improprieties which may have occurred. After review, the Kentucky Supreme Court concluded that Appellant Hardin was entitled to occupy the office of Magoffin County judge executive in accordance with the tabulated results of the November 4, 2014 election. View "Hardin v. Montgomery" on Justia Law

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After applying legal precedent establish in Fischer v. State Board of Elections (Fischer II), the trial court found the legislative redistricting plans of H.B. 1 facially unconstitutional and issued a temporary injunction preventing the Secretary of State and Board of Elections from implementing the legislative districts created by the Bill. The Legislative Research Commission (LRC) appealed, asking the Supreme Court to overrule the constitutional standards for redistricting legislative districts delineated in Fischer II. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the Bill violated the Kentucky Constitution by failing to achieve sufficient population equality and by failing to preserve county integrity. Remanded to enjoin permanently the conduct of any election under the district boundaries established by the Bill. View "Legislative Research Comm'n v. Fischer" on Justia Law

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Shortly after announcing her intention to seek election to the office of county clerk, Appellant Stacie Cook was discharged from her position as a deputy clerk by the incumbent county clerk, Appellee Lisha Popplewell, who also intended to seek election to the clerk position. Following Cook's defeat in the primary election, she brought a 42 U.S.C. 1983 action against Popplewell and the county, alleging that she had been discharged in violation of her First and Fourteenth Amendment rights. The circuit court dismissed Cook's complaint by summary judgment, ruling that Cook's interest in being a candidate enjoyed no constitutional protection. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that there was no reason to deviate from settled law concluding that there is no constitutional right to candidacy. View "Cook v. Popplewell" on Justia Law