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'It will delay justice and it will deny justice’: Lawsuit filed to stop dissolution of circuit court in Floyd County

Published: Oct. 9, 2020 at 10:41 AM EDT
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PRESTONSBURG, Ky. (WYMT) - Some members of the legal community in one Eastern Kentucky county have filed a lawsuit to protect their judicial district.

House Bill 348, passed during the 2018 Kentucky General Assembly and signed into law by former Gov. Matt Bevin, would dissolve Division II of the 31st Judicial Circuit in Floyd County.

The lawsuit, filed Wednesday in Franklin Circuit Court, alleges the General Assembly violated the state constitution with the passage of the bill.

Ryan Mosely, an attorney from Pillersdorf Law Offices, says the dissolution of the second district means more work and a heavier caseload for the already busy employees.

“Because we have the drug cases. The drug felony cases that drag on for years sometimes. They are very difficult to work out because we wanna do alternative sentencing with folks. We want them to go into treatment. Those things because there’s cases to last a very long time on the docket," he said. “We also, sadly, due to the drug epidemic, do have a spike in crime in the region that’s been going on for quite some time now."

The plaintiffs in the suit, Brandis Bradley, the president of the Floyd County Bar Association and former Kentucky Supreme Court Justice Janet Stumbo, are asking the court to declare the bill null and void, to grant an immediate injunction to allow the division that includes Floyd County to continue to exist until proper procedures are followed and for the Secretary of State to place the race on the 2022 ballot for qualified candidates.

The judge seat that will be eliminated by the bill, according to Mosely, is another concern for the community since it is supposed to be on the ballots in 2022.

“Will have an election in 2022. People are going to be able to file in just about a year or so for that job. And right now, they can’t do it,” Mosely said. “And there’s people who are legitimate candidates for the position who are being denied the ability to run for the job because it was removed contrary to the text of the constitution. And that can’t stand.”

The suit names House Speaker David Osborne, Senate President Robert Stivers, Secretary of State Michael Adams and Attorney General Daniel Cameron as the defendants in the case.

If the plan to eliminate the judicial district proceeds, it will cause a sharp increase in caseload and docket activity for remaining courthouse staff, potentially leading to delays in justice for people with cases in Floyd Circuit, proponents of the lawsuit say.

“I just don’t know how people are going to get a civil trial date. And I think it will back up a criminal trials. It will delay justice and it will deny justice," Mosely said. ”If we don’t have two circuit courts in Floyd County, people may not get a trial date for two or three years."

You can see a copy of the lawsuit below.

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