Burress, Spainhour attend circuit judges’ fall college

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By The Staff

FRANKFORT - Chief Circuit Judge Rodney D. Burress and Family Court Judge Elise Givhan Spainhour, who serve Bullitt County, participated in the 2009 Circuit Judges Fall College held Sept. 20-24 in Lexington.

The Administrative Office of the Courts offered the college for Circuit Court judges and Family Court judges throughout the state.

“Circuit judges are confronted with a variety of cases every year,” said Chief Regional Circuit Judge Thomas L. Clark, who serves Fayette County and is president of the Kentucky Circuit Judges Association. “This college provided us with an exceptional collection of useful sessions and topics on contemporary issues that will help us to better serve Kentucky.”

The judges attended coursesabout effectively mediating felony and family cases,better managing and organizing dockets by identifying the need forcourt interpreters,using court-appointed services to promote justice and efficiency and using statistical data and technology to identify case-management issues.

They also learned about strategies for improving case flow and attended a session on tools for docket management.Duringa sessionabout the culture of judging, the judges reviewed the history and traditions ofthe Kentucky court system and examinedthe important role of judges in maintaining a dignified court process.

Chief Justice of Kentucky John D. Minton Jr. addressed the judges during the college and Justice Lisabeth Hughes Abramsonof the Supreme Courtof Kentucky provided the judges with a case law update.

The collegealso offered breakout sessions that covered contemporarytrends and emerging issuesin sentencing,developments in Kentucky family law,evidentiary issues in family law cases andthe effect of bankruptcy on Family Court issues.

Other breakout sessions included information onusingWestlaw onlinefor legal research, managing cases involvingself-represented litigants,conducting an effective hearing to determine a defendant’s ability toself-represent, effectively managing a jury, understanding theCitizen Foster Care Review Board program and its benefits to the judiciary,andreviewingjudicial decisionsin cases involving administrative agencies andresearching andwriting opinions in those cases. Another session focused ona new law (Senate Bill 4)about providing drug treatmentand covered drug treatment options.

Circuit Court is the court of general jurisdiction in cases involving capital offenses, felonies, land disputes, contested probates of wills, and general civil litigation in disputes involving more than $4,000. A division of Circuit Court, Family Court has primary jurisdiction in cases involving family issues, such as divorces, adoption, child support, domestic violence and juvenile status offenses.