Kentucky’s chief justice orders courts statewide to go virtual due to COVID-19

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FRANKFORT, Ky. (WTVQ) – The Kentucky Supreme Court issued new mandates Friday to govern court operations as nearly all 120 Kentucky counties are now in the COVID-19 red zone.

Citing the news that 250,000 Americans have died from COVID-19 and health-care resources are becoming overwhelmed, Chief Justice of Kentucky John D. Minton Jr. said in an email to court personnel Friday that it is imperative to restrict court activities now to protect the public and court staff from exposure.

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“As I’ve said many times over the last few months, one of our guiding truths has been the involuntary nature of most court proceedings,” he said. “People can choose whether to eat at a restaurant or go shopping, but in most instances they don’t get to choose whether they go to court. We have a responsibility to do all we can to keep people from being exposed to a potentially fatal virus.”

 

To address the surging cases, the Supreme Court has amended two orders to limit in-person proceedings and restrict access to judicial facilities. The first, Administrative Order 2020-71, replaces Administrative Order 2020-63 in its entirety. The second, Administrative Order 2020-72, replaces Administrative Order 2020-64 in its entirety. Both orders will become effective Monday, Nov. 30, 2020, and pertain to all 120 counties.

The new orders adopt as mandates many of the recommendations announced on Oct. 29, 2020, as counties began moving into the red zone. These including the following:

Ø  Limiting entrance to judicial facilities.

Ø  Requiring remote hearings in all proceedings, except as specified in Administrative Order 2020-71.

Ø  Postponing all jury trials until Feb. 1, 2021.

Ø  Requiring grand juries to either be conducted remotely or suspended.

Ø  Postponing all show cause dockets until Feb. 1, 2021.

Ø  Requiring judicial sales to be conducted either remotely or outside and in accordance with CDC guidelines.

Chief Justice Minton thanked court personnel for their continued patience and steady leadership as the court system makes its way through what will be a difficult winter.

“The good news is that a vaccine is on the horizon and we’re starting to see a path out of this deep crisis,” he said. “In the meantime, we must continue to ensure justice for the commonwealth while protecting the health of our employees and the public.”

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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 tkenny@wtvq.com. You can also follow Tom on Facebook www.facebook.com/TomKennyABC and Twitter @TomKennyNews. Just click on the links at the top of the page.