Public defenders concerned about premature return to open court

Hearing delayed for judge accused of misconduct

FRANKFORT, Ky. (WTVQ) – Leaders of the Department of Public Advocacy (DPA) expressed concerns over the upcoming scheduled return to open court proceedings, saying it may be too soon as the coronavirus continues to spread.

Once the pandemic hit, most criminal court proceedings were suspended to try to protect against the spread of COVID-19.

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In mid-May, the Supreme Court of Kentucky issued an order that trial courts in June could resume hearing civil and criminal matters using available telephonic and video technology to conduct proceedings remotely.

In the days since the order was issued, some trial courts announced intentions to resume hearings as early as June 1 with people physically in the courtroom, not remotely as ordered by the Supreme Court.

The DPA is worried about that could mean for the health of its public defenders across the state as well as others in the court system.

If someone can’t or doesn’t take part in a video hearing, the DPA believes in-person hearings should be scheduled for August or later.

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Tom Kenny joined ABC 36 News in June of 2001 as a General Assignment Reporter. A native of Peoria, Illinois, he graduated cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts in Mass Communications from Western Illinois University. He currently anchors ABC 36 News at 5pm, 6pm and 11pm. Tom has more than three decades of experience in broadcast journalism. He is the only broadcast journalist in Lexington television history to be honored with a national Edward R. Murrow Award. Tom was recognized for reporting on a story that gave a rare glimpse inside the secretive world of the Federal Witness Protection Program. He has won an Emmy Award for anchoring and another for investigative reporting, exposing the deceit and potential danger of online diploma mills. Tom has ten other Emmy nominations to his credit for investigative and feature reporting. He has won Associated Press Awards for reporting and anchoring. He has won two Addy Awards for excellence in promotional writing. Tom was the first broadcast journalist in Lexington TV history to be awarded the Silver Circle Award by the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. It is one of the highest honors given by NATAS. It recognizes television professionals who have performed distinguished service within the television industry for 25-years or more. Tom was honored for more than his longevity, he was recognized for making an enduring contribution to the vitality of the television industry and for setting high standards of achievement. He was also recognized for giving back to the community as a mentor, educator and volunteer. Tom also has network broadcast experience in radio and television having worked as a sports reporter for ESPN, Sportschannel, NBC Sports and the Breeders’ Cup. He was also the studio host and halftime producer for CBS Radio Sports’ College Football Game of the Week and covered the NFL for One-On-One Radio Sports. Prior to joining WTVQ-TV, Tom was Vice-President of the Houston Astros Minor League baseball team in Lexington. He was part of the original management team that brought professional baseball back to the Bluegrass after a nearly 50-year absence. Tom has lived in Lexington since 1984. In that time, he has been heavily involved with dozens of charity and civic groups, with a special emphasis on helping Veterans. He can be reached at You can also follow Tom on Facebook and Twitter @TomKennyNews. Just click on the links at the top of the page.