Beshear appoints Jones to Court of Appeals

April 17, 2024 | 12:13 am

Updated April 17, 2024 | 12:51 am

Lisa Jones

Gov. Andy Beshear has appointed Daviess Circuit Court Judge Lisa Payne Jones to fill a vacant seat on the Kentucky Court of Appeals. Jones will start at the end of the month and will maintain the position through November’s General Election. She would remain in the seat for a full term if elected.

Jones will be sworn in on April 29 in her Circuit Courtroom and begin her duties the next day. While taking on her new role, she said that Judge Joe Castlen would cover her entire docket to ensure no delays in the transition.

She believes the process will go smoothly, given Jones is Castlen’s successor at the Circuit level.

“He’s should familiar with the cases since I took his spot, so he’s definitely familiar with the types of cases. He did drug court forever, so he’s also familiar with that. So it should be a pretty easy transition to bridge the gap,” Jones said. “It definitely helps to ease some worries because I have loved, and I still love, being a Circuit Judge and the people that I work with. … [And] to know that makes me feel better, and then I will be able to start with a clean slate without feeling like I’ve left everything in a lurch.”

Now that Jones’ Circuit seat is vacant, there will be an election this November to determine her successor. The filing deadline for that position is June 1. There will be no primary.

The Court of Appeals is made up of 14 judges. Cases are assigned to a panel of three judges, and rulings and opinions will help shape legal opinion throughout the Commonwealth.

The nature of the job means Jones will revert from being public-facing on the Circuit bench to more behind-the-scenes and handling private work with the other Appellate judges. Yet, she acknowledges that she will face a new sense of responsibility with the new position, knowing the impact will be felt statewide.

“The pressure comes from [the fact] you are making law for the Commonwealth when making a decision. You are making a decision that many judges and lawyers in the Commonwealth are reading and they’re going to be looking at that as to what they should do. And so how you explain it, what you decide, and how the Appellate judges talk about the case amongst yourselves is really is going to mean a lot,” Jones said.

Jones is confident that the background and experience she gained from her time as a Circuit judge will ensure that her opinions are presented in a way that people can understand at all levels.

Jones said she plans to bring her experience in specialty courts — drug, mental health, juvenile drug, and the like — to the table after practicing throughout her career. Often, Jones said, judges have to wear numerous hats while donning the robe and make split-second decisions that impact their case. Because of this, judges’ options have increased to adequately conduct a case.

“I haven’t seen a lot of cases that come in front of the Court of Appeals from specialty courts, which is a good thing. If there is, though, I will have that experience,” Jones said. “But, I do have the experience of knowing the pressure that a trial court judge is under to address and know about all those things and to know that these are so many of the issues that so many of the citizens in our Commonwealth and their families face and are dealing with daily.”

April 17, 2024 | 12:13 am

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